It is a pleasure to be able to chronicle in the history of Nez Perces County the career of one of her leading and public minded citizens, the gentleman mentioned at the head of this article.
Benjamin F. Jacks was born in Gallia County. Ohio, August 9, 1839. being the son of Solomon and Lavina (Macomber) Jacks, farmers. He was educated in the common schools and remained at home until of age. On July 11, 1861, young Jacks enlisted in Company A, Fiftieth Illinois, under Captain H. P. W. Kramer, in the Second Division and Second Brigade of the Sixteenth Corps of the western army. General Dodge, who is now living at Fort Dodge, Iowa, which town was named for him, was division commander, and General Cooke commanded the brigade. Mr. Jacks was in for service as the following will show. He participated in the battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, Shiloh, in the siege of Corinth and the battle of Corinth on October 2, and 3, 1862. Also he was in the battle of Resaca, Dalton and many skirmishes. Mr. Jacks was in charge of two hundred men in the construction of the defense at Memphis, being there in the engineering department. In all this long service and heavy fighting, which continued for three years and three months, Mr. Jacks was always courageous, faithful and found at the post of duty. Space forbids detail, but who can read the list of those terrible battles where he faced he cannon and fought for the country during those awful days of carnage without recognizing in the person of Mr. Jacks one of the worthy veterans whose arms saved our country from dire destruction and preserved to unborn generations the benign influence of our free institutions.
On October 28, 1864, at Rome, Georgia, Mr. Jacks was mustered out and returned to his home in Illinois, spending three months in a royal visit and then he turned his face to the prairies of Iowa and took up the civilian’s life. There on February 18, 1866, Mr. Jacks married Miss Mary M. Rhodes, at Des Moines. Her father was James S. Rhodes, who was a faithful preacher in the Christian Church for thirty-five years. Her mother was Eliza Adams, a native of Kentucky and her parents were pioneers of Illinois.
Mr. Jacks’ father built the second house in the now flourishing city of Columbus, Ohio. He was a physician and practiced for thirty-five years and also preached in the Methodist Church for fifteen years.
Mr. Jacks had five brothers who fought for the Union and we desire to make a brief notice of them, Augustus, sergeant in Company I. Second Illinois; Henry, twin brother of our subject, sergeant in Company G, Second Illinois Cavalry; George W., private in Company G, Second Illinois Cavalry; John, private in Company I, Fourth Iowa Cavalry, and he was killed in the battle at Big Blue, near Independence, Missouri: Isaac, private in Company I, Tenth Iowa. Henry had a remarkable experience at the battle of Three Springs, Tennessee. Nineteen bullets pierced his clothing and one burned the skin, yet he escaped uninjured. Mr. Jacks was always ready for duty and often took the place of a weaker comrade. He was never in the hospital nor off duty but once when burned.
Mr. Jacks is an elder in the Christian Church and also in politics he has been active, having served in every Democratic convention for ten years past. From 1865 to 1870, he farmed in Iowa, then located with his family in Nebraska for five years. The family was nearly killed in a cyclone there and he returned to Iowa. On April n, 1887, he came to Pendleton. Oregon. On November 7 of the same year he came to Leland. Idaho, and bought a quarter section. Seven years he farmed that and then came to his present place, one mile east and half mile north from Gifford. Mr. Jacks has a fine place, well improved and his orchard of ten acres is a model in every respect and doubtless the finest one on the reservation. It is replete with points of excellence in every respect and reflects the industry and skill of the proprietor.
Mr. Jacks has four fine sons, who are coming forward to do credit to their worthy father in the walks of life; their names with those of their three sisters, are as follows: Alemeda A., James, William C. Jesse X., Orrin W., Eva J., and Pearl O.
Mr. Jacks has every reason to take a pardonable pride in the many achievements of his life, wherein he has manifested great wisdom, faithfulness and integrity. He made a fine record in the war that is a credit to any man. he has displayed the works of his hands in producing as fine an orchard as can be found in this vicinity and he has for the comfort and solace of his golden years, which are beginning to run apace, capable and worthy children, and it is with pleasure that we have been privileged to speak of this worthy and venerable veteran and his gracious and estimable partner in life.
Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903