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. I’ve been told that the house shown is the house that Amanda Dickson lived in with her mother and sons. 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.
From the Sparta-Hancock Historical Society’s Walking Tour, “The house has an older section dating to perhaps in 1820z In 1840 it was turned into a four-square with a center hall. Italianate trim around the eaves indicate this was added when the style became popular in the 1850s. It was the home of Sparta Mayor Robert H. Lewis, who also served in the state legislature. His tenure as mayor extended the town limits and built a new school in 1895. He and his brother Sidney co-edited the Sparta Ishmaelite newspaper.”