Mother’s Day Love at Oakland Cemetery

Historic Oakland Cemetery - Historic Oakland Cemetery

Treat Mom or that special someone to a lovely stroll through Oakland Cemetery this Mother’s Day weekend, when the popular Love Stories of Oakland guided walking tours return. Enjoy an evening among the stunning magnolia-linedsd gardens and elegant mausoleums of Atlanta’s oldest burial ground on May 9 and May 10.

Oakland Cemetery invites families and friends to learn more about the stories of devotion and symbolism (both familial and romantic) found within its hallowed grounds. A costumed guide will tell the stories of a few of the 70,000 people who lie in rest at Oakland, including famous Atlantans and ordinary citizens alike. Read on to get a snippet of a few of the stories you can expect:

Marsh family mausoleum

Oakland’s iconic urns outside the Marsh mausoleum are tributes to the Marsh family’s children, one bearing the inscription: “When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.”

Historic Oakland Cemetery flowers - Historic Oakland CemeteryMillard Seals monument

This example of motherly love at Oakland Cemetery is evidenced in the obelisk’s inscription describing Millard as “The Model Boy.” Seals died at a young age, and his mother Mary Ellen was so distraught that she couldn’t attend his funeral.

Rawson mausoleum

Two residents of the Rawson mausoleum, Julia Collier and Julian Harris, had a “storybook marriage” that spanned more than 60 years — and the description is especially fitting, as Harris was the son of Tales of Uncle Remus author Joel Chandler Harris.

Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell drew on family lore to develop the characters from her iconic novel, but some of the most touching love stories can be drawn from real people buried in her family plot

Tours will be offered at  5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., and spaces for this limited-time engagement must be reserved in advance. Admission is $12 for adults; $6 for students and seniors 65+ (with valid ID); $28 for families of two adults and two children; and free for Historic Oakland Foundation Members and children under 3. Order tickets online at

For more details, visit or call 4040-688-2107.

Civil War Wednesday: Wofford’s Surrender in Kingston


Brigadier General William T. Wofford,

Brigadier General William T. Wofford,

William Tatum Wofford, a native of Habersham County, Georgia, practiced law in his native state before service in the Mexican-American War. In 1861, after his election as colonel of the 18th Georgia Infantry, Wofford served with the Army of Northern Virginia, eventually rising to the rank of brigadier general. In the fall of 1864, failing health forced a return home for rest and recuperation. In January 1865, Governor Joe Brown tapped Wofford to take command of the Department of North Georgia.[1] Performing in this capacity, and reporting to General Robert E. Lee, Wofford would play an important role in one of the war’s final surrender ceremonies.

Writing from Danville, Virginia, on April 7, President Jefferson Davis suggested to Wofford, “…a few reliable men with combustible and explosive materials should be employed by you to interfere with Chattanooga and Knoxville Railroad as may thus be possible.”[2] Wofford chose not to comply, but continued to collect soldiers – including deserters – from throughout his department. Major General George Thomas, working from his headquarters in Nashville, learned of a planned attack on the railroad Davis intimated Wofford should target. On April 18, Thomas dispatched Major General James Steedman in Chattanooga with a clear threat for Wofford. If the rail should come under attack, Thomas stood ready to “…so despoil Georgia that fifty years hence it will be a wilderness.”[3] In this same communication, Thomas encouraged Wofford to surrender under the terms Lieutenant General U.S. Grant offered to Lee at Appomattox Court House. Wofford refused, noting, “…I am of the opinion that it is to the interest of the Government of the United States, as well as necessary for the protection of the citizens of upper Georgia, that my organization retain its present status.”[4]

Wofford, working to get food for the hungry citizens of northwest Georgia, asked Brigadier General Henry Judah to consider “…a cessation of hostilities for an indefinite period of time….” This April 20 appeal came one day before Wofford learned of the surrender terms between General Joseph E. Johnston and Major General William T. Sherman in North Carolina. Less than one week later, Judah told Wofford of the rebuke of Sherman’s terms. Facing a resumption of hostilities, Wofford sought a meeting with Judah to discuss the “…propriety and expediency of surrendering myself and the forces under my command.” Wofford suggested meeting in Resaca on May 8 to discuss matters in greater detail.[5] On May 2, six days earlier than Wofford had suggested, the two generals met, and agreed, in principle, on the same terms of surrender Grant extended to the Army of Northern Virginia.

