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City hears plans for historic cemetery designation
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The city of Dawsonville recently heard a presentation by the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission to turn a local cemetery into a historic area.

The GMRC presented plans to inventory and label the 1.5 acre historic Dawsonville Cemetery and add it to a registry and database for tourism.

"This plan has been in talks for almost two years," said Joe Rothwell, GMRC regional planner. "When we first started talking about this [with the city], we explored a number of avenues to fund it. We finally came to the conclusion that it would be best suited as a partnership with community affairs, which does not come as a cost to the city."

According to historical records found by Rothwell's team, the land originally belonged to Henry Howser, the owner of the local mill.

Howser, who is buried in the cemetery, transferred deed of ownership to the city of Dawsonville in 1891.

His son, who died in the Civil War, was the first person buried in the cemetery.

Other notable graves include 12 civil war veterans, nine World War I veterans and 19 World War II veterans, five Korean War veterans and two Vietnam veterans.

The cemetery is also home to the grave of 1941 National Stock Car Championship winner Lloyd Seay.

"We had 47 individuals that were in the military that are buried out there," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan. "That's a pretty good number for a town [with a population] of 368 back in the 1960s.

GMRC has worked with the city to prepare the groundwork for this project, having already mapped out the cemetery using satellite imagery and GPS units to input the data into a geographic information system (GIS).

"We used several units to gather ... points for each headstone ... to get an accurate location," said Caleb Davis, who led the team that plotted each grave in the cemetery. "We also took a digital photograph of each headstone as well as the grave plot that corresponds to each GPS point."

GMRC collected nearly 800 GPS points in the cemetery.

"It's another thing for people to come to Dawsonville to see," Grogan said. "We have 14 Civil War veterans alone, which is pretty substantial for a small cemetery."

The city took no action regarding the plans during its June 1 meeting.