Friday, October 16, 2015

Walking Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta

I know it may sound weird but I love to walk in cemeteries. Not just any cemetery though.  They must be old cemeteries hopefully with a few graves of famous or interesting people and big marble angels. Those are my favorite.

Nancy and I took a trip into downtown Atlanta to visit just such a cemetery. 

Historic Oakland Cemetery

Founded in 1850 on six acres of land on the outskirts of Atlanta, Oakland became the resting place for both the most prosperous and the poor. Soon forty eight additional acres were purchased in order to lay to rest 7,000 Civil War soldiers.

Today the cemetery is slap dab in the middle of downtown, just 5 blocks east of the state capitol. Not only interesting for the historical value, Oakland is also one of the largest green spaces in downtown Atlanta. A perfect place to take a walk alone or with friends, They even welcome well behaved dogs. 

There were so many lovely things to photograph in this cemetery. I'm sharing just of few of my favorites. 

The Lion of Atlanta (1894)

Modeled after the Lion of Lucerne in Switzerland this statue was erected by the Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association to honor the unknown Confederate dead. The lion which represents courage is mortally wounded by a broken spear as he clutches the Confederate battle flag. 

Georgia Harris (d. 1920)

The grave of Georgia Harris is one of only two documented cases of an African-American to be buried in the general section of Oakland. (In other words the white section) before Maynard Jackson (b.1938-d.2003) Atlanta's first African-American mayor.  

The Boyd family for whom Georgia Harris was with for many years obtained special permission to bury her in the family plot. 

Famous Golfer

Robert Tyre Jones (1902-1971)

Bobby Jones was the greatest amateur golfer of all times. He co-founded and co-designed the Augusta National Golf Club, site of the annual Masters Tournament. The area leading up to his grave marker is a putting green and many people leave golf balls here in his honor.

A Famous Author

Margaret Mitchell Marsh
b. Nov 8, 1900 d. Aug 16, 1949

Margaret Mitchell wrote  "Gone With the Wind" the Civil War era novel. . The novel won the National Book Award in 1936 and a Pulitzer Prize in 1937."Gone With the Wind" was the only novel published during her lifetime. She is buried beside her husband, John Robert Marsh.

Symbolism on a Grave Marker

As you walk around you'll see many symbols used on grave markers. This Neo-Classical monument is a good example. 

In the 1890's Thomas Neal erected this statue in memory of his wife and daughter. 
One woman holds an open bible that symbolizes knowledge, the other holds a closed book meaning a finished life. The laurel wreath is for eternity, a palm branch for victory over death and a Celtic cross for eternal life, faith and redemption. 

Too Many Children Died Young

It's always sad to see grave markers for children. 
Often times it's a reminder to be thankful for modern medicine.

This marker honors four young sisters (2, 4, 6, and 8) who died within a 10 day period in 1863. They were the victims of diphtheria, one of the leading causes of death among children at that time. 
The ivy on the cross represents fidelity and friendship and the rose garland in the center is for love and beauty. 

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection. It can be treated with antibiotics and antitoxins neither of which was available in 1863. Penicillin wasn't discovered until 1928 and wasn't perfected for use until the 1940s. Diphtheria is now rare in the United States due to vaccinations against the disease. 

Seashell Marker

There were several examples of this type of marker for a child's grave. So popular it could be ordered from the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. The seashell is a symbol for resurrection.
The inscription on this marker
Son of R.P. and Anna A. Robbins
b. Jan 7, 1896 d. April 1, 1896

I'll Leave You On a Happier Note

Oakland Cemetery, like many of the older historic cemeteries, is filled with beautiful old trees and flowers. Oakland is actually an arboretum and a botanical garden. Most of the trees are tagged and there are gorgeous flowers everywhere. 

If you find yourself in downtown Atlanta take a walk and enjoy this beautiful park. 

Lace up and take a walk through history!

Click here to see more about Oakland Cemetery.


  1. I enjoyed your tour. Interesting to see who is buried there. I don't think gravestones have quite the detail that they once had.

    1. That's why I usually only walk in the old cemeteries. So much more interesting. Thanks so much for visiting!

  2. gorgeous, thank u 4 sharing with us! ( ;

  3. I LOVE cemeteries and the art that they contain... this is so special!

    1. I agree. I'd rather walk through a cemetery than an art museum...

  4. I like to walk in old cemeteries, too. There are some wonderful stories to be told. I lived in Atlanta briefly but didn't know this place existed. It's got a lot of lovely statues.

    1. This was my first visit to this cemetery although I’ve been to Atlanta more times than I can count. I had a free day on our last visit and my sis-in-law suggested we go. Loved it! Thanks for visiting me.

  5. Amazing looking memorials, it rivals the big cemetery I have visited here in the UK

    1. It is amazing to me the money that was spent on these old grave markers and memorials. Thanks for visiting!


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