Suggesting he needed time to collect his forces for an official surrender, Wofford believed he could organize for a May 12 ceremony in Kingston, and wrote to Judah providing an estimate of “…3,000 to 4,000” soldiers ready to stack arms.[6]

Reporting from Kingston, Judah indicated 6,000 Confederate troops surrendered.[7] Wofford, continuing to show great concern for his beloved region, asked for a Federal force to remain within the area to police against post-war tensions. The request received approval, and Wofford worked to preserve the peace, while helping to rebuild the war-ravaged sections of northwest Georgia.

Commemorate the last surrender on Saturday, May 9th in Kingston, Georgia.

[1] Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997), 343–44.

[2] U.S. Government, The War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, vol. 49,  pt.2 (Harrisburg, PA: National Historical Society, 1985), 1213.

[3] Ibid. 396-97.

[4] Ibid., 456.

[5] Ibid., 488.

[6] Ibid., 707.

[7] Ibid., 804.

MikeMichael K. Shaffer is a Civil War historian, author, newspaper columnist, and lecturer. He can be contacted at:

Exploring Georgia with Chef Kevin Gillespie


YVE_0786I recently traveled to Atlanta to shoot an episode of my show, ‘Day Off’ for PTA (PlanesTrains+Automobiles) network, a travel network dedicated to the connected contemporary traveler. Having been to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport more times than I can count, I thought I would at least have a working knowledge of the city. The truth was, I knew very little. After a week of filming, I feel that I can speak more intelligently on Atlanta and everything that the peach state has to offer.

Atlanta lived up to many of my expectations. As a frequent traveler, shooting bands and musicians on the road for years, I was weary of getting to know a new city. However I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly, expansive, and rich in tradition Atlanta was. Especially traveling with my buddy Chef Kevin Gillespie, who was born and bred in Atlanta, I was lucky enough to learn the city’s history and see the real Atlanta right before my eyes. It was great to get a real sense of the city and the international influence that could be found there.

YVE_0714One of my favorite locations we chose to feature on the show was the Buford County Farmers Market. Located in an non-descript strip just north of downtown. The BCFM was one of the most impressive markets I’ve been to in the United States. When I am home in Los Angeles, I often find myself having to travel to several different grocery stores in order to locate some of my favorite ethnic treats or obscure ingredients. However, after just twenty minutes, I quickly realized that the BCFM had everything I could possibly want and more. Living in a city like Los Angeles, where time is always at a premium, I was instantly envious of Atlantans and the gem they have sitting in their own backyard.

DAYOFF_EP3_ATL_01The rest of the week was spent shooting and visiting other Atlanta landmarks: The Varsity, the Coca-Cola Archives, and the Belt Line – all with their own unique charm and place in the city’s culture.I can’t wait to be back to further explore Georgia.

You can watch my entire Atlanta exploration here with chef Kevin Gillespie.

noah_headshotFilmmaker & Photographer Noah Abrams spends his life on the road capturing musicians on stage, athletes in action and celebrity chefs in their kitchens. In PTA’s Original Series Day Off, Noah sets the camera aside and connects with friends in cities around the world for a personal tour of their home turf. Whether it’s chef Tyler Florence in San Francisco, musician Nikki Lane in Nashville or legendary skater Tony Hawk in San Diego—in each episode Noah documents a day off in the life of an iconic influencer as they share the under the radar, out of the way or essential stops in their native stomping grounds.

Follow Noah’s Atlanta journey on:

For more upcoming news about Noah and PTA’s Day Off Series, follow PTA on


National Travel and Tourism Week Events in Georgia

National Travel and Tourism Week is May 2 – 10, 2015! Keep reading for a list of Georgia attractions that are offering specials in honor of the occasion.

Road to Tara Museum

Road to Tara Museum

Clayton County: May 2-9 The Road to Tara Museum is discounting tour prices for the museum and historic bus tours. Admission to the museum will be $3.20, and historic bus tour prices will be $32 per two people (or $16 for individual riders).

