Andrew William Jackson and Margaret Minerva Goforth were married on November 9, 1855, with the Rev. William Pruitt, Minister of the Gospel, performing the ceremony. When the war was declared, Andrew was in the vicinity of Atlanta. He was conscripted for the Confederate Army but did not like it and deserted.
There in the woods was Minerva with the two horses and their children, waiting for her husband. They made their way from Birmingham northward to the old Jackson homeplace in Choestoe. Minerva and the children rode the horses and Andrew walked in the woods, trying to keep himself hidden. They miraculously made the long trip to Choestoe safely.
Just what year Andrew and Minerva and their by then four children decided to leave Choestoe is not certain. But evidently the unrest of the war years was still upon the land. They packed up their meager belongings and set out with their young family heading west. They had great difficulties along the way. Andrew still had to hide out because he was wanted for having escaped the Confederate jail. When they crossed the Mississippi River and arrived in Kansas, they felt safer because they were again among Union sympathizers who helped the young family to find food and provisions and temporary work for Andrew.
It was a sad journey. The two middle children died on the journey and were buried along the route. Their names are unknown to this writer. Milton Bert and Dicie survived the trip. The Jackson family arrived at the San Louis Obispo Valley, sometimes called the Creasy Plains, of California, and there they began farming. They were ready for a new life and gave themselves to it with a passion. There Minnie Matilda, their last child, was born on August 7, 1879.
Milton Bert was given the responsibility of herding sheep. He took the sheep to open range on the mountains near where they lived. The lad was only fourteen when he began this herdsman's job. Andrew went every week to take Bert food and to check on him. The lad did a good job of warding off wild animals and caring for the sheep.
Andrew liked seclusion. When other settlers began to move onto the Creasy Plains and get too close, Andrew would stake out another claim in a less-populated area. He did not like to talk of his Civil War experiences or of the hardships the family endured. One day Bert saw a large scar on his father's side and asked how he got it. Andrew told his son, "It's none of your business."
One day a group of men with winded, exhausted horses rode onto the Jackson ranch. They asked Andrew for his horses, as theirs were spent. He knew they would take them by force if he did not let them go willingly. They promised to send his horses back in a few days and quickly rode away.
Soon afterward, a sheriff's posse came by looking for the men. Noticing the many horse tracks near Andrew's barn, they wanted to know why. Ever the man of few words, Andrew told the sheriff that a lot of riding had been going on there the last few days. The sheriff explained that the Dalton Gang had robbed the bank the day before and the posse was trailing them.
A few days later, Andrew's tired horses reappeared at the ranch. He took off their saddles, and there under the blanket were fastened several $50 gold pieces. Whether Andrew kept the gold or turned it over to the authorities is unknown. Maybe he went by the old adage, "Finders, keepers."
Andrew and Minerva Goforth Jackson did not return to Georgia. They remained in California where their last place of residence was at Cholame. Andrew died there in 1917 and Minerva died in 1915. They were buried at San Louis Obisbo. Their adventures bespeak the independent spirit and work ethic so tightly woven into the character of early Union County, Georgia people.
c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published March 25, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.