m. 27 Nov 1867
Facts and Events
A descendant tells me that "Edgar followed in his father's footsteps to become a Methodist preacher. He went east to attend seminary in New Jersey, not far from Rockaway, and after ordination, he served the Floral Park Methodist Church in Hempstead. His son, Edgar Newman Jackson, graduated from Hempstead High School in 1926. Neither of them knew of the Hempstead ancestor connection."
Address Given at the 1955 Methodist Church Annual Conference
Edgar Starkey Jackson Semi-centennial Address published in the New York East Annual Conference of the Methodist Church Journal for 1955
Ministers who had served in the active ministry for 50 years, were invited to contribute an address to the conference. This address was delivered by the Rev. Edgar S. Jackson on May 26 1955.
“I was born June 16, 1877 in the village of Aberdeen, a small town on the north bank of the Ohio River, opposite Maysville, KY. My great-grandparents were settlers in the Ohio section of what was called the Northwest Territory. Father’s people came from VA and Mother’s from KY. Both Father and Mother chose the Christian way of life at an early age; being, themselves, children of Christian parents who were farmer folk. Both received their education in the country school and later became country school teachers. Both became involved in the struggle against the enslavement of the negro and were abolitionists. It was while teaching school in an Indiana village and assisting in some evangelistic services that Father heard and responded to the call to preach. In preparation for his ministry, he entered Ohio Wesleyan University. Here he made the acquaintance of another young man preparing for the ministry whose name was Charles C. McCabe. As Bishop, C.C. McCabe presided over the New York East Conference of 1906, which sent me to Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. as a student pastor. Both of these young men in college heard the call of Abraham Lincoln “to arms” and enlisted in the Army of the Patomic.
“At the conclusion of the Civil War, my father accepted an appointment in the Cincinnati Conference as a Junior Pastor of a circuit of Methodist Churches. A member of one of these churches, Margaret A. Richards, was to become his wife and my mother. I was the fourth of five children who came to share the inheritance of love and devotion of this parsonage home. When I was only a few months old, a famous presiding elder of that time, on his regular rounds, stopped at our house. Seeing the new baby in its crib and being moved to pray, he knelt with me in his arms and started to pray. I started to cry. The louder I cried, the louder he prayed. The contest seemed to end in a draw. My older sister nearly fainted and never, thereafter, could endure the sound of that man’s voice. I never got away from the effects of his prayer for I came to know about this man’s faith and courage. So, the “Autobiography of Granville Moody, D.D.” is one of the most treasured books in my library. Of my five brothers and sisters, four of us are still living and all are active members in the church.
“Our lovely home was shattered by the early death of my mother. I was just a little past five years of age when she bade us “good-bye”. Father said that she had gone to be with God and that we would join her later. We were sent away to live with relatives. But Father kept us close in his love and somehow made us feel that the prayers that Mother had taught us, and in the beauty and good that she had put before us was an evidence of her nearness, and a guide to where she had gone to be with God. I did not know much about God but was certain that if she was with Him, and I addressed my prayers to Mother and God, she would make sure that I would be heard and cared for. This I did for many months, addressing Mother first and God second.
“After two long years, our home was reestablished. Father married an active faithful Christian who was a widow with two sons. She was a real mother to all of us and enriched our lives by her excellence along many lines. I am indebted to her, especially, for the way she filled my mind with scripture, which she said that I should use to defeat every temptation to evil. My step-brothers were good to me and I owe them much in many ways. Words cannot express the debt that I owe to my own brother and sisters for their inspiration and guidance in my childhood and youth. Mother’s death and the breaking up of our home seemed to deepen our concern and affection for each other. My sisters married well to active members of the church and their homes were always open to my coming with a warm welcome and loving interest that was most encouraging. My brother and I were not separated. He was two and a half years older than I and manifested a thoughtfulness and concern for me that few younger brothers have known. We were room-mates at O.W.U when our father’s sad affliction of total blindness necessitated our separation. Our father’s unswerving Christian faith through seventeen years of darkness was an inheritance to us that was far more precious than all the earth’s material wealth. My brother borrowed money to finish his year at college and I borrowed carfare to Des Moines, IA, to accept work in a laundry owned by an uncle. In this uncle’s home I was made welcome. His daughter, who was studying music in Chicago, sent me a clipping from a Chicago paper telling how some 200 students were working their way through Northwestern University. I wrote the source of this information, who was the college YMCA Secretary. His name was John A. Springer, now our Bishop Springer from Africa. He and his wife, Helen, are great names in our home. His encouraging reply to my letter started me on my way to Evanston where I arrived Jan. 1, 1900. I had only money enough for my tuition so had to find work. Through the help of Mr. Springer and the YMCA Employment agency I found work at ten cents an hour and a room in exchange for the care of the house furnace and the kitchen stove. For food, twelve of us students organized the Sanford Subterranean Cooperative Café; rented the cellar of an empty house, did our own cooking and were able to live on $1/week/person. Our menu was short on calories and vitamins, but the name of our club was inspiring and our fellowship was close and fragrant, especially on fish days.
