At the Lake County Old Settlers' meeting of Aug. 26, 1900, an interesting letter was received from Ursula Jackson Bonnett, past 77 years and then living in Des Moines, Iowa. Bonnell came to Lake County with her parents in 1837, at the age of 14, and lived the life of a pioneer on her parents' West Creek farm.
Her father, Joseph Jackson (1793-1887), a native of England, first traveled to Monroe County, Mich., south of Detroit, near the Ohio border. In the month of April 1837, hoping to find a suitable location for his future home, he came to Crown Point, where he stayed a short time, then moved on to the West Creek area, where he acquired 160 acres of fine prairie and timber land from the government.
He first broke the sod of five acres, planted it in corn and hoped for a good crop, then turned his attention to the erection of a dwelling for his family, who were still in Michigan. He was able to build a large log house of one-and-one half stories, with rough shingles for the roof. The site was a pleasant one, near a ridge of timber, with a small pond of soft water west of the house and a fine spring with hard water used for drinking and cooking.
He returned to his old home in Monroe County in June 1837 to take care of some business and to prepare his family for the move to Indiana in the fall.
He returned to Indiana while it was still summer along with his son Clinton Jackson, who took up a claim to the north of his father's, where another log house was soon built for the younger Jackson's family. Joseph remained with his son and family most of the summer, working on his own log house and breaking up more prairie for fall wheat. He also made hay in preparation for a cold winter.
In October 1837 he returned to Michigan to bring his family to Indiana. It was a long hard journey. Ursula wrote in her letter: "It was a warm, bright afternoon when the caravan set forth, and we went as far as Ridgeway, a small village six miles on the road where we tarried the first night. Judge of our surprise to see the ground covered with snow the next morning. As we only traveled a few miles each day, we were nearly three weeks getting to our destination in the Hoosier State." In addition to his personal goods, Jackson brought with him a small stock of groceries and a larger stock of dry goods, and was the operator of the first general store in that area.
Ursula Jackson Bonnell wrote on: "After we were finally settled in our new home, I do not remember that anything of importance happened that first winter. People cultivated the acquaintances of their neighbors; the men split rails for fencing and hauled wood to burn.
"When spring came, farm work began in ernest; what wih plowing, planting and fencing, the men found plenty to do, and with the cows and sheep and pigs and chickens to help out the living, the farm was well begun.
"The women had spinning and buttermaking to look after, and felt that they could soon make a fortune, as butter brought the enormous price of six cents per pound. Think of it, you buttermakers of today  and compare prices. Wheat brought a good price, also potatoes.
"Later Mr. Jackson tried the experiment of setting cranberry vines, brought from Eagle Lake, around the little pond west of the house. The vines grew and flourished and in time became a valuable source of farm produce."
During the following year, 15-year-old Ursula Jackson was hired by Addison Clark, who at the time was a school trustee at the village of Pleasant Grove (northeast of Lowell), to teach school in the summer. She was paid $1.50 per week for 13 weeks of teaching, and she 'boarded around' in the grove.
She wrote: "Think of it, you teachers of today  who get $35 to $50 and $60 per month." Soon a regular school of logs was planned near her West Creek home and Jackson became the first school teacher in West Creek, according to Rev. T.H. Ball, pioneer historian.
Benjamin Farley, born 1781, of the State of New York, another 1837 pioneer of the West Creek area, came to Lake County with his five sons and two daughters.
One of his sons, Zebulon Pierce Farley, born 1821, married Amarilla Valeria Jackson, Ursula's sister.
Joseph Jackson was elected to the office of auditor of Lake County in 1847.
After several years of hard labor, farming in the West Creek area, the Jacksons sold the farm to Edward Farley and moved to Crown Point, where they rented the Crown Point Hotel, owned by M.M. Mills.
After a few years at the county seat, Jackson purchased the old store and warehouse known as the J.W. Dinwiddie store on the east side of the public square, and remodeled it into the "Jackson House Hotel." He sold the property in five years and made plans for another trip.
The Jackson House changed hands many times before it was purchased by Matthias Hack (1816-1867) and the name was changed to "The Exchange" or "Hack's Exchange." After Hack passed away in 1867, his wife Angelina Schmal Hack was the proprietor of the inn for many years. She was a great-aunt of the writer of this column.
In the spring of 1857, 20 years after moving from Michigan to Lake County, Joseph Jackson made another move westward, this time to Louisa County, Iowa, where he and his son Clinton were partners in a general merchandize store.
During that same year he built a nice residence, which was to be his home for the remainder of his life. He was twice elected mayor of Wapelli, Iowa, about 50 miles south of Davenport, where he made considerable city improvements during his terms of office.
He also held the office of postmaster for several years there. He lived to the advanced age of 94 years and eight months, and was well-respected by all who knew him. His wife, Amarilla, lived to be 88 years of age, and died two years before her husband.
In his book Lake County, 1884 Rev. Timothy Ball wrote that he was sorry that there were no special records of the families of Jackson and Farley. He wrote that Zebulon Farley had moved to Chicago, and his grandson, Eugene Farley, was well known in Crown Point at the time. "Joseph Jackson was born in 1793, and his wife in 1796. They have been married nearly seventy years. They left Crown Point some twenty-five years ago. Recent  letters from Iowa state that the health of General Jackson and his wife is still good."
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