General Jacob M. Dickinson was born in Nashville, Tennessee on February 4, 1890.
His early years of education were completed in the Nashville area, and
later after acceptance to Harvard he received his law degree.
General Dickinson served during World War I and again in World War II
when his patriotism inspired him to again re-enlist. During this second
tour of duty he organized the Tennessee State Guard which consisted of a
dozen or more units, and at this time was ranked as Brigadier General.
He was addressed as General Dickinson for the remainder of his life.
As a youngster, Jacob Dickinson always loved a good horse and usually
could be found where in the vicinity of the nearest stable or pasture
which contained his four-footed friends.
His deep devotion to the horse and a burning desire to learn were the
foundation of his future, and in years to come he accumulated and
coordinated many facts which are history today. These studies,
accompanied by his deep belief in antiquity, purity, and Biblical
studies were also to eventually lead him to the oldest of breeds ... the Arabian.
Many years prior to his birth an ancestor of General Dickinson, Judge John
Overton (Andrew Jackson's law partner) founded the Travelers Rest Stud Farm in
Davidson County, near Nashville, Tennessee and the first recorded horse transaction for this farm is dated
1793. At his death about 1830, his son Colonel John Overton succeeded
him, maintaining the farm, raising fine Thoroughbred and Morgan stock,
and in conjunction with his own son May Overton, breeding trotting and
Saddlebred horses, with
this farm passing down through Overton's family for over a century and a
half. In the late 1920's, through some type of family arrangement,
General Dickinson was to become owner of this establishment which had
been his mother's ancestral home.
had previously been introduced at Travelers Rest as early as 1827 when the Arabian
mare Santa Fe was brought from Virginia. Over the next hundred years,
there were one or two renewals of Arabian influence, but it was in 1930
that General Dickinson's first Arabians came to Travelers Rest and the
program begun that has so influenced our breed today.
By close and continued association with many of our old and well-known
breeders, General Dickinson purchased his first Arabians from Henry
Babson, these being mares of Egyptian breeding. At approximately the
same time he also purchased Antez (Harara x
Moliah) from the W.K. Kellogg Ranch.
Margaret (Peggy) Fleming, daughter of Dickinson, remembers well the arrival of Antez.
He was sent by rail from California, with an entire box car rented for
his enjoyment. The set-up was comfortable, at least as comfortable as
one could have been in a 1930 box car. When he arrived at his
destination he had lost a tremendous amount of weight and it seemed
according to Margaret he barely weighed anything at all. He was taken to
the ranch, however and with careful feeding soon returned to his normal
General Dickinson was also an accomplished writer and his Travelers
Rest Catalogue is considered one of the most informative and detailed
books of its kind. His records and breeding program are recognized as one of the greatest contributions in the
history of the Arabian breed.
With his deep dedication to the preservation of purity, General Dickinson
further felt the need to improve other breeds by infusing them with
Arabian blood. He introduced the abilities of Arabians which were to later
become the foundation stock in breeds we recognize today. One such
example was his work on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Walking
Horse Breeders' Association of America, helping to write the By-Laws,
and proving his Arabians through performance so that
they could become officially registered in the Supplemental Section of
Volume I of The Register of the TWHBA, published in 1939 and therefore
eligible as Foundation Breeding Stock. These horses were:
AHR #648 (*Abu Zeyd x Bazrah). "Approved because of having won
ribbons in various recognized Walking Horse Shows."
AHR #583 (*Rodan x *Kola). "Approved by Executive Committee
AHR #654 (Gulastra x *Kola). "Approved by Executive
Committee on performance."
AHR #986 (Desert Bred x Desert Bred). "Approved by
Executive Committee on performance."
With the rigid principles in conformation and athletic ability that
General Dickinson upheld, he was never satisfied with any animal. Even
though he felt they were good Arabians, he also felt they could always
be better and continually bred to upgrade the animals he owned. He felt
outcrossing was an absolute necessity and further felt the quality of
the Arabian would deteriorate unless new blood was brought to the United
States. This was the beginning of his search which took him to Poland,
Egypt, South America, and other countries.
