Saturday, January 1, 2011

Famous grave yard in Richmond, Virginia

Previously on our trip we had seen the gravesite of Thomas Jefferson, and I had already seen the burial place of James Madison, therefore, a visit to the Hollywood cemetery was something we had looked forward to from the very beginning of our trip.

From the offset I was surprised of the beauty of this place because the Hollywood Cemetery is a large, sprawling cemetery located in Richmond, Virginia. Characterized by rolling hills and winding paths overlooking the James River, it is the resting place of two United States Presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as the only Confederate States President, Jefferson Davis. It is also the resting place of 25 Confederate generals, more than any other cemetery in the country. Included are George Pickett, Fitzhugh Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. I had especially wanted to see the gravesite of Jeb Stuart. Since I had gone to school with some of his descendents whose name was also J.E.B. Stuart. He also had a brother named Billy in the same high school with me in Arkansas. However I was impressed by the gravesites of all the Presidents and the Confederate section.

Founded in 1847, Hollywood is one of the oldest cemeteries in Richmond. Besides the Presidents, novelists James Branch Cabel, Ellen Glasgow, and 18,000 Confederate soldiers, 11,000 of them unknown, are a few examples of the historical figures buried here. Hollywood has the city's best view of the James River, and what a view of the river and city it was.

The monuments of CSA General George E. Pickett (of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg) and his wife, Lasalle Corbell Pickett. Mrs. Pickett was relocated from an Arlington, Virginia mausoleum to Hollywood Cemetery in 1998. In announcing the move, the Richmond Times Dispatch said, "For the first time, a woman is to be buried in the soldier's section of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. The wife of Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett will be buried in an area known as Gettysburg Hill, since casualties from the Battle of Gettysburg are buried there. Gen. Pickett earned fame during the Civil War for "Pickett's Charge" at Gettysburg, Pa., a crucial battle in 1863 that helped turn the tide of war in the Union's favor. At his death in 1875, 10 years after the war's end, Gen. Pickett asked to be buried among his men in his native Richmond."

The James Monroe's grave is particularly stunning as it is a cage of beautifully sculpted iron work that is like nothing I have ever seen before. Some of the stained glass is also worth coming to visit to see. Most notably, the tomb of famous Richmonder and philanthropist, Lewis Ginter is blessed with stained glass designed by famed Tiffany Studios.

The Cemetery was designed in the rural garden style, with its name, "Hollywood," coming from the holly trees dotting the hills of the property.

The Cemetery is one of Richmond's major tourist attractions and one can buy a book and map noting the location of where the famous are buried. There are many local legends surrounding certain tombs and grave sites in the cemetery, including one about a little girl and the black iron statue of a dog standing watch over her grave. Other notable legends rely on ghosts haunting the many mausoleums. One of the most well-known of these is the legend of the Richmond Vampire.

The first memorial in Richmond, Virginia to the Confederate soldiers, this 90 foot granite pyramid was completed in 1869 for 18,000 enlisted men buried there. Although it cost over twenty-five thousand dollars to erect, the pyramid was constructed without mortar, making the construction very dangerous.

In early 1862, CSA General James Longstreet suffered a serious personal loss when three of his children died of scarlet fever during an epidemic in Richmond. The children are buried in Hollywood Cemetery.

This cemetery was awe-inspiring in its vastness and history. We loved meandering through the streets and looking at the dates on the stones of the folks buried below us. The monoliths, headstones, crypts, tombstones - all in a vast array of design and size. Several times I was overwhelmed. We found the Confederate army section and many of the greats in history from the war.

Hollywood was one of the most fascinating sites we saw in Richmond.

I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. -- Genesis 23:4 (KJV)

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