Letter #4 – JANUARY 13, 1857  



SUMMARY

The grave stone of John Jackson (b. 1709 - d June 1844) and his wife Ann (1776-1857) who we know to be the father of the author of this collection of letters.

John Jackson was a rope maker who left England in 1829 to make a new life in America. He brought with him three of his sons, Edward, Henry and Thomas (the author of this collection of letters). All stayed in America until their deaths.
Thomas and Henry started a small rope making business in Reading on only £100 and 7 years later they dissolved the partnership but Thomas carried on to grow the business into a very successful concern. It lasted for over 125 years and for a long time was the biggest employer in the city of Reading, PA



SOURCES

All photographs courtesy of Neil D. Scheidt, Find a grave Memorial 109902096

Nothing of relevance to the civil war. Interesting only for insights into family relationships.



Charles Evans Cemetery









TRANSCRIPTION

Reading    January 13th, 1857

Dear Cousin
I am sorry to inform you of the sudden and unexpected Death of my farther this morning, He had been in poor health for about 12 years, suffering every winter very much indeed with asthma (the same complaint as your Brother John had] and this winter has, so far, been so very very cold and trying. A few days ago he exposed himself very much and brought on a very severe attack which terminated so very sorrowfully and unexpectedly.

It is a hard blow for me as my own health is but poor and I cannot stand the Cold here in the winter eather. I saw my poor Farther writing to you a few days ago and he little thought that such a change was so very near. My grandmother is very old and feeble and cannot last much longer eather, all the rest are pretty well, Please excuse this short letter as I write in haiste and to uncle John by this mail too

I am yours affectionate cousen
Thomas H. Jackson
































AMBASSADORS' NOTES

The grave stone of John Jackson (b. 1709 - d June 1844) and his wife Ann (1776-1857) who we know to be the father of the author of this collection of letters.

John Jackson was a rope maker who left England in 1829 to make a new life in America. He brought with him three of his sons, Edward, Henry and Thomas (the author of this collection of letters). All stayed in America until their deaths.
Thomas and Henry started a small rope making business in Reading on only £100 and 7 years later they dissolved the partnership but Thomas carried on to grow the business into a very successful concern. It lasted for over 125 years and for a long time was the biggest employer in the city of Reading, PA



SOURCES

All photographs courtesy of Neil D. Scheidt, Find a grave Memorial 109902096

Uncertainties about the author
There was some uncertainty about whether this letter from Thomas H. Jackson is the same Thomas Jackson who was the author of all our letters.

We now know unambiguously that this was a different person but we are still not certain of the relationship between the two. See article in the newly discovered documents section of the website, Newspaper article 1873-10-27.

What makes it likely that they are the same person includes:

  • • They are both addressed to cousin Caleb Slater in England.
  • • They both were sent from Reading PA

But what causes the uncertainty includes:

  • • The handwriting of the Thomas H. Jackson letter is more flowery and has more spelling mistakes than most of the Thomas Jackson letters.

  • • The date of death for the father of Thomas H. Jackson is given as "the morning of Jan 13th 1857" whereas we know from gravestones and other records that the father of Thomas Jackson, the author of this collection of letters, died in June 1844! This clearly represents a 13 year difference.


Our respected collaborator in Reading Neil Scheidt has combed the records in Reading around January 1857 but has found none. During this research he examined the church records for Christ Episcopal Church, Reading and the following four Jackson members are listed on the membership roll for period 1850-1891.

Thomas Jackson    
Thomas H Jackson    
Matilda Jackson    
Henry Jackson    

The Ambassadors now know that Thomas H Jackson was a different person from the Thomas Jackson who wrote this collection of letters.

Our guess is that after Thomas Jackson's father John died in June 1844, then Thomas Jackson invited his half brother John (who had lived in England all his life) to go over to live in Reading in the accommodations that his father had occupied. This could make sense of the reference in this letter to the fact that the father of Thomas H. Jackson "had been in poor health for about 12 years, suffering every winter . . ." This might translate to "ever since he came over here to America".
If we followed this line of thought, then Thomas H. Jackson could be the son of John Jackson, in reality "our" Thomas Jackson's older brother .

This would also match the writer's statement "I cannot stand the cold here in winter either" That would be understandable for someone who had only been in Reading for 12 years whereas, if it were "our" Thomas Jackson, he would have been over in America for 38 years at that point and we would have expected to hear more about problems with the weather in earlier letters.

Final support for this theory is that Thomas H Jackson specifically says "my grandmother is very old and feeble and cannot last much longer either". Presumably his grandmother was also living in the area and we know that Ann Jackson did in fact die one month after this letter was written. She was "our" Thomas Jackson's mother but she would indeed be Thomas H Jackson's grandmother if our theory of the identity of Thomas H. Jackson is correct.

This theory of the identity of Thomas H. Jackson also conveniently explains why the handwriting in letter #3 is distinctively different from the rest of our letters.

The women of the family
We have no precise knowledge about when the women of Thomas Jackson's family joined their menfolk in America. His mother, Ann was in Reading in 1840 and we would guess that her two daughters and possibly Thomas Jackson's wife Mildred came over at the same time.




We welcome your comments on this document
or this website in general.

Click here to leave a comment


READERS' COMMENTS