Along with a multitude of stories about businesses and business men in The Daily Republican's 10th anniversary edition, published in 1915, are histories of the various towns in Cape Girardeau County: Jackson, Whitewater, Burfordville, Allenville, New Wells, Pocahontas, Gordonville, Daisy, Appleton, and, of course, Cape Girardeau.
Here's what the souvenir edition had to say about Jackson and its origins.
(This image of High Street in Jackson is taken from an undated postcard.)
Jackson, the County Seat, Has Enjoyed a Splendid Growth and is a Modern Town.
When, in the year 1813, the courts of common pleas and general quarter-sessions of the peace in Cape Girardeau were superseded by a court of common pleas, whose jurisdiction was that of both the former combined, and at the same time Cape Girardeau County succeeded Cape Girardeau District, a new seat of justice was established. From March, 1814, until the following year the courts were held at the meeting house on the plantation of Thomas Bull (Bethel Baptist church, about one and one-half mile south of Jackson.)
This court appointed commissioners for the new seat of justice, and the following citizens served as such commissioners: John Davis, John Sheppard, S.G. Dunn, Abraham Byrd and Benjamin Shell, who, in February, 1814, purchased from William H. Ashley fifty acres of land lying "on the waters of Hubble Creek," the site of the city of Jackson today. The town was laid off in 1815 and named in honor of "Old Hickory" Jackson, who had just achieved his famous victory over the British at New Orleans. The lots were sold at various times, and in May, 1820, the aggregate sales amounted to $9,008.76.
At that time the surrounding country had become quite compactly settled, and the site of the town itself formed part of an improved plantation, which was purchased from Ashley, who had obtained it by marriage with the daughter of Ezekial Able. Adjoining on the west was the farm of William Neely, on the north that of Joseph Seawell and on the south that of William Daugherty. In 1818 the population of Jackson numbered 300. It was described by a writer at that time as "a considerable village on a hill, with the Kentucky outline of dead trees and huge logs on all sides in the fields." The population consisted of a heterogeneous assemblage of people, young men predominating, gathered from almost every state in the Union. There were three or four small stores, a few merchants' shops, several taverns and boarding houses, one or two tanyards, a printing office, a frame court house, a log jail and a little log school house.
Society was in a rather chaotic state, and some of the restraint and much of the refinement of older communities were lacking, yet many of the early residents were people of intelligence, whose influence was not bound by county lines.
Among the first merchants in Jackson were Mr. Eckhardt, Clifton & Mothershead, Samuel Cupples, Joseph Frissell, David Armour, John Juden, Nathan Vanhorn and George H. Scripps. They hired Robert Morrison to drive a team to Baltimore for goods, a trip which was accomplished in about three months. Col. William McGuire owned a tanyard just at the edge of town in 1818, about the same time Caleb B. Fulenwider opened a "still house" west of the town. The first persons licensed to keep houses of entertainment in Jackson were James Edwards, Thomas Stewart, William Sheppard and John Armstrong.
Jackson at the Beginning.
Jackson was first incorporated by the county court in April, 1819, when an order was made defining the limits of the town, and appointing William G. Gantt and Joel Blount to hold an election for trustees. No other mention is made of this incorporation until 1828, when Nathan Vanhorn, Franklin Cannon, G.W. Davis and Edward Criddle met and organized by electing Nathan Vanhorn chairman and C.S. Thomas clerk. Several ordinances were passed and rules for the government of the board adopted, but no more meetings were held until 1831, when George W. Juden was made clerk and Wilton O'Bannon town constable. From that time until 1847 only one meeting was held. The incorporation was revived, and N.W. Watkins, Charles Welling, Jason Watson and Cyrus Walker elected trustees. The board met regularly until 1859, when a special charter was granted by the Legislature. The first board of trustees under this act was composed of Thomas B. English, John W. McGuire, Jacob Kneibert and Charles Litterer. With the exception of four years, during the war, the municipal government was maintained under this charter until December, 1884, when, by popular vote, it was decided to incorporate Jackson as a city of the fourth class. The first election of officers under the new government was held on April 7, 1885, and J.W. Limbaugh was elected mayor, and Adam Hoffmann, J.V. Priest, J.H. Schaefer and C.H. Macke, aldermen. Mr. Limbaugh continued as mayor until 1887, when he was succeeded by R.P. Wilson, father of the present mayor, R.K. Wilson.
The First School House.
