This is Amanda America Dickson, who became one of the wealthiest African American women after her father left his wealth to her. This was an unusual act because most white planters did not recognize the children born of the women they enslaved. Dickson’s relatives contested the will, but the Georgia courts ruled in favor of Ms. Dickson.
The plantation where Amanda was born and her mother, Julia, was enslaved still exists in Sparta. The home that she lived in with her mother and her two sons still stands today. It sits on Dickson Plantation on the outskirts of Sparta. David Dickson owned significantly more land than what makes up the modern day Dickson Plantation.
Through the woods, near the plantation, is the St. Paul’s CME Church where Julia worshipped. If you visit, you will notice the graveyard is filled with Dicksons. The mother is buried there, but she seems to be without a headstone because I’ve been unable to locate it in my visits. The congregation is still active with a newer brick church down the road from this building.
After winning her court case, Amanda moved to Augusta with her sons and mother and lived in the yellow home on Telfair Street. Amanda married Nathan Toomer (Toomer was the father of Jean Toomer, the author), but she died only one year after they got married.
Her funeral was held at the Trinity CME Church in Augusta. Her final resting place is in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Augusta. Even though her husband remarried, he rests next to Amanda.
This is a small look into Amanda’s life. There is a book about her life written by Kent Leslie. There’s also a movie, starring Jennifer Beals of Flashdance and L-Word fame, called “A House Divided.” It’s available via YouTube.
Lucy Craft Laney (1854-1933) was an educator and founded the first school for Black children in Augusta, Georgia. She served as the principal of the Haines Institute for Industrial and Normal Education for 50 years.
Under the leadership of the Augusta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the house was fully restored into a museum of Black history that honored the legacy of Lucy Craft Laney. The full story of the restoration and how the museum came to existence can be found here. It is a contributing property to the Laney-Walker Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Properties in 1985.
There are two Summerville Cemeteries in Augusta, Georgia, one Black and one white. They are separated by a block. These photos are from the white cemetery. This cemetery was founded in 1824 when land was deeded by Thomas Cumming for the creation of a cemetery for the families who lived in the area known as Summerville. It’s simultaneously a family and neighborhood cemetery. It is cared for by the Trustees of Summerville Cemetery.
Some notable burials are John Milledge, George Walker Crawford, and Joseph Rucker Lamar.
The cemetery has examples of original Victorian funerary work. It is part of the Summerville Historic District.