Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mother of Stonewall Jackson

Mother Stonewall Jackson, Marker F-15Marker No. F-15
Loudoun County, VA

Marker Text: In this vicinity (and according to tradition two miles east at Peach Orchard) was born Julia Beckwith Neale, mother of Stonewall Jackson, February 29, 1798. She married Jonathan Jackson in 1818 and died, October, 1831.

Location: On U.S. Route 15 (James Monroe Highway) about 200 feet, north of the intersection with U.S. Route 50 (John Mosby Highway), on right when traveling north on U.S. Route 15 east of the town of Aldie. Grouped with marker F-4 (President Monroe's Home). Erected by the Virginia Conservation Commission in 1942.

Mother Stonewall Jackson, Marker next to President Monroe's Home marker  General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson is a much beloved character in Virginia history for his role as a commander during the American Civil War. His presence is remains throughout Virginia considering the number of roads, building, etc. that are named for him. As a result, all things related to Stonewall Jackson are remembered including his mother. Today's marker is located in Loudoun County, VA near the site where Jackson's mother, Julia Beckwith Neale was born. I have not found many historic markers that remind the traveller about the mother of an historic figure. There is another marker in West Virginia that I have about Jackson's mother burial site and two other markers in Loudoun County about the birthplace of the Wright Brothers mother.  This marker is only located about 12 miles north of where General Jackson received his name “Stonewall” during the First Battle of Manassas.

  This historic marker was originally erected about a mile south of its current location and so the mention of Peach Orchard being two miles east is not correct from the current location. (It was originally locate “0.9 miles south of Gilbert’s Corner,” according to Margaret Peters' 1985 edition of “A Guidebook to Virginia’s Historical Markers”). The marker is now about 200 feet north of Gilbert's Corner and most likely makes the peach orchard further away. I could not locate this peach orchard mentioned on the marker nor do I know if the actual birthplace location is marked in any fashion.

Mother Stonewall Jackson marker looking south on Route 15

Photo taken looking south on U.S. Route 15 with Gilbert’s Corner intersection in the distance.

  Julia Beckwith Neale Jackson (1798-1831) never lived long enough to know about her famous son's life and accomplishments as an adult.  Julia Beckwith Neale was born near Aldie in Loudoun County, Virginia. She was daughter of Thomas and Margaret Winn Neale. Her father, Thomas Neale, had achieved high prosperity as a merchant in the town of Parkersburg (now in West Virginia) on the Ohio River. Julia was reported to be very intelligent, a devout Christian, and a belle in society, but her life ended up being short and tragic.

  In 1817, she married Jonathan Jackson (1790-1826) of Randolph County, an attorney. They were living in Clarksburg (now in West Virginia) and had two young children when, on January 21, 1824, their second son, Thomas Jonathon Jackson was born. Then tragedy struck the young family. When when young Thomas was only 2 years old, both his father and sister Elizabeth, aged 6, died of typhoid fever. Julia gave birth to Thomas' sister Laura Anne the next day.

Mother Stonewall Jackson, Marker next to President Monroe's Home marker  The young widow of 28 was left with debts and sold everything to pay them. She declined family charity, and moved into a small one-room house. Julia took in sewing and taught school to support herself and her 3 young children for about 4 years.

  In 1830, she married another attorney, Blake Baker Woodson, who was appointed clerk of Fayette County. Woodson disliked his stepchildren and the family had financial problems. Julia's children Thomas and sister Laura were sent to live with Jackson relatives at Jackson's Mill and her other son Warren, went to live with Neale relatives, and died of tuberculosis in 1841 at the age of 20.

  Julia gave birth to another son, William Wirt Woodson, but she died at the age of 33 from childbirth complications on December 4, 1831. The family lived in and around what is now Ansted, West Virginia, where she was buried without a marker in Westlake Cemetery. A historian wrote later that neighbors wrapped her wasted body in a homemade coffin.


  1. I suppose no one ever bothered to check but the date of Julia Beckwith Neale Jackson's birth on the marker is incorrect as February 29th can only occur in a leap year and 1798 was not a leap year.

    1. Good eye for catching that error. It did not occur to me, but 1798 is not evenly divisible by 4 so can't be a leap year. I checked and other sources give her date of birth as the 28th, so the state got the date on the marker wrong.