Oakland Cemetery: Life Goes On

Now, let’s see, where did we finish up….. We were in Oakland in the evening for the “Illumine.” See HERE for that adventure in case you missed it! We had such a good time and learned so much! The gardens were extraordinary and there were so many interesting architectural pieces, that we signed up for a private day tour! So first, one last look at twilight at Oakland and the backdrop of the city……….

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

and the beautiful flowers that were so lush…………

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

It looks so much different in the day! Now, we can see how big it is! Let’s begin at the beginning shall we? It’s amazing to think about public parks. I guess I never really thought about it before…..how did public parks begin? It was the rural garden-park movement that started in the U.K and then were planned and adopted in Boston at Mount Auburn. The rough, morbid, slightly better than  garbage dumps with white crosses, pestilent diseases, and foul odors ended when the rural garden-cemetery was recognized as important for the well-being of the living for preserving the memory of the dead. The attitude of death as utilitarian and morbid changed with the thinking of “Blessed Sleep,” as a time of rest from the labors of life and the anticipation of  a reunification in heaven. The garden-like setting encouraged Sunday drives to the cemetery to decorate the graves and meet up with other family members. It became a healing time and a memorable one. The stark graveyards evolved into gardens and then parks and were updated to enhance their enjoyment.

In 1895, during the Cotton States and International Exposition, expecting many more visitors to the cemetery to view it, Oakland updated the park-like setting by adding an impressive entrance gate and some surrounding walls to the 48 acre garden cemetery. Here is the entrance…….

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

and here it is, looking at it from the other side. The main paths were wide to accommodate carriages and were bricked, so you wouldn’t be sweeping your long dress through the mud.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Nothing beats a beautiful gate!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

In this cemetery there are many Georgia Historical Society markers as well. We’ll look for some!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

This sign shows the different areas of Oakland. But, like other visitors, there were certain memorials that seeing was a must.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Remember the Bell Tower from the “Illumine” photos, where the drinks were served and we chatted with the other guests? Well, this is what it looks like in the daytime.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

I thought this lamp was odd here. But, the history reveals an entirely different view.  The Atlanta Gas Light Company provided gas lamps in the city before the Civil War, by February of 1856. It is one of Georgia’s oldest companies. This gas light was saved and moved to Oakland to honor historian, Franklin Garrett, who is buried here.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

It’s just not the folks that are buried here. This little lamb is the marker for “Tweet, the mockingbird,” a family pet, who died in 1874!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia’

On my list of graves to see was the memorial to Margaret Mitchell, the “Gone With the Wind,” Margaret Mitchell. We also visited her home in Atlanta, more about that in another post. “Gone With the Wind” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937 and was her only book. I had seen the movie, but wanted to compare the book with the movie. So, I bought it at her museum. The book was more detailed about the Civil War and the reconstruction years. It has 1000 pages of Atlanta during the Civil War and a compelling story. Her grandfathers served in the Confederacy and her storytelling combines recollections of the past shared with her that she wove throughout her book. She died at age 48, when she was struck by a car in Atlanta.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

It would be interesting to know how many angel motifs are here…….this one was Mary’s.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

This has to be one of the favorites….Jasper Newton Smith. (1833-1918)  Mr Smith had his vault and his statuary built before he died. The story goes that he would not pay for the statue until the cravat around his neck was chiseled off. He never wore neckties. Also, he wanted to be facing out towards the front of the cemetery so he could always see what was going on. Now, if I remember the story correctly, there is also a stained glass window in the mausoleum and in it is a replica of Mr Smith, with a tie on! He made his money from a brickyard he opened after the Civil War and from real estate dealings. He also owned two properties in Atlanta. One, was a “bachelors only” premises, named “The Bachelor’s Domain,” and the other property was known as “The House That Jack Built.” I think I would have liked Mr Smith a lot!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

He looks like a crusty sort of fellow, doesn’t he?

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Dr James Nissen (died in 1850) was the first burial in the cemetery, who was not moved from the old Peachtree Street Cemetery. He was in Atlanta for a medical meeting, when he died. As with many people of that time, who felt that people could be buried in error of medical judgement, Dr Nissen requested the doctor to sever his jugular vein prior to burial. The saying “Saved by the Bell”  or “Dead Ringer,” refers to a bell above ground with a way to ring it from the casket, so one could be saved if they suddenly woke up. This was due to fear of being buried, while in a coma. A fear certainly for some.  Either decision would have been frightful!

Now, these feet are very much alive! The feet in this photo are of our guide, Bill, who took us around on a golf cart and relayed the stories of Oakland to us! What a great job he did! Hi, Bill!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia
Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Now, what do you suppose this is? They are steps to help you get out of a carriage!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Visiting Oakland would not be complete without seeing Bobbie Jones…….(1902-1971) Bobbie Jones, at the age of 28, took home the Grand Slam trophies for the British Open, British Amateur, and the US Open. He retired from competition that same year, never turning pro, to become a lawyer. He did design however, the Augusta National Golf Course, where the Masters Tournament has been played since 1934. The folks leave golf balls here for him, for good luck with their own golfing.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia
Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Ahhhhhh. a place to rest and just take everything in ……..

