Thursday, June 19, 2014

Frank Jackson - Keeping the Faith Alive

Happy Juneteenth Bloggers!

During the Civil War, South Carolina lost as much as 20% of its white male population in battle. Many of its plantations were burned to the ground. Freed persons of color were no longer considered as property but as human beings. When the fortunes of the former slave-owners were diminished, many of them left the area. In addition, several churches were abandoned as well. Prior to the war, prominent slave-owning families in SC had converted their slaves to Roman Catholicism and had them baptized. After emancipation, it was only logical that these freedpersons would remain tied to that religion. Here is a story about one of my early African-American ancestors and his role in the Catholic Church. 

Frank Jackson was born on November 15, 1855 in Barnwell, SC. Frank was the son of George Jackson b. 1833 and Maryann Green b. 1840. Frank had a younger brother named James Jackson b. 1859. From what I was able to uncover was that George and Maryann were not married to each other. By 1863, George resided in Aiken, was married to Jane and was the father of two sons Anthony and Preston Jackson.  Maryann resided in Barnwell, was married to John Graham and was the mother of two sons Benjamin and Edward Graham.

Poor Maryann was paralyzed and bed-ridden. Only young James lived with the Graham family. Frank was on his own by the age of 15. In 1870, he lived in the household of Ben Deedly of Bedloc, Barnwell and worked on the 8,000 acre Johnson farm. What is interesting to note that the foreman of the Johnson farm was James Morgan Jackson b. 1820, who is probably his grand uncle.

By his 18th birthday, Frank had earned enough money to own his own land. He relocated to the city of Walterboro, formerly a summer retreat for wealthy plantation owners, in the township of Blake, Colleton County, SC. Frank owned five acres of land next door to the Grahams and his brother James. In 1875, Frank married Louisa Lewis b. 1852. Frank helped raise Louisa's two sons Willie Smith b. 1870 and Henry Smith b. 1872 by a previous marriage. Frank and Louisa's children were Louisa Jackson b. 1874, James Jackson b. 1876, Kate Jackson b. 1878, Sarah U. Jackson b. 1883, George Jackson b. 1887, Cardoza Jackson b. 1888 and Annie Jackson b. 1890. Only 4 of their children lived past 1900.

Interesting side-note: George Jackson is my great-grandfather. He had a son named Frank Jackson and a grandson named George Jackson. So my family had five generations of alternating names between George and Frank.

When Frank and his family moved to Walterboro, he renewed his faith and practiced Catholicsm with the local residents. Frank's land is no more than a quarter mile from St. James the Greater Catholic Church located on Ritter Road. The church had burned down in 1856. By the time Civil War occurred plans for rebuilding the church were abandoned when white residents left the area. In the 1870s, a school house was built on the site called Catholic Hill by the free African-Americans who lived nearby. Residents used that building to educate their children and to pray. Frank helped build that school house.

By 1897 a new church was built. Frank was one of these parishoners mentioned in an old pamphlet that helped maintain and preserve the church for future generations. (Click the 3rd image to view his name)



Frank and his brother James remained close. They were neighbors in 1900. James was married to Nancy and had seven children of his own.


James Jackson died on November 20, 1916 from Bright's Disease. It was from his death certificate that I was able to identify his father's name. Frank Jackson died on November 21, 1926 of Dropsy. They are both buried in the church's cemetary on Catholic Hill. I have six generations of family buried there. To this day, my family still owns the land surrounding the church. To everyone, the church is a historic landmark. To me, its the house my great-great grandfather built.

A special thanks to Valerie Lewis-Mosely for providing me a copy of the St. James the Greater Church pamphlet. 


  1. That is an exceptional gift Valerie and a great blessing for you Wayne to be able to tell this story and have those landmarks to cherish your Grandfather's memory. Well told!

  2. That was something else you got this information. That really put it into perspective about how we sometimes went with our Owner and what they would allow us to do as far as religion. Great Piece. Valerie's input was well appreciated.