West End yard may be key to mystery of Jackson duel

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A quiet dead-end street a few blocks off Nashville's busy West End Avenue was the scene Tuesday afternoon for a 21st century attempt to solve a 200-year-old puzzle.

A small group of witnesses gathered as ground-penetrating radar was used by State Archaeologist Nick Fielder and others to search for the grave of the only man ever killed in a duel with Andrew Jackson.

Charles Dickinson was slain May 30, 1806, almost exactly two centuries ago, and 22 years before Jackson's election as U.S. president. The location of Dickinson's grave is lost to history, but rival schools of thought claim he was buried either in Nashville or in his home county in Maryland.

After 2½ hours of searching Tuesday with the $50,000 high-tech device and metal probes, enough evidence was found of a likely site to justify Fielder's taking a global positioning reading in the front yard of a home at 216 Carden Ave. But is it the grave?

"There's a 50-50 chance it is," Fielder said afterward. "The mystery can remain."

The next step might be to pull up the sod over the site and see whether the outline of a grave is visible.

Whether or not that happens will be largely up to the homeowners, surgeon Daniel Jurusz and his wife, Karen, who stood in their yard amused by Tuesday's pursuit of the ancient burial spot. They moved into the Carden Avenue house just six months ago from Brentwood.

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