February is a time for love. Candy hearts and boxes of chocolates fill store shelves. Valentine’s dinner reservations are made. You take a trip to the cemetery.
Yes, the cemetery. Atlanta’s Historic Oakland Cemetery is full of love stories. Oakland is the final resting place of nearly 70,000 people, and almost all of them loved — or were loved by — someone. Here are just a couple of the stories.
Clyde and Clara Belle King
Clyde King owned the Atlanta Plow Company, later known as the King Plow Company, which is now the site of an arts community and performing arts venue. He and his wife Clara Belle lived in a lovely home at 1010 Ponce De Leon Avenue. Clara Belle loved that house so much that she wanted to be buried in the back yard. City ordinances prevented the burial at her home, but Clyde had a plan.
Clyde so loved his wife that he commissioned a monument replicating the house so that she could lie forever in its shadow. Though the street number has changed — it is now 1386 Ponce De Leon Avenue — the house still stands, as does this monument to Clara Belle.
Marion and Sarah Kiser
This love story actually began at Oakland. Marion Kiser was one of Atlanta’s most prosperous businessmen. He is interred in his mausoleum with his three wives. His first wife, Octavia, died in 1873 when she was only 34, and Marion quickly remarried, choosing Hessie Scott, who was not yet 20. Unfortunately, she also passed away in her mid-30s, making Marion a widower for the second time. And that’s when the Oakland romance bloomed. Marion was there, paying his respects to both former wives, when he met Sarah Turner Ivy, a widow who was visiting the grave of her deceased husband, Michael. They began courting, he soon proposed marriage, and she accepted, though she had a request that could have been a deal breaker. Sarah made it quite clear that she would not share the mausoleum with his first two wives unless her first husband was also there!
Marion agreed and had Michael Ivy’s remains moved. The mausoleum walls must hear some interesting conversations!
These people lived, laughed and loved just like we do now. Join us as we share these stories and many more on our “Love Stories of Oakland” tour. Led by our costumed docent, the tours will be offered Sunday, Feb. 9; Friday, Feb. 14; and Saturday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. Tours are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. No reservations required.
Historic Oakland Foundation, founded in 1976, partners with the City of Atlanta to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery with the public as an important cultural resource and an island of tranquility in the heart of the city. For more information on our tours, events, and opportunities to give please visit our website at oaklandcemetery.com.