By Ed Brock
Dave Dickson comes from a long line of soldiers. Indeed, he is named after his great-great-great grandfather, Revolutionary War Gen. David Dickson.
Having fought in Vietnam and Desert Storm, Dickson said that tradition has a place close to his heart.
"And so does this country," Dickson said.
On Saturday Dickson and other descendants of Gen. Dickson along with members of the Gen. Marquis de Lafayette Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution gathered by his ancient grave on Turner Road near Lovejoy to rededicate the site in memory of that man and the tradition he represents.
Born in the Pendleton District of South Carolina in 1750, David Dickson served as a Captain of Militia during the Revolution after joining the war in 1775. After the war he was promoted to brigadier-general in the Georgia Militia. When he finished his military service he went on to serve as a justice of the peace, a justice of Inferior Court and a commissioner in Greene County, and then represented the county, along with Jackson and Hancock counties, in the state legislature.
He came to what was then Fayette County in 1825 and died there in 1830. Around his grave, marked only by a pile of stones, changes occurred and its existence was forgotten until the early 1930s when Dave Dickson's grandfather Lester Dickson did some research and came upon an old property title in the county courthouse.
"There was just one sentence in there that mentioned that this property is not to be disturbed as it is the gravesite of David Dickson," Dave Dickson said. "That's when the family first came back in sight of it."
Lester Dickson went out in the woods and found the site and in 1932 the Daughters of the Revolution placed a marker at the site and officially dedicated it. A group of trustees was established to maintain the grave, but as time passed the family again lost direct contact with the site. Dave Dickson said he was an Army brat who, when he came back to the Clayton County area (he lives in Henry County) he wasn't sure of the exact location.
"As a kid I had heard about it once or twice," Dickson said.
Dickson learned the exact location when Gary Hicks, a 40-year-old air traffic controller who grew up in the neighborhood near the grave, bought the property around the grave. The 11-foot by 11-foot plot that contains the grave and a pathway to the road belong to the family and are never to be sold, something Hicks discovered when he contacted the DAR about moving the grave.
"At that point any idea of moving it was over," Hicks said.
Now Hicks has come to appreciate the unique decoration that stands literally in his front yard.
"There's a lot of history there, you have to respect that," Hicks said.
Hicks will be an honorary trustee of the grave and will assist the six new trustees like Dickson and another descendant, John Lynch of Fayette County.
"It's going to be our job to look after it," Lynch said.
Saturday's rededication came about because the Gen. Marquis de Lafayette Chapter approached the Dicksons about putting a brass plaque on the old DAR marker.
During the ceremony, attended by about 150 people, one of the general's youngest descendants, Dave Dickson's 4-year-old grandson Isaac Dickson, pulled off a sheet to reveal the new plaque. Bagpipe players played during the ceremony and a unit of Revolutionary War re-enactors fired a salute.
"I think in the future we're going to put a marble marker near the front with a better account of (Gen. Dickson's) history," Dave Dickson said.
That history is worth telling, Lynch said. Dickson joined the war early and even fought against the British Tories (supporters of the British crown) before the war. His campaigns took him from the Carolinas down to St. Augustine, Fla., in an attempt to capture that town.
"He got around," Lynch said.