The Killing of John Jackson (Former Bernice Town Marshall)

Written by Gene Barron

John T. Jackson was born about 1875 in Alabama. On May 25, 1893 he married Harriett Ponder of Union Parish. In about 1910 Harriett died leaving John with 6 children. Due to his dire circumstances, the children were placed in the Methodist Children Home in Ruston, Louisiana. In about 1916 John married Willie E. Farrar and by 1918 they had a son, Leland.

In the 1920’s John Jackson became the Town Marshall in Bernice and Bill Thaxton was Deputy Marshall when need be. (Bill supposedly had a run in with the notorious Paul Roberts in Bernice during that time and shot at Paul as Paul scurried around a building. The bullet clipped Paul’s suspenders in the back but missed him.)

A local man who lived south-east of Bernice was traveling to Bernice on November 24, 1926 when he had a conversation with a black man at J. S. Dyke’s Saw Mill who was sitting on his porch holding a brand new automatic shotgun for sale. The man told him that he didn’t have any money on him but he was going to town and would get some and buy the gun on his return trip.

When the man got to Bernice he discovered that the Bernice Hardware & Furniture Company had been robbed the night before and the gun had been stolen. He went to John Jackson and told him of the encounter with the man on his way to Bernice.

John, along with Bill Thaxton and J. P. Porter, the manager of the Hardware store that had been robbed left Bernice and went to Dykes Saw Mill to investigate. They came upon and arrested a black man, Bob Allen, who admitted that he as well as Jack Henry Smith robbed the Hardware store on Tuesday night. Bill Thaxton was left in charge of Allen while John Jackson and J. P. Porter went on to the home of Smith, which was nearby, to apprehend him.

Upon arrival John forced his way in and just as he cleared the threshold, Smith shot him with a shotgun loaded with squirrel shot, hitting him in the chest, arms, and face. John, although mortally wounded, returned fire and hit Smith in the chest. Smith died on the spot.

John Jackson lived for a while but died in Junction City as he was being transported to the hospital in El Dorado, Arkansas.

Smith’s body was taken to Farmerville and when none of the family came to claim the body he was buried in a cemetery there.

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Gene BarronGene Barron is a native of Spearsville, Union Parish, Louisiana. He has a genealogy database of 182,000 names, who are all connected to his family.

Gene has also written two historical books on Union Parish. I highly recommend both.

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