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Special Collections & University Archives: Jackson Family

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Jackson Family Research Guide

Summary

This research guide provides information on the descendants of Nathaniel Jackson in the Rio Grande Valley. The purpose of this research guide is to introduce researchers and students to Jackson family primary and secondary sources within UTRGV Special Collections and Archives.

Background

The Jackson family established their roots in the Rio Grande in the 1850s when Nathaniel Jackson along with his African-American wife, Matilda Hicks, son Eli, and other adult children left Alabama. The family was also accompanied by 11 African-American freedmen. 

The Jackson Ranch (est. 1857) and Eli Jackson Cemetery (est. 1865) are located along the Rio Grande River in Hidalgo County, Texas. The Jackson Ranch is located near the Military Highway in an area between Fort Ringgold and Fort Brown. The ranch not only represents one of Hidalgo County's earliest agricultural communities, but also one of the earliest African-American and mix race communities in the region. Its historical significance predates the U.S. Civil War and remains relevant today.

Early Jackson Family Members

Nathaniel Jackson (1800-1865): Patriarch of the Jackson family, made his way to the Rio Grande Valley with his wife Matilda, and their children Lucinda, Columbus, Eli, Matilda, Bryant, Martin, and John. Nathaniel purchased Porcion 71 from E.D. Smith, which consisted of 5,535 acres located between Pharr and San Juan. He constructed his ranch home and a chapel (Methodist minister). His ranch was a haven for people in need, and as a result he was liked by all.

Matilda Hicks Jackson (c. 1801 ~1870): As an African-American born into slavery, Matilda, was not legally married to Nathaniel despite living in the same household and bearing his children. 

Martin Jackson: Son of Nathaniel Jackson who is known for giving a portion of land to build the first Methodist Episcopal Church. He died in 1913.

Columbus Jackson: Son of Nathaniel Jackson, is recorded as being the first to be buried in Jackson Methodist Church Yard in 1896.

Matilda Jackson Clark: Daughter of Nathaniel Jackson, is recorded for being the second to be buried in Jackson Methodist Church Yard. She      also had a daughter named Frances.

Eli Jackson (1832-1911)Son of Nathaniel Jackson, he built his home near the church. Eli was appointed Hidalgo County Commissioner in 1869 and was later elected in 1890-1893. When Nathaniel Jackson passed away, he inherited the land and kept it as a haven for people in need. He married Elizabeth Kerr in 1877 and had nine children. Their names were Alice Jackson, Robert Jackson, Angeline Jackson, Nathaniel "Polo" Jackson, Matilda Jackson, Elmira Jackson, Amanda Jackson, and Amelia Jackson.

Nathaniel "Polo" Jackson (1875-1929): Son of Eli Jackson and Elizabeth Kerr, was a Hidalgo County Jailer approximately 1900-1929. He inherited Eli's Ranch when he passed, and continued to farm the land. He married Eugenia Villanueva in 1907 and had five children one of which was adopted. Their names were Adela Jackson, Angelita Jackson, Federico Jackson, Herlinda Jackson, and Audelia Jackson (adopted in 1925). In 1929 Nathaniel "Polo" Jackson was buried in Eli Jackson Cemetery where his son Federico had been previously buried. Eugenia joined him in 1948.

Federico Jackson (1893-1920): Son of Nathaniel "Polo" Jackson, was buried in Eli Jackson Cemetery when he was killed for refusing to sell his land.

Adela Jackson (1899-1992): Eldest daughter of Nathaniel "Polo" Jackson, worked on her father's ranch. She married Wuenceslao Reyna in 1927 and had three children.

Archival Collections: Jackson Family

Hidalgo County Historical Commission Collection

Eli Jackson Cemetery

Cemetery census, 1974-1980, Container: 79, Box: 14, Folder: 1. Hidalgo County Historical Commission Collection, ELIBR-0079. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/78626

Ranch cemetery survey, 1979-1987, Container: 79, Box: 14, Folder: 6. Hidalgo County Historical Commission Collection, ELIBR-0079. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/78631

Jackson Ranch

Jackson Ranch, undated, Container: 79, Box: 7, Folder: 27. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/78380.

Jackson Ranch Church, 1982-2008, Container: 79, Box: 11, Folder: 1. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/78520.

Jackson Ranch Church, 1982-1986, Container: 79, Box: 5, Folder: 30. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/78289.

Jackson Ranch Church 35, 1982, Container: 79, Box: 1, Folder: 36. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/78145.

