Richmond’s famous dead people

Beneath Richmond lies an entire army of dead famous people.

Arthur Ashe

Woodland Cemetery

We must love ourselves, our old and our young, our women as well as our men. I see nothing inconsistent between being proud of oneself and one’s ancestors and, at the same time, seeing oneself first and foremost a member of the commonwealth of all races and creeds. Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe was the first black man to win the the singles title Wimbledon, and, at one point, was ranked the #1 tennis play in the world. He’s got his own, albeit slightly creepy, statue on Monument Avenue and is buried just over the Richmond city limits in Henrico.

James Branch Cabell

Hollywood Cemetery

Oh, well, you must give people what they want, and literature is a vast bazaar where customers come to purchase everything except mirrors James Branch Cabell, The Certain Hour

It’s the guy for whom VCU’s main library, which will soon be expanded, is named! Cabell published 52 books in his lifetime, including Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice which heavily influenced Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.

Virginius Dabney

Hollywood Cemetery

I’m going to say whatever I think I ought to say, and if they don’t like it, that’s just too bad. Virginius Dabney

If you love Richmond and haven’t yet read Virginius Dabney’s Richmond: The Story of a City, get thee to an Amazon. Dabney also helmed the editorial desk at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1948.

Jefferson Davis

Hollywood Cemetery

The evils of war must fall upon the people, and with them the war-feeling should originate. We, their representatives, are but a mirror to reflect the light, and never should become a torch to fire the pile.Jefferson Davis, 1846

President of the Confederacy. Kind of an important dude in the history of our country.

William Foushee

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

You will be sensible that the inclosed proposition on the establishment of steam boats might as well have been addressed to the man in the moon, as to an inhabitant of the mountains. Yet as such a boat between Norfolk & Richmond might be interesting to both places I have thought it a duty to give the proposition a fair chance by handing it on to a place where it will be more interesting. With this view I have taken the liberty of inclosing it to you, that if you think it can be wrought into any thing useful for the city of Richmond, you may make such disposition of it as your judgment & convenience may admit.Thomas Jefferson to William Foushee

Foushee was the first of Richmond’s 79 mayors. Appointed in 1782 from 12 men elected at-large (sorta like how RVA rolled until we got a directly elected mayor in 2004), he’s even got a street named after him downtown.

Douglas Southall Freeman

Hollywood Cemetery

We Virginians do not go to the storied shrines of the past to do worship but rather to gain inspiration. Douglas Southall Freeman

Freeman’s Lee’s Lieutenants is one of the great books about the Civil War–and he didn’t even win a Pulitzer for that one! He would, however, win two for biographies of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. He also headed up the The Richmond News Leader while the aforementioned Virginius Dabney was dreaming of a Pulitzer of his own.

Lewis Ginter

Hollywood Cemetery

Few men in Richmond’s long history have done so much for the city’s advancement. Virginius Dabney

Do you ever wonder who would have the kind of money to commission a place like the Jefferson Hotel? A dude like Major Lewis Ginter, that’s who! The guy basically built all of the City’s Northside, and his estate became what is now Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Ellen Glasgow

Hollywood Cemetery

The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions. Ellen Glasgow

Oh, just another Pulitzer Prize-winning dead Richmonder–this one exploring feminism in Civil War-era rural Virginia with 1925’s Barren Ground. Glasgow would later win a Pulitzer for In This Our Life.

A.P. Hill

Under Laburnum and Hermitage

Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks…The final words of Stonewall Jackson

Both Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson mentioned A.P. Hill in their final words. I don’t know what that means, but it’s most likely true. Currently, A.P. Hill’s remains lie underneath the A.P. Hill monument in the middle of one of Richmond’s most dangerous intersections: Laburnum and Hermitage.

Elizabeth Van Lew

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

You have sent me the most valuable information received from Richmond during the war. Ulysses S. Grant

Ol’ Crazy Bett ran a Union spy ring during the Civil War in Richmond, passing information, secrets, and Confederate troop movements up north. After the end of the war, she continued living in Richmond, which, as you can imagine, must have been preeeeetty awkward.

John Marshall

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

A constitution is framed for ages to come, and is designed to approach immortality as nearly as human institutions can approach it. John Marshall

John Marshall was the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. People loved that guy so much that he gets to be called “The Great Chief Justice.” He also basically single-handedly created the third branch of our government, NBD.

James Monroe

Hollywood Cemetery

The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power. #monroedoctorine James Monroe

4.5% of all American presidents are buried in Richmond. James Monroe is the oldest and one most associated with keeping Europeans out of America (kinda).

George Pickett

Hollywood Cemetery

CHARGE!1 George Pickett

It sucks when your name sorta becomes synonymous with an epic mistake and defeat. The 150-year anniversary of his fateful charge was this past July.

Elizabeth Arnold Poe

St. John’s Church

Come! let the burial rite be read — the funeral song be sung! —
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young —
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.Edgar Allan Poe, Lenore

The mother of the world’s saddest boy is buried right here in RVA.

J.E.B. Stuart

Hollywood Cemetery

I have a reputation of being fond of saying, ‘no’ but I have had but one rule of action from the first and that was duty. J.E.B. Stuart

Stuart is known for two things: 1) calvary-related feats of genius and daring, and 2) his fashion sense. I’m all in favor of bringing back large, brimmed hats featuring huge feathers. Viggo Mortensen would play young J.E.B. Stuart in a movie.

John Tyler

Hollywood Cemetery

Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette—the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace. John Tyler

While James Monroe may be the oldest president buried in Richmond, John Tyler is the most severe looking. Plus, he was the first person to succeed to the office of president when William Henry Harrison died only 32 days after his inauguration.

George Wythe

St. John’s Church

His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country. Thomas Jefferson

As a professor–America’s first law professor–Wythe taught Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Henry Clay, and John Marshall. He signed the Declaration of Independence, represented Virginia on the Continental Congress, and opposed slavery. His book collection, given to Jefferson, was part of the beginnings of the Library of Congress. This guy was legit!

— ∮∮∮ —


  1. While not an attributable quote, he probably said that, right? 

Photo by: tsakshaug

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Scott Burger on said:

    I think you are shortchanging Hollywood Cemetery. check the list here:,_Virginia)

    A few omissions:

    Maggie Walker is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
    William Foushee, first Mayor of Richmond, is buried in Shockoe Cemetery.
    Joseph Mayo, Mayor of Richmond during the Civil War, is buried in Shockoe Cemetery.

  2. John B on said:


  3. maggie walker seconded!

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