“I entered college as a sophomore and signed for the full number of hours per week. I found myself a very busy man rushing from job to job, class to class, meeting to meeting. I was like a submarine in wartime – submerged most of the time. I would raise my periscope occasionally and look around. What I saw convinced me that very few people were aware that I was a student at Northwestern University. The many fraternities on the campus were busy rushing new students for membership. None approached me or sought my acquaintance. I had come in touch with their representatives every day, but none considered me material worth cultivating. Some three months passed by when the call came for “try-outs” for the baseball and track teams. Sheer loneliness and the hunger for the sense of belonging to some college group led me to take a little time out one Saturday for indoor baseball practice. I took my place for ‘try-outs’ for fielding, batting and pitching. Three invitations to dine at fraternity houses came to me on that one afternoon. I resolved to accept all invitations that came my way because of the good food that usually followed the invitations. But I was sure that I could join none of them, even if the opportunity came. I did not have the price. I was much pleased by the encouragement that came from our coach. He was a good man, a capable coach, and I owe him much. Soon, without any professionalism being involved, I had a new eating place, a new job, a regular place on the baseball team, a fraternity membership and a widening circle of friends.
“My three and one half years at Northwestern passed all too quickly. On a beautiful June Sunday morning, I found myself gathered with the members of my class in our last devotional meeting. We were on the campus lawn facing Lake Michigan and the rising sun. Our leader was Prof. George A. Coe. My classmates were telling of their future plans and their life purposes. They were dedicating their lives to careers of usefulness. Their faces glowed with the light of their consecration. My plans for the future were not in keeping with theirs. A college degree was not needed in baseball. All I had to talk about was a signed contract to play baseball for the summer months ahead. Nothing that I had to say was in keeping with that occasion. I solaced myself with the thought that the great coach of the University of Illinois, who was a scout for the Chicago Cubs, had recommended me for my position and, in a personal conversation, had assured me of his interest. If I made good, better things seemed just ahead. So I said ‘Good-bye’ to my classmates and became a ‘pro’ in athletics. I did well in the season that followed and was chosen as one of two pitchers on an All-Star team that played the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in an exhibition contest at Champaign, IL. I played in all the game and pitched the last two innings. Did I face Honus Wagner? Yes. What did I pitch him? A “softie”. What did he do with it? Popped it up to the 3rd baseman. It was called a good game but they did not have to extend themselves a great deal in order to win.
“Two incidents of that summer and fall of 1903 directed my footsteps toward the ministry of the church. The first was the death of a sick and lonely old man whom I had consented to care for during the night, since no one else was available. I did this at the request of a young doctor friend. He took me to the most lonely, squalid, God-forsaken place I had ever seen. He sought to calm my mind with the statement that his patient was in a coma and would probably die before morning. He told me what to do and left. The patient did not die, but in the middle of the night, sat up and used me as a kind of ‘father confessor’ in words I can never forget; the last ones being, “now I don’t know where I am going”. The look that accompanied these words deepened their effect. He died two nights later without regaining consciousness. But his words lived on with me in the form of this challenge: “Do you know where you are going?” I did not, but I realized that it was time I did. The second incident occurred in the dissecting room of the YMCA Training School in Chicago where I had enrolled that fall as a student in preparation for a YMCA Physical Directorship. We were grouped around a cadaver, listening to a talk by our professor. He was trying to orient us to the depressing effects of dissecting a human body. This is part of what he said; “You are here in the interests of science. What you are working with is just so many chemical elements in the form of a body in which a man once lived. The man is not here.” The response of my mind to this was in the form of protest that said; “But it is the man that you are interested in.” I saw that the Doctor’s and Physical Director’s job is, in the end, always a losing one. I became possessed with the desire to help men spiritually. This brought me face to face with the call to preach, something which I had thought was not for me. I did not consider myself fit for it or worthy of it. Besides, I had lost connection with the church. My father had been in retirement for some time. He had moved to a new location and my church membership had been moved with theirs to this new place where I was not known. I had no connection with any church in Chicago. In my weekly letter home I mentioned my situation. My letter and our presiding elder arrived at our house at about the same time. The letter was read and the Elder said: “Tell your son to come home at the end of his school term, take the examination for a local preacher’s license and when Conference meets, I will have a church for him.” I did as suggested and he was as good as his word. But instead of a church he sent me into a circuit of five little churches the total salary of which was $500. About this I did not care, I was entering upon the greatest ‘try-out’ of life.
