Abner Jackson, planter and slaveholder, was born in Virginia about 1810. As a youth he moved to South Carolina, where he became an associate of Governor James Hamilton in planting operations and married Margaret Strobel, a widow with one son. Business reverses during the 1830s promoted Jackson and Hamilton to move westward. Jackson may have come to Texas in 1838 and planted a crop on the Trinity River. By 1844 he and Hamilton were partners in Retrieve Plantation in Brazoria County. From that year until the Civil War, Jackson prospered and as much as any other Texan lived in the grand manner. He developed his home plantation, Lake Jackson, and, with backing from associates, opened other plantations, including Darrington. He built an imposing brick mansion in the colonial style at Lake Jackson. Three of his sons, John C., George W., and Andrew, went east to school, and his youngest son, Abner, Jr., enrolled at Bastrop Military Institute. His only daughter, Asenath, called the "Lady of the Lake," married J. Fulton Groce, son of Leonard W. Groce. Jackson also had children by his mistress Rosa, who was of Indian and black ancestry. By 1860 Jackson owned 285 slaves and was the second largest slaveowner in the state. The census taker valued his other holding at $172,775. Much of his wealth was illusionary however. His lands and crops were mortgaged, and he had a number of partners and factors. The coming of the war brought disaster not only to his plantations, but also to his family. Jackson died on August 31, 1861. All of his sons fought in the Civil War. Abner, Jr., died in the war in the spring of 1862, and Andrew died in 1865. Since none of the Jacksons, including Margaret Strobel Jackson, who had died in 1858, left a will, the heirs engaged in bitter battles and recriminations and the fortune dissipated. Jackson's son George and his stepson, Lewis M. Strobel, former commander of Company F of Terry's Texas Rangers (see EIGHTH TEXAS CAVALRY), fled to Mexico in the wake of the war. Upon their return in 1868, George killed his brother John in a quarrel over the estate. George died in 1871 of tuberculosis. None of the Abner Jackson's sons married. His name is continued only by that of the town of Lake Jackson, which stands of his former plantation. Both Retrieve and Darrington plantations eventually became Texas Department of Correction farms.
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Abner J. Strobel, The Old Plantation and Their Owners of Brazoria County (Houston, 1926; rev. ed., Houston: Bowman and Ross, 1930; rpt., Austin: Shelby, 1980). Ralph A. Wooster, "Wealthy Texans, 1860," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 71 (October 1967).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Marilyn M. Sibley,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 14, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
October 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 25, 2017