Landmark home has roots in the 1700sJan 05, 2015 02:38PM ● By Kerigan Butt
The Jackson House, on Lancaster Pike in Hockessin, has been the site of a home for more than 250 years. Today it houses a chiropractor's office.
(Editor's note: This article first appeared in our Spring 2014 edition.)
By John Chambless
With its commanding presence on a hill to the north of Hockessin, the Jackson House site on Lancaster Pike has been continuously occupied for about 260 years. Today, the white building holds the offices of Corrective Chiropractic, but its history is woven into the fabric of Hockessin from its earliest days.
The land where Hockessin now sits was part of the 15,000 acres of the Stenning Manor granted by William Penn to his daughter, Laeticia Penn Aubrey. The land where the house now sits was purchased by Henry Dixon in 1726 and passed to his son, Samuel. The Dixon family held extensive land in the Hockessin region until the late 19th century.
In 1771, Samuel Dixon sold 200 acres to James Jackson of New Garden, Pa. The Jackson family became prominent in northern Delaware for farming, saw milling and mining. His son Thomas was granted 194 acres of the property.
Thomas and his wife Jane had two sons, James and John. John inherited the southern section of the property along Valley Road that contained a lime quaryy and sawmill. James got 94 acres of the northeastern section of the property, where the Jackson House is located. Thomas Jackson's will also named Jane's niece, Jane Grifith, as an heir. She became Hockessin's first postmistress in the 1870s and operated a store and post office.
In the mid-1800s, John Jackson became an engineer and surveyor and served in the State Legislature. He went on to serve on the first board of directors for the Wilmington and Western Railroad Company.
In 1868, the "Jackson House on the Turnpike" was sold to the Garrett family, who owned it until 1926. The Garretts operated the snuff mill in Yorklyn.
With as long and as rich a history as the Jackson House possesses, there are many theories about the role it played. Some local histories say that the home was a stop on the Underground Railroad, since it sits less than a mile away from the Pennsylvania border, and freedom, for runaway slaves. The barn on the property was said to have been the hiding place.
Another history says the home was used as a hospital during the Revolutionary War as skirmishes raged all around the region. A 20th-century owner of the property once inadvertently dug up the remains of British and American colonials while working in the garden.
The earliest home on the site was probably a one-room log structure built before 1770 by the Dixons. No part of it remains. A stone addition to that log home was added by 1798. This addition remains as a room near the entrance hall in the contemporary building.
Between 1815 and 1825, major renovations included the addition of the central hall and two parlors. A kitchen was built to the rear of the north parlor.
At the beginning of the 20th century, renovations included a porch and the extension of the kitchen. The construction of the current porch probably occurred in the 1930s.
Inside the current building, hardwood floors, 18th-century shelving and closets, six fireplaces and 19th-century door handles attest to the home's long history. The building has survived so long thanks in no small part to its 20-inch-thick granite walls.
A bay window downstairs still has its handmade, double-paned glass, through which generations of owners have gazed out at the sweeping valley below as Hockessin changed and grew.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail [email protected]