“The step from a baseball job to a pastorate of five churches, - from pitching to preaching, was unusual, to say the least. The experiences of the year did test me to the limit, along many lines, to say nothing of the test I put upon the people to whom I tried to minister. But the results of the year’s work made me feel that there was a place for me in the ministry and that it was the work to which I wanted to give my life. I had experienced many thrills in baseball. I knew what it was to have the cheers of the crowd and, on one occasion, to be carried on the shoulders of a group of emotionally stirred students. But in this little country church came an experience that made my heart sing as no other experience had ever done. At the close of a Sunday evening church service, I requested the young people to meet with the pastor. I had been meeting with a group of these in a Bible-study class. We were beginning to see and understand many things in a better light. I was very eager to help them. Knowing my desire and plan, the mother of one of the young men, as she was leaving church, tried to thank me for my efforts. Her voice broke with emotion in her deep concern for all of us. But it was not only her voice that I heard. That night I lay awake a long time and the other voice that I heard and felt was One that said: “In as much as you have done it for these young people, you have done it for me.” A few months later one of these young men became the superintendent of this Church School and before the conference year closed we had received forty-two people into our church membership most of whom were young persons. I had no doubt now what I wanted to do for time and eternity. Realizing my need for further preparation I asked for leave of absence to attend school and in the fall of 1903 enrolled as a student at Drew Seminary. In my second year at Drew I asked for a student appointment and was sent to Cold Spring Harbor, NY. I was later transferred as a ‘member on trial’ to the New York East Conference.
“My appointments have been, for the most part, to the smaller churches. A great and wonderful thing happened to me in my student appointment. I found the girl of my choice. She was an active, helpful worker in our church; president of our youth group; beautiful in body, mind and spirit, and capable in the home and the community. Her family were highly respected and had been connected with our Methodist church since its beginning in 1842. We had worked together for two years and had come to share our hopes and plans for the future. We believed that they were ordained by God. Succeeding years have seemed to verify and confirm our belief. For forty-seven years this young woman has been the heart and soul of our home. Five children have come to bless our lives. Two, a little boy and girl, were “transferred for higher service” in their childhood and shine for us like beckoning stars in the firmament of God. Three are bravely and effectively carrying on in the church militant. Our older son is pastor of our church in Mamaroneck. Our daughter is the wife of our pastor at the Woodhaven church, and our younger son is an active member of our Washington Park church and a teacher at Bridgeport University. It is evident to us that our greatest riches, blessing, inspiration and challenge have been our children. We thank God every day for them, their families and their work.
“My first regular conference appointment was Maspeth, Queens, NY. I felt drawn to this church and the brave struggle its members were making in this very needy neighborhood. It was a great honor and privilege for me to become a minister and co-worker with as fine a group of Christians as I have ever known. I have found good friends and devoted Christians in every church I have served. None have surpassed our people of Maspeth. One family of this church, for continued friendship and concern, has surpassed all that we have known. This family and ours passed through deep waters of sorrow together; they in the death of the husband and father, an outstanding Christian of great strength and influence in both church and community; and we, in the death of our firstborn child. Not a year has passed in all of the forty-two since then that a message of encouragement and help has not come from this home; first from the widow and her son, and after the mother’s death, from the son himself who still lives on to bless his church and community by his devotion and thoughtfulness.
“From Maspeth, our appointments have been Rowayton, CT, Floral Park, NY, Bay Shore, NY, Willis Avenue in the Bronx and Newfield Church, Bridgeport, CT. At Floral Park we spent 14 years of the best part of our lives. With the fine cooperation of a deeply interested and capable group of men, women, and young people, we were privileged to see a growth in church membership from 197 to 719; in church school membership from 446 to 1310 and an increase in church property evaluation from $12,000 with a debt of $2,500 to $185,000 with a debt of $55, 750 which was being reduced at the rate of $5,000 per year. In addition to this our Floral Park church sponsored a home mission project in a very needy section at the east end of Belmont Race Tracks now known as South Floral park. This was the outgrowth of the Home Department of our Church School, largely under the leadership of our Home Department Superintendent and a fine young man of our church, who became the superintendent of this mission school and later a member of our New York East Conference. This school grew into a church of 50 persons and a Sunday School of 200 with an $8,000 church building free of all indebtedness. I was very sorry that the close fellowship of this little church with our Floral Park Church was ever allowed to lapse.
