Actual Factual Georgia

Q: In Buckhead, walking east, on the south side of Pharr Road, between Frankie Allen Park and EquiVal (445 Pharr Road), there is what appears to be an abandoned cemetery. The burial ground is strewn with garbage and debris, and it appears several of the headstones have been vandalized. What can you share about this burial site, in particular, who is buried there, and why were the bodies not removed and buried elsewhere?

—Linda Muszynski-Compton, Atlanta

A: Mt. Olive Cemetery has been at the center of a battle between a developer and the Buckhead Heritage Society for years. Erica Danylchak, the society's executive director, told me that it has been trying to preserve the area and keep Stone Mountain developer Brandon Marshall of Community Renewal LLC from removing the bodies from the cemetery, which is all that remains from a black community called Macedonia Park that was founded by former slaves after the Civil War. Fulton County Superior Court declared Mt. Olive a public cemetery and barred Marshall from removing the graves in the fall of 2010 after a lawsuit from a descendent of some of the people buried there. The society has organized volunteers to clean up the cemetery and continues to keep an eye on the property. Macedonia Park was a thriving black community with about 400 residents and several shops and restaurants. But in the 1940s, Fulton County began removing residents and condemning properties for land to build Bagley Park, which was the home of Buckhead Baseball for years. Bagley Park was renamed after Frankie Allen, a popular umpire, in 1980. The cemetery contains between 45 and 100 marked and unmarked graves and Marshall has told the AJC that moving the remains to a "more proper" location would show respect to those buried there.

Q: I heard something about a tree that owns itself. What’s the story behind it and where is it?

A: The way the story goes, sometime in the 1830s (there are discrepancies with the exact date) a University of Georgia professor named William H. Jackson died and deeded a white oak -- and the surrounding 8 feet of land -- to itself. The original tree was knocked over by high winds in 1942 and a new one was grown from one of its acorns in 1946. The tree, which is at the corner of South Finley and Dearing streets in Athens, and the Dearing Street Historic District, are on the National Register of Historic Places.

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