Once upon a time, Jacob Jackson, Jr.’s name appeared on an impressive gravestone here.

A seafaring man, he was buried next to another, his uncle, John E. Denike, under a large, shared tombstone. (Denike’s name was listed first.)

Unfortunately, a windstorm broke that marble tombstone shortly after it was restored … and it can’t be repaired. So, you can’t see either name, today.

But Jacob was born Oct. 2, 1812 to Jacob Jackson, a Swedish-born mariner, and Catharine Denike.

Sailing was in his blood

At age 16, Jacob chose to become a mariner too – like his father, grandfather, and uncles – and applied for seaman’s papers.

His first ship the Monongahela, a packet ship, carried freight and passengers between Philadelphia and Liverpool. Coincidently, Jacob served as a deck boy under Capt. Charles Dixey – whom his father worked with 13 years before. Jacob actually set sail on his 17th birthday – April 16, 1829.

Five weeks later, he traveled to Havana, Cuba, on the brig Good Hope. This time, he was accompanied by his uncle Samuel Denike, who was two years older than his nephew. The two were often shipmates … and remained close friends until Jacob’s death many years later. 

Between voyages, Jacob lived with his parents, a stone’s throw from this churchyard.

The middle of the 19th century was a difficult time for Jacob’s family. First, his brother James died in 1859 at the age of 38. Then, Jacob’s father died in 1865 after a short illness at age 86. So, Jacob probably felt conflicted, when he had to leave his recently widowed mother to mourn alone … while he returned to sea.  

Doubtless, Catharine, Jacob’s mother knew the dangers of a seafaring life. But she couldn’t possibly have imagined what happened to her son.

Death by drowning

On July 19, 1866, Jacob drowned in the Potomac River. Evidently, he was inside the cabin of the sloop Emily, captained by his uncle Samuel Denike, when it capsized in a heavy storm. His body was found floating in the river the next day.

It’s likely his mother chose the sad words that appeared on his tombstone: “around thy name our dearest memories cling.” 


  • Authors: Michael Schreiber and Amy Grant
  • Editor: Jim Murphy
  • Cover image: “Great Falls of the Potomac” by George Beck (1802).

Conservation Assessment

to the memory of
John E Denike
Born December 13th 1807
Died December 30th 1851
aged 44 years and 17 days

He’s gone aloft
Why should we mourn departed friends
Or shake at death’s alarm?
Death’s but the servant Jesus sends
To call us to his arms.

Jacob Jackson Jr.
Born October 2d 1812
Drowned in the Potomac
River July 19th 1866

“Around thy name our dearest memories cling.”

Type of Marker: Headstone and footstone
Material: Marble

Historic Integrity: Altered
Structural Integrity: Good
Material Integrity: Fair
Legible Inscription: Poor

Marker Details
Inventory Number: 101
Plot Number: 278
Historic Number: 388
Cemetery Section: 4
Ledger Book Number: 134
Marker Height/Length (in): 58
Marker Width (in): 27
Marker Thickness/Depth (in): 0
Footstone Height (in): 16
Footstone Width (in): 16
Footstone Thickness (in): 1

Prior to Restoration

Issues: Biogrowth, blistering, erosion, sugaring, sunken
Comments: This might be the top half to a broken bottom that might still be buried.  If that is the case it will need to be pinned back together.  Headstone is lying horizontal on the ground in front of footstone.
Recommended Treatment: Cleaning w/biocide, consolidation, excavating, resetting