Historic Oakland Cemetery: Original Six Acres
In June 1850, the Atlanta City Council authorized the purchase of six acres east of the city to create a new cemetery. The purchase price was $450.00. The land was subdivided and lots were sold for $10. Four additional acres were purchased in 1857.
The first internment was of Dr. James Nissen (d. 1850). Dr. Nissen was not an Atlanta citizen. He was in the city to attend a medical conference. Dr. Nissen’s greatest fear was to be buried alive. He left explicit instructions that upon his death his jugular vein was to be slit. His final request was honored. He rests in the former public grounds, Block 410.
Initially a trading post named “Standing Peach Tree,” Atlanta went through several names—Whitehall, Terminus, and Marthasville—during her early development. When the residents of Terminus sought “a proper name,” the name “Marthasville,” in honor of the 16-year-old daughter of Governor Wilson Lumpkin, was chosen. In 1845, “Atlanta” was reborn and incorporated in 1848.
Martha Lumpkin Compton (1827-1917) was born in Athens, Georgia. In 1878 she married Thomas M. Compton. On February 13, 1917, Mrs. Compton died in Decatur at the age of 90. She is buried in a plot donated by the city in 1907. Various papers from her estate are housed at the Atlanta History Center and the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University. Of particular note is a series of correspondence that claims that Martha Compton was poisoned.
In this spot set aside by the city is buried Martha Lumpkin Compton, Aug 25, 1827-Feb 13, 1917. Wife of Thomas Compton. Daughter of Governor Wilson Lumpkin and his wife Annis Hopson Lumpkin. In honor of this lady, Atlanta was once named Marthasville.