Where are five Civil War generals, 27 city mayors (including the first African-American mayor of any major Southern city), six governors, and the legendary golfer Bobby Jones all upstaged by a woman from Jackson Hill, Georgia?
We’ll give you a second.
Founded in 1850, Oakland Cemetery is the oldest municipal burial ground in Atlanta, and one of the few remnants to survive Sherman’s March. It’s also the final resting place of the mind behind one of Southern literature’s most beloved books: Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind.
Described by Atlanta’s first and only official historian, the late Franklin Miller Garrett, as “Atlanta’s most tangible link to the past,” Oakland is regularly open for tours and talks. But the marquee event this weekend—the same weekend Mitchell’s work was published in 1936—is a celebration and guided tour that provides insight into the author, her family, and some of the real-life inspirations for her famous characters.
The tour begins at Mitchell’s own gravesite, which lies adjacent to that of her second husband, John Marsh. Before Mitchell wed Marsh, he was the best man at her first wedding to Berrien “Red” Upshaw, a dashing bootlegger thought to be one part of the inspiration for Rhett Butler. The other part, according to Historic Oakland Foundation’s Marcy Breffle, is Mitchell’s grandfather, Russell Crawford Mitchell, who lies just a few feet from his famous descendant. A Civil War veteran who was wounded at Antietam, Russell was known for his dark hair, tan skin, and vibrant personality.
The tour also includes both of Mitchell’s parents, “Maybelle” Stephens Mitchell and Eugene Mitchell, as well as her brother, Stephens, and even one Dr. Noel D’Alvigny, who’s believed to be the inspiration for Dr. Meade—“Good heavens, woman, this is a war, not a garden party!”
If you’re a Gone with the Wind fan, make a day of it. The house in Midtown Atlanta where Margaret Mitchell lived and wrote is just a short drive from Oakland. Guided tours are available every day, and the last one on Saturday starts at 4:30 p.m. and ends shortly before closing at 5:30 p.m. That’ll leave you just enough time to make it to Oakland, where the first Gone with the Wind anniversary tour begins at 6 p.m. It’s rumored that Margaret Mitchell herself, dressed head to toe in period wear, will make a special “appearance” and give a toast.
More information about the tour can be found on Oakland Cemetery’s website.