Born on 14 June 1827 in Newton, Massachusetts, Edward Jackson came from a well-known family. His father, William, had an active role in the missionary, temperance and anti-slavery societies of Newton and also served a term in Congress. His mother, Mary Bennett, raised fourteen children. The family home, known as the Jackson Homestead, entertained two in-coming Massachusetts governors during Edward’s childhood and is now the residence of the Newton Historical Society.
After Edward travelled to California in 1849, he returned to Newton and worked as a merchant. The family fell on difficult times in 1854 after William’s death, and Edward’s mother sewed to support the family. Three of Edward’s unmarried sisters also taught school, music and painting.
Edward’s sister, Ellen, wrote a family history, Annals of the Homestead, which records Edward’s one year of service during the Civil War. “[Edward] was one of the home guard of St. Louis. One Sabbath day, he saw three soldiers harassing and abusing a colored man. He ordered them to desist; when one of them caught up a stick and struck him on the head, crushing his skull and nearly killing him. He was ever after blind in one eye, lost his sense of smelling, – also at times he lost consciousness.”
Edward never married, but lived with Ellen (also unmarried). He continued to work as a merchant and had $25,000 personal wealth by 1870. He is listed as a “gentleman of leisure” in the 1880 Massachusetts Census, with a nurse and two servants employed in the household. Edward passed away in 1882 at the age of fifty-five and is buried at the Old East Parish Burying Grounds in Newton.
1870 Massachusetts Census (Edward Jackson, Beverley, EssexCounty, 217).
1880 Massachusetts Census (Edward Jackson, Boston, SuffolkCounty, 15A).
Dykstra, F.R., ed. The Journal of Edward Jackson: To the Gold Mines of California in 1849. Haverford, PA, 1980.
Jackson, Ellen. “Annals of the Homestead.” Unpublished Manuscript written in 1894, located at Newton Museum and Historical Society, Newton Massachusetts.
Truesdell, Paul E. “Old East Parish Burying Grounds, Newton, Massachusetts.” <http://www.interment/.net/data/us/ma/middlesex/oldeast/buryinglist.htm>.