Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jackson's Mill

Jackson's Mill marker Boyhood Home of Thomas "Stonewall" JacksonLewis County, WV

Marker Text: Site of boyhood home of Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The first mill was built about 1808 by his grandfather, Col. Edward Jackson, who became a leader in border affairs. It is now the site of the W. Va. 4-H Camp for Boys and Girls.

Location: North of Weston, WV near the entrance to Jackson's Mill off County Route 10 (Jackson Mill Road) across the road from the old homestead historic site.

Jackson's Mill marker along Co. Route 10 on Jackson Mill Road

Photo taken looking west toward entrance to Jackson Mill Conference Center entrance and Jackson Family Cemetery.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  Colonel Edward Jackson, a Revolutionary War figure, originally settled the mill on the West Fork River in 1800. Three generations of Jacksons operated mills at this site which boasted saw and grist mills, a carpenter shop, blacksmith forge, quarters for twelve slaves, numerous barns/outbuildings, and a general store on 1500 acres of prime forest and pasture land.

  Jackson’s Mill is located near Weston, WV in Lewis County and was the boyhood home of future Confederate Gen. Thomas J. ‘‘Stonewall’’ Jackson. The site was first settled by Thomas J. Jackson’s grandfather, Edward, around 1800. He constructed a house, gristmill, and sawmill on the property.

Old Jackson Homestead at Jackson's Mill across from the marker.

Replica of the old homestead building across the road from the marker.

  Thomas J. Jackson was the third child of Julia Beckwith Neale Jackson (1798–1831) and Jonathan Jackson (1790–1826), an attorney. Both of Jackson's parents were natives of Virginia. Thomas’s father was raised here, but moved with his new bride, Julia Neale, to nearby Clarksburg in 1818 to practice law. Thomas was born in January 1824 and named after his maternal grandfather.

  Thomas's sister Elizabeth (age six) died of typhoid fever on March 6, 1826 with his father dying of the same disease on March 26. The day after his father's death, Jackson's mother gave birth to his sister Laura Ann. In 1830, Jackson's mother remarried, Blake Woodson also an attorney. The following year, after giving birth to Thomas's half-brother, Julia died of complications, leaving her children orphaned. Woodson did not like his step-children and apparently was unwilling to care for them following the death of their mother.

Old Jackson Mill next to the West Fork River east of the marker.

Old Jackson’s Mill located on West Fork River, east of the marker location. Close-up of the Mill below.

  Six year old Thomas Jackson and his four year old sister Laura came to Jackson's Mill probably shortly after their mother married Blake Woodson to live with their step-grandmother Elizabeth Jackson and their uncle Cummins Jackson. The property at that time, consisted of 1,500 acres and owned by Cummins Jackson, who farmed the West Fork River bottoms with the assistance of several slaves. Four years later, Laura was sent to live with the Neale family in Parkersburg after all the females at Jackson's Mill had died or married and moved away. Parkersburg was over 80 miles from Jackson's Mill.

Close-up of the Old Jackson Mill along the West Fork River.  Thomas Jackson would remain here until age 18 learning to fell trees, plow, harvest crops, care for livestock, sheer sheep, and in more leisurely times, fish in the West Fork River. He became a very good fisherman and would sell his fish in the nearby town of Weston. He learned to be a good carpenter and worked at the family sawmill as well as the grist mill on the property. He became a good horseman and rode in horse races held at Jackson's Mill. Thomas was a hard worker and no one ever called him lazy. Thomas lived there until 1842, when he left to enter the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

  Thomas and his sister, Laura remained close throughout their lives until, like so many families, they found themselves on opposite sides of the Civil War. Laura opened her house in Beverly, WV to Union troops as a hospital. Thomas joined the Confederacy and became immortalized at the First Battle of Bull Run as the general the world would know as “Stonewall”.

Old Jackson Family Cemetery west of the marker on same road.

Old Jackson Family Cemetery located west of the marker on the same side of the road and across the road from the entrance to the conference center.

  Today, Jackson’s Mill is operated by the West Virginia University Extension Service as a multipurpose year-round conference center for adults and youth. WVU Jackson’s Mill is home to West Virginia 4-H camping a rustic-style conference and gala facility in a historic heritage-based setting a few miles outside of Weston, WV. Jackson’s Mill is also home to the West Virginia Fire Academy, a one-of-a-kind training facility for volunteer and professional firefighters from around the state and nation.

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