One of Lynchburg, Virginia’s most impressive architectural landmarks is Monument Terrace. It is the link between Courthouse Hill and the central business district of Lynchburg.
The business district was originally along the banks of the James River and later the Kanawha Canal, as it’s hills presented building challenges. In 1813 the first courthouse was built on the hills above. Originally dirt paths connected Courthouse Hill to Water Street (today’s 9th Street) and Church Street. In 1882 plans were made by the city to improve the steep access. City engineer, August Forsberg, designed stone steps, a plaza and a fountain to be placed at Church and 9th Streets. This early monument was known as the Fireman’s Memorial Fountain dedicated to five firefighters who lost their lives nearby on May 30, 1883. A statue of a fireman was placed on top of the fountain with water spouting from the nozzle of his hose. The Fireman’s Fountain stood here until 1924.
Today’s Monument Terrace was designed by Aubrey Chesterman as a memorial to Lynchburg’s World War I dead. It was completed in 1925. The decorative Beaux Arts stairway is constructed of granite, with limestone balusters and steps, brick pavers are on the landings. There are 132 steps, 10 landings, and 11 markers and monuments along the Terrace. Eight of the markers are devoted to military service while three commemorate civic milestones. Monument Terrace now honors all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the wars fought by the United States, beginning with the Civil War until the Vietnam War.
Every Friday, between 12:00-1:00 PM, since 2001 (the beginning of the first Gulf War), Monument Terrace has been the place for current and retired servicemen and women, plus the general public, to gather to demonstrate their support to the men and women who serve in the military services today.
At the top of the terrace is the old courthouse which is now the Lynchburg Museum and it has a great view of the City down to the river and Langley Fountain.
For many people in Lynchburg, the “Confederate Cemetery” is the Old City Cemetery. Early maps often referred to Confederate Cemetery, not Old City Cemetery. Why are there over 2,200 Confederate soldiers, from 14 states, buried in Lynchburg?
Although there was no significant military engagement in or near Lynchburg, the city was home to the second largest permanent hospital center in the Confederacy. The Civil War was the first war, fought in the United States, where injured soldiers were removed from the battlefield, placed onto box cars and taken to the nearest “hospital town” for treatment, surgery or to die. As Lynchburg had three major rail lines soldiers were oftentimes brought here. Tens of thousands of soldiers, both Union and Confederate, were treated in local hospitals (previously used as tobacco warehouses). When they died they were brought to the city’s only public burial ground, Old City Cemetery, where it was customary to bury “strangers” and those without relatives nearby.
In 1861 the first of 2,500 Civil War soldiers was buried in the cemetery. There are over 2,000 white marble headstones in the Confederate section, each with two lines of inscription. The first line gives the soldier’s initials and the second line gives an abbreviation for his military unit and state. The headstones were installed by the Southern Memorial Association between 1904 and 1915, at a cost of $1.25 each.
In 1866 the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery were exhumed. Many were sent to their hometowns. Approximately 200 Union soldiers were relocated to Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg, VA.
The Confederate Section is bordered on 3 sides by a boxwood hedge and the old brick wall on the fourth. The 500-foot long, five foot tall brick wall was constructed in 1886. You enter this section of the cemetery through the entrance arch. Made from granite, the arch was built in 1926. It serves as a gateway and a memorial.
In 1869 the Monument to the States was erected. It is the oldest Confederate monument in Virginia and the fourth oldest in the United States. Each of the 14 blocks bears the name of a state represented by soldiers buried here. The order of states is based on the space needed for the lettering, not the number of soldiers from each state buried here.
In 1931 the large concrete bench, Veteran’s Bench, and the domed temple or belvedere, Speakers Belvedere, were built for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The Memorial Day ceremony has been held almost every year since 1866. It is a most interesting and educational ceremony to attend. Review the Old City Cemetery calendar of events for next year’s date and time.