Feeling that the Arabian of the 1930's needed more size and substance,
and placing endurance and athletic ability near the top of his
priorities, he set up an extremely rigid program of performance and
endurance testing. The animals in his breeding program were required to
race, pull wagons, jump, and perform many other tests. In this photo above
right you see the mare *Lassa and
the stallion Nejal (Rehal x Larkspur by
*Abu Zeyd) driving double in harness. Another was Tony, a half-Arabian sired
by Ahrany (Bazleyd x Rogelmar Kolette by Nejal), who was entered and won the
grueling Vermont Trail Ride.
The records kept on the animals were meticulous and each animal was
recorded according to his or her accomplishments. Once they passed his
conformation tests, the athletic program began, and animals that did not
perform as he felt necessary were eliminated from the breeding program.
General Dickinson continued to study the programs and animals in other
countries and corresponded with knowledgeable persons in these areas. He
was greatly impressed with the Polish breeding programs, as they also
placed much importance on athletic ability as well as having the size he
felt needed in the Arabian horse.
Through the years he had kept a lively correspondence going with Prince
Dzartoryski of Poland, and through him purchased his first Polish
These horses arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey aboard the SS Batory in May,
1937, and seemed
to have traveled well on their long sea voyage. Many of them were in
somewhat light condition, but overall they appeared to have fared better than horses
that had traveled by rail across the United States.
Included in this first group were *Przepiorka, *Lassa,
*Liliana, *Mattaria, *Niwka and *Nora. *Latif,
an en-utero import by Antez out of the mare *Lassa,
was born a few months later.
In 1938, another importation by General Dickinson and Henry Babson
included for Travelers Rest the following horses: *Czubuthan
(pictured above), *Ba-Ida, *Aeniza, *Ugra, and *Babolna.
During the years that Travelers Rest was in full operation, there were
50 producing mares and usually about 100 animals on hand. At the end of
World War II, the stud was moved to its present location in Columbia,
Tennessee. Then in 1946 General Dickinson decided to sell his ranch and move his family
to California where the stud remained until 1948. At that time the
longing for the lush green pastures of Tennessee once again drew him
back to the South and he returned. He did, however, disperse most of his horses in
California (see Ronek), taking only a few of his favorites back with him to Tennessee.
As with all horsemen, General Dickinson had his favorite, who in this
case was *Nasr (pictured at right). This was his greatest love and many hours were spent
working with this Arabian. Hallany Mistanny was another family favorite
and was given to Margaret Fleming as a wedding gift. Unfortunately
however, when her husband went overseas many years later, she was forced
to sell Hallany Mistanny.
The years were passing and General Dickinson made the decision to
disperse his remaining herd of horses and retire. He was nearing 60 years of age
and in 1950 sold the animals, many of them going to Cuba. On March 14,
1963, at 73 years of age, General Dickinson died unexpectedly, but left
to us his gift of a legacy that
will always be a very important part of the history of the Arabian Horse
Two of the five Dickinson children maintained an active interest in
horses. Maxi Decker, a daughter, devoted much time to research and pedigree work.
Margaret (Peggy) Fleming reorganized the Travelers Rest Stud keeping alive
many of the ideas that her father had instilled in her so many years ago.
The blood of the Arabians on her Tennessee ranch continued along the
same lines of the original stock and continued
to underline what General Dickinson had worked so hard to accomplish.
The year 1976 saw granddaughter Tammy Fleming qualify for the U.S.
Nationals and further allowed onlookers at Louisville, Kentucky to witness
her win the 1976 Reserve National Champion Hunter title astride a horse
descending from original Travelers Rest bloodstock. Her win held special meaning for the entire family by proving that good
breeding carries on ... her Arabian being living proof of those years of
dedication her grandfather had given to the Arabian breed.
Arabian breeders and owners today owe a lot to General Dickinson and dedicated persons
like him who worked so hard so many years ago preserving the foundation
for the breed we all know and love ... the Arabian. Perhaps Margaret Fleming said it best when she placed this quote of tribute to
*Nasr in the Travelers Rest Catalogue (Revised edition 1988, p.71):
|To the Arabian Horse
|"From his veins came the blood of the
thorobred[sic], from his style the beauty of the saddler, his endurance gave bottom
to the trotter. Big little fellow with the heart of a lion,
second to some of his children but third to none ~ may he live
on through the ages as the symbol of all that we love in the
horse." ~ Peg