First Burial

Dr. James Nissen's grave, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

Not far within the gates of the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta is an eroded and faded ornamented-top marble tablet, the inscription lost to the elements.  But for the survey done of the cemetery in the 1930s by Franklin Miller Garrett, the name of the person in the grave would have been lost to history.  Garrett, however, Atlanta’s only official city historian (and Coca-Cola Company historian for 28 years) preserved a part of the story. According to legend, Nissen was a doctor visiting Atlanta when he took ill.  He died September 22, 1850.  The metal plaque mounted in front of his weathered tombstone tells the gruesome piece of the story, “Nissen, the cemetery’s first interment was fearful of being buried alive; therefore, he requested his jugular vein be severed prior to burial.”  As far as anyone knows, his last request was granted and then he was buried in the city where he died.
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