Jacksonville was a post office community before 1849, but it moved three miles to its present site when the International-Great Northern Railroad was built in 1872. During the 1930s and '40s Jacksonville was known as the "tomato capital" when more tomatoes were shipped from here than any other city. Each June the city celebrates Tomato Fest honoring the once important crop.
More than 80 diversified manufacturing firms are located in Jacksonville, many associated with plastic, wood, and air conditioning coils and condensers. It is the home of Baptist Missionary Assocociation Theological Seminary, Jacksonville College, and Lon Morris College. A basket factory-direct store is popular with shoppers.