21 June 2013

William C. Dawson, Grand Master of Masons in Georgia

William Crosby Dawson
via Wikipedia
I headed out before the sun came up one morning several days ago to visit a few cities with roots in early Georgia history. My first stop was Greensboro, the seat of Greene County. It was first chartered in 1786, and later incorporated in 1803. I parked in front of the courthouse with every intention of walking around the back to take a peek at the old jail. Even though it was raining, I was sidetracked by a marker in front of the courthouse detailing the life of William C. Dawson. After reading it, I snapped a picture and moved on. Little did I know, I would visit Mr. Dawson again a bit later...in the cemetery, of course!

William C. Dawson marker in front of
Greene County's 1849 courthouse.
Marker reads: William C. Dawson (1798-1856), Statesman -- Soldier -- Jurist -- Freemason: "A native of Greene County, then on Georgia's Indian frontier, he was educated in the law and admitted to the bar in 1818. The remainder of his exemplary life was spent in the public service as Legislator, Captain of Volunteers in the Indian War of 1836 in Florida, Judge of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, Congressman, and U.S. Senator from Georgia from 1849 to 1855.

A member and officer of historic San Marino Lodge No. 34, F & A. M. Greensboro, GA, first chartered in 1821 and which lodge has had its quarters atop the Greene County courthouse here since 1849, Brother Dawson served as Grand Master of Masons in Georgia from 1843 until his death in Greensboro on 6 May 1856. Two cities and one county in Georgia are named for him. Also named in his honor are two Masonic lodges: Dawson No. 68, F & A. M. Social Circle, GA, and Dawson No. 16, F. A. A. M. at Washington, D.C.

One of the most beloved, respected and distinguished grand masters in Georgia's long Masonic history his honored remains lie in the city cemetery near this spot. His entire life was a testimonial to his devotion to his fellowman, his country and to the sublime precepts of Freemasonry. His name will always be revered by the Freemasons of Georgia."

A short time later I was in Greensboro City cemetery, and even though I wasn't purposefully looking for it, visiting the grave of William Crosby Dawson.

WILLIAM C. DAWSON
was born on the 4th day of January, 1798,
and died on the 6th day of May, 1856.
Bred to the Bar, he entered upon his profession in
1818, and prosecuted it successfully until his death.

HE WAS AN ABLE JURIST,
an eloquent Advocate, and an upright Judge.  Cautious, practical
and independent, as a Statesman; he commanded confidence by the
frankness of his manners, the purity of his motives, and the wisdom
of his counsels.

THE STATE OF GEORGIA HONORS HIS MEMORY,
for his fidelity to her numerous trusts.
HIS NEIGHBORS CHERISH
it because he was kind and liberal to them,
AND HIS FAMILY REVERE
it because as Husband, Parent and Master, he was
affectionate, considerate, gentle and true.

Upon his death, obituaries appeared in newspapers all over the country. I read several from up and down the east coast, including Maryland and New York. The following is an example of the opening paragraph found in many. This one from South Carolina's Charleston Courier (8 May 1856, pg. 2):

"We are called on to announce the decease of one of Georgia's most honored citizens of public station and renown, and one who had worn fitly and faithfully the highest honors of the State. The Hon. William Crosby Dawson expired at an early hour on Tuesday, the 6th inst., at his residence in Greensboro, Ga., of an attack of bilious cholic."

All photos, sans the one credited to Wikipedia, are © 2013 S. Lincecum.

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