Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Saturday, May 29, 2010

William Harrison Jackson- from Choestoe to Colorado

This true episode is how a person born near the end of the nineteenth century went out from Union County seeking his fortune. His name was William Harrison Jackson, born September 1, 1889 in Choestoe, Union County, Georgia. His parents were William Miles Jackson (1853- 1910) and Nancy Souther Jackson (1853- 1899).

William Harrison Jackson was the eighth of nine children born to Bill and Nancy Jackson. It is interesting to note that seven of the nine children left Choestoe to find work elsewhere. His sister Camilla (1873-1925) married H. L. Henson and they moved to Copperhill, Tenn., where H. L. worked at the Tennessee Copper Company. His sister Lydia (1875-1956) married Virgil Collins and they moved to Laramie, Colorado. His brother Oscar Jackson (1879-1901) died before reaching his twenty-second birthday and was a teacher in Choestoe. Harrison's brother, Ira Jackson (b. 1881) died as a seven month old baby. Della Nora Jackson (1883-1911) and her husband, Ulysses Thompson Collins, moved to Verden, Oklahoma. After Della's death in 1911, Ulysses returned to Choestoe with their three children, Goldie, Mayme and Ralph. Cora Bessie Jackson (1885-1951) married Thomas L. Hood and they moved to Eaton, Colorado. Florida Kate Jackson (1891-?) married Jasper Shuler and they lived in Greeley, Colorado. Oliver Grady Jackson (1893-?) moved to Greeley, Colorado, where he met and married Anna Jensen who was born in Denmark. With so many of his siblings migrating west, William Harrison Jackson at a young age also got the urge to "go west, young man," but his was not a straight trek there.

From his own memoirs written in January, 1969, we learn how William Harrison Jackson left Choestoe and eventually settled in Colorado. He expressed thoughts about his growing-up years in poetry:

"My mother's name was Nancy,
My father's name was Bill.
We lived in a pleasant valley
Close by the Blue Ridge hills.
Some things to me were a marvelous wonder;
Thoughts to my heart were great to ponder:
God, Creator of all life, the Giver,
Creatures, meadows, rills, rivers.

His elementary school years were at the old Choestoe Church house, with slat benches for seats. The building was heated with pot-bellied stoves. In 1896, his first teacher was Joseph Collins who had been to the Hiawassee Academy. Harrison was happy to follow the career of his first grade teacher, noting that he became a prominent lawyer in Gainesville. The Jackson children, including William Harrison, all did their share of work on the Choestoe farm of his parents.

Harrison's mother died when he was ten years of age in 1899. In 1905, his father married again to Jane West. He tells how he left home by "Shank's Mare" (walking). He carried his clothes and other meager possessions "in a valise" and made his way to Mineral Bluff, Georgia, where his sister, Camilla Henson lived. There, and in nearby Copperhill, Tennessee, he found "odd jobs" to earn money until the spring of 1906.

His brother-in-law, Thomas L. Hood, husband of Harrison's sister, Cora, invited him back to Choestoe to help him work on the farm he had rented from an aunt, Mary Collins. In the fall, Aunt Mary paid Thomas $300 in gold for the crops produced that season. Thomas paid William Harrison $15 for each month he had worked with him on the land. Tom and Cora then moved to Colorado. It was back to Copperhill, TN for William Harrison Jackson. There he worked in the copper mines until March 7, 1907. He had saved enough money for a train ticket to Eaton, Colorado, where he went to work in the potato fields and sorting houses at $30.00 per month and board. This work occupied his time from 1907-1913.

William Harrison Jackson's next move was to Blackfoot, Idaho. There he met and wooed Hazel Edith Thompson. They were married August 11, 1913. Her parents, Tommy Thompson and Hilda Edge Thompson, were born in Norway. At Blackfoot, Harrison and Hazel settled down to farming. Their five children were born in the Rose Precinct about five and one-half miles north of Blackfoot. The children were Barton Grady Jackson ( US Marine and professional dance instructor), June Hilda Jackson (US Navy, and educator), Thelma Edith Jackson (twin to June Hilda, died at age six months), Zelma Nancy Jackson (communications and radio operator during World War II, and administrative assistant) and Dwain Thompson Jackson (music educator and employee of Horace Mann Insurance Agency for teachers). The Jacksons bought a ranch at Cedar Ridge, Colorado. There Hazel died with cancer in 1935.

After his children were grown and left home, Harrison Jackson married his second wife, Nora Miller, in 1937. She was a daughter of Andrew Miller and Carrie Young Miller, early pioneers in Arkansas. In 1957, Harrison and Nora sold out their ranch in Cedar Ridge and moved to Delta, Colorado, where he continued to work, even to age 80 and above. He described himself and his wife, Nora, as "happy, busy, and continuing in the faith of the Disciples of Christ." He always liked to tell stories--of his growing-up years in Choestoe, of moving away to find work, of life on the farm or ranch in the west, and of semiretirement and still active. His poem about his life ends: "Those childhood days are gone forever, But such memories we cannot sever."

[Personal note to my readers: At 7:00 a. m. on Thanksgiving morning, November 22, 2007, I received a call from the nurse at Memory Support Unit, Georgia War Veteran's Home, Milledgeville, that my husband, the Rev. Grover D. Jones, had fallen and was in great pain from the fall. He was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon where he underwent extensive examinations and preoperation treatment. His left hip operation (replacement of the ball and socket joint) was on Sunday, November 25. He came through surgery well, and today (Monday) was up on the "new hip" for a short time. His physical/ mental condition is now classified as "Advanced Alzheimer's". Admittedly, the past several days have been stressful- and extremely tiring for me. Less than three months ago, as my readers will recall, I myself underwent five bypasses heart surgery. We learn to meet emergencies and life's challenges "one day at a time," and there is always miraculous strength to walk through them. These, to me, are results of strong faith and God's presence. Thank you for your concern.]

c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 29, 2007 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved

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