Gilbert Jackson was born November 16, 1813 in Georgia and grew up there and in Alabama on the family farms until the whole Jackson family moved to Texas in the 1830s. The journey took six weeks and they settled near Chapell Hill in Washington County. Gilbert’s uncle, Terrell Jethro Jackson, was a founder and trustee of Baylor University.
Gilbert’s uncle and father were also charter members of Hubert Masonic Lodge in Chapell Hill and that is where Gilbert became a mason when he came of age.
On Christmas day in 1851, Gilbert moved his farm and family to the Waco area where he purchased 640 acres for $2,500 in gold bars. It is known that his uncle was a successful 1849 gold-miner so he may have had the resources as a result of his close relationship with his uncle. The homestead was just south of town near Golinda. There was already a small cabin on his new land in Waco so he and his family lived there at first. His father also lived within a few miles but most of the neighbors were Native Americans with whom the Jacksons had a friendly rapport. Gilbert successfully raised cattle for a number of years and was considered to be central Texas’ biggest stock-raiser. He often drove the cattle up trails to Missouri and Kansas for sale.
Brother Gilbert also set up the first saw mill in the area and used it to provide the cedar planks for the Rosses to build the first home in Waco. There was a lake on Jackson’s land south of Waco which served as perhaps the first recreational body of water for Waco area residents. It was known as Jackson’s Lake and large gatherings often took place there to celebrate anniversaries, holidays, and even just good weather. Eventually, dams and rerouting of the Brazos caused the lake to be filled in.
By the time Gilbert died at his home in 1899, he was something of a legend in Waco. He was thought of as a relic of days past when natives were the primary residents of McLennan County. He was laid to rest by Waco Masonic Lodge in a private family cemetery near his home in present-day Levi. The cemetery now sits abandoned and uncared for in a farmer’s field.