The question may have occurred to someone who has been reading my Chasing Ghosts posts: why would a blog that is mainly about progressive ideas and the culture of the Deep South include a series of descriptive pieces about the writer’s family history?
Chasing Ghosts is not only about finding the bald facts of strands of parents and children that eventually resulted in me. No, for me, being a part of the Deep South is not socio-political; it’s personal. The Dickson family – my branch of it – migrated from the Carolinas to Georgia and finally into Alabama during a period from the mid-1700s through the mid-1800s. We have lived in Alabama for more than 150 years. I have seen census records from the 1850s that show my great-great-great grandfather David Madison Dickson (1811-1877) owning a homestead less than twenty miles from where I live now, having come over from Troup County, Georgia in the 1850s. There is also a family myth, which I read in a book in the Alabama Dept. of Archives & History, that Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is based on Dicksons, who were the plantation owners that she knew where she grew up. Back further than them, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather David “Long Pat” Dickson (1750 – 1830) was a hell-on-horseback patriot in Georgia during the Revolutionary War and later a member of Georgia’s state senate during the early years. In terms of the Deep South’s culture, these and others among my forebears were among the men and women who forged the regional identity, across South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.