WILLIAM JACKS. - One of the best known of the pioneer citizens of Wyandotte county is William Jacks. This gentleman who has resided in the state since Civil War days, is now a retired farmer, who in the prosperous leisure which has crowned an honest, honorable and thrifty life, can look back over an interesting and adventurous life, one of its most remarkable chapters being his experiences as a Forty-niner in the California gold fields. He is a man held in general confidence and respect and now, within three years of the four score and ten mark, is yet a useful member of society.
William Jacks was born in Howard county, Missouri, April 24, 1824, the son of Elias Barnes and Polly (Warden) Jacks, both of Howard county, Missouri. His grandparents, Richard and Sophia (Barnes) Jacks, were Virginians. His grandparents, both paternal and maternal, removed to Kentucky in the early days and then went on to Missouri, locating in Howard county where they entered a large tract of land. There his parents were married and in 1837 removed to the Platt Purchase in Platt county, Missouri. They entered one hundred and sixty acres of land near Plattsville; improved and cultivated the land and resided upon it until the Civil war period, when they removed to Wyandotte county and township. Here they bought a large tract of land from the Wyandotte Indians and again engaged in the strenuous labor of bringing a farm to its best condition. In course of time they were called to eternal rest and their remains were interred on the old homestead in Platt county, Missouri. The subject was one of a large family of children, eight of whom lived to years of maturity and four of whom survive at the present time.
William Jacks was the oldest of his parents' family. He secured his education in the subscription schools of that part of Missouri in which his youth was passed and remained beneath the home roof until the age of twenty-three years. Previous to this, however, he conducted a grocery at Parkville, Missouri, but he had no desire to make this his permanent occupation.
When about twenty-three years of age, Mr. Jacks, who had decided to join the Califorina gold seekers, set out with an ox team, in company with the members of the Platt County Company, and after a journey of many perils and much adventure, arrived at Placerville, California, which then rejoiced in the cheerful name of Hangtown. They began digging at once. Mr. Jacks was taken ill and for several weeks was laid up. The high hopes of many who had had dreams of at once finding a fortune had already perished and many were sick and dying. The desolation and depravity were terrible and Mr. Jacks could see souls taking flight; the dead being buried and men engaged in drunken gambling orgies, all within a few hundred feet. Mr. Jacks secured several claims and the first gold he found was at his claim near Georgetown, where a cousin died. The name of the unfortunate young man was William Andrews. Mr. Jacks vividly remembers how he and his other comrades sawed the rough boards for his coffin and nailed them together. The subject remained in California for about a year, like the others going from one strike to the other. Meantime he and fifteen other persons, banded together into a company called the Spanish Ranch and Plumas Water Company, for mechanical and agriculural enterprises, this being chartered at Quincy, Plumas county, California. One of their purposes was to construct a canal thirty miles long. Needing more money they borrowed from the Rothschilds' agents at San Francisco, but at the outbreak of the Civil war, the Rothschilds withdrew their cash and the company was broken up. Mr. Jacks had secured two mining claims and he and a man named Smith secured some gold from one of them and sold the other. Then by a clever deal they got possession of the old company and conducted its developing enterprises for years. He subsequently turned his share over to his brother, Elias B., and retured to the parental home on account of the serious condition of health of his father.
Mr. Jacks, who had purchased a forty-nine acre tract of undeveloped land in Wyandotte county, Wyandotte township, began upon its development and cultivation, happy in the more peaceful surroundings of his Kansas home. He added to this original tract from time to time and now possesses one hundred and twenty-four acres upon which he has successfully conducted general farming operations.
In that year Mr. Jacks chose a devoted wife and helpmeet in the person of Mary A. McDaniel, of Platt county, Missouri, a native of the state of Kentucky, who was living in Platt county at the time of her marriage. Her lamentable demise occurred April 10, 1908. Mr. and Mrs. Jacks had no children of their own, but adopted a daughter, V. Large, who is now the wife of Otto Freeman. Mr. Jacks now rents his property to Mr. and Mrs. Freeman and makes his home with them. The subject is a most public spirited citizen and has ever been stanchly aligned with the Jefferson Democrats. He has on several occasions given most faithful and enlightened service in public office, acting as justice of the peace; as county commissioner for two terms and as township trustee for two terms.
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