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MHC Invites Public to Charles Dickinson Reburial
Charles Dickinson, who was killed in a duel with Andrew Jackson in 1806, will be permanently laid to rest Friday, June 25, in the historic Nashville City Cemetery. The ceremony, which is open to the public, commences at 10:30 a.m.
A prominent Nashville attorney, Dickinson met his end on May 30, 1806 at Harrison’s Mills in Logan County, Kentucky, dueling having been outlawed in Nashville. Whether the conflict was sparked by a dispute over a bet on a horse race or a slur against Jackson’s wife, Rachel, is still in dispute. Dickinson fired first, lodging a bullet near Jackson’s heart, but Jackson was able to return fire and kill his adversary. Dickinson was buried in Nashville on his in-law’s farm. This area later became the West End Avenue area.
In 1926, an upscale housing development was being built on Carden Avenue, off Whitland Avenue. One night, the sides of the box tomb that was Dickinson’s grave mysteriously disappeared. State Archivist John Trotwood Moore secured $500 from the State of Tennessee to offer as a reward for the return of the stolen box tomb slabs. If the slabs were not returned, Moore said he would try to find Dickinson’s descendants and secure their permission to rebury his remains at City Cemetery. Apparently Moore failed to find any descendants. Over the ensuing years, Dickinson and his unmarked grave were forgotten both to history and to memory.
Last August, Dan Allen, an archaeologist, located Dickinson’s grave at 216 Carden Avenue after two earlier searches failed to find it. Property owners Mr. & Mrs. James Bowen agreed to have their front year excavated, which led to the discovery.
“It has been a pleasure to be of service to Nashville and the family in the search for Mr. Dickinson’s burial place,” says Allen. “ I am confident that the mystery is solved from the historical and archaeological evidence we have collected. I found no evidence that anyone had disturbed the grave prior to us recovering the location and excavating the burial deposit.” (Click here for Allen’s illustrated report of the search.)
Subsequently, Charles Miller, one of Dickinson’s descendants, requested reburial at Nashville City Cemetery.
Dickinson will be interred on the lot once owned by his brother-in-law, Col. Andrew Hynes. Hynes was married to Ann Erwin and Dickinson to Jane Erwin. They were daughters of Joseph Erwin, at whose residence Dickinson was originally buried on June 1, 1806. Hynes descendants in Louisiana approved that Dickinson’s remains be reburied in their family plot.
The Metropolitan Historical Commission invite the public to the Dickinson’s re-interment. Guests are asked to gather first at the Keeble Building at the cemetery and then proceed as a group to the gravesite. Members of both the Dickinson and Jackson families will be present for the ceremony.
Opened in 1822, the City Cemetery is the oldest continuously operated public cemetery in Nashville. A walk through the grounds is truly a walk through Nashville’s history. Nashville City Cemetery is located at 1001 Fourth Avenue South, at the corner of Fourth Avenue South and Oak Street. The Nashville City Cemetery is under the supervision of the Metro Historical Commission and is open daily.