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Saturday, May 21, 2011

William Sharpless Jackson

William Sharpless Jackson: A Forgotten Founder

Jackson is most remembered as the husband of Helen Hunt Jackson, the author from the 1800's who wrote Ramona among so many other works. Jackson was that but so much more that has been lost though time.

Born in Pennsylvania to Caleb S Jackson and Mary Ann Gause Jackson. His parents were involved in the Underground Railway, their home being a stop on that historic line, in Kennett Square, Chester County, Pennsylvania. His parents were also Quakers, the faith that William Jackson Palmer, one of the founders of Colorado Springs, also belonged to.

Jackson received his education in Pennsylvania at the Greenwood Dell and Eaton Academies and then went on to learn the trade of machinist. After returning to school at the Eaton Academy he was offered a position of clerk and business manager at the firm he was working at as a machinist. His rise was rather quick after this point.

He had a partnership with a car building and lumber business in Pennsylvania. He later took a position as a treasurer with the Lake Superior and Mississippi railroad being build in Minnesota, where he lived in St. Paul until moving to Denver.

The move to Denver was precipitated by the job Jackson took with the Denver and Rio Grande railroad. (D&RG) Jackson had been elected as treasurer of the new company. Shortly after taking on his new duties, Jackson moved to Colorado Springs where he remained until his death.

As a member of the bachelors club, when he married Helen [ in1875 ] the secretary of that organization wrote “W. S. Jackson has left the noble bank of Bachelorhood and joined the soothing one of matrimony. His name is hereby stricken from the rolls. A bill for back dues has been sent.” This ended his membership in the Bachelors Club.

Jackson left the D&RG in 1878 to pursue his other interest one of which was the founding of the El Paso Bank. What made this pursuit unique for Colorado Springs is the fact that he started the bank at the height of the financial crisis of 1873. His bank was a success due in part to the abilities of its founders.

IN 1884 when the D&RG went into receivership, Jackson was appointed to oversee the process. As a result of his foresight and business savvy, when the company was returned after reorganization the companies equipment was a top shape and the treasury had $1,000,000 in its coffers.

Throughout his life Jackson's ability in the area of finance was one of his greatest gifts to Colorado, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. Yes, he was married to Helen Hunt Jackson, and by all accounts it was a union of love and respect, but William Sharpless Jackson was so much more. He was a member of the El Paso Club, was on the board for the Colorado Springs Summer School, a charter member of Colorado Colleges Board of Trustees. This is the same institution to which he left many letters from both himself and Helen. A treasure trove for researches from yesterday and today.

10:07 pm est

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Doris McCraw

Doris McCraw
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