Resting place of man killed by Jackson in duel still unknown
NASHVILLE (AP) — Local historians, archeologists and neighbors spent four hours digging up a Nashville family’s front yard this weekend, hoping to find the remains of the only man ever killed in a duel with Andrew Jackson.
But the final resting place of Charles Dickinson is still a mystery.
Laura and Jim Bowen’s yard was once part of a plantation owned by Dickinson’s father-in-law. Archeologists who last year found evidence of soil disturbance on the property believed they would find the body as well.
But after several hours of digging this weekend archaeologist Larry McKee called it quits.
“It’s a little disappointing,” McKee said. “There’ve been a lot of people thinking about it, and now they came together. We felt we had pretty accurate information where to dig, but it just wasn’t there.”
The 1806 duel took place after Jackson and Dickinson disagreed over a horse race.
Dickinson hit Jackson in the chest, and broke at least one rib, but Dickinson was hit as well and he died within 24 hours, according to historical accounts.
Jackson was 39 years old, but it would be almost 23 more years before he became the country’s seventh president.
Some people believe Dickinson was buried on the plantation while others think his body was returned to his home state of Maryland.
Dickinson’s third-generation great-grandson, who lives in Hempstead, Texas, subscribes to the former theory.
“It’s always been passed down in the family that he was buried on his father-in-law’s plantation,” Charles Miller Sr. said. said. “Why would they move his body secretly and not tell anybody?”
Miller was disappointed the dig was unsuccessful.
“If they don’t find it there, that means it’s been lost,” he said. “It’s important because I want to have a place where I can put a headstone for him.”
Archaeologist McKee said he hasn’t given up on the site. He hopes to return next month for more digging.
Jim Bowen, the homeowner, isn’t bothered by the disruption. He knew about the Dickinson legend from growing up in Nashville.
When he bought the house, he said the previous owner told him, “’By the way, we don’t know where this fits on the disclosure, but there’s a body here of the man that Andrew Jackson shot.’
“I thought, it’s pretty cool.”
Information from: The Tennes-sean, www.tennessean.com
Published in The Messenger 12.19.07