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Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection, UNCAsheville Ramsey Library
Benjamin James Jackson, Sr. and wife Lula Rachel Jackson:  bhcP77.

Jackson Market Established: 1897

Benjamin James Jackson was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina. At an early age he came to Asheville, North Carolina. Soon, he became married to Lula Rachel McNeil of Arden, North Carolina.

As time progressed, he became the only black to own a stall in the Asheville City Market, a very large and old structure. He was the only man of his race in the entire market place. It was often said that his produce of fruits and vegetables was the most select of all.

The Jackson Market was established in 1897. The policy was to cater to everyone with courtesy. Cafes, boarding houses, hotels, and restaurants chose Jackson's Market for their delicacies. Most of the produce was shipped from Cincinnati, Ohio. A few local wholesale companies furnished the food for retail use.

After a short time, trucks were purchased for speedy delivery for the rapidly growing business. The grown girls served as clerks and bookkeepers. The older boys drove the trucks. A few hired persons were helpers. Among them was Albert E. Manley just from Central America, who is now Dr. Manley, president of Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia.

Some famous person once said that behind every successful man there is an interested and devoted wife. The role that Lula Rachel Jackson played as a wife and mother was in rearing the children. She also sewed for a few customers. There were ten children born to this union, namely, Christopher, Marie, Lula, Ben, Jr., Hattie, Martha, Frederick, Oliver, Helon, and Ruth.

Formal education for B. J. Jackson was quite limited, but the goals he had for his family were high. One was the regular attendance and participation in Sunday school, church, and B.Y.P.U. Family prayer was held every Sunday morning prior to leaving for Sunday school. Benjamin Jackson's philosophy of life was right is always right. There is no in-between. This idea was instilled in the children by both parents. They taught it and lived it daily.

Another ambition he had for the ten children was to become independent citizens by achievement. After graduation from high school, each child was encouraged to go to Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was a good Baptist College, which was our church affiliation. Most of the children became teachers after graduation except Benjamin, who followed business administration at Howard. Hattie went into the field of music at Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama. Lula was married to a mortician and later became a licensed mortician from Chicago School of Embalming. Henry E. Dunn passed, and she then assumed complete responsibility. The People's Funeral Home of Indianapolis, Indiana is still in business, though the owners have retired.

At one time B. J. Jackson was the chorister at Nazareth First Baptist Church of which he and the family were members. Later, the memberships were moved to Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church where he served as a deacon until his last days. Also he took an active part in music as did some of his children. Hattie played the organ. He also served as chorister for the Sunday evening song service at the Y. M. C. A. (Y.M.I.). At that time there were few places to go aside from the church for spiritual and inspirational growth, so the auditorium was usually filled to capacity.

Being a family man, family-get-togethers never ended. Cold, winter evenings it was customary to have fireside song services in the living room. Everyone enjoyed the musical festivities. Summer afternoons often found the Jackson family riding out in the fresh air with a large basket of dinner and lemonade. There were very few paved streets, only dusty roads, but it was fun going to the woods to eat dinner. One of the older boys drove the seven-passenger Willys-Knight family car. It was a Christmas gift to the family several years preceding his death.

On December 17, 1924 high blood [pressure] and an infected leg took the life of the beloved husband, father and dedicated citizen. Much recognition and honor was extended to him as a Christian leader and a successful businessman who sacrificed for his family and community. Six weeks [later], his loving mate joined him in the Great Beyond on February 7, 1925. They were laid to rest at Riverside Cemetery.

The new Asheville City Market opened in 1926 and the older children had a stall in it, but only for a while. Each one preferred following his own life's work. The business was sold. Each one went into his work he prepared for.

Seven of the children of Benjamin and Lula Jackson survive, namely: Christopher, Atlanta, Ga.; Lula, Indianapolis, Ind.; Ben, Indianapolis, Ind.; Fred, Boston, Mass.; Oliver, Pine Bluff University, Arkansas; Helon, Washington, D.C.; and Ruth, Asheville, N.C. All have retired. Three have passed, Marie, Asheville City Schools, Asheville, N.C.; Hattie, Washington Public Schools, D.C. and Martha, Indianapolis Public Schools, Indianapolis, Ind.

Thus ends the life story of a successful black businessman and his family, Benjamin James Jackson. He soared to the top of the ladder with the help and guidance of God and the love and cooperation of his family and many friends. The limited learning was no barrier to him, but a stepping-stone in seeing the importance of higher education.

"Sunset and evening star

And one clear call for me,

And may there be no mourning at the bar

When I put out to sea."

_Alfred Lord Tennyson