OAKLAND CEMETERY: IN THE HEART OF OLD ATLANTA…The film receiving the most Oscar awards in 1939 has been scheduled for venues all over the United States in 2014 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of “Gone With The Wind,” but Atlanta seems to hold the greatest allure both for its historic connection to the film and the star-studded parade and premiere on December 15, 1939.
While attending the 75th Anniversary of Gone With The Wind at the Marietta Gone With The Wind Museum, I took some time to visit with friends and enjoy several days of fun in Atlanta and its environs.
I met with Texas friends Deal and Janice in Marietta, and we stayed at the Marietta Hilton where we met author Anne Edwards, who shared a ride with us to one of the many events.
An important stop on the Gone With The Wind Trail has been luring fans of the film and novel to the heart of Atlanta for decades in order to visit the graves of author Margaret Mitchell, her husband, John Marsh and others, but Historic Oakland Cemetery began modestly as just six acres in 1850 when the population of the city only included about 2,500 residents.
Kimberly Krautter, a dear friend of Dennis Millay, who suggested we visit Oakland, gave us a unique, and personal tour of the fabulously appointed cemetery whose statuary, and landscaping make a stroll through its brick-paved walkways an unending journey to the fascinating back stories shared by a professional guide who has spend her whole life learning and sharing the unique snapshots of time that make a visit to Oakland a timeless experience of personal connection with the history of Atlanta. Krautter is just one of the many popular tour guides who volunteer as docents for Oakland Cemetery and whose expertise enhances a trip to the area.
By 1867, 42 more acres had been added to the original site to accommodate casualties of the Civil War who had been hastily buried on area battlefields.
In 1872, the cemetery was christened “Atlanta Graveyard” or “City Burial Place.”
Two historical markers illuminate the importance of the site during the Civil War according to the Oakland Cemetery website:
The first reveals that “in 1862, Union operatives known as Andrews Raiders commandeered a locomotive at present-day Kennesaw and raced north to cut telegraph lines. They were captured and condemned as spies. Seven were hanged near Oakland’s southeast corner and interred in the cemetery before removal to the National Cemetery at Chattanooga.”
The second marker commemorates “high ground north of the Bell Tower, a two-story farmhouse stood in the summer of 1864. It served as headquarters for Confederate commander John B. Hood during the Battle of Atlanta, which was fought to the east of the cemetery on July 22.”
Other famous Oakland residents include golfer Robert T. “Bobby” Jones, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, ex-slave Carrie Steele Logan who established the first African-American orphanage, and Moses Formwalt, Atlanta’s first mayor.
The solitude of the surroundings and the lovely garden spots are always part of Oakland’s charm.
As tourists gather in Atlanta to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of “Gone With the Wind” and visit theme museums in Marietta and Jonesboro, the cemetery expects more visitors, and popular tour guide Kimberly Krautter will be busier than ever. A special Margaret Mitchell and “Gone With The Wind’ tour is available on selected Saturdays through October 4, as well as the ever-popular Halloween tours and exclusive events.
(The photograph used for the header of this article was taken on the evening of June 5, 2014, from the veranda of the Marietta Hilton after a heavy thunderstorm. Even hotel employees stepped out to see it and snap photos for their Instagram accounts!)
For a list of all venues included on the GONE WITH THE WIND TRAIL, follow this link: http://www.gwtwtrail.com/GWTW_TRAIL/GWTW_TRAIL_HOME.html
Oakland Cemetery website: http://www.oaklandcemetery.com/plan-your-visit/special-topic-tours/
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