Stolen Honor in Georgia

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Gabriel Neville.

Thirty years ago, Dutch Henderson was “stomping through the woods” near Lake Sinclair in central Georgia when he stumbled upon an old gravestone. Some might have thought it an odd spot for a grave, but Dutch knew the history of the area and it made sense. In fact, the setting told him the man six feet under had played an important role in American history.

The inscription on the marker read: “CORP. DRURY JACKSON, SLAUGHTER’S CO. 8 VA. REGT. REV. WAR.” Why was this headstone for a Revolutionary War soldier all alone in the woods near a lake? Time changes things. Neither the lake nor the woods were there when Drury Jackson died. Back then the grave was on cleared ground overlooking the Oconee River. Depressions in the soil still reveal to the trained eye that Drury was buried in proper cemetery. The river became a lake in 1953 when it was dammed up to create a 45,000-kilowatt hydroelectric generating station. When Dutch found the grave, the cemetery had been neglected and reclaimed by nature. Today it is in a copse of trees surrounded by vacation homes.

The mysterious headstone for veteran Drury Jackson provides no dates to help us identify the man in the ground. (Dutch Henderson)

Dutch spends his free time studying local history and conducting archeology. He has made some important finds, including a string of frontier forts along what was once the “far” side of the Oconee. He’s pretty sure that Drury’s burial in that spot is an important clue to his life in the years following the Revolutionary War. From there, however, things get complicated.[1]

A genealogy site sporting a photo of the headstone tells us that Drury Jackson was born in Brunswick County, Virginia on February 2, 1745, married Lucy Dozier and then Nancy Ann Kennedy, and died in Wilkes County, Georgia before 1794. This seems possible, but Wilkes County is about seventy miles northeast of the grave. Another source tells us that Drury Jackson was born in 1767 in Franklin County, Tennessee, married Lucy B. Myrick, and died in Baldwin County, Georgia in 1823. This seems more likely, since the grave is in Baldwin County.

So, which of the two men is the right Drury Jackson? The easy assumption is that the stone properly belongs to the one who died nearby. The grave marker itself is of no help. It provides neither the date of his birth nor the date of his death. Moreover, it is the kind of marker that was issued after 1873 by the federal government for the graves of veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American wars (and the unmarked graves of veterans of earlier wars). It is clear that the marker was placed there long after the man’s death by descendants or others in the community.[2]

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