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Melinda McKee
Director of Communications & Marketing
Phone: (919) 497-3330
Email: mmckee@louisburg.edu

November 28, 2012

First College President's Legacy Honored With a Win-Win Plan

Dickinson Headstone

LOUISBURG, NC - The heavily deteriorated burial place of Matthew Dickinson, Louisburg College's first president, received some much-needed care over Thanksgiving weekend as a result of the College's continued efforts to restore dignity to Dickinson's legacy.

The College had originally planned to relocate their first president's remains to a site on campus near the historic building where he taught from 1805 to 1808. However, in response to concern expressed by several descendants of other individuals buried in the cemetery, College officials decided instead to support a plan to restore and maintain the current gravesite.

"We're very pleased that our efforts to preserve the dignity of the final resting place of our first president evolved into something greater," said Louisburg College President Mark La Branche. "When we concentrated on our common goals, we came up with a common solution."

A four-stage restoration plan has been proposed by New York resident Stephen Ertman, a member of the Edwards family whose ancestors established the cemetery that is now surrounded by a soybean field near Louisburg, North Carolina. Now that the initial cleanup has been completed, future stages include locating unmarked graves via radar, building a fence around the cemetery boundaries, and restoring headstones and footstones.

Louisburg College has committed to join the Edwards family in the restoration process, and will donate the money originally intended for the grave relocation to help maintain the cemetery. A Dickinson family descendant has also contributed funds to the project.

Matthew Dickinson did not have any children himself, but two descendants of his brother, Parley Dickinson, traveled to Louisburg in late September to attend a ceremony honoring the first president during the College's 225th anniversary celebrations. A work of art based on a rubbing of Matthew Dickinson's headstone was unveiled at the ceremony, held in the Franklin Male Academy where he taught.