SAR Black Patriot Grave Marking – Austin Dabney
Zebulon, Pike County, GA – January 30, 2010
In many ways, this day was a study in opposites - it was a cold day (34 degrees) that numbed the feet but warmed the soul. It was the story of a friendship between a black man and a white family in a time when such relationships were frowned upon. It had historical trappings and a very modern interpretation of the historical events. It brought together people of color with the Sons, the Daughters and the Children of the American Revolution who had gathered in southern Georgia to celebrate the life of a black Patriot who'd fought and been sorely wounded at Kettle Creek. This was the day that marked the start of Black History Month in the State of Georgia, and did so with joyous prayer, singing, oration, commemoration and dignity. It was a day to be long remembered.
Austin Dabney was the slave of a man named Aycock who lived in Wilkes County, Georgia. When the Georgia Militia was called up to fight the Tories plaguing the countryside, Aycock sent Austin as his substitute. However, when he was told that a slave was not a suitable substitute, Aycock claimed that Austin was not a slave, and he was enrolled in the American forces under the name Austin Dabney. Austin fought in a number of skirmishes and eventually joined the company of Col. Elijah Clark who fought against Colonel Boyd at Kettle Creek. During this battle, Dabney took a rifle ball through the thigh and was severely crippled for the rest of his life. Giles Harris, a white man who lived in the vicinity, took in the young soldier and they became fast friends. Austin formed an even closer bond with Giles’ son, William Harris. After the war the Georgia General Legislature awarded Dabney a grant of 500 acres of land, and although he was technically a free man, officially granted him his freedom so that he was allowed to collect his pension.
The descendants of Giles Harris still own the land where Austin Dabney and William Harris are buried today, near Zebulon in Pike County, Georgia. It was at this site that the Coweta Falls Chapter and Marquis de Lafayette Chapter Sons of the American Revolution; Lamar-LaFayette Chapter DAR; Giles Harris/Samuel Mitchell descendants; and the Pike, Lamar, and Upson County Historical Societies staged an SAR Patriot Grave Marking Ceremony. Bob Galer of the Coweta Falls Chapter, GASSAR, was the Chairman of the planning committee. Joe Dooley, Genealogist General of the National Society of the SAR delivered the Keynote address. In addition, Hal Dayhuff, Past President of the Georgia Society of the SAR, obtained signatures on Official Proclamations from 6 communities in the area, declaring January 30, 2010 as Austin Dabney day. The complete text of one such proclamation can be viewed at the web site listed immediately below.
A complete Photo Gallery of this event can be viewed here Photographs were taken by LCDR Bob Yankle, Staff Photographer, American Revolution Association and member of the NSSAR Historic Sites and Celebrations Committee as well as 3 photographers from the West Central Georgia Shutterbugs. You can view a select few images from the event in the gallery below. Click on an image to enlarge it in your viewer.
For a good history of the Legend of Austin Dabney visit the web page here for more information.