BY NANCY R. HILLER
From the front porch of her house perched partway up Rocky Hill, Margaret Weymouth Jackson had a bird’s-eye view across the neighborhoods of Spencer, Indiana, stretching all the way to the courthouse square, a fitting prospect for a writer acutely attuned to the lives of her fellow townspeople, whose stories she elevated to the national stage.
“She was a small-town girl with a mind and writing skill that took her everywhere,” says her granddaughter, Jane DuComb, who visited every weekend during her childhood. Later, when DuComb became a schoolteacher in Spencer, Jackson’s house became her second home.
For more than two decades, spanning from the ’30s to the ’50s, Jackson was one of the nation’s most beloved writers of fiction. Her short stories and articles, which numbered well over 200, appeared regularly in popular periodicals such as Country Gentleman, Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, Woman’s Day, and Good Housekeeping. So prolific were her contributions to The Saturday Evening Post that she earned admission to the prestigious “Fifty Club” of authors who had 50 or more stories in the magazine. Her reputation as a writer and speaker earned her an invitation from Edward R. Murrow to read an essay for the original This I Believe radio series during the 1950s. In addition to her short stories, she wrote six novels, all published by Bobbs-Merrill Company. But as modern tastes displaced Edwardian mores, and TV usurped the popularity of reading, Jackson’s fortunes changed. She and her husband moved out of the grand house on the hill to a small house in town. Today, few people recognize her name.