John Closner and Family Collection

Deed - Eli Jackson, et al. to John Closner, Porcion 71, original grantee Narciso Cavazos, 1862, 1892-1903, Container: 39, Box: 2, Folder: 3. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/80754

Deed - Eli Jackson and Martin Jackson to John Closner, Porcion 71, original grantee Narciso Cavazos, 1894, Container: 39, Box: 1, Folder: 28. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/80742

Release of mortgage - Bloomberg and Raphael to Eli Jackson, 1891-1896, Container: 39, Box: 1, Folder: 29. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/80743

Opinion of James B. Wells upon title of Nathaniel Jackson, to Porcion 71, Town of Reynosa, original grantee Narciso Cavazos, 1912, Container: 39, Box: 1, Folder: 26. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/80740

Porcion 69, 70, 71, 72, 1902-1906, Container: 39, Box: 1, Folder: 8. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/80722

Opinion in regard to State of Title of Porciones 71 and 72, 1905-01-03, Container: 39, Box: 1, Folder: 10. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus. https://archives.lib.utrgv.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/80724

Archival Collections: Digitized Resources

Hidalgo County Marks & Brands, Vol. C, p. 130

Hidalgo County Marks and Brands - Book C

Page from Hidalgo County Marks and Brands - Book C, showing registration for Nathaniel Jackson and his cattle brand on July 27, 1857,

FamilySearch.org: United States Census, 1860, Hidalgo, Texas

Members of the Jackson Family appear in the 1860 U.S. Census (available online via FamilySearch.org). Note: Matilda Hicks is listed as a "House Servant".

Deed - Eli Jackson and Martin Jackson to John Closner, Porcion 71, original grantee Narciso Cavazos

From the John Closner and Family Collection, folder contains 1) envelope and 2) handwritten document detailing the Warranty Deed from Eli and Martin Jackson to John Closner, including official recording with Hidalgo County Court signature and embossed seal.

Texas General Land Office Map (1911), by McDonald, H. F. & Terrell, O. O.

Blue line print of survey map of Hidalgo County, Texas, showing rivers, creeks, original land grants or surveys, cities, towns, and railroads. 

Nathaniel Jackson - 1858

Nathaniel Jackson - 1858, by Mary Alice Ramirez

Article about Nathaniel Jackson written by Mary Alice Ramirez for the Daily Review [Centennial Edition]: 100 Years of History Hidalgo County, published December 7, 1952.

Historic Texas Cemetery Marker Eli Jackson Cemetery

Historic Texas Cemetery Marker for Eli Jackson Cemetery

Location: (From Cemeteries of Texas): Drive south of Pharr on U.S. 281 to Fay’s Corners, where 281 turns east. Stay on 281 and go east .8 mile, then turn south and cross the canal levee; go .4 mile, turn east toward church spire .2 mile. Cemetery is 500 feet northeast of the church, against the canal embankment.

Photo of Historic Jackson Ranch Church Cemetery

Historic Jackson Ranch Church Cemetery via Findagrave

Cemetery is also known as Jackson Methodist Church. Text from the Texas Historical Commission Marker reads:

"This fellowship was founded in 1874 by the Rev. Alexander H. Sutherland (1848-1911), an early Methodist missionary, on Juan Manuel de La Vina's El Capote Ranch. In 1883 the congregation began meeting near this site on the Jackson Ranch when owner Martin Jackson donated the land. He later built a small chapel for their use. In 1910 most of the church members moved to the new city of McAllen, and only a few families continued to worship here. As one of the first Protestant congregations in Hidalgo County, this church has continued to serve area residents. (1983)"

Research Compiled by Manny Rodriguez

Manny Rodriguez is a Library Associate with UTRGV Special Collections & Archives. He joined the University Library in 2015 as a student worker and later as a full-time member of the team. Manny earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology & History from UTRGV in 2016. He is currently pursuing his Master of Library Science from Texas Woman’s University.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

The research guides compiled by UTRGV staff and students are intended to assist patrons who are embarking upon new research endeavors. Our goal is to expand their knowledge of the types of resources available on a given topic, including books, archival materials, and websites. In so doing, our compilers have taken care to include collections, digital items, and resources that may be accessed not only through UTRGV but also via other institutions, repositories, and websites.

We wholeheartedly respect the research interests of others. Therefore, please contact us if you wish to submit a resource for consideration, or if you have a question about or an issue with a specific cited resource.

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