Marker Text: In Westlake Cemetery is the grave of the mother of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The monument at the grave was placed by Captain Thomas Ranson, who had fought in Jackson's old brigade in the War between the States.
Location: On U.S. Route 60, eastbound side of the road across from the street leading to the Westlake Cemetery, Ansted, WV.
Photo taken looking east on U.S. Route 60 with the town of Ansted in the background. Cemetery mentioned in the marker is up the street to the left across the street from marker. Click any photo to enlarge.
In an earlier post, I included a marker about the location of the birthplace of “Stonewall” Jackson's Mother in Loudoun County, VA. Today's marker is about the place of her death thirty-three years later in Fayette County, WV in Ansted. At the time of her death, Ansted was in Virginia. West Virginia did not come into existence until 1863 during the U.S. Civil War.
Julia Beckwith Neale Jackson Woodson (1798-1831) was the mother of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson. Julia sadly had a short and tragic life and reportedly was very intelligent and a devout Christian, but life in the early 1800's in what is now West Virginia was not easy and many families faced tragedy each day.
Julia’s grave in Westlake Cemetery overlooking the town of Ansted.
In 1817, Julia married attorney Jonathan Jackson (1790-1826) of Randolph County. They were living in Clarksburg when their third child was born on January 21, 1824, Thomas Jonathan Jackson. When Thomas was only two years old, both his father and sister Elizabeth, aged six, died of typhoid fever. Julia gave birth to her fourth child, Laura Anne the next day.
Widowed at the age of twenty-eight, Julia was left to raise her three young children for next four years. In 1830, Julia married Blake Baker Woodson, also an attorney and the appointed clerk of Fayette County. Woodson was not fond of his stepchildren and Julia's children were sent to live with her relatives. Thomas and his sister Laura were sent to live with Jackson relatives at Jackson's Mill and her son Warren lived with Neale relatives and died of tuberculosis in 1841 at the age of twenty.
The exact date of Julia's death in 1831 is not actually know. Her grave stone says, September, but she gave birth to another son, William Wirt Woodson, on October 7, here in Ansted. Other sources state she died of complications following childbirth on December 4, 1831 at the age of thirty-three. It was reported later that neighbors wrapped her wasted body in a homemade coffin. It was reported, her grave in Westlake Cemetery initially had a wooden marker, but this disappeared before 1855. The story of “Stonewall” Jackson's mother might have ended here with her death, which is the story behind this marker.
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson apparently had very fond memories of his mother despite her death when he was very young. During the U.S. Civil War, Jackson must have spoken of his mother often to others whom he served with during the war. One of these individuals, Captain Thomas R. Ranson of Staunton, Virginia must have remembered Jackson's stories of his mother and particularly where she was buried.
A newer, more readable marker was placed below the old marker more recently.
After the U.S. Civil War, Stonewall Jackson was one most beloved of the Confederate war heroes. Captain Thomas R. Ranson who admired Jackson and served with him remembered the tragic life of Jackson's mother. In the 1880's, Ranson went to Ansted, West Virginia and had a marble marker placed over then unmarked grave of Julia Neale Jackson in Westlake Cemetery, to make sure the site of her grave was not lost forever. Now, individual's in the community of Ansted continue to make sure the cemetery is kept maintained.
Westlake Cemetery is located on the top of a wooded hill in the town of Ansted leading up a street across from this marker to the north. About 3/4 of the way up the hill on the west side of the cemetery is found the marble slab marking the last resting place of the mother of "Stonewall" Jackson.
The old stone placed by Ranson is very weather worn and difficult to read. The marble monument placed by Ranson bears the following inscription:
Julia Beckwith Neale,
February 28, 1798,
in Loudoun County, Virginia
Blake B. Woodson
Died September, 1831
To the mother of
From one of his old brigade.
On the foot-stone are the letters -- "J.B.N.W."