Samuel McCartney Jackson was born on a farm near Apollo on Sept. 24, 1833. Samuel Jackson’s father John, was born and raised in a pioneer home in Kiskiminetas township. The farm was owned by his grandfather and after he died, John inherited it. John became one of the most successful farmers of this section, and his small farm of seventy-five acres was gradually increased until he became the possessor, at one time, of between 600 and 800 acres. Although he was first a farmer, he took deep interest in public affairs and was one of a company that built the first bridge across the Kiskiminetas, at Apollo. Samuel got his love of community service from him.
Samuel’s mother, Elizabeth, would tell him stories about her father Samuel McCartney, whom he’s named after. Once while he was working in the field with a friend, they were surprised by Indians. The friend was killed and his grandfather was taken prisoner – chained to two Indians. At night an Indian left a tomahawk where his grandfather was able to get it and get loose. He ran to the river and escaped in a canoe, after hiding for a time in a cave. You can imagine how stories like this excited Samuel and gave him a thirst for adventure!!
When Samuel was 12, he enrolled as a drummer boy in a company of State militia. For efficient service he was promoted step by step until he obtained a Captain’s commission. When the Civil War broke out, he recruited Company 5, the Apollo Independent Blues of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserves. At Spotsylvania, Jackson commanded his Brigade so well that he was brevetted a Brigadier General. At Gettysburg, General Jackson displayed his keenness of judgment and powers of command by ordering his Regiment forward. They fought the enemy foot by foot across the Valley of Death, regaining the entire field so nearly and irretrievably lost. He fought at Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg just to name a few. He eventually earned the rank of Brigadier General.
After the war, Samuel returned to Apollo, where he helped organize the Apollo Savings Bank. He worked there as a cashier for a while. He also helped bring the sheet steel business to the valley and was a stockholder in the firm of PH Laufman & Company who built a rolling mill in Apollo. Samuel was also interested in the Apollo & Leechburg Electric Railway Company which he was treasurer of when it began in 1902. This was the trolley line that was 8 miles long & ran along the river between Apollo & Leechburg. The company was bought by West Penn Traction Company in 1911.
Like his father, Samuel enjoyed politics so he was Burgess of Apollo for a while. This is similar to being mayor. He was also postmaster, but had to resign that post when war broke out. Because of his interest in public service, Samuel was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1869, to the State Senate in 1874, and served as Revenue Collector for 1884 to 1888, and finally as State Treasurer in 1893.
About his family, in 1860 Samuel married Martha J. Byerly, who was known as Mattie. They had two daughters, Mary Gertrude and Lizzie, before Mattie died in 1864. He married Mary Wilson on Dec. 29, 1869. They had 5 children, Frank, John, Elizabeth Ruth, Mamie, and Emily Louise.
Their daughter, Elizabeth Ruth married Alex M. Stewart of Indiana, Pennsylvania. Through them they are proud grandparents of actor Jimmy Stewart who often visited their home in Apollo while he was growing up.
Samuel McCartney Jackson died on May 8, 1907. He was first buried in the old Apollo Cemetery, but was later re-interred in the Riverview Cemetery in Apollo.