Julia Neale Jackson
Julia Beckwith (née Neale) Jackson (1798-1831) was the mother of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson.
Short and tragic life
Julia Beckwith Neale was born at Peach Orchard near Aldie in Loudoun County, Virginia. She was daughter of Thomas and Margaret C. Winn Neale and the grand daughter of Richard Neale and Francis Underwood as well as Minor Winn and Betty Withers all of Virginia. Moving west, her father, Thomas Neale, achieved high prosperity as a merchant in the town of Parkersburg on the Ohio River. Julia was very intelligent, a devout Christian, and a belle in society, but her life became full of tragedies.
In 1817, she married Jonathan Jackson (1790-1826) of Randolph County, an attorney. They were living in Clarksburg and already had two young children when, on January 21, 1824, their third son, Thomas Jonathan Jackson (later to be known as Confederate General Stonewall Jackson) was born. Then tragedy struck the young family. When young Thomas was only 2 years old, both his father and sister Elizabeth, aged 6, died of typhoid fever. Julia gave birth to Thomas' sister Laura Anne the next day.
The young widow of 28 was left with debts and sold everything to pay them. She declined family charity, and moved into a small one-room house. Julia took in sewing and taught school to support herself and her 3 young children for about 4 years.
In 1830, she married another attorney, Blake Baker Woodson, who was appointed clerk of Fayette County. Woodson disliked his stepchildren and the family had financial problems. Julia's children were sent to live with her relatives. Young Thomas (and sister Laura) were sent to live with Jackson relatives at Jackson's Mill. The other child, her son Warren, went to live with Neale relatives, and died of tuberculosis in 1841 at the age of 20.
Julia gave birth to another son, William Wirt Woodson, but she died at the age of 33 from childbirth complications on December 4, 1831. The family lived in and around what is now Ansted, West Virginia, where she was buried without a marker in Westlake Cemetery. A historian wrote later that neighbors wrapped her wasted body in a homemade coffin.
Remembering Stonewall's mother
After the War, Stonewall Jackson was one of the best remembered and beloved of the war heroes. One of his former soldiers who admired Jackson, Captain Thomas R. Ranson of Staunton, Virginia, remembered the tragic life of Jackson's mother. Ranson went to Ansted, West Virginia and had a marble marker placed over the unmarked grave of Julia Neale Jackson in Westlake Cemetery, to make sure that the site was not lost forever. In modern times, community groups continue to make sure the cemetery is kept clean.