Friday, November 5, 2010

Tower Jackson, An Amazing Man With A Great Name!

I first encountered nineteenth-century Huron, Ohio, resident, Tower Jackson, several years ago and was so intrigued by his name that I wanted to know something about him. Yet, what is in a name? According to, the word tower can mean: “one that conspicuously embodies strength, firmness, or another virtue.” After researching the many facets of his life, I can truly say that Tower Jackson lived up to his name.

Tower Jackson was born in Woodstock, Vermont, on November 23, 1798 to Morris I. Jackson and Lucinda Sheldon. In 1804, the Jackson family moved to Hudson, New York, and then settled in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1817. In 1819, Tower Jackson moved to Norwalk, Ohio, and gained employment as a clerk in the store of George and Ralph Lockwood in Norwalk. The Lockwood brothers relocated their store to Milan, and Tower moved also. Around 1820, Tower settled in Huron. He invested in various businesses in Huron, his first being a dry goods and grocery store. For this venture, he partnered with Henry W. Jenkins. This partnership continued for a few years. About 1830, Tower built the Huron House hotel on the northwest corner of Main and Wall streets. Around this same time, Tower entered into a partnership with Richard E. Colt. These two entrepreneurs invested considerable money in a variety of businesses, most notably in the building of ships. In 1833, they financed the building of the 170-ton steamer Delaware. She was ready in 1834 and sold to a company in Detroit. From around 1834 through 1841, Tower served as the postmaster in Huron. He was required to make a weekly trip to Cleveland to get the mail. For his efforts, Tower was paid $175 per year. In 1840, he built another hotel, the American House.

Tower remained in Huron until 1846 when he moved to Racine, Wisconsin. Prior to leaving Ohio, Tower became associated with John James Speed and Ezra Cornell who were instrumental in the creation of the telegraph. Tower, along with Speed, Cornell and others, erected and successfully operated over 5,000 miles of telegraph line in New York, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Tower also laid 100 miles of telegraph line from Cleveland to Newcastle, Pennsylvania, and was paid $20 per mile. In 1848, he moved to Brooklyn, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland, where he lived with his brother, Morris, and some extended family. Tower was listed as one of eight directors of the Erie and Michigan Telegraph Company in 1849. In the 1850 census, Tower listed his occupation as telegraph agent.

By 1852, Tower again changed careers. He was named the first mining agent of the Cleveland Iron Company. Tower was sent to Marquette, Michigan, to determine how to extract iron ore from a newly-discovered source and then bring it to the lakeshore for shipping. This was a daunting task which Tower solved by erecting a plank road from the top of the mountain where the iron was located to the lakeshore. Though Tower was replaced as mining agent in June of 1853, 1,449 tons of iron ore was shipped to Cleveland for processing in 1855 due to Tower’s efforts in building the plank road. The first load that was shipped was 120 tons and was carried by the two-masted brig, Columbia. The Columbia was the first vessel to pass through the Sault Canal between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. She reached her destination of Cleveland on June 18, 1855. Tower returned to Ohio and again changed careers. From 1860-1870, he was living in Huron and listed his occupation as farmer on the United States censes. At the time of the 1880 census when he was 81 years old, Tower listed his occupation as capitalist.

Tower’s personal life was just as interesting as his professional life. In 1822, he married Sarah Clock of Monroeville. She bore him several children, but only one, Sarah Elizabeth (Griffith), lived to adulthood. Sarah Clock Jackson died in 1854while living in Cleveland. In 1856, Tower married Lucy M. Button and then returned to Huron.

Tower was named one of the first vestrymen of Christ Episcopal Church after the church was officially organized in 1839. While living in Cleveland, Tower joined forces with other abolitionists to help runaway slaves find freedom, an effort he often supported with his own money. After returning to Huron, he was named a lay delegate for Christ Church in 1862, and again named to the vestry in 1865. Tower died in Huron in 1891 in his 93rd year. He was buried in the Erie Street Cemetery in Cleveland. According to Tower’s obituary, he was “a man of wonderful vigor, both mentally and physically.” Further, “He was prompt in all business enterprises, and contributed more largely to the early prosperity of Huron than any other resident.”


  1. I am a Morris Jackson descendant. 8 kids survived of Morris and Lucinda. Tower's sister Juliaette was my gg grandmother. She married Alsphonso Hawley/Holly and raised her family in Cleveland. Richard Ely Colt was/or became Tower's brother in law, having married Tower's sister Chloe. Tower's oldest Brother Richard resettled in Michigan in 1830's and far and away had the most descendants. Jackson family children did not survive into adulthood well. (Except for Richard.) In the 1870 census (I think), Tower declared his occupation to be "capitalist". I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has successfully tracked down Sarah Jackson Griffith. Bill in AZ at

  2. Add't notes on Tower and the Jackson family...
    Tower's niece Julia Holly, Juliaette's daughter, married George Morgan. Their Cleveland home is shown on p. 151 of Showplace of America: Cleveland's Euclid Avenue. George's brother William's home on p. 152.
    It is a little known fact that, among those Cleveland Jacksons...Sir Francis Drake married Marie Antoinette.
    Bill in AZ at
    Tower's sister Ruth had married a Drake in NY and named one of her sons Sir Francis.
    Tower's sister Nancy married shipbuilder BB Jones whose Niece(?) was Marie Antoinette. That's the rest of the story.

  3. Last comment on Tower and Jackson family.
    Tower Jackson's great grandmother was Zipporah Tower of Mass/RI who married Joseph Jackson of RI.
    Bill of AZ at