Road Trips

Richmond Virginia’s Historic Cemeteries

On a road trip though Virginia we spent an afternoon driving through three of Richmond’s historic cemeteries.

Hollywood cemetery, named for its many Holly trees, was established in 1847 and is still fully functioning and active. It is located on 135 acres of verdant land, valleys, and hills. There are so many trees it is listed as an arboretum. The landscape overlooks the banks of the James River. It is steeped in history and includes two American Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler as well the one Conferderate President, Jefferson Davis. There are more than 18,000 civil war soldiers buried here, and commemorated by a tall stone pyramid.

There is also a vampire buried there. An urban legend which describes WW Pool who was said to have been run out of England in the 1800s for being a vampire. After his wife died he and his wife were buried in a different spot to escape the vandalism of their grave.

Shockoe Hill Cemetery opened in 1822. It is within a neighborhood and is the smallest of the cemeteries we visited. Shockoe Hill includes the graves of John Marshall (first Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court), John Wickham (Aaron Burr’s attorney for his treason trial), and George S.Patton Sr. (Confederate Colonel and grandfather to General George Patton of WWII fame). A host of lesser known historic figures are also buried in his simple cemetery–Virginia governors and some important people in the life of Edgar Allan Poe. Among them are Frances Allen, his beloved foster mother and Jane Stanard, who inspired his poem “To Helen.”

Evergreen Cemetery is located in the east end of Richmond. It was founded in 1891–the height of the Jim Crow segregation era–was a premier burial ground for African Americans. A tangle of trees has covered this cemetery for many years, as twisted headstones and monuments peek out from gnarled foliage. Old, weathered picnic tables are scattered throughout grounds. It is ruggedly beautiful and has the atmosphere of a lost time. Much of the landscape is overgrown and in need of loving care. There is also a newer section which is still taking on new burials.