There are many ways the story of Jocko Graves has been told. Here's Larry Meek's version, from his column 'Ethnically Speaking'.
The lawn jockey originated from the story of when Gen. George Washington was about to cross the Delaware River to attack the British at Trenton. Jocko Graves, a 12-yer-old black lad, wanted to go with Washington to fight the British.
Washington thought he was too young to fight and told him to stay behind to tend the horses. Jocko was also told to hold a lantern so the returning troops could find him in the dark.
When the troops finally returned, the little Jocko was found frozen to death with the lantern still clenched in his hand. The general was so touched by the lad's devotion to duty that he commissioned a sculpture to be made in his honor. The name of the statue was called the "Faithful groomsman."
While there's no record of the statue, Jocko became a familiar part of the landscape in the 1800's, and played a part in the 'Underground Railroad' as a signalman of safety or danger.