The cemetery has had to cancel its annual Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Tours because of the coronavirus pandemic — but spirits who are said to reside there haven’t gone anywhere.
According to Oakland Cemetery’s website: “The celebrated and humble rest together at Oakland. For every lavish monument marking a prominent or wealthy family, there are hundreds of small, simple headstones. Not far from some of Atlanta’s best-known sons and daughters are paupers buried at public expense. Here, an ornate tomb is inscribed with flowery verse — there, a plain marker merely says ‘Infant.’ Tycoon and pauper, Christian and Jew, black and white, powerful and meek, soldier and civilian — all are here.”
Buried in Oakland are the namesakes of Atlanta area cities and parks — Alfred Austell, Jonathan Norcross, Samuel M. Inman, Edwin P. Ansley; mayors and governors — Ivan Allen Jr., James M. Calhoun, Moses W. Formwalt (Atlanta’s first mayor), Maynard Jackson, Hoke Smith; and other notable Atlanta residents — Selena Sloan Butler (founded the nation’s first PTA for Black parents), Bishop Wesley John Gaines (founder of Morris Brown College), Julia Collier Harris (co-winner of the first Pulitzer Prize awarded to a Georgia newspaper, for a series of articles and editorials about the KKK and the Scopes Monkey Trial in the 1920s), Robert T. “Bobby” Jones (considered the greatest amateur golfer of all time), Margaret Mitchell (author of "Gone With the Wind).
“The cemetery includes a Confederate branch where visitors insist they’ve seen uniformed soldiers wandering the grounds and even hanging off of trees,” Schulman wrote in 2018.
Although the spirits tour has been canceled, the cemetery’s gates are open for visitors. The gift shop and restrooms are closed for now, however.