I am Wellborn Jack, Jr. To my knowledge, I am the oldest living representative of my line of Jacks.
I was born here in Shreveport in 1936. I practice law here. My father was Wellborn Jack, and I practiced law here with him from 1936 until his death in 1991. His father was George Whitfield Jack, who was a school teacher, then a lawyer and then appointed Federal District Judge in Shreveport by Woodrow Wilson. I am told that his father was Colonel (honorary title?) William Houston Jack of Natchitoches (and Winnfield?), Louisiana. At this point family legend, published reports, and what I think I remember being told by someone or the other -- all becomes a blur.
My father was not much for genealogy. He was fond of saying, "What matters most is not what you sprang from but what you sprang at." The only good legends I got from him were "Colonel" William Houston Jack's attempts to sell shares in the "Lucky Lucy Gold Mine" and actually seeing such stock certificates in a chest in the attic of the house he (my father) grew up in. And then there was supposed to be an Irion Jack somewhere in the woods over in East Texas who lived a fiercely independent life which he willingly shared only with a limited number of people who came to visit him and his family. Dad said he once did as a very young man and years later, when he went back to visit again, could not find the place. Growing up, I never knew of any other Jacks who lived anywhere near us.
My father's brother, Whitfield Jack, with whom my father practiced law in the late 1930's, was a West Point Graduate, a Lt. Col. on Ridgeway’s staff in WWII, and a very good lawyer here in Shreveport before and after WWII. When I was on active duty in the late 1950's and early 1960's (Airborne, of course) I met an officer who had served with him and told me Whitfield Jack stories all night until we closed down the bar at the officer's club. I later tried to confirm them with my uncle, but he never went much further than saying that there was probably some truth in some of them. The bare bones of Uncle Whit's military career are documented in a hardbound book of fairly recent date, Ridgeway's Paratroopers. He did arrive on the continent via miss dropped Glider as a part of the Normandy invasion. He did admit to me that on the night of the drop, he gathered some confused people from different units about him, told them "follow me," and led them to a farm house, where he knocked on the door and, when a nightgown clad individual came to the door, identified himself by saying words to this effect, "I am Whitfield Jack from Shreveport, Louisiana. I and my comrades are a bit lost and will appreciate any help you can give us."
My mother, now deceased, did place a high value on genealogy. She traced the Jack side of the family back to a Patrick Jack who had a tavern in Charlotte, S.C., Mecklenburg Country, in pre-revolutionary times. Patrick or his son, James, is supposed to have carried (or attempted to carry) a document called the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress while it was sitting in Philadelphia. One story was that he actually delivered it. Another story was that he left for Philadelphia intending to deliver it, but, finding the city surrounded, returned with it rather than have it fall in enemy hands. My mother's research on these points was good enough to satisfy the SAR people on my account, and I (or my sister) somewhere or other have a box of source documents for her research.
I have met Jacks in Kansas City (Nancy) and Baton Rouge (William from Florida), but not much of anywhere else. Nancy told me, I think I remember it correctly, that she hadrelative who told her they were descended from a Captain Patrick Jack, an Irishman who sailed a boat into New York Harbor in pre-revolutionary days.
All of my offspring and my Uncle Whit's offspring have moved from the local area. There is no one left in the family older than me to tell me stories about it.
I do have a copy of Fair Hardin's three volume Northwest Louisiana, A History of the Watershed of the Red River, 1714-1937, published in the late 1930's by the Historical Record Association of Shreveport, La.
Hardin devotes several pages to the history of the Jack family. He repeats much of what I have been told about the origins. He writes, pp 170 of the Biography volume (they are not numbered): "He (my grandfather George Whitfield Jack) was descended from one of the old American families, his great-great-grandfather, Patrick Jack, a native of Ireland, having come to the new world about 1730, settling in North Carolina. His ancestors were connected with the nobility and one of them suffered death for his religious views in 1661, during the reign of Charles, II. Patrick Jack served his adopted country in the Revolutionary War. The grandparents of Judge Jack were Professor William C. and Catherine Clara (Wellborn) Jack. The former was born in Wilkes county, Georgia, October 8, 1808, became a distinguished educator of Louisiana and died in Natchitoches in November, 1886."
Me? I'd like to find the place in Ireland (if Hardin is correct) where my people came from. Maybe we are Scotch Irish. My Uncle Whit told me we had relatives in Edinburgh and he had met one. He said the "Jack" was a corruption of the pseudonym (handle) used by Frenchmen who got out of France and went to Scotland to avoid religious and political persecution (prosecution?). He said that after the WWII he visited Edinburgh, Scotland, and visited with a William Jack, a probable relative, whose family had a butcher shop on the street that leads up the big hill in the old part of town to the fort or castle where the Scot's Guards have their headquarters. Years later in the early 1980's I passed through Edinburgh on a weekend and, following Uncle Whit's very general directions, found a butcher shop owned by some Jack's on the road leading up to the Scot's Guard headquarters at the top of the hill in the old town. Unfortunately, I arrived on a Saturday after closing time and had no further time in town to spend.
Perhaps some other Jack will check out these things and report to us all. Time permitting, I will share more with anyone who is interested.
Again,I myself have only a limited inclination and presently no time to do genealogical research.
I’d love it if someone with the inclination, time, and resources would research our roots and report to us all.
Wellborn Jack, Jr.