Beneath the tombstones, the flowers and the Georgia clay, 70,000 bodies lie at Historic Oakland Cemetery overlooking a perfect view of the Atlanta skyline.
After the Civil War, Oakland became the resting place for 12,000 Confederate soldiers. Most of the them did not have identification. Dog tags didn’t exist in the 1800s.
The only way to identify the soldiers was by the old family Bibles they would carry or by names written inside their jackets. A grass field is the resting place of all of the unidentified soldiers. Some of the bodies were falling apart, so the parts were put into a three-by-one box. Twelve thousand bodies remained nameless.
“Her” refers to Margaret Mitchell, author of the novel published almost as much as the Bible—“Gone With the Wind”—is buried at Oakland with the soldiers, Bobby Jones and other celebrities.
“People come [from] all over the world looking for her,” said David Moore, executive director of Oakland Cemetery.
After Mitchell died, visitors of the cemetery saw her ghost from time to time, but there have been no recent sightings as far as the Oakland staff is concerned.
After a person passes away there are said to be three different deaths. This comes from South American culture. The first is when your body dies, the second is when you are buried and the third is when your name is no longer spoken on this earth.
“There is something still here, but I always think it’s a good vibe because of the fact that we are here, and they appreciate that,” Moore said.
Several different areas in the cemetery are reportedly haunted.
The visitor’s center housed the Sexton family, the first owners of Oakland cemetery in 1850, and by 1867 the 88 acres were acquired. Along with the visitor’s center is an office space where the staff of Oakland works. According to Moore, there have been reported footsteps, but when they hear them they do not think anything of it and continue to work.
Legend has it that during the month of November, one of the generals makes a roll call naming all of the soldiers buried. Since there are five generals buried in the cemetery, no one is sure which general it is, but it always occurs on the night when Sherman left Atlanta during the Battle of Atlanta.
Whenever photographers try to take pictures, it is sometimes very hard for them to get a picture without orbs or figures in the pictures with them. Moore believes that the ghosts did not want pictures taken of their grave.
Aside from having a few hauntings, Oakland can be very a peaceful spot. When Moore is at Oakland alone, he feels comfortable surrounded by the headstones and the skyline.
“I feel a certain peace; I feel a certain spiritual connection. It’s like someone is putting their arms around me and saying, ‘it’s okay,’” Moore said.
Oakland has held Halloween tours for six years. This year, a total of 5,500 tickets were sold. On the first day, a ticket sold every minute.
“This is not Six Flags, so when people come we want them to enjoy music and food and entertainment, but in a respectful way,” Moore said.
Every year, the staff tells stories about those who have died and use actors to portray them. This year they used Abby Howard, Mary Frances Winship, Julia Boward, an unknown solider, Jeffrey Cain and Dr. James Calhoun.
After touring it for the third time, David Duddleston said, “I thought it was very historical. Everyone has a piece of history and they all played a part of history. The actors did a great job.”
When I visited Oakland last year in 2015 in the summer, as I entered and went directly to the left,I was greeted by a very unnerving sensation upon my left side that left that side very tingly, cold and heavy, I felt as if something was trying to attach itself to me to the point I finely had to respond with “leave me now!” then I was fine for a while then exploring another section I was drawn to a particular grave way in a corner under a tree like something was saying “I am here don’t forget me” it was just really weird