Last Updated on March 30, 2022 3:38 pm
As part of ongoing activities associated with the Boone 150 celebrations in 2022, marking the 150th anniversary of Boone’s official incorporation as a town on January 23, 1872, the Watauga County Historical Society (WCHS) has established the Watauga County Historical Society Hall of Fame. Throughout 2022, WCHS will name twelve individuals or groups—one each month—as members of the inaugural class of the WCHS Hall of Fame.
For the month of March 2022, the WCHS is delighted to announce that Mrs. Roberta Hagler Jackson (b. 1946) has been named as the next inductee of this inaugural class of the WCHS Hall of Fame, which honors individuals, either living or dead, who have made significant and lasting contributions to Watauga County's history and/or literature, including those whose efforts have been essential to the preservation of Watauga County's history and/or literature. Honorees need not have been residents of Watauga County. The WCHS is particularly interested in honoring individuals who meet the above criteria but who may have been overlooked in traditional accounts of Watauga County's history and literature, including women and people of color. Selections for this inaugural class were made from nominations submitted by members of the Digital Watauga Project Committee (DWPC) of the WCHS. Beginning in 2023, the WCHS will also consider nominations from members of the public, which in turn will be evaluated by the DWPC.
The daughter of Kathryn Margaret Wilson Hagler and Robert Hagler, Jr., Roberta Hagler Jackson was born in Dr. Len Hagaman’s clinic on Water Street. She grew up on North Street in the Junaluska Community during Boone’s post-World War II economic boom at a time when Boone remained a racially segregated town. Having been raised in a close-knit community where everyone took care of each other, Jackson fondly recalls that her home was the center of social life for teens in the area, as they had a record player in their living room. Jackson went to college after graduating in 1964 from the segregated Watauga Consolidated School, located in the building that now houses the Western Youth Network, only to return to Boone after becoming ill. She later attended classes at Appalachian State to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Education while working there. Roberta married Cecil Jackson (1947-1996) in 1966, and together they had a son and two daughters, one of whom has taken up the family tradition of learning and preserving the heritage of Junaluska. After going to school for her Master’s Degree in Education for a year, Jackson decided to stop pursuing that degree once her husband Cecil passed away.
Jackson became involved in the preservation of her community’s heritage due to her sister, Sandra Hagler’s, love for history. Jackson attributes the roles of researcher and documentarian to her sister, who passed away in 2021. An active member of the Junaluska Heritage Association, Jackson has quickly become the go-to person for inquiries about the history of the Junaluska community, but she remains humble as ever. When asked how she would define herself, Jackson said that she is most proud of being a “vehicle for the community.” The message Jackson hopes to share with her community as things change and people move away is to remember that “we are strong people, and we are trying to pass that on to our children.”
Roberta has been closely involved for many years with numerous efforts to preserve the history of the Junaluska community and Boone more broadly. She has worked since 2011 as a founding member and facilitator for the Junaluska Heritage Association, helping to preserve the community’s rich history and coordinate the annual Junaluska Jubilee heritage event, and she has served since 2014 on the Digital Watauga Project Committee. She is a frequent contributor to research efforts of the Boone Historic Preservation Commission and the Watauga County Historical Society, and she played a critically important role in the Town of Boone’s efforts to acquire, preserve, document, and interpret the Boone Cemetery on East Howard Street. She also helped lead the initiative to secure a Boone historical marker honoring the Junaluska community in 2021. She was previously honored in 2013 by All About Women magazine as a “High Country Woman of the Year” for her work in “preserving mountain heritage.”
The WCHS is delighted to honor Roberta Hagler Jackson for her impressive contributions to Watauga County’s and Boone’s history, as well as her inspiring commitment to guiding and preserving the Junaluska community.
Roberta Jackson stands with the Junaluska Community historical marker unveiled by the Town of Boone in June 2021. Image courtesy of Sai Estep and the Digital Watauga Project.