“At Willis Avenue, a throat affliction put me under a doctor’s care. Assistance became necessary. I needed a great and varied amount; -preaching, teaching, choir direction and youth leadership. A Scholarship arrangement at Union Seminary made this possible. I put my case before one of the students recommended by the seminary. He took hold of our situation with skill, diligence and good will. Our daughter, Margaret, was church organist, having graduated at Ohio Wesleyan University and entered upon a business course at the Ballard Secretarial School. These two young people teamed up together and put new life in our whole church, including the pastor and family. They did so well together that they decided to team up for life and are still carrying on effectively in the work of our Conference. So my ministry did not end as was threatened, but made more effective by the addition of a well beloved son to our family circle. Our sons made this circle complete by the addition of two well beloved daughters.
“War with all of its tragic effects broke upon us at Newfield Church, Bridgeport. We all tried to do our part in this time of our country’s need. Our sons would not claim exemptions that were possible and became part of the Armed Service; two as chaplains and the third, who had just received his Masters Degree from Columbia University and had been happily married, as a private in the U.S. Army. When her husband left for over-seas duty, Margaret returned home and obtained employment in a Bridgeport Defense Plant.
“No one, except those who have experienced it, can ever know the heartaches, loneliness and anxieties that come to a young mother and father when, in the line of duty, they break up their lovely home, leave the fellowship of their church and consent to the husband and father becoming a part of the armed forces, while the wife finds a place where she can carry on with the children through the long months of waiting for the war to cease. This was the lot of our daughter-in-law, Estelle, and her husband.
“Much has been said for conscientious objectors, and rightly so. But something more could be said for conscientious cooperators with their government who can not bear to see the young men of their parishes go off to war and accept exemptions for themselves. Though facing death many times, a kindly providence permitted all of our sons to return home safely.
“At the end of the War, I was four years past the possible retirement age of our Conference. It seemed only fair to step aside and make room for some of the returning service men. This I decided to do and notified my church.
“I was never more deeply moved than on that last Sunday at Newfield, at the close of our last worship service together, when the Chairman of the pulpit supply committee came forward and announced to the waiting congregation that the Bishop and cabinet had honored their request for the appointment of our son, Edgar, as my successor.
"We were hardly settled in our retirement home, when my good friend, Dr. Harry Belcher, asked my help in some survey work at Franklin Square, NY. I expected only a few weeks work but stayed on as pastor of a growing new church for five and one half years. The fellowship of the people of this young church was heaven to our souls. At the Conference of 1952 we again returned to our Cold Spring Harbor home. Soon we were asked by our District Superintendent to help with a survey of the Plainview section of Long Island, and later in the reopening of our old abandoned Plainview church. Under the supervision of our D.S. and teamed up with Dr. Bobilin of our church society, I enjoyed one of the finest experiences of my whole ministry. Dr. B. took care of the administrative work and the preaching and I was allowed to do the pastoral work and assist with the Church School. The people responded to our efforts and within ten months we were underway with 87 new members and the prospect of many more. These fine people were soon in line for a full time pastor. This, with the aid of our Brooklyn and Long Island Church Society, our District Superintendent brought about on the 1st of last September. So my work as a ‘traveling minister’ came to an end in a little country church as it had begun, in a little country church, 50 years ago in the month of September.
"As I look back across 50 years of ministry in the church and 78 years of life, I realize that all that I am or ever have been of any real or permanent worth, has come to me from others; parents, brothers and sisters, wife, children and grandchildren, brethren of the churches I have served, brothers of my Conference, writers and teachers; - a great and goodly number. What these passed on to me that was best, they had received from others, and these in turn from others, a great and glorious host reaching back across the centuries to a lonely figure who bowed in sweat, blood, and tears in the black darkness of a garden and later accepted the bitterness and agony of the cross. I can not figure it out any other way than that it has all come from him, and from him because it was in the heart of God. So if there has been anything of real worth in me, or my work, I owe it to him who truly lived and died for me. I am not retiring. I expect to go on telling his story, not in words only, but in life that has no end; and “ When in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song, ‘Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.”