James C. Jackson (1811 – 1895)

Inducted 1989

Of the twenty current inductees of the Dansville Hall of Fame, only one…Clara Barton…can be said to be a household name.  Two others, though..James Caleb Jackson and Bernarr Macfadden…enjoyed a fair amount of national renown in their respective times; and both had connections to Dansville, through the building commonly referred to as the “Castle on the Hill.”

James Caleb Jackson was born in Manilus, NY in 1811, and was 47 years old when he first came to Dansville, to take over operations of a water cure facility that had frustrated the efforts of three previous ownerships.  By the time, Jackson…who, in his early years, had made a name for himself as an abolitionist orator and publisher…had embraced the cause of hydropathy (a.k.a. “the water cure.” a form of 19th-century alternative medicine centered around the use of clean, pure water to cleanse the body of impurities), having himself undergone hydropathic treatments to bolster his frail health.  His previous institution, the Glen Haven Water Cure in Cayuga County, had enjoyed several years of success before it was destroyed in a fire; and he had obtained a medical degree from Syracuse Central Medical College in 1850.

Once in Dansville, he wasted no time turning “Our Home  On The Hillside,” as he rechristened the facility, into one of the most successful and famous medical institutions in the counrty.  For about to decades, he would serve as chief physician, dispensing his medical wisdom (his “Laws of Life”) both orally and in numerous publications.  Nutrition formed a major part of his beliefs; and to that end, he invented a graham cracker-derived breakfast food that he had named “Granula.”  It was, in fact, the first cold breakfast cereal, the precursor to corn flakes, shreaded wheat, and the myriad other varieties of cereal that we eat today.

After his retirement in 1879, the baton was passed on to his son, Dr. James H. Jackson (another Hall of Famer), and eventually he retired to North Adams, Massachusetts.  But much of what he had taught would be espoused by future generation of nutritionists (including Bernarr Macfadden).  And of course, the most famous recipient of his treatment, Clara Barton, often claimed that the Jackson Health Resort had saved her life, and allowed her to carry on with her life’s mission.

James Caleb Jackson (March 28, 1811 – July 11, 1895)

ca. 1854

James Caleb Jackson the author:

"The Sexual Organism and its Healthy Management" (Dansville, 1861)
"Consumption: How to prevent It, and How to cure It" (1862)
"How to treat the Sick without Medicine" (1870)
"American Womanhood: Its Peculiarities and Necessities" (1870)
"The Training of Children" (1872)
"The Debilities of Our Boys" (1872)
"Christ as a Physician" (1875)
"Morning Watches" (1882);

In addition to the DAHS Biography above, you can check out these additional links below.  dahs@stny.rr.com

A Brief Biography of James C. Jackson



by Andrew W. Saul


The Crooked Lake Review (summer 2005)