my Ralston Family story


Jackson H. Ralston [1857 – 1945]     Reflections On A Full Life




Jack Ralston was born in Sacramento, CA to Judge J. H. and his second wife Harriet Newell Jackson Ralston. He was 7 and his sister Aurora 6 when his father died. His mother was bound and determined her son would follow in his father’s footsteps and he  was  blessedRalston Jack with the innate  ability to do so.  After his sister died in 1869, Harriet and Jack settled in Washington D. C. where he graduated from Georgetown University Law School. He spent a few years in Quincy, IL, honing his law skills. For several years he represented labor leader Samuel Gompers. In 1892 he supported the creation of a single tax system and from 1899 to 1903 he practiced law internationally in the Philippines, Venezuela, and The Hague in the Netherlands.


From 1904 until his retirement to CA in 1924 he had a highly successful practice in Washington. He wrote two letters late in life that reflected on his career and personal life;


…I have arrived to the point of my leaving Washington in the month of May 1924. For a long time I had felt no small degree of mental fatigue, something which entered into the very marrow of my being. I had acquired enough money for comfort, altho not great wealth... there were two rather adequate explanations. The first was a certain lack of financial skill. I was... to a great degree [reliant] upon the business judgment of those I considered better qualified… This was a blunder. Their judgment was scarcely as good as my own.  The  second  and more  important fact  was one... that my course of life was not such as to commend me to the good graces of those who had large favors to give. This independence-or carelessness if you will-of results meant the loss of opportunities to gain great wealth. But despite all I found that with fair assurance for the future I could stop and in my own fashion enjoy the latter years of life.


I have indicated that I was obliged to limit straining exertions beyond a certain point. This remains true... Little as it [this letter] is, it took strength and from day-to-day, strength and energy seems to ooze out… Death has made some attempts on me, and being disappointed, is just now trying rheumatism for a change. Don't know, of course, how this will work out, altho it so far seems to mean more pain than destruction. We shall see… May I say that if long life is a blessing, I am fortunate in having a wife [his second wife, Opal] who is determined that I shall enjoy it as delightfully as Nature will permit.



Jackson Ralston letters, courtesy of Martin “Marty” Hansen