Coweta County: May 9 the Coweta County RVIC is hosting a walking history tour of the downtown Newnan area. Tour to include stops in some of the local restaurants.

Dahlonega: May 5, 10:30 a.m. Travel Rally Day ceremony, including a ribbon cutting for the Lumpkin County Historical Markers App created by volunteers and an announcement about being the “Wine Tasting Room Capital” of Georgia.

Dalton/Whitfield County: May 6, 10:30 a.m., Dalton Convention Center (DCC). Recap of 2014 at CVB and DCC, big check presentation, and the launch of a new brand campaign.

Douglasville: May 8, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Visitors are invited to join the Douglasville Welcome Center for a Tourism Celebration Day. Enjoy light refreshments, games, giveaways and more.

Gainesville: May 6, 12 p.m. The CVB and Main Street Program present “Blue Skies and Apple Pies.” During a free concert on the square, the groups will roll out the Mobil Tourism Kiosk and give out 100 free fried apple pies from Jaemor Farms.

Helen, Georgia. Photo by Davenport346 via Flickr

Helen, Georgia. Photo by Davenport346 via Flickr

Helen: May 9, 6-9 p.m. Helen will be offering a street dance downtown on the Market Platz. Two bands, food and crafts will be available. For more information, visit

Kingsland: May 1, Kingsland will host the Annual Kingsland Royal Arrest at the Georgia On My Mind Day celebration at the Kingsland/St. Marys VIC.  During the Annual Kingsland Royal Arrest, local police officers pick a random car coming into the VIC, and the town rolls out the red carpet. The city mascot, Kingsley, presents a visitor with a gift basket from the area. There will also be a live radio broadcast on KBAY 106.3 radio.

Macon I-75 RVIC: May 8, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The I-75 RVIC will celebrate National Tourism Week with Macon on My Mind Day. In case of inclement weather the event is canceled.

Peachtree City: May 2-10, the Peachtree City Convention & Visitors Bureau plans to give away two-for-one coupons to the Southern Hollywood Film Tour for visitors who come by the visitor center during the week. In a May 1-8 photo contest, visitors who submit photos via the Visit Peachtree City Facebook Page, Instagram #ptcnttw2015, or email will be entered to win GOPRO Camera, and the winning photo will be used in marketing material for Visit Peachtree City. Photos must contain a golf cart and have been taken in Peachtree City.

Rome - Rome

Rome/Floyd County:
May 2: Free Clocktower and trolley tours
May 3: Free tours continued and launch the Roman Holiday tour season
May 4-7: Recognize Superstars of Service award winners at their work places
May 6: “Adults Run the Bases” at Rome Braves Game and free museum entry at the newly revamped Rome History Museum
May 8: Rome Grown Farmers market/picnic lunch/live music at the Labrynth
May 9: Launch new gamification app “Visit Rome Georgia”

Sandy Springs: May 6, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Sandy Springs Hospitality & Tourism is celebrating National Tourism Week with an Open House at the Welcome Center, located in the Parkside Shopping Center -Suite A-118 at 5920 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, Georgia. Directly above the Welcome Center is the Anne Frank Exhibit, which includes 600 photographs and more than 8,000 words that tell the story of young Anne Frank.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Vidalia Onions

Vidalia Onion - GDECD

It’s officially Vidalia onion season! Celebrate with this list of fun facts about “America’s Favorite Onion.”

  1. Mose Coleman of Toombs County accidentally discovered the Vidalia onion during the Great Depression.
  2. Piggly Wiggly was the first retail store to sell Vidalias.
  3. The Vidalias are named after the town they are grown in, Vidalia, Georgia.
  4. The sweet flavor is due to the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which the onions are grown.
  5. It can be called a Vidalia only if it’s grown in one of 20 counties designated by the the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986.
  6. The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990.
  7. Farmers grow Vidalias on more than 14,000 acres.
  8. There is a 1,300-square-foot Vidalia Onion Museum that is filled with exhibits that highlight the sweet onion’s economic, cultural and culinary significance.
  9. Vidalia sales now total $90 million, 40 percent of the nation’s spring onion crop.
  10. Around 5-million 40 lb. boxes are shipped out each season!

Learn more on the Vidalia Onion Committee website.