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Col. Haymond recalls a young Thomas Jonathan Jackson

Bob Stealey

BOB'N'ALONG

From the Harrison County Historical Society came a rather timely historical account of the younger days of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, a native of Clarksburg who would later become a general in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States, 1861-65. The account came from an article published in 1888 and written by an unnamed staff correspondent of the Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Friday, Jan. 21, marks the 176th birthday of Clarksburg's most famous native. The Col. Luther Haymond referred to therein as the narrator of the story was 90 years old when interviewed. The reporter ... noted that Haymond was tall, erect and vigorous physically and mentally when he related his firsthand account of Stonewall Jackson's rearing in Clarksburg. Following is the narrative:

"Clarksburg, West Virginia, is famous as the place where Thomas Jonathan Jackson, known the world over as Stonewall Jackson, was born and raised. It was this little town that sent out in the 1860s that young man whose fighting and generalship won the love of the Confederacy, and the past two days I have met and talked with gray-haired men who were boys when Jackson was in short clothes. Younger men have told me how they had gone swimming with Tommy Jackson back in the 1830s.

"Stonewall Jackson was born in a little one-story-and-a-half brick house in what is now the center of Clarksburg. It was an old house when the future great General Jackson was ushered into this troubled world. It got older each day, but it was not until 1881 that the brush of business forced the little landmark away. A four-story building now stands on the Jackson birthsite.

"Last night I called on Col. Luther Haymond, who had nursed Gen. Jackson. Mr. Haymond is a man whose appearance commands admiration. He has lived long and well -- not fast. Ninety winters have left his hair white as snow, but aside from this, he does not show his age. Mr. Haymond is six feet tall, straight as an arrow, yet strong and muscular. He can read unusually small print without glasses. Mr. Haymond was a member of the Legislature and a prominent banker here.

"Last evening, he sat across the room from me and carried on a conversation in an ordinary tone. His sense of hearing is unusually keen for a man of 90 years. Haymond told this reporter, 'Yes, I knew Stonewall Jackson almost from the day he was born in Clarksburg. I knew him intimately from the day he first came out on the street with his brother, Warren. Tom Jackson was born in Clarksburg on Jan. 21, 1824. When he was 4 or 5 years old, I went clerking in the store of Ed McCullough which stood near the Jackson home on Main Street. I was then about 17 years of age.

"Some days after I went into the store, the little Jackson boys came running in. It was an awful hot day and the boys horrified Mr. McCullough and several customers. They burst into view with abbreviated costumes. They wore little linen pants held up with strings, but had no shirts on. Warren, the elder, explained that their mother was washing their shirts and that they slipped out of the house while she was busy. McCullough at once took the boys to the back of the store and cut off a great piece of shirting and gave it to them, that they might have at least two shirts apiece. This will show you how poor the Jacksons were and with what a handicap the future great general started on his race with the world.

"Tommy Jackson was just 7 years old when his father (Jonathan Jackson) died, and the financial troubles which had all along pressed on the family were now trebled when the head of the house had fallen. Cummings Jackson, who lived 18 miles up the West Fork River in Lewis County, came down to see the family and took great fancy to wee Tommy, the gray-eyed fearless chap who had already started out to lick all the 10-year-old boys on both sides of the creek. He offered to take the bright lad to his home and to send him to school.

"The young widow (Julia Neale Jackson) saw no better chance. It would leave one less mouth to feed and the boy would be sure of good treatment, so for a time, Clarksburg knew the lad no more. That is, he didn't live here, but lived at Jackson's Mill, but he visited his mother and friends very frequently.

"He used to spend much time with Aunt Katy Williams, a motherly old soul who lived down by the creek. His relative, Mrs. Mary S. Jackson, who lived on the hill, also received many visits from him then.

"While in Lewis County, Tommy's great love for fighting and horses developed. The boy was not more than 16 years old when he began 'riding as a constable' in Lewis County. He was soon afterwards made deputy sheriff in the county and was very wild and lawless until he was 18 years old and a terror to all evil-doers. He was the finest horseman I ever saw. I used to admire him as he dashed into town at full speed on his visits to his mother and his younger sister, Laura. In 1831, Mrs. Jackson again married, and I was one of the wedding guests. She married Blake S. Woodson, a lawyer.

"When 18 years old, young Jackson first became prominent. The daring deputy riding night and day was named to West Point cadetship by Samuel Hayes, then congressman from this district. I well remember the day he started from Clarksburg to West Point. He had ridden over from Weston with all his goods tied up in saddlebags. He got his appointment and, an hour later, was riding out of town to catch the stage. ...

"He sent his horse back to Weston. From (then) out, it seemed that the boy belonged to the WORLD, not us. He came back to see us occasionally, dressed in his nice blue uniform. This was before the gray was thought of. He graduated with high honors from West Point (17th in a class of 59 in 1846) and when the call from the South went up, he was an instructor at the military school over at Lexington, Va.'"

The account concluded: "There was much mourning here when the news came that the famous Stonewall of Bull Run had been killed by one of his own men at Chancellorsville. He was only 39 years of age when he died."

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