The measure of a living citizen is his genuine worth to his community. If he unselfishly strives to make his home city a better place in which to live, and does something by which he will long be remembered, as one of lasting good, he has accomplished a task well worth while. While every town and city can boast of such individuals who are striving to do things in behalf of the public welfare, there are not a great number who can act without any ulterior motive and without desire to bring pecuniary reward to themselves. Of the class of better citizens mentioned as doing things for the betterment of the condition of the citizenry, Z. E. Jackson, attorney of Atchison, occupies a prominent place in the city. Gifted as an attorney, upright in all of his dealings with his fellow men, interested to a high degree in the welfare of his fellow citizens, he has striven unselfishly to do good. Jackson Park, named after this gentleman, represents the culmination of one of his dreams and years of endeavor to create a breathing place of woodland beauty and a public playground of which the city may well be proud.

Z. E. Jackson was born in Maryville, Mo., September 23, 1872 and is a son of Judge Horace Mortimer Jackson, late of Atchison and a review of whom appears in this work. He came to Atchison with his parents when six years of age. He received his primary education in the public schools of Atchison and afterward studied for two years in Midland College. He then matriculated in the University of Illinois, with the intention of preparing himself to become an electrical engineer. After studying for two years in the Illinois university, he abandoned his original intention and returning to Atchison, entered his father's law office in 1893. He studied stenography without a regular instructor and prepared himself to take dictation, filling the post of stenographer in his father's office while reading law. He studied law under his gifted father's tutelage and was admitted to the bar in 1899, being later admitted to practice in the higher state and federal courts. At first he practiced alone and was then made a member of the law firm of Jackson & Jackson. This firm was at first composed of Judge Horace M. Jackson, and his son William A., and when William A., was elected to the position of judge of the district court, it was composed of Horace M. And his son, Z. E. Jackson. Mr. Jackson is local attorney for the Home Building and Loan Association and a director of the same concern. He is the local attorney for the Santa Fe Railroad System and the Burlington Railroad Company. He is also the legal adviser for several of Atchison's corporations. Mr. Jackson has the reputation of being one of the ablest and cleanest practitioners of the Atchison county bar who has followed in the footsteps of his illustrious father in never refusing counsel or advice to a public official, religious denomination or to a charitable organization, whether or not any fee was forthcoming - in fact, his office has always been ready to give advice to applicants of the character of the foregoing without charge of recompense of any kind. Mr. Jackson has never turned away a client who had a meritorious cause, because of lack of funds and in this respect resembles his father in his manner of conducting his legal practice. While Mr. Jackson is not a member of any particular religious denomination, he has always been a liberal contributor to all movements which have had for their intent the betterment of the community. He is owner of Atchison real estate and farmlands in Jackson County, Kansas, to which he gives his personal attention.

Mr. Jackson's career as a public official began in 1901, when he was elected police judge of the city and again elected in 1903, after which he declined to again become a candidate for the office. His career as police judge was marked by uniform fairness and impartiality, tempered with kindness in dealing with the city's minor malefactors who were brought before him for judgment in his official capacity. From 1903 to 1909 he was assistant city attorney, and in 1912 was elected to the office of city attorney to fill the unexpired term of Daniel S. HOOPER, deceased. He served out the unexpired term and declined to become a candidate in 1913, because of the growing demands of his large law practice. While serving as city attorney many important problems came up before the city for solution, such as the telephone merger, and the renewal of the city's contract with the Atchison Light and Power Company. His wise advice and counsel steered the city government safely over the shoals, incidental to the settlement of the questions. Mr. Jackson found the city finances in bad shape, as related to the renewal of the lighting contract, a condition of affairs brought about by his predecessor's long illness preventing him from attending to business and he immediately set to work to unravel the tangle and brought order out of chaos to the advantage of the city. Another matter to which he gave considerable attention while city attorney was the intercepting sewer problem which he handled satisfactorily.

Mr. Jackson is a pronounced Republican in his political views, having become a convert to Republican principles when he became of age, a decision which he was influenced to make by the panic of 1893. He is affiliated with the Knights of Pythias.

He was united in marriage with Miss Maud K. SMITH, April 30, 1903. Mrs. Jackson was born in Burlington, Iowa, a daughter of Lewis T. And Theresa June (CHADWICK) Smith, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter a native of Canada. Lewis T. Smith was born in 1846 in West Lebanon, Pa., and is one of the old-time railroad men of the early days.

Mr. Jackson's creed of living is best expressed in his own words, "I believe that every man should do something for the community in which he lives, besides getting a living out of it." It was the practice of his creed which led to the beautiful park in the southeast part of the city being named in his honor, over his personal objections. The Atchison Globe says of his connection with the building and equipping of the park in the issue of August 18, 1913, in part, after quoting Mr. Jackson's creed, as above given:

"Seven or eight years ago, after spending many of his boyhood and young manhood days in Jackson Park, he saw the possibilities of it for a beautiful playground for young and old. He invited several of his South Atchison neighbors to meet in his law office one night and a park improvement association was formed. In order to start a fund for improvements in the park each member present put up five dollars. Other citizens were invited to contribute and thus a small fund was raised.

"That proved to be the redemption of City Park, a tract of fifty-six acres of woodland which cost the city $7,500 about thirty years ago.

"With the few hundred dollars raised by private subscription it was shown what might be accomplished if the necessary funds were forthcoming. From the sale of a park bond, issued when the city was trying to put the coal mine on its feet, the committee secured $500 which was used in replacing the dam which makes the lake and other improvements.

"If effective service is to be rewarded, then the city council made no mistake when it acted on the petition presented to it, asking that the name of City Park be changed to Jackson Park in honor of Z. E. Jackson, a young man who decided that the making of a park was the debt he owed the community where he makes his living."

The action referred to in the foregoing was taken August 1, 1913, when the official name of Jackson Park was given to the tract in honor of Mr. Jackson. Besides his work of superintending the park and bringing about its redemption with the assistance of other public spirited men, Mr. Jackson and others secured a ten-acre tract of land lying between the original fifty-six acres and the Missouri River, which has been added to and is now a part of the park.

Taken From:

History of Atchison County, Kansas

by Sheffield Ingalls - 1916

Submitted by:

Clemi Higley Blackburn, September 2003