Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)


State Treasurer, 1918-1920
Portrait by an unknown artist
MSA SC 1545-1180

William Purnell Jackson was born on January 11, 1868, in Salisbury, Wicomico County, a descendant of a notable Eastern Shore family which included Jacksons, Purnells, and Humphreys. He was the son of William Humphries Jackson (1839-1915), a U.S. representative, and his wife Arabella (Humphreys) Jackson. His stepmother was Jennie (Humphreys) Jackson, sister of Arabella. William P. Jackson's uncle was Elihu E. Jackson, Governor of Maryland from 1888 to 1892.

Jackson attended Wicomico County Schools and the Wilmington Conference Academy in Dover, Delaware. He entered the lumber business as a partner in the E.E. Jackson & Co. in 1887. He organized the W.H. Jackson & Son lumber company in Salisbury with his father in 1889, and the business eventually expanded to include the Jackson Lumber Company in Alabama. As he was presiding over the lumber business, Jackson also owned and operated a large dairy farm and was extensively engaged in the breeding of registered Holstein-Friesian cattle. His other business interests included directorships in the Salisbury National Bank and the Baltimore, Chesapeake and Atlantic Railroad Co. He was also president of the Salisbury National Bank, the Home Gas Company, and Jackson & Gutman Co., manufacturers of shirts.

Jackson was married in 1890 to Sallie McCombs, daughter of A.P. McCombs of Havre de Grace. They had two children: William Newton and Belle McCombs. Sallie Jackson died in 1899, and a year later Mr. Jackson married Katherine Shelmerdine of Philadelphia. William and Katherine also had two children: William H. and Elizabeth S. Jackson began his public career as a representative to the Republican National Committee in 1908. He served with the committee until 1932. In 1912, he was appointed U.S. Senator to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Isidor Rayner and he served until January 1914 when a duly elected successor qualified. From 1918 until 1920 Jackson served as State Treasurer.

Jackson belonged to numerous civic and social organizations including: Order of Elks, Maryland Club of Baltimore, Racquet Club, Manufacturers Club, and the Automobile Club of America. He enjoyed traveling extensively in his automobile.

William Purnell Jackson died March 7, 1939, in Salisbury and was interred in Parsons Cemetery.

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