Jackson was established as a town in 1817 and was named for a War of 1812 hero: Andrew Jackson. Years later Andrew Jackson would later become president of the United States (1829), and years later be featured first on the $5, the $10,000 and eventually land on our $20 bills. But when Jackson was chosen for the new name of the small town, he was just a hero.
Before all the hoopla of re-naming the town, it 1795 the little community was known as Salt Lick Town. In the days of the pioneers, in fact, long before the pioneers ever came to America, salt played an important role. In some places, salt was used like we use those Jackson $20 bills today. People traded goods and services for bags of salt. Back then salt was not an abundant resource like it is today. It was very difficult to obtain and used by almost everyone to help preserve meat and other foods.
Long before early European settlers arrived at what they would call Salt Lick Town, the area had been a gathering place for animals, Native Americans, even pre-historic peoples for one reason: salt. Many of the roads that exist today leading into Jackson, were built on the same well worn buffalo trails that led to the salt deposits. Ohio's first industry was located here, the Scioto Salt Licks.
Although most of the land was for sale in Ohio once the treaty of Greenville was Signed in 1797, there was a section that the US Congress had set aside about six square miles that became known as the Scioto Salt Reserve. People could live there, but they just couldn't take title to the land. This was where the salt deposits were located.
Salt was collected by boiling down a kettle of water from the lick so all that remained was the salt. This was a time consuming operation, but American ingenuity stepped in and large salt furnaces were created where 50 - 60 kettles could be processed at one time. This process created 8 bushels of salt every day, but the ovens required lots of wood to remain burning. In time, all of the heavily forested hills in the area had been completely stripped of all the trees.
By 1810, the salt deposits had become depleted. Other salt deposits were found elsewhere and so the salt production slowed to just a trickle. Although salt production would continue for another 15 years or so, as a business, the industry was over.
However, during this time, Ohio had become a state. Things were getting organized and a political system had become established. But Salt Lick Town was far from the nearest county seat (Chillicothe). The Ohio legislators decided to create a new county and they called it Jackson. On the land set aside for the Scioto Salt Reserve, they decided to build the county seat and courthouse. That became known as Jackson Court-House. In time that was shortened to just Jackson.
After the salt industry ended, Jackson County was pretty much dormant. However, Mother Nature provided a little relief when deposits of amorphous quartz was discovered in the area. This particular type of stone was found to make ideal burr millstones that were used to grind wheat into flour.
However, it was the happenstance arrival of a group of Welsh immigrants to the county looking for work building a new road that connected Jackson and Chillicothe (now SR 35). In 1830, one of these Welsh immigrants, a minister, was digging a water well and discovered a rich vein of coal. His fellow immigrants knew the value of the coal. Back in Wales, they had been coal miners and they understood what was necessary to reap the rewards of this new found bounty. They sent word back across the ocean for their friends and family to join them in the Ohio country.
In the coming years, additional resources were found in the hills around Jackson. Besides coal, they also discovered limestone, clay, and iron ore that had a high silicon content. The iron industry of Ohio was born. By 1860 there were 8 iron furnaces in the county with railroads connecting these furnaces to the Ohio River. During the Civil War, pig iron production soared and remained a major industry into the 20th Century.
Back in the late 1930s, a group of Jackson's Chamber of Commerce came upon the idea of honoring one of the county's leading agricultural products: the apple. At the time there were more than 40 farmers growing applies on a commercial basis. Thus began a long tradition of coming residents and farmers coming together each fall to enjoy the harvest and friendship. The Jackson County Apple Festival is held in the middle of September and draws thousands of visitors. Perhaps the biggest draw is the closing parade. Held on Saturday night of the last day, the Grande Finale Parade is reported to be the largest lighted parade in Ohio.
Just north of Jackson is a small community called Coalton. It was here that James Allen Rhodes was born in 1909. His father was a coal miner. James Rhodes was Ohio's 61st and 63rd governor and for whom the Rhodes Tower is named in Columbus.
Another Coalton citizen was Isham Jones. Isham was born in Coalton in 1894 and he would later go on to become a famous band leader and song composer. Perhaps best known for his song "It Had to Be You" was used in 40 feature films. Jones band is also known for giving Benny Goodman a head start in the entertainment industry at the age of 18.
Another song writer, Frank Crumit, who was born in Jackson in 1889, was best remembered for authoring the famous "Buckeye Battle Cry" in 1919