The first school house in Jackson was a small log building, erected upon the site of the present grammar school lot, soon after the town was established. This lot was conveyed by the commissioners of Jackson in accordance with a special act of the Territorial Assembly, passed Jan. 30, 1817, to Joseph McFerron, Zenas Priest, Thomas Neale, Joseph Seawell and Thomas Stewart, trustees appointed by this act. Three years later Jackson Academy was incorporated, with David Armour, Joseph Frissell, Dr. Thomas Neale, V.B. DeLashmutt and William Surrell, trustees. No action toward putting this institution into operation seems to have been taken by these trustees, and the charter was allowed to lapse. Meanwhile there were private subscription schools of various degrees of excellence. The first grammar school was taught by Henry Sanford, afterward for thirty years clerk of the Circuit Court. Dr. Barr was another early teacher. Primary schools were taught by Mrs. John Scripps, Mrs. Edward Criddle, Mrs. Wathen and Miss Rhoda Ranney. In the latter part of the thirties a two-story brick building was erected, and in January, 1839, Jackson Academy was again incorporated, with P.R. Garrett, Edward Criddle, Nathan Vanhorn, John Martin, Johnson Ranney, Charles Welling and N.W. Watkins as the first board of trustees. J.G. Gardiner was installed as principal, with Miss Elmira Gregory, assistant. Under Gardiner's management the school became one of the leading educational institutions in this portion of the state. He remained for five or six years, and was succeeded by D.E.Y. Rice. From that time until the Civil War the changes in teachers were numerous, and for a time the Academy was conducted under the auspices of the Methodist church. After the close of the war the school was reopened, but the building and grounds were soon transferred to the trustees of the public schools.
The public schools of Jackson were established in 1867. James Alderson was employed as principal teacher, and the schools were opened in September, 1868. The next year Dr. A.W. Milster was principal, and Margaret A. Goode and Fred Kies assistants. In 1870 a colored school was established. The white scholars were taught in the old academy building until 1881, when it was determined to erect a new building. The contract was at once let, and in January, 1882, the present grammar school, a substantial and commodious brick building, was completed. It is two stories high, with a basement, and contains six school rooms.
For the first few years, Jackson grew quite rapidly and somewhat retarded the growth of Cape Girardeau, but when steamboats began plying regularly on the Mississippi the superior location of the latter place enabled it to distance the rivals.
When Jackson Had Cholera.
Jackson has twice suffered severely from epidemics of cholera. It first made its appearance in the county in June, 1833, in a family living about five miles south of the town, and spread rapidly northward, exciting terror and dismay. Drs. Cannon, Priest and Davis worked incessantly, but were powerless to stay the progress of the dread disease. It attacked the family of Col. Alexander Buckner, and soon himself, wife and two servants were cold in death. Altogether the deaths numbered 128. There were a few cases in 1849, but only one death resulted. On June 10, 1852, a case of cholera was declared to exist in a house near the jail, which then stood on the public square; thence it spread rapidly through the town baffling the best skill of the physicians. Before the third week nearly every person able to do so had fled, scarcely enough remaining to care for the sick and bury the dead.
A Period of Growth.
The time intervening between these happenings of long ago and the present has been a period of steady growth for Jackson. From the small town in the wilderness has grown an enterprising city of three thousand inhabitants, with modern business houses, municipal light and water plant, two railroad stations, large manufacturing establishments, among which the plant of Cape County Milling Co. stands pre-eminent. The last ten years has been marked with exceptional progress for Jackson. During that time many public improvements have been made and a large number of good, substantial dwellings have been erected. Several fine churches have been built, and three large school houses are now at the disposition of an aggressive board of education and a very efficient corps of teachers. Streets are being graded and made permanent with substantial concrete walks and gutters in all the business and residence districts. The old ramshackle frame business houses have all disappeared and substantial brick structures have taken their places.
A City Beautiful.
The institution that Jackson is particularly proud of, however, is the municipal water and light plant, which was erected only a few years ago, within the last decade. A well nearly 1,000 feet deep yields an abundance of the purest and clearest water on earth. The direct pressure system employed in conveying the water to all parts of the city has never failed in any emergency, and the citizens have been able to check every fire within reach of the water mains since the inauguration of the system. The electric light service gives entire satisfaction, also, and the plant is self-sustaining and yields a small profit annually.
The city is picturesquely situated on hilly territory, which has the advantage of natural drainage. Seen from a distance from one of the surrounding hilltops, it presents a beautiful appearance, with its tree-lined streets, many colored buildings, lofty spires and winding railroads, all surmounted by the mighty dome of the county court house, which stands in the middle of the city, surrounded by well-kept lawns and hedges, a jewel of dazzling white in a setting of emerald.
Every line of merchandising is represented in Jackson, the old, grouchy "storekeeper" has disappeared, and the shrewd, live merchant has taken his place, and buys everything in the way of farm produce, bringing in turn to the city the wares of the world. In the last ten years great strides have been made in the business annals of the city and many new enterprises added. The business men have banded together in a real live Commercial Club, which holds its meetings regularly, and the members of which incessantly work for the good of the city. Other societies have been formed, whose sole aim is the betterment of conditions of the city and its citizenship. The city council is composed of the most influential and successful business men, headed by a progressive mayor, and all lend their services to the city practically free. A very efficient police force looks after the peace and morals, and does its work very satisfactorily. All these things combine to make Jackson the ideal city to live in.
It was not always thus, and many of these improvements have been brought on in the last ten years. Not so many years ago Jackson was known throughout this section of the state as "old Jackson," which cognomen was synonymous with degradation and rowdyism, where fights and carousals were rather the rule than the exception.