Jackson is the centrally located county seat of
Jackson County. Pioneers in the 1830's by the tens of thousands
traveled west over the Territorial Road (roughly parallel to I-94). Many
of them stopped in the Jackson area to take up land. Jackson County was
named after Andrew Jackson and organized on 1832. The principal
settlement, Jackson, founded in 1829, was first called Jacksonopolis and
later Jacksonburgh. Located near the headwaters of the Grand River,
Jackson has always been an important transportation center. One of
America's most famous political conventions took place in this city on
July 6, 1854, when 1,500 persons from throughout Michigan assembled
"under the oaks" and organized a new party which they named the
Significant growth began in the late 1830’s, with the building of the
world’s largest walled prison which was completed in 1900 and the coming
of the Michigan Central Railroad.
This was the original site of Michigan's first state prison, approved by
the legislature in 1838. A temporary wooden prison, enclosed by a fence
of tamarack poles, was built on sixty acres donated for that purpose
here. In 1839 the first 35 prisoners were received. A permanent prison
was built three years later. Beginning in the 1880's under Warden H. F.
Hatch a greater emphasis was placed on education and rehabilitation of
prisoners. After 1934 the inmates were housed in the new prison north of
Incorporation as a village occurred in 1843, and the town grew with the
discovery of sandstone and coal in the area. In 1854, the Republican
Party was organized here, taking on the name "Republican" to protest
slavery practices permitted in the recently passed Kansas-Nebraska Bill.
In 1857, Jackson was reorganized as a city and grew rapidly. By the turn
of the century, it had become a leading player in Michigan’s economy,
the home of Buick Motors.
Today, Jackson remains one of Michigan’s 10 largest cities, with a
diverse economy, producing everything from orthopedic appliances to
camshafts. Many cultural activities and points of interest, include the
famous Cascades Falls Park, Ella Sharp Museum, Hurst Planetarium,
Harness Raceway, and the restored railway depot, still in operation.
Jackson celebrates its annual Rose Festival in early June and Civil War
reenactment at the end of August.
Photos courtesy of: Ken Huisjen