I started this research of my family history in February 1990, after the death of an older brother, Joe Henry Jackson, Jr., who passed away three months after his 51st birthday. His death was a sobering moment for me. It reminded me how final death is and how fragile life can be; that tomorrow is promised to no one, so, I decided to do somehting that would last throughout the ages for me and my family: I began to research my family history using the U.S. Census data available to me on the Internet and at the local library.
Today, Wednesday, November 5, 2008, is my brother Joe's birthday. He would have been 70-years-old, had he lived and another sobering moment has occured that causes me to reflect on my ancestors and my life; and, the struggles we encountered as African-Americans living in the segregrated South of the United States of America during the days when Jim Crow was the rule of law. Today, Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 70 years afer the birth of my brother Joe (18 years after his death), a Black Man, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), the junior senator from the state of Illinois, was elected President of the United States of America by a majority vote of 52 per centile. More than 52 million Americans cast their ballot for this Black man who will to become the 44th President of the United States of America, January 20, 2009. He (unlike me) is not the desendent of slaves. His father Barack Obama, Sr., was a foreign exchange student from Kenya, Africa, who studied in Hawaii, met a white woman from Kansas, married her and had a son they named Barack Obama, Jr. Barack's father left the family when Barack was two years old, returned to Africa (where he had another wife and children); so, Barack was raised in Hawaii by his white mother and his white grandparents from kansas. Barack finished his undergrad studies in California, worked as a community organizer on the Southside of Chicago, went to Harvary Law School, was president of the renouned Harvard Law Review, and upon graduating from Harvard Law School went back to the Southside of Chicago to once again work as a community organizer. He married his mentor, (a Black woman) Michelle Robinson from Chicago, IL, and has two children, Sasha and Miliah. The family will move into the White House in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2009, and the girls will get a new puppy as promised by their dad. I wish my ancestors were here to witness this day. My father, Joe Henry Jackson, Sr. (b. Mar 1894, LA), would probably say, "That boy sure is smart!", when talking about Barack; my brother Joe, Jr., would say, "Of course!"
Today, Wednesday, November 5, 2008, the 70th birthday of an older brother Joe Henry Jackson, Jr, the second son of Joe Henry Jackson, Sr., and Edna Denham, I say: "Yes, we can!"
Having said that, I am researching my grandfathers, Henry Jackson (b. Oct 1868) Catahoula Parish, Louisiana; and, Lorenzo Denham (b. Jun 1873), Chunchula (Mobile County), Alabama.
My paternal great-grandfather, Henry Jackson, first appears on the U.S. Census in 1870 as a mulatto, male (b. Kentucky, 1835). He married Hannah Watson, a Black woman (b. before 1853, Mississippi) May 1872, and had five children with her. Each is listed on the census index as farm laborers. In 1870, Henry Jackson owned no real property; nonetheless, his personal property was valued at $250 and by 1880 he owned a boarding house with family members and boarders living under his roof.
My maternal grandfather, Lorenzo Denham (b. 1873, Alabama), first appears on the U.S. Census in 1880, the second child (first son) of Sarah and Lorenzo Denham, Sr. (b. 1846, Mississippi). The 1880 U.S. census list Lorenzo as a widower and a Teamster who owned his home in Mobile County, AL. To this day, that property is still in the hand of the Denham family in Mobile County, AL.
Help me on this research if you can!