The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., July 2, 1943, page 1

(By Arline Winchell Moore)

     One of the most picturesque figures in the gallery of my memory is that of Captain Frank Jackson of the Confederate army, riding past our home in the Pine Grove district at a regular cavalry pace. He always owned a better than average horse, always rode at a military clip and sat in his saddle with a military erectness, learned during his years of service in the Southern army. In spite of the military preciseness, there was also evident the natural grace and ease of the born horseman. We children very early came to recognize the rhythm of his horses hoof beat and always tried to reach a vantage point to view his passing. So nearly a part of him was his horsemanship, that he was able to ride at his usual clip up to within a very short time of his death. At the advanced age of seventy-six, the sly inroads of arterial trouble, with its accompanying spells of sickening dizziness, brought about a nasty spill from which the captain never recovered.
     According to J.B. (John) Jackson, who lives of on the Fir Road on the property adjoining the original Jackson claim, in fact part of his own holdings are from the old home place, his father Frances Marion Jackson was born in Morris, Tennessee, in 1836. The Jackson family owned a large plantation, well attended by many slaves. This was one of those Southern families who believed the precepts of our constitution, in that "all men are born free and equal," and in accordance with that belief made freedmen of all their slaves long before the bitter difficulties that finally led to our great Civil strife. However, the kind treatment meted out to these people bore fruit in a refusal to leave the place on which most of them had been born. Even though operated by freedmen, the plantations still prospered and carried on with little or no change from the old way of life.
     In 1859, young Frank and his brother David crossed the plains by ox team to California, drawn there like others of that age by the lure of the gold fields. And like many others they did not find the gold they sought and moved on north into the Oregon country. There word reached them that their father had been called to the better world and the brothers returned to Tennessee. They had been hardly been able to adjust themselves to the management of the big estate, when the bitter strife of our Civil War was upon them.
     Captain Jackson went into the war as captain of his own company, and was at one time detailed as the body guard of President Davis. Typical of the loyalty of the negro slave, is the story of a boy -- once owned by the Jackson family, but a freedman since his early youth - whom the family called Uncle Billy. A few years older than F.R., he had been given the care of his young master almost at birth and accepted this responsibility with all the loyalty of his nature. When the captain went to war the negro boy went along to "take care of his master." I remember hearing the captain tell of how he had forbidden the lad to accompany him, but when he was well on his way and the time came for the first night's camp to be made there was Billy happily making his "Marse' bed." The captain tried to make the boy understand that a servant could not accompany his master to war, but Billy went along anyway.
     At the battle of Chattanooga, the captain's company was practically demolished and his own horse was shot from under him. Captain Frank was so injured that the negro boy carried his master to his home on his own back, where several months passed before the captain could return to the field of action. As soon as he was able, he recruited and trained another company of men. Uncle Billy stayed by his "Master" until circumstances sent the captain back to the Great West without him, but the darky never forgot his beloved "Master." Years afterward the captain went east to the World's Fair and paid a visit to his old hometown. Some way Old Uncle Billy had learned that the captain was coming home, and his was the first welcoming face the captain saw as his train pulled into the home depot.
     At the close of the war the captain returned to what was left of the old plantation and with the help of a few loyally negroes, his wife and his wife's sister, Mrs. Delia Thurman, Captain Jackson carried on to the best of his ability. In the ensuing years, two boys, and one daughter, William Jackson of The Dalles, Oregon, J.B. Jackson, of Hood River, and the late Lillian Jackson Gerdes, of Hood River came along. Presently the health of his wife became so delicate that the doctors ordered a change of climate. By 1870-71, the infamous carpet-beggars that came so near destroying the South, had introduced so much of their nefarious work that the once splendid plantation brought little more than enough to bring the Jackson family out to Oregon. Some of the loyal negroes followed the family to the train, weeping and begging to be brought along. I have heard the Captain tell my folks that the hardest thing he ever had to do in all his life was to refuse the supplications of those loving people. At the last moment, if he had had sufficient funds, he would have relented and brought them with him.
