Like his brother Francis Jackson, Treasurer of the Vigilance Committee in Boston, William was an abolitionist and offered his home as a safehaven on the Underground Railroad. William's role in the Underground Railroad was recounted by his daughter Ellen, who recalled a night when William Bowditch of Brookline brought a runaway slave to the Homestead, where he stayed until he could be taken to freedom. Ellen wrote that
After William Jackson's death in 1855, his widow Mary Bennett Jackson and three unmarried daughters were left in reduced circumstances, but continued to play a role in the life of the community. In 1865, Ellen helped to found the Freedman's Aid Society in Newton and served as its President until her death in 1902. Contributions of bedding, clothing and books sent to the black universities of Hampton and Tuskeege Institutes are recorded in the Society's minute book. In 1906, after the death of the last daughter Caroline, the house was refurbished and subsequently occupied by William's descendants until 1932, when it was rented. Further record of the oral tradition of fugitives being harbored at the Homestead was based on an interview with William Jackson's granddaughter, Louise Jackson Keith, who was one of the last Jackson descendants to live at the Jackson Homestead before it was given to the City of Newton in 1949. The Netwon History Musuem was established here in 1950, and offers a wide range of public programs and exhibitions including interpretive ongoing and annual programs on the Underground Railroad and abolition.
The Jackson Homestead is located at 527 Washington St., in Newton, Massachusetts. Now the home of the Newton History Museum, the house is open Tuesday-Friday, 11:00am to 5:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5:00pm. There is a fee for admission. For further information visit the museum's website or call 617-796-1450.