Tag Archives: Oxford campus

Halloween, ghosts, and graveyards

Every campus should have its ghosts, or at least its ghost stories, and Emory does. Some students claim to have “felt” the spirit of President Atticus Haygood in Old Church at Oxford. One former staff member of the alumni association tells a hair-raising story of encountering a man in an old-fashioned suit and a bowler hat while working on the second floor of the Houston Mill House—a man there one moment and gone the next. And heaven (or hell!) only knows what goes on at the Briarcliff mansion, but check it out here.

The best Emory ghost story surely comes from Mike Wilhoit, who 45 years ago was working late at night in the Tufts House (formerly Uppergate House), when he encountered a woman who couldn’t have been there but was–and then wasn’t.

For those in search of more mundane encounters with “spirits” from the past, two cemeteries at Emory beckon. One is on the Oxford campus and harbors the graves of Confederate soldiers who died while being cared for in Oxford after the Battle of Atlanta.

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The Confederate cemetery near Williams Gymnasium at Oxford College, as it appeared in 1959—much as it appears today.

A second cemetery lies tucked away, half-hidden, on the Clairmont Campus in Atlanta. Shuttle-bus riders and pedestrians, as well as parents picking up children at the Clifton Childcare Center, often pass by without realizing that some fifty bodies lie buried nearby.

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Countless shuttle riders and pedestrians pass the Hardman Cemetery without seeing its sign at the top of the knoll.
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The cemetery on Emory’s Clairmont Campus harbors the remains of some of DeKalb County’s early settlers. The earliest is from 1825, and the most recent from 1909.

Richard Houston Sams, Emory College Class of 1957, has written the fullest history of this hallowed ground, and he has good reason for his interest in it—some of his ancestors are buried there.

The earliest grave is that of Rody Harriet Hardman, just a year and a half old when she died in 1825. She was the daughter of John Hardman, who was laid to rest near her more than half a century later.

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A small, blank stone in the corner of the Hardman plot marks little Rody’s grave.
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John “Johnny” Hardman, 1793–1879

Not far from the Hardman plot lie Dr. Chapmon Powell and his wife, Elizabeth Hardman Powell, parents of Amanda Powell. In 1854 Amanda married Washington Jackson Houston–the builder of Houston Mill and great-grandfather of Richard Sams.

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Somewhat farther away, near the edge of the cemetery, lie the foundation stones on which, sometime around 1830, Naman Hardman built a church known as the Primitive Baptist Church in Christ at Hardman’s. This building, according to Sams, was still standing when a wing of General Sherman’s army marched down the Shallowford Trail–now Clairmont Road–toward Decatur in July 1864. Sams says the structure was left in ashes by the time the army left.

Much more history haunts these two acres, which are owned not by Emory but by the DeKalb Historical Society. The spirits inhabiting the place include the land’s original inhabitants, the Creek Indians, who lived along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek, near where the VA Hospital stands on Clairmont Road. Meanwhile, this quiet corner tucked between a parking deck and apartment building D offers tranquility for visitors on a balmy autumn afternoon.

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The tranquility of the graveyard belies the bustle of the parking deck, apartment building, and shuttle road that surround it.

 

Gary Hauk

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The mystery woman on the nature trail

Here was an assignment just made for the slower summer months, although these months have been full and the summer fleeting. Compile a list of all  buildings and outdoor spaces on campus that are named for persons, with a brief bio of the persons named. And, where possible, identify the funding source for the building’s construction and the date of naming. Ignore buildings like 1599, 1762, and 1525, but please don’t forget the four named streams.

Eleven pages and some eighty names later, I have a good sense of the many ghosts and the few living souls who populate our campus landscape. Look for this list on the Emory history website by the end of the summer.

All of this was relatively easy to ferret out, but some facts took digging, and one name in particular proved a puzzle.

On the Oxford campus, in 1978, biology professor Curry T. Haynes Sr. carved out a nature trail on the west side of the campus, winding from Williams Gym past the soldiers’ cemetery and into the woods between the cemetery and the dining hall.

Currey Haynes
Professor Curry Haynes, circa 1978, at around age 76. He taught at Oxford for more than thirty years and died in 2000 at the age of 97.

The trail was dedicated on May 7, 1978, and named in memory of Elizabeth Candler Hearn.

Hmmm. Who was this Ms. Hearn? She’s not mentioned in any of the Candler family histories I’ve looked into, and the only online search for her turns up an announcement in the Atlanta Georgian of her impending wedding to Howell Reid Hearn on December 27, 1906.

A call to my friend and colleague Joe Moon, dean of campus life at Oxford College, turned up two news clippings from the dedication.

Hearn Trail dedication 2

Standing among the smiling family members shown in the old news photos are Elizabeth Candler Hearn II (Mrs. A.J. Bates) and three-year-old Elizabeth Candler Hearn III, wielding a scissors almost as large as she is as she cuts the ribbon on the trail. But no mention of the original Elizabeth Candler Hearn.

Thank goodness for genealogists. One of the websites catering to them is findagrave.com.

Elizabeth Candler Hearn appears to have been the daughter of Samuel Charles Candler Jr., who was the brother of Asa Candler of Coca-Cola fame and Warren Candler, Emory’s former president and first chancellor.

Elizabeth’s listing in findagrave.com shows her as Samuel’s daughter. But, oddly, his own listing does not show her as one of his children. The dates for each suggest the connection, however. He lived from 1855 to 1911, and she from 1883 to 1976. Her wedding in 1906 to Howell Reid Hearn would have occurred when she was 23. Her tombstone, shown in a photo on findagrave, notes that she was born in Villa Rica, which was also the hometown of Asa and the other children of Samuel Charles Candler Sr.

I’d love to have a photo of her or more information about her. Anyone out there know her?

Gary Hauk