When I first set up our genealogical wiki, I just had a list of names. Some of them with dates, parents, spouses, and children. To make sure they were really related to us, I searched for each one online. One of them, Edward Jackson, was mentioned in a Wikipedia article.I was thrilled to find that his house, built in the 17th century, has been preserved as a historic landmark. Since I was going to be in Boston for my class reunion, I started making arrangements to visit the house with my brother Steven, who is also a descendant.Our line of descent, according to my records, is from Edward Jackson to his daughter Hannah Jackson Ward, to her son Jonathan Ward, to his daughter Remember Ward Richardson, to her son David Richardson, to his daughter Hannah Richardson Moore; to her son Jonathan Moore, to his daughter, Sarah Grey Dennett Moore, to her daughter Emma Augusta Moore, who lived to be over 100, and who lived with my grandparents, so my father grew up knowing her.
It’s an amazing feeling to walk into a house where your six-times-great ancestors lived and played . We got to look at one of the most precious exhibits: a handwritten diary by one of the daughters, Ellen, who titled it “Annals from The Old Homestead“, dated 1895. It provides documentary evidence that the house was a stop on the Underground Railway.
A diagram on the wall showed slaveholding homes and Underground Railway houses in the neighborhood. Steven noted with poignancy that some of the slaves could easily have slipped away from their owners in the night. But what Jackson was doing was illegal. And if too many took advantage of it, it would be discovered.
In colonial times, John Eliot was held in high honor as “apostle to the Indians” (Puritan missionary) He was a peacemaker between Indians and colonists. Edward Jackson was one of his strongest supporters. Eliot began his mission to “civilize and Christianize” the Nonantum Indians on October 28, 1646. In 1896, the town of Newton appropriated $250 for a commemorative 250th anniversary celebration of Eliot’s mission. The program for the event and the transcripts of the addresses show a sectarianism that would have the ACLU tearing its hair out today.