George B. Jackson
|George B. Jackson|
Brunswick County, Virginia, USA
|Died||November 25, 1900 (aged 50)
Between San Angelo and San Antonio, Texas
|Residence||San Angelo, Texas|
George B. Jackson (1850 – November 25, 1900), was a former slave who became a soldier in the United States Army, serving with the Buffalo Soldiers from 1869-1875 in Texas. He became a businessman, landowner, sheep rancher, and politician in San Angelo, Texas. One of the founders in the 1890s of the Republican Party in San Angelo, he was widely believed to have been the wealthiest African American in the state during the second half of the 19th century.
Early life and education
George B. Jackson was born into slavery on a plantation in Brunswick County, Virginia. He was of mixed race and may have been sired by his white master. He was 15 years old when he became free after the American Civil War and emancipation.
As a young man, Jackson enlisted in the US Army for more opportunities. He was assigned to an all-black unit, who became known as buffalo soldiers during their service in the American West. In 1869, Jackson was among the first buffalo soldiers assigned to Fort Concho, located on the Concho River in San Angelo, the seat of Tom Green County in West Texas. At the time, San Angelo was known as a "resort for desperate characters", where 16 saloons sold an average of 19.4 gallons of whisky per male resident annually.
By 1875, Jackson had been discharged from the Army at Fort Duncan in Eagle Pass, Texas. He began operating a saloon in San Angelo. In an event typical of the rough frontier town, in 1879, Josephine Thompson stabbed Albert Ford, a buffalo soldier, to death in Jackson's saloon. Twice a year, Jackson paid $25 to police to protect his continued operation of a brothel. The police typically charged prostitutes $2.50 twice per year for vagrancy. Otherwise, the business flourished without police interference.
Marriage and family
Jackson married Mary, a black woman from San Antonio, who continued to live there while he was running his business in San Angelo. Jackson prospered in San Angelo and regularly spent time with Mary in San Antonio. They had no children together.
By 1884, Jackson was selected as a petit juror in San Angelo, at a time when blacks in most of the former Confederacy were being disfranchised and thus disqualified from jury service. In 1885, the white-controlled school system appointed Jackson as a trustee of the black public school; the system was segregated. He purchased ranch land at a bargain some 35 miles west of San Angelo and leased out his holdings.
Active politically, Jackson in 1894 was chosen to address the Republican State Convention in Austin. He assailed the Wilson-Gorman Tariff of the Cleveland administration and urged high tariffs to protect West Texas sheep and goat ranchers.
He started a Republican organization in San Angelo, together with six whites and one Hispanic man. In 1894, the Republican candidate, George H. Noonan of San Antonio, was elected as U.S. representative from the district that included Tom Green County. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Noonan was the first Texas Republican elected to Congress after the end of Reconstruction. He served one term and was unseated in the 1896 general election, when Democrats regained power in the state. The San Angelo Standard newspaper declared the politically connected Jackson to be "the wealthiest colored man in Texas."
In 1897, Jackson traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the inauguration of U.S. President William McKinley, a Republican. His administration appointed Jackson as customs inspector in Presidio, Texas, a small community on the Mexican border west of what is now Big Bend National Park. Jackson was respected for setting aside racial differences in his dealings; he was known for developing friendships with whites and Democrats.
Jackson died in the home of a friend of congenital heart disease at the age of 50. At the time of his death, he was headed from San Angelo to San Antonio to see Mary. Jackson was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent black denomination in the United States, founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1816. He is interred at the black Masonic Cemetery in San Antonio. His business partner, Joe Selby, later died in San Angelo.
- "San Angelo Genealogical and Historical Society Meeting Gets Rescheduled". gosanangelo.com, February 12, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
- "George B. Jackson, Black (or African-American) Businessman, Rancher, and Entrepreneur," Lecture by Suzanne O. Campbell, head of the West Texas Collection at Angelo State University, at the annual meeting of the West Texas Historical Association in Lubbock, Texas, April 2, 2011.
- "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved April 17, 2011.