By Ann Taylor Boutwell
April 1, 1964: Final rites for Bessie Berry Jordan, the friend and housekeeper of the late Atlanta novelist Margaret Mitchell and her husband, John Marsh, were held at the Big Bethel A.M.E. Church on Auburn Avenue. In 1925, Jordan began working for the couple at their Crescent Avenue apartment and followed them at their subsequent apartments on West Peachtree and the South Prado. She protected them from over-zealous fans, friends, and wannabe movie stars. In 1949, after Mitchell’s death, Jordan was noted in the New York Times headlines as Mitchell’s first bequeath. She also wrote a memorial piece title “My Sweet Miss Peggy” published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday Magazine. Jordan was survived by her husband, Charles Jordan; daughter, Mrs. Deon Rutledge; four grandchildren.
April 9, 1997: A dedication ceremony was held in Hardy Ivy Park at Peachtree and Baker streets for the Carnegie Pavilion sculpture designed by architect Henri Jova of Jova, Daniel, Busby. Atlanta’s old Carnegie Library façade, torn down in 1977, now stands as a towering tribute to higher education. Embedded in the pavilion’s floor are nine seals from area colleges and universities: Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, International Theology School, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University and Emory University. A celebration of Henri Jova’s life is planned at the Atlanta Botanical Garden on April 3 at 5 p.m.
April 19, 1936: Atlanta’s first annual Dogwood Festival opened Downtown with a police-escorted General Motors Parade of Progress. The six-day, citywide party offered 37 gala events. Sightseeing excursions to Hettie Dunaway Gardens in Newnan was the most popular. Highlights included the Junior League’s Carnival Ball at the Piedmont Driving Club; “The Enchanted Garden” an elaborate dance fantasy performed at the Lullwater Conservation Garden; and the elaborate Fairyland Pageant held at Georgia Tech’s Grant Field. Lakewood Park drew crowds to a midway of amusements created by Rubin & Cherry Exposition Company. The Fox Theatre, the venue for the last event on April 25, was a performance of Carmen by the Metropolitan Opera. Dogwood Festival Director Mrs. Robert L. Cooney said that it took her four years of event planning to execute the city’s first Dogwood Festival. The 78th festival will be held in Piedmont Park on April 11-13.
April 10, 1949: Cairo, Georgia native Jackie Robinson came to Atlanta with the Brooklyn Dodgers and played the first integrated game in Ponce de Leon Ball Park against the Atlanta Crackers.
April 12, 1926: Child actor Jane Withers was born in Atlanta. By age 4, she was playing the vaudeville circuit in Atlanta. She was in the movie Giant (1956) and performed in television commercials as Josephine the Plumber.
April 15, 1913: On Confederate Memorial Day, 13-year-old Mary Phagan was murdered in the National Pencil Company at 39 South Forsyth Street. Factory superintendent Leo Frank was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death, but had his sentence commuted to life in prison by Gov. John M. Slaton. Frank was kidnapped from the jail and lynched in Marietta. He was pardoned in 1986.
April 18, 1992: Sadly, a team of specialists at Zoo Atlanta had to euthanize the 25-year-old polar bear, Linda. She had an incurable inflammatory condition in her toes. Linda’s cub, Andy Nicolas, born December 25, 1982, was named after Mayor Andrew Young. He was the subject of a popular children’s book, Andy Bear, written by Ginny Johnston and Judy Cutchins.
April 22, 1906: Atlanta donations swelled to $14,000 for victims of the San Francisco earthquake and fire.
Atlanta INtown historian Ann Taylor Boutwell gave special tours of the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum as part of last month’s Phoenix Flies, a month-long event that featured tours and events of the city’s historic homes, landmarks and spaces. Boutwell has been writing about history for INtown for nearly its entire 20-year existence. We’re proud to call her part of the family.