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Biography of Edward Jackson

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This gentleman, the descendant of an old New England family, was born in Redding, Connecticut, on the 20th of April, 1799. His parents being without wealth, his education at school and as an. apprentice was such as would enable him to earn his livelihood. His brilliant social qualities and engaging person rendered him a most agreeable companion, and won for him, while yet without fortune, the heart and hand of a young lady of more than ordinary talent, beauty, and social position, Miss Lydia Ann Sanford, of his native town. They were
married in 1826 and at once turned westward to find a home in Niagara, Canada West. Here the loan of a hundred dollars furnished a stock for the commencement of his business, and by the end of the first year of his married life, in the establishment of his commercial character, and in the acquisition of a small capital of his own, he laid the foundations of his future prosperity. As the western peninsula of Ontario was now rapidly filling up with new settlements, he sought a more central point from which to push his trade, first in Ancaster, and finally, in 1830, in the incipient city of Hamilton. Here he gathered around him as apprentices in his
trade a number of young men, who, under his careful commercial training, and the moral influences of his Christian home, grew up to be active partners in the extension of his business to
various central points in Canada, and even as far west as Chicago. The aggregate wealth accumulated by some five or six of these early apprentices is probably now reckoned by millions, and bears highest testimony to the value of the training they received from their young master.

In 1832 he became a member of the Wesleyan Methodist church, and was appointed to the office of classleader, which he honorably and efficiently discharged for forty years. In the next twenty-five years, by a life of unostentatious christian integrity and commercial industry, enterprise, and foresight, he won for himself not only a handsome fortune, but also the unusual respect of his fellow citizens as testified by his election to the highest municipal honors in their gift.

In 1858, the death of his only surviving child, the wife of W. E. Sanford, cast a deep shadow over his temporal hopes, and directed all the energies of his nature into the single channel of religion and philanthropy. He contributed liberally to the commencement of Methodist Missions on the British Pacific Coast. He was the largest contributor to the foundation of the Wesleyan College, Hamilton, and during the rest of his life, president of its directorate. At the same time Mrs. Jackson, as treasurer and directress, gave large aid in building up “The Hamilton Ladies’ Orphan Asylum and Benevolent Society.” In 1866, by his own contributions, unexampled at that time in their liberality, and by untiring personal effort, the foundations of the Centenary Methodist church were laid, and two years later it was. brought to completion. During these years also the varied societies laboring on behalf of the freedmen of the Southern States received from him liberal and hearty contributions.

In 1871 he became deeply interested in the establishment of a chair of theology in the University of Victoria College, Cobourg. His plans for the completion of this enterprise were only partially carried into effect by his own generous bequest of $10,000, when he was suddenly called to his reward. He died while bowed with a few friends in family prayer, on Sabbath evening, July 14, 1872. Mrs. Jackson survived him scarcely three years. In this interval she raised the endowment of the chair of theology founded by her husband to $30,000, left bequests of more than thirty thousand more to the various works of religion and charity in the church and the city with which she had so long been associated, and literally spent the last moments of her life in busy labors of love.

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