In addition to the graves of individual Confederate soldiers is a section called Negro Row. Ten African-Americans are buried within or adjacent to the Confederate Section. Most of those buried in Negro Row were slaves who worked in the local military hospitals. Others included body servants of Confederate military officers. The only woman buried in the Confederate Section during the war was a slave known only as “Jane”.
The first Civil War soldier buried in Lynchburg was Pvt.Thomas P. Plunkett. He died of disease at the old Lynchburg College hospital on June 17, 1862. There are six known soldiers buried here who died in the Battle of Lynchburg, June 17-18, 1864. Three known soldiers buried here were deserters. All died when shot for desertion.
Using data from George A. Diuguid’s excellent cemetery records a six-sided kiosk and information display was erected in 1995. Descendants can use the kiosk to search for their soldiers name and burial location.
Throughout June, July and August when the Cemetery hosts free, walking tours (10:00 am each Saturday) of the cemetery time is always spent in the Confederate Section. The Candlelight Tours, held during October, usually tell the story of a Confederate soldier buried here. Or, if you would like to do research on your own burial records are available in the Cemetery Center.
During the past two summers local professors and students interested in archaeology have been conducting “below ground archaeology” surveys in the Confederate Section. By removing and scraping the soil only six inches deep usually reveals very clear answers to grave locations and orientation. The soil in a grave shaft is looser and a different color from the undisturbed “walls” of the grave shaft. Although graves are traditionally six feet deep, graves found here are often only four feet deep or sometimes as shallow as one foot deep.
Almost every guest who has stayed with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast has visited the Old City Cemetery. Some take advantage of the tours or events, others wander and enjoy the peacefulness of the cemetery grounds where they might take pictures or contemplate those who have passed on.
Lynchburg unexpectedly became a major “hospital city” during the Civil War due to it’s railroads, availability of “rooms” and it’s remoteness. In fact, in terms of numbers of Confederate Hospitals no other city had more hospitals except for Richmond, Virginia.
Three rail lines terminated in Lynchburg, the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad (from the southwest), the Orange & Alexandria Railroad (from the north) and the Southside Railroad (from Richmond).
Before the war Lynchburg had 39 tobacco manufacturers and another 41 businesses that were manipulators and shippers of the plant. These warehouses were converted to hospitals, along with hotels, a college (Lynchburg College), meeting halls, stables and individual people’s homes. College Hospital admitted more than 20,000 Confederate casualties during the four years of the Civil War.
Lynchburg was considered remote since it was far removed from the eastern part of the state where much of the fighting took place. Warfare took place mostly on flat land, which Lynchburg is certainly not. The James River borders the city on one side, much like a moat.
The five hotels in Lynchburg were all used as hospitals at some point during the war. The Warwick House, located at 1003 Main Street, was the first permanent hospital. The Union “City Hotel” became known as the Ladies’ Relief Hospital. Five hundred women formed the Ladies’ Relief Society, similar to our American Red Cross today. These untrained women were married to wealthy entrepreneurs but they willingly learned medical techniques of putting on tourniquets, cleaning lacerations and ministering to the terminally ill. The Ladies’ relief Hospital death rate in the four years of the war dropped from 93 deaths during the first two years of the war to 36 deaths during the last two years of the war, with roughly the same number of admissions.
The “Tobacco” Hospitals served a great need as the smaller hospitals were occupied to beyond capacity. The hospital names reflected the names of the tobacconist owners who sacrificed their commercial buildings for the sake of the war effort. These building were the antithesis of what we consider a modern day hospital-dingy, poorly lit, cramped and filled with strange odors. Two permanent tobacco hospitals were located on Dunbar Street near Twelfth Street. Both buildings were four to five story rectangular red brick structures, timber framed with stone underpinning, stepped parapet walls and gable roofs.
Prior to the Civil War the wounded in battle were treated on the battlefield or in tent hospitals. The hospitals cared for thousands, but often the patients died not from their wounds but from the treatment or rampant epidemic diseases that spread throughout the close quarters of the hospital buildings. Smallpox, measles, malaria, typhoid fever, dysentery and acute diarrhea killed many. Cleanliness and good hygiene would have prevented many of these diseases from spreading or spreading so rapidly. It is estimated that over 245,513 soldiers, from both armies, died from infection.
