Jackson Family Reunion promotes sense of belonging

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Over 200 Jackson Family members gathered at Handsell Aug. 15 to celebrate their heritage.

VIENNA — For more than 25 years, descendants of the Charles and Rachel Jackson family have come together for family reunion celebrations to promote a sense of belonging, concern, caring and most of all purpose.

Charles Jackson was born a slave in the Indiantown area of Vienna, Dorchester County in 1814. He fathered a large family including 10 children with Rachel Hill (born about 1820), his wife by 1839. Research is still being conducted by the family with the help of the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance to learn more about Charles Jackson’s life. Many of his descendants still live in Dorchester County today.  Twelve members of the family were interviewed for the NHPA’s documentary film, “Voices of Indiantown” which was produced in 2014.

The 2015 Jackson Family reunion was held Aug. 15 at “Handsell” located at 4835 Indiantown Road, Vienna, where many of the Jackson family grew up.

This year the group of over 200 family members from states as far as Alaska, Arizona, Florida and New England called their event a “Multicultural Festival.” They had several planned programs, presenters and activities.

Dr. Clara Small, emeritus professor of history at Salisbury University spoke on African-Americans on the Eastern Shore while Midge Ingersoll, Jack Meyerhoff, Dr. Richard Bright and Sally Bright, NHPA volunteers, served as docents and gave tours of the Handsell brick house.

Native American living history interpreter and longhouse volunteer Tom Nelson greeted family members at the Chicone Longhouse Village and discussed native life at Chicone. Rides and other activities for children were also scheduled and the Vienna Fire Department was present with fire trucks and demonstrations for the children to see.

The event was organized by Oliver Jackson, Shirley Jackson and Altamese Burgbage with the help of many Jackson family relatives. Shirley Jackson, who grew up in the Indiantown area around Handsell, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance and is Chair of their African American Committee.

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