John Jay Jackson (1800-1877)
General John Jay Jackson, son of Hon. John George Jackson, was, like his father, eminent in both the law and the army. He was born in Wood county, Virginia. February 13, 1800. He passed his early life in Parkersburg, becoming identified with its village growth and its later municipal prosperity.
His education was begun under Dr. David Creel, who subsequently resided in Chillicothe, Ohio, and was afterward conducted at one of the best schools in Virginia, taught by Dr. Tower at Clarksburg in Harrison county. Young Jackson was a very apt pupil, and at thirteen years of age was admitted to Washington College, Pennsylvania, where he remained for a year, when he was appointed by President James Monroe as a cadet to West Point, which institution he entered in 1815, graduating therefrom in 1818, in the nineteenth year of his age.
He was at once commissioned as second lieutenant in the United States army and attached to the corps of artillery ordered to Norfolk, Virginia, where he performed garrison service until the latter part of the year 1819, being then transferred to the fourth infantry. In 1820 and 1821 he performed active service in Florida in the Seminole war, and while thus engaged was commissioned as adjutant and transferred to regimental headquarters at Montpelier, Alabama. At this place and at Pensacola he was a member of General Andrew Jackson's staff.
In 1822 he visited Parkersburg on a six months' furlough, and about January 1, 1823, he resigned his commission in the army and turned his attention to law. He completed his preparatory course of study and was licensed to practice law in Virginia April 28, 1823. He soon reached the front ranks in his profession, maintaining his high position to the end of his career.
He was in 1826 appointed prosecuting attorney of Wood county, in the county court, and in 1830 he was appointed to the same office in the circuit superior court, holding the position until 1852, when he retired. He was also prosecutor in the circuit supreme court of Ritchie county.
For six several terms he served as representative from Wood county to the Virginia house of delegates, and in each of the legislatures to which he was returned he filled a prominent position.
In 1842 he was commissioned brigadier-general of the twenty-third brigade of Virginia militia, remaining in this post until the outbreak of the civil war.
In politics he belonged to the school of Clay and Webster, believing in the capability of the people for self rule. He was a member of the historic convention at Richmond in 1861 and eloquently upheld the Union, this being about his last public service, though he made various speeches during and after the war in which he advocated forbearance and reconciliation.
He was active in every enterprise for the benefit of the community; when the Baltimore & Ohio railway sought right of way from the Potomac to the Ohio, he urged needed legislation, and was one of the earliest and largest contributors to the subscription stock toward the building of the Northwestern Virginia railroad.
In later years his means and time were largely used to promote the improvement of the Little Kanawha river, forming a company which erected locks and dams to make it navigable the year round.
He organized and was president of the Second National Bank of Parkersburg, and was at various times member of the municipal council and mayor of the city.
He died January 1, 1877, leaving to posterity the memory of a fame which rested more upon his legal ability than his political successes.
Like his cousin, "Stonewall" Jackson, he was a superb horseman; and like him was also temperate, persevering and purposeful, possessing unusual natural gifts.
He was a member of the Episcopal church, and was for over forty years senior warden of Trinity parish.
General Jackson married (first) Emma G. Beeson in 1823; she died in 1842; married (second) Jane E. B. Gardner in 1843. He was the father of five sons: Hon. Judge John Jay Jackson, United States District Judge James Monroe Jackson, Governor Jacob Beeson Jackson, Henry Clay Jackson and Andrew Gardner, of whom further. Also three daughters living at the time of his death: Mrs. William H. Small, Mrs. George W. Thompson, Mrs. William H. Smith.