The Vagabond – R.A.D. Dunlap, an early Gadsden pioneer


By Danny Crownover

Robert A.D. Dunlap was among the pioneers who built Gadsden and was among those who left a lasting impression upon the community.

Born in Henry County, Tennessee, on October 18, 1843, Dunlap was raised in Caledonia, where he received his education. In 1862, Dunlap entered the Confederate Army and participated in the battle of Shiloh, where he was taken sick and sent home.

In 1863, Dunlap enlisted in the Seventh Tennessee Cavalry under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. His company took part in many battles in Mississippi and Tennessee. Dunlap was wounded at Guntown, Mississippi, and eventually surrendered in Gainesville, Alabama. He was rated as one of the best soldiers under Forrest’s command.

Dunlap taught school for a short time after the Civil War. In November of 1866, he moved to Dekalb County and began studying law at the old county seat in Lebanon. Dunlap was admitted to the state bar in 1867.

Dunlap was married in 1868 to Susan G. Jacoway, the daughter of Mr. And Mrs. John G. Jacoway of Dekalb County. The couple had nine children: John D., Samuel Devro, Horace E., Jessie M., Margaret E., Robert H., William W., Susan and Frank Cole. John was a city alderman and mayor of Gadsden.

In the fall of 1874, he came to Gadsden and formed a partnership with W.R. Dortch. They practiced together for several years.

In November of 1886, Dunlap was appointed register in chancery and held the office until his death. He also served for one term as an alderman for the City of Gadsden, but politics was not to his taste.

Dunlap was a member of the Knights of Pythias and Cumberland Presbyterian Church and commander of the Emma Sansom Camp of Confederate Veterans.

Dunlap suffered a stroke and died in Cleveland, Tennessee on August 5, 1924. He is buried in Forrest Cemetery in Gadsden.

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