The Jackson Five
Ask a Niagara County “baby-boomer” if they remember the Jackson Five and they would probably think of the musical Jackson brothers that eventually spun off younger brother Michael and others. Ask the boomer’s grandparents and they would probably tell you about the Jackson Five Stores. This group of five brick buildings once stretched from the west corner of Cottage and Main Streets (Friendly’s) and extended along Buffalo Street (St. Mary’s). These buildings were the legacy of Brigadier General John Jackson, Lockport’s first baker. The buildings were built in 1835 after a fire destroyed the first wooden frame buildings located there.
John Jackson, born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1808, came to Lockport in 1821, a burgeoning village of log cabins that received its impetus from the ongoing construction of the Erie Canal. In his youth, Jackson had learned the baker’s trade and upon arriving here, bought a lot on Buffalo Street. He built a brick oven there, on the site of an old oak tree stump and began a business baking crackers. Each cracker was stamped “Jackson.” Soon he built a frame building on the site and expanded his product line to include bread.
In 1833 the block was consumed by fire, but not discouraged, John Jackson rebuilt the buildings, this time with bricks. Besides baked goods, Jackson dealt in many other commodities as evidenced by some of his advertising. His product line included 75 boxes of shaving soap, 100 wooden pails, 50 cartons of codfish, 4 ton of lard, 30,000 quills (for pens.) As his business expanded into other buildings on Buffalo Street, his inventory increased to include ten hogsheads (casks of up to 140 gallons) of New Orleans molasses, five of West Indian Molasses, 20,000 gallons of whiskey, 120 kegs of tobacco along with 12 boxes of pipes.
In 1836, Jackson was named brigadier general of the 5th Brigade of Militia. This contingent served in Niagara County during the Patriot War (1837) and again in 1861 during the Civil War near Washington, D.C. John Jackson died in 1875 at the age of 71 and was buried in a stone mausoleum in the old Grace Church Cemetery on Lincoln Avenue near Pine Street. (The graves in this cemetery were later moved to Glenwood.) Jackson’s other legacy was the “Jackson Block” or “Jackson Five Stores” that survived until Urban Renewal, which changed the face of Lockport in the 1960s.
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094