     Captain Jackson brought his family to San Francisco by train. There they boarded a dilapidated sailing vessel for Marshfield, Oregon. The fall season, which brings bad storms to the ocean, was at hand and J.B. says that the boat was scarcely out of San Francisco Bay before a bad storm struck and by the time of the Oregon coast was sighted, the weather was so bad that the captain of the boat had warned all on board to put on life preservers. Also told them that he doubted whether he could bring the boat through. He would not even attempt a landing at Marshfield, where landing conditions in good weather were rather precarious. He brought his cargo safely through to Portland. J.B. says the family often spoke of how seasick the entire bunch was except himself. Placed on the floor to amuse himself, he derived great pleasure from being rolled from side to side of the cabin by the heave of the laboring vessel.
     Somewhere Captain Jackson had made the acquaintance of someone who advised proceeding to Fort Dalles, then still experiencing the prosperity brought by the Eastern Oregon gold rush. On reaching The Dalles, about November 15, 1871, Captain Jackson found that the decline of the gold field prosperity was well on its way. The settlement of Hood River Valley was then the urgent talk.
     My grandfather, Jerome Winchell, had just passed on, early that fall and Grandmother Winchell and her children were living with her own people, the Peter Neal family. As was often the case those days, Captain Jackson called at the Peter Neal home the first thing. As Grandpa Neal had once lived in Tennessee, the Captain and Peter Neal were soon fast friends, and arrangements were made for the Jackson family to move right into my Grandfather Winchell's house, on the place, today, known as the Fike ranch. The family was settled in their quarters about December 15, 1871, with less than fifty dollars cash in hand and three feet of snow on the ground. All that winter snow covered the ground, each fall crusted over, and the next fall piled up on top with little or no thawing. The southern family had never experienced anything like it. Imagine a family accustomed to the ministrations of negro help, in a new country, with three small children and the mother in frail health. Indeed, our pioneers were a tenacious people.
     In the spring the family moved to the property, now owned in part by the sons of Captain Jackson. Peter Neal gave Captain Jackson work cutting logs for the mill at $1.00 per thousand feet. J.B. says that often he has heard his father talk of stepping those huge yellow pine trees and cutting above the snow, and then they would have to dig the snow away to trim and cut the logs. No saws were available - all the work was done with an ax.
     In spite of the hardships, the family muddled through and became one of the backbones of this new country. Miss Delia Thurman turned her own educational advantages to the aid of the youth in this new land. She taught a number of terms in the early schools. After a time three more children came along, Mabray, who is a real estate agent in Portland; Frances Roy, a retired minister, who lives on a part of the old place, and the youngest, Mattie, who died very early and was the first to be placed in the little family plot under the trees near the old Jackson homestead cabin.
     J.B. says that when Mattie first became ill, it was at the school near the Lenz Station, and that M.D. Odell carried her to their home the two and one-half miles, in his arms. Little Mattie never recovered from this illness. Several others of this family have since been placed beside the little girl. There is the aunt, Miss Thurman, the mother, Elizabeth Jackson, the captain, the wife of Frances Roy and their two sons and two daughters.
     Captain F.M. served as director of the Pine Grove schools perennially for years and years, and though he buried his own loved one in a sanctuary of his very own, he worked for the improvement of the grounds my people gave to the public in 1889. On more than one occasion, when a new fence was needed or a survey of the lots, the captain with his friend and neighbor, D.A. Turner, solicited the necessary funds and gave liberally from his own toward the project. He gracefully accepted the defeat of the southern cause and was for years a fast friend to members of the Canby Corps, G.A.R., often working side by side with this group in support of their many civic activities.
     In 1912, a short time after a bad fall from his horse, the captain was laid beside the wife of his youth near the home in which he had lived at peace, enjoying his books for more than forty years. Books and subscriptions to magazines and papers was about the only material thing salvaged from the early, easier life in the old south. My mother loved to read, and another pleasant memory of my childhood is the pleasure my mother derived from the many books and papers the captain was always bringing to our family when he had finished with them. People such as these built for us this great, good country.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer