White Oak Cemtery
White Oak Cemetery

Fifteen remarkable photos from a long-forgotten picnic destination.

White Oak Cemetery was established on over 110 acres of what was formally the J. E. Sawyer farm; known as 'Alto Vista'. It was formally dedicated Sunday, Nov. 3rd, 1895

As seen in the animated images above, it was already being used as a park by local residents in the 1890’s - a newspaper article noting the area was known as a ‘Mecca of picnic parties on the north side.’ - located just off Dry Valley Road (later Dayton Boulevard) near White Oak Springs.

125-years later, people still picnic at the former White Oak Springs and pause to enjoy a quiet spot at the ‘Red Bank Duck Pond.’

The black & white images here came from scans of glass plate negatives likely taken by Charles G. Walline (1874-1943), who at that time lived with his mother and brother on Payne Street (now Battery Place). Charles and his mother are pictured above.

The landscape has significantly changed. Some photos were taken in summer, and some winter - yet all were the around the same place.

“The cemetery has been beautifully laid out and provided with handsome gates at the entrance, and attractive flower beds border the well graded drives. Work has also been done in planting out cedar hedges and evergreen shrubs, the whole making one of the most ideal spots for “a city of the dead” that could well-be imagined. A thick coat of gravel, well rolled, covers the whole. The entrance to the ground is through substantial iron gates with handsome cut stone pillars each surmounted by a neatly sculptured acorn. Just inside the entrance is a large star-shaped bed of variegated foliage plants and choice flowers arranged in a manner reflecting credit upon the executor.” Chattanooga Daily Times, 4 Nov, 1895

Mysteries Remain

The family shown here in front of a home is at a location now within the Chattanooga Memorial Park atop a knoll called 'Shadyvale'. These fragile, yet resilient glass plates remain as vibrant as the day they were taken. Yet the people in the photo remain unknown.

The two younger ladies appear in dozens of other images taken by the likely photographer, Charles G. Walline. Their positive identity would unlock many other connections. It is probable that one or both worked with Walline at Loveman’s Store in downtown Chattanooga in the late 1890s.


Entrance to White Oak Cemetery



Assigned by the photographer over 100 years ago, sequentially numbered labels likely indicate a common location or event.


At ‘Shadyvale’



Full Size Images

Images from 15 glass plate negatives taken over at least two separate visits to White Oak Cemetery circa late 1890s.

B 16 c 016_B1

Entrance to White Oak Cemetery. Note the 'No Dogs Allowed' sign and a motion blurred dog exiting the scene. A similar sign exists today at the same location.

B 18 c 011_B1

A summertime visit - Shadyvale knoll & house in the background. The unidentified man also appears in other photos and appears to live in the house on the hill.

B 19 c 018_B1

Charles G. Walline, and (likely) his mother, Sarah Coulter Walline.

B 20 c 10_B1

Likely near the current day offices, facing west.

70 c 150_B3

Unknown woman on fence.

103 c 222_B3

C. G. Walline & unknown woman who appears in dozens of other photos.

104 c 148_B3

The split rail fence photo shoot. Unknown Women.

105 c 221_B3

Unknown couple at home on Shadyvale knoll

106 c 204_B3

Assumed 'family photo'. The older man appears to be wearing a black yarmulke possibly of Hungarian origin - perhaps a Rabbi?.

107 c 203_B3

C. G. Walline & unknown woman who appears in dozens of other photos.

108 c 202_B3

At the 'posing stump'.

109 c 067_B3

Wardrobe change

110 c 205_B3

Mr. Charles Gustavus Walline (1874-1943)

111 c 192_B3

Unknown couple at home on Shadyvale knoll

112 c 201_B3

Wintertime visit to Shadyvale knoll. Unidentified women.