Robert H. Jackson was born and raised in two small towns in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Southwestern, New York. The fields, farms, streams, and back roads of these communities cradled his childhood. During these early years, the people and places he remembered later in life are credited with shaping his strengths and honing his values.

In celebration of Jackson’s birthday on February 13th, join us over the next two weeks for a special reflection on the life of Robert H. Jackson, told through his own words and presenting historical photos from the archives at the Jackson Center.

View of Jackson Hotel
Robert H. Jackson was born on February 13, 1892 in Spring Creek Pennsylvania
Jackson was born in this house, built next to the Brokenstraw Creek in northwestern Pennsylvania by his great-grandfather Elijah Jackson. Jackson’s parents pose in the foreground of this old family photograph

Perhaps the first of the older Jacksons to influence me was my Grand Uncle William Miles. After my father married in 1884, William Miles, who was comfortably well-to-do and getting to be an old man, didn’t want to work the farm any longer himself. So he induced my father and mother to take the farm which they did, with the understanding that they would make a home for him while he lived. I was not born until 1892, some eight years after my father and mother were married, but Uncle William lived with the family until 1899 when he died, so that some seven years of my life he was a member of the household.

I remember the old man pretty distinctly. He was in a very real sense my baby sitter. He was a very active person, and walked a great deal. As soon as my legs would carry me I many times walked the old Spring Creek farm over with him. He pointed out various freaks such as a mound with a deep and regular depression in the center which he thought was built by the Indians. We went to the springs often to get a drink of water. He taught me the different kinds of trees, told me stories about the animals and Indians that were there when his family came, and generally was my first teacher and nurse. He has been long a justice of the peace and was frequently consulted by his neighbors, and knew some-thing of the workings of the law in that community. It was from him that I got my first vague ideas about laws, courts, arrests, trials, constables, as well as about the kind of people that got into trouble with the law.

Quotes taken from
The Reminiscences of Robert H. Jackson (1952) in the Columbia University Oral History Research Office Collection, Pg. 1, 10, 11, 28, 29