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

There are still some open vista areas that are very quiet and serene spots in Oakland also.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

This is the Confederate Army Memorial. The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association (ALMA) gave this obelisk in memory of the Confederate Army. The base was built in 1870 and allowed to settle for three years before the top was added. It was dedicated on the anniversary of General Robert E Lee’s death. The obelisk was made from granite from nearby Stone Mountain and at the time it was the tallest structure in Atlanta, over three stories tall! ALMA women worked tirelessly in Oakland. After the Siege of Atlanta, and the deaths of so many people, the destruction of homes and the presence of an invading army, rituals of grief and mourning were laid to the side. With the defeat of the South in 1865, it was up to the women to honor the dead.  Women all over the South formed the Ladies Memorial Associations to carry out many tasks. In Atlanta, the fallen men were dug up from their shallow battlefield graves, where they had died, or had been left on the roadside. Oakland needed more land to prepare a place for them. While the women were burying the dead, other women, many spouses, widows or mothers of soldiers went to work to clean the burial grounds of debris, while some made cedar wreaths to be placed on their graves. In 1867, ALMA petitioned the city for an additional parcel of land to bury the unknown dead. The Confederate Resting Grounds is the final resting place for 6,900 Confederate soldiers including 3,000 unknowns. There are rows and rows of humble markers. It is interesting to note that not far from Oakland was the largest complex of wartime hospitals in the area. Over two thousand Union soldiers were treated in these hospitals and several hundred died and were buried in Oakland Cemetery with a service.  After the war the families of the Union soldiers had their coffins exhumed to their respective homes, or the National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee. However, sixteen Union soldiers went unclaimed and still are buried here among the Confederate soldiers. Why an obelisk you ask? It was popularized by the Victorians, who were influenced by the architectural finds in Egypt and it represented power.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

This is the “Lion of Atlanta.” The sculpture was unveiled on Confederate Memorial Day in 1894. The memorial depicts a dying lion, representing the dying Confederacy with its head and paw over a Confederate battle flag. The memorial was  dedicated to all the unknown soldiers in the ground surrounding it. The sculpture, by T M Brady, lies in Lion Square and was based on a similar sculpture, the Lion of Lucerne, in Switzerland.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

This is another view of the obelisk from a different angle.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

and another view of the city in daylight.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

This is some of the highest ground near Atlanta, where a farm was located before the war and before the cemetery was there. The Battle of Atlanta was watched by General Hood here. We will learn more about that at the Cyclorama at the Atlanta History Center!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Here is another interesting mausoleum. This  is the Richards Mausoleum (1888) and is fashioned in the Romanesque style. It features gargoyles at the four top corners and have lion heads, bat wings, and claws. They were meant to scare off evil spirits. There are flowers planted inside this section of edging on one side………..

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

and cactus in the front!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

The heavy metal doors were just some of the doors that were vandalized during WWII. The granddaughters of this family scoured the scrap metal yards until they found their doors. Once back in the rightful place in Oakland the doors were painted black to decrease the risk of being stolen again.

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

The cactus were blooming too!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Also, in front of the Kaiser Mausoleum was a dedicated marker with many symbols. The tree stump represents a life cut short and the cross and anchor is an early symbol for Christ and the pile of rocks indicated “a life began on a firm Christian foundation.” All very telling with no words written!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

The mausoleum was opened to us so we could look inside….haven’t you wanted to know what the inside of a mausoleum looks like? I did. And it was beautiful! There is much more to be seen and studied at Oakland, but I don’t want to spoil it for you by going on and on…..These were just some of my favorites. I want you to experience Oakland too. There are many events and tours offered focusing on many themes. It is one of the best things EVER! So, if you visit Atlanta, put Oakland on your MUST DO List! HERE is the website again, so you can see all the goings on!

Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

After the fun morning we had with Bill it was time to eat. This restaurant had been highly recommended to us by several folks of Atlanta and is practically right across from Oakland. The name is appropriate, but not for what first comes to mind. We asked……

Six Feet Under, Atlanta, Georgia

Apparently, six feet under is the best level to catch fish! And, this is a seafood restaurant and the food was YUMMY! The decorating added to the charm also!

Six Feet Under, Atlanta, Georgia
Six Feet Under, Atlanta, Georgia

I had shrimp and grits………..a very, very, very large bowl. I ate all of it.

Six Feet Under, Atlanta, Georgia

and topped it off with southern hushpuppies! These were the only ones left and I took them back to the hotel with me!

Six Feet Under, Atlanta, Georgia

It was a very fine day indeed, exploring Oakland, and now we are headed back into the gardens of Atlanta. Follow us on the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s, Connoisseurs Tour. It was the reason for coming to Atlanta, We will spend two days visiting nine gardens that turned out to be some of the best gardens I have ever seen. Talk about envy! See you next in the gardens!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. JT Twissel says:

    Funerary arts indeed. Lovely place.

    Like

  2. Judging from the statue and the expression on the old man’s face, I think I would have like Mr. Jasper Newton Smith, too! An affable old Southern gentleman. And it’s gratifying to see Margaret Mitchell’s tombstone. Love the old bench under the tree. So typically Victorian from the Old South. Thank you for this sec ond “episode,” Cady!

    Like

    1. I loved everything about Atlanta!

      Like

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