Spring Creek roots run deep in Jackson family
Robert H. Jackson’s birth in 1892 marked the fourth generation of the Jackson family to call the Spring Creek homestead home.
He was born in the same room as his father, William Eldred Jackson, on the settlement established by his great-grandfather, Elijah, in 1797.
While Jackson’s mother, Angelina H. Jackson, was in labor at the farmhouse, William hitched the team and ventured into the snowstorm to bring back a relative to attend his wife and then the local doctor.
That birth became one of the life achievements for that doctor – and he wasn’t afraid to say so.
Gail Jarrow’s biography on Jackson tells the story of his early life in Spring Creek.
Elijah Jackson was one of the first settlers in the areas after the Revolutionary War, Jarrow notes.
“He and his son cut down trees on the farm and sold the lumber. After Elijah’s death, his bachelor son William Miles Jackson took over the farm,” the text states.
When William Miles grew too old to manage the ram on his own, he invited his nephew, William Eldred and wife Angelina to move in.
The couple had met as rural school farmer children and relished the chance to work a farm of their own.
He and his younger sister, Ella, took care to mind their mother.
“We did as we were told,” he later said, “because there was a kind of leadership about her – she didn’t drive us.”
And Jarrow notes that – as much as a young child can help around the farm – Robert did. He “collected wood for the stove, churned butter, weeded the garden and fed the chickens and hogs. He knew how to do the milking, but he tried to get out of that chore.”
While living in Spring Creek, Jackson recalled spending much time with his elder uncle William.
Jackson spoke of those times for a Columbia University oral history project in 1952.
“I remember the old man pretty distinctly. He was in a very real sense my baby sitter. He was a very active person, and walked a great deal. As soon as my legs would carry me I many times walked the old Spring Creek farm over with him. He pointed out various freaks such as a mound with a deep and regular depression in the center which he thought was built by the Indians. We went to the springs often to get a drink of water. He taught me the different kinds of trees, told me stories about the animals and Indians that were there when his family came, and generally was my first teacher and nurse. He has been long a justice of the peace and was frequently consulted by his neighbors, and knew some-thing of the workings of the law in that community. It was from him that I got my first vague ideas about laws, courts, arrests, trials, constables, as well as about the kind of people that got into trouble with the law.”
Spring Creek would be a place Robert Jackson would return throughout his life, a place he never left completely behind regardless of what he was involved with professionally.
When Jackson’s granddaughter Julia Craighill visited the site in 2002, the Jackson Center recorded the visit in a film which is available on YouTube.
“There was sort of almost a religious nature to nature and that came from Bob Jackson down through my mother,” Craighill said. “So she really felt that when you were close to nature you were close to truth. She (Craighill’s mother, Mary) talked about coming over Eldred Hill with her father…. He’d go and camp on a mountainside for two days, bathing in the stream and living on the land.”
Local citizens also told the Center in videos posted to YouTube of a special phone call that came during one of Jackson’s visits to Spring Creek.
At the time, the main telephone in Spring Creek was at the local store.
Jackson received a call from President Roosevelt… and had to be fetched from fishing to take the call.
“That was a big thing in Spring Creek,” one woman said.
An elderly man who was just a boy at the time said that they were asked to move to the other end of the building for Jackson to have a bit of privacy to take the call.