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Citys cemetery surveyed
1RJ5 Screen shot 2015 06 10 at 11.11.40 AM

As part of the citys efforts to preserve its history and attract tourists, the historic downtown cemetery has been surveyed.

Cemetery tours have skyrocketed in the past few years, GMRCs Regional Planner Joe Rothwell said. I think people have an interest in where they come from. Cemeteries document a citys history, not just the founders of the city, but everybody. All the people who are buried there (in Dawsonville) are just as important as the founders.

Rothwell and colleague Caleb Davidson presented findings of their eight-month survey project to the city council Monday, June 1.

Henry Howser, 1820-1909, deeded land to the city for a cemetery in 1891, Rothwell said. Howsers son died during the War Between the States in 1861 and was buried there. The city needed a place to bury its dead and arrangements were made with Mr. Howser to do that.

Rothwells work shows Dawsonville residents were quick to pick up arms to defend the country.

Buried in the cemetery are 12 Civil War veterans, nine World War I veterans, 19 who served in World War II, five who served in Korea and two Vietnam veterans.

Thats high for a small town, Mayor James Grogan said.

Logged into a searchable database given to the city is the deceaseds full name, date of birth and death, date of marriage (if inscribed on the headstone), military or other affiliations, gravesite condition, material used for the headstone and the headstone type.

The cemetery consists of a number of wonderful historic stones and gravestones from before the 1900s, Rothwell said.

The exact location of each headstone was documented with GPS (Global Positioning Satellite), and a digital photograph is included in the database.

Also recorded were any symbols etched on gravestones, which Rothwell explained.

An arch indicates the passage to heaven; a bird symbolizes peace; clasped hands are common for letting go; a crown or cross for Christianity; daisies or flowers represent children; and drapery is popular, especially if a life is cut short, he said. A gate symbolizes passage to heaven and a hand pointing up shows the way to heaven. Ivy means friendship.

Several gravestones were etched with symbols of organizations.

There are Mason symbols, Order of the Knights of Malta, which is Catholic symbolism with military significance, and also there are tree trunks and stumps for Woodmen of the World Insurance.

One of the most notable gravestones, according to Rothwell, is Lloyd Seay (pronounced Sea). Seay won the 1941 national stock car championship, then was shot and killed by his cousin Woodrow Anderson over their moonshine businesses. His gravestone includes an etching of a stockcar.

Surveying Daosonvilles historic cemetery and placing it on a national historical registry allows the city to apply for a grant as a certified local government.

It also increases tourism.

We can help create a tourist trail connected with NASCAR or stock car fame, Rothwell said.

He suggested the city place fencing around the graveyard and place seating for family members or visitors to rest.

And, that volunteers are needed to help keep the cemetery in good condition.

We looked at cleaning and restoration possibilities, he said. No harsh chemicals should be used or harsh bristles.

Additional resources are available for anyone interested in maintaining the graveyard or gravestones: the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office, and Michigans Historic Preservation Guide, which can be found online.

In other city business:

Had the first of two public hearings on its fiscal year 2016 budget of $4.1 million. A final hearing and vote will be held during its June 18 called meeting;

Voted unanimously to renew its partnership with the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and for the city to pay the group $12,000 annually, $1,000 per month;

Voted to allow a franchise ordinance with Sawnee Electric to install, construct, maintain, operate and extend electric poles, lies, cables, conduits transformers, appliances and other apparatus.