David E. Jackson can truly be called a “son of the American Revolution.” His father Edward Jackson and his Uncle George Jackson, both served as Virginian Militia Officers during the Revolutionary War. During the War of 1812, David was commissioned as an Ensign in the 19th Infantry in Virginia. The family had two other Military Patriots. Genealogy records show that War of 1812 hero and seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, was his older cousin. In addition, David’s nephew Colonel Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, led the victorious battle against the Union at Harper’s Ferry, Maryland, during the Civil War in 1862.
David was born in Buckhannon, Virginia (now West Virginia), on October 30, 1788, into a prominent wealthy family. In addition to learning the business, farming, hunting and surveying skills of his father, he was educated at the Virginia Randolph Academy. In 1809, at age 21, David married Juliet Norris and the couple had four children.
In 1822, David saw an ad in a Missouri newspaper, seeking young men to travel the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains, to be employed as hunters with the Rocky Mountain Trading Company. Although his wife was against the idea, David saw this as a great opportunity to explore and gain wealth. He joined the company, along with many other young men, such as Jim Bridger, William Sublette, and Jedediah Smith. His wife and children remained in VA.
For eight years David pursued this adventure, fraught with troubles, including harsh weather, difficult terrain, competition from Canadian, British and French trading companies, and both kindness and treachery from the Native tribes. The company suffered many losses as their beaver pelts were often stolen. Many hunters died under the harsh conditions or by murder at the hands of competitors or tribes.
Eventually David Jackson, William Sublette and Jedediah Smith, finding trust in each other, formed their own company, “Smith, Jackson and Sublette.” After long periods of hunting, David often returned to the beautiful valley in the Teton Mountains, which Sublette eventually dubbed “Jackson’s Hole.” (Today, the town of Jackson, WY, in that valley, bears his name.) By 1830, David was tired of the whole fur trading experience and he returned east, without amassing his fortune. He reunited with his son William Pitt Jackson in St. Genevieve, MO, in the early 1830’s, but not with his wife or three other children.
On a business trip to Paris, Tennessee in 1837, David became ill with Typhus Fever. By December 1837, although gravely ill, he managed to write a letter to his oldest son Edward John Jackson, known as “Ned,” asking him to conclude all his business dealings. He provided his son a thorough written account of all the money that was owed to him, and all the debts he had yet to pay. David died shortly after that at age 49, on December 24, 1837, in Paris, TN. He was a long time member of the Masons, and upon his death David was buried by fellow Masons from Paris, TN, in the Paris City Cemetery, Henry County, TN.