The City of Lynchburg in the four years of the Civil War became a living hospital laboratory, testing the efficiency of an overwhelmed, untrained medical system to see if the hospital concept could progress from its reputation as a place where people went to die to a place where people went to recover and return home. Thankfully we have the hospital system today that works efficiently and to the patients benefit.
Interested in the Civil War? When visiting our Lynchburg Bed and Breakfast, The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast we can point you to many Civil War sites. For reservations call us at 434-846-1388 or book on-line.
The graves found in the Old City Cemetery represent the diversity of the citizens of Lynchburg buried there. This diversity also allows for a large variety of gravestones or monuments. Due to lack of maintenance of the cemetery grounds for many years, the passing of time and hand-hewn gravestones, plus the lack of record keeping, many of the grave markers are missing. Those surviving represent a variety of funeral art. Some were handcrafted with primitive tools, others created in workshops by professional stone cutters. All are a distinct form of American expression.
Gravestones mark the grave. They are often made up of a headstone (a memorial stone set at the head of the grave, often with a raised top) and sometimes with a footstone (marking the foot of the grave). More wealthy citizens might have had table tombs, box tombs, obelisks, or pedestal tombs. A mausoleum is a large, stately tomb, most often built entirely out of the ground. During the last half of the 19th century all gravestones became thicker and more massive. Victorian influences added symbols. Symbols found in the Old City Cemetery include: angels-both flying and weeping, birds-symbolizing eternal life, candles and flames, crowns-representing glory after death, doves, wreaths, open Bibles, the hourglass-time’s inevitable passing, and sleeping lambs-symbolic of the many children taken too frequently by the epidemics or simple illnesses that plaqued children long ago.
Let’s take a quick “tour” through the cemetery and discuss some of the unique gravestones.
- Just inside the entry gate, at Fourth Street, you will find Terriza Wallace, Jan 10th 1807 April 29 1808. This hand-chiseled round stone of local granite has been preserved. Not the first burial in the cemetery, but the oldest, original marker remaining.
- Next to Terriza is Katie Vernon Metcalfe (1836-1858). Her intricately carved marble headstone bears the classic Victorian motifs of willow, an urn, flowers and obelisk.
- Nearby is R.B. Gaines (died 1811). He was buried in a barrel-vaulted tomb of handmade Virginia brick which is capped at head and foot with Lynchburg greenstone.
- The marble tombstone of Judge William Daniel, Jr. (1806-1873) is a well-preserved example of an epitaph with Biblical and biographical messages, as well as the symbolism of God’s hand descending from Heaven holding the scales of justice. Judge Daniel was Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia from 1846 until 1865 and lived at Point of Honor.
- A wrought iron enclosure holds the graves of Maria Ball Carter Tucker (died 1823) and her young daughter Rosalie (died 1818). Maria Tucker was the great niece of George Washington. A marble false crypt rests over one grave. An antique rose, referred to in the poetic inscription on the lid, has survived all this time within the enclosure.
- Further down the hill you will find the life-sized cut tree trunk monument to Sophia Rhodes (died 1889). This carved limestone monument is typically Victorian and symbolic of her life cut short.
There are many other interesting gravestones and monuments found throughout the cemetery. A walk through the cemetery is always pleasant and sometimes educational. Each Saturday morning between now and the end of August tours of the cemetery are given at 10:00 am. They are conducted by various people who work at the cemetery, so attending more than one usually imparts different information and stories than another. The tours typically last about one hour. No reservations are required. The is no admission fee.
If you are staying with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and would like to take advantage of one of these tours let us know. We will be sure that you are served your breakfast with plenty of time to allow you to get to the cemetery for the beginning of the tour.
The Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg, VA, is Lynchburg’s most visited tourist site. During the past four months we have posted a blog describing the individual buildings/museums found on the cemetery grounds. This month we are going to introduce you to the Cemetery Museum and it’s artifacts.
The main focus of the Cemetery Center is it’s collection of American mourning customs and artifacts, burial records of the Southern Memorial Association, the Lee Reading Room, Taylor Conservatory and the Christian Vault.
This month’s blog post is going to concentrate on the American mourning customs and artifacts.
The main room in the Cemetery Center is comprised of doors, floorboards, beams and a fireplace mantle, all dated 1845. This room contains mourning artifacts and decor. Some of the most interesting pieces found include:
- mourning and funeral photographs (c. 1900).
- beeswax flowers (c. 1870). These would have surrounded the casket during the funeral, then have been placed on the grave and finally taken by the family where they were framed and hung in the parlor.
- a mantle clock draped in black crepe to signify mourning. The clock would have been stopped at the time of death.
- mourning stationary that is bordered in black. It would have been used to announce the death and to invite friends and family to the funeral..
- a cast-iron “shoulder casket” (c. 1857, from Diuguid Funeral Service). Used by upper-class citizen of Lynchburg it is painted to resemble wood.
- an embalming kit (c.1900). Some of the instruments are still used today.
A few of the interesting facts about mourning and burial customs found in the Cemetery Center are as follows:
- widows were in mourning for a total of 2 1/2 years. They were in deep mourning for 1 year and 1 day, during which time they could only wear black. After their deep mourning period they could add a touch of white, more ruffles or trim and wear hats instead of veils. Near the end of the mourning period they could wear clothing in dark colors:gray, purple, slate or blue.
- women did not attend the burial.
- flower arrangements were seldom used before the Civil War. Between the 1880’s-1890’s fresh, dried and artificial flower arrangements were used in profusion.
- mourning attire for men consisted of wearing a black armband or hatband for a period of 3 months.
- men wore mourning attire as a mark of respect. Women wore mourning attire out of fear that the omission to wear black would be interpreted as evidence of a lack of affection for the dead.
- immediately following the funeral all traces f death were to be removed from the house. Shutters were opened, blinds raised, crepe and flowers removed and clocks restarted.
The Cemetery Center is open between 11 until 3 daily, or by appointment. It contains detailed brochures and booklets relating to the history of the cemetery along with information about the various buildings and museums located on the cemetery grounds (most of which we have discussed earlier this year). There is a small gift shop that sells “Died and Gone to Heaven” honey (that is produced by the cemeteries bees), books (including Once Upon a Time…a Cemetery Story) and cookbooks (such as the award winning Food to Die For a book of funeral food, tips and tales), along with gifts and items pertaining to the cemetery.
Old City Cemetery, in Lynchburg, VA, is hosting the 21st Annual Antique Rose Festival on Saturday and Sunday, May 7 & 8, 2016.
The Antique Rose collection was planted in 1986 on both sides of the 800 foot remains of the 1860’s old brick wall. The 60 varieties planted here are representative of rose history from before 1581 thrrought the 19th century. The roses chosen include the full range of classes and colors exhibited by these ancestors of modern day roses. The original plants were gathered from across the United States and Canada, including local gardens.
The “mother roses” have been grown locally. They are cut and rooted by local volunteers, who take care of them throughout the year. These cuttings, showcasing about 120 varieties of roses this year, will be for sale on both May 7 & 8. Prices will be dependent upon the size of the rose plant. Old City Cemetery is also selling some perennial off-shoots this year. Some of the perennials will be clematis, snowball, deutzia and rosemary plants.
The roses and perennials will be sold starting on Friday, May 6th at 5:00 pm. The sales continue until Sunday, May 8th at 5:00 pm.
On Sunday, May 8th at 3:00 the Mother’s Day Rose Walk will take place. This walking tour of the roses growing along the brick wall will describe and explain the history of these roses. Some will be in bloom, while others will be in bud. The walking tour should delight your senses!
For more information you can contact Old City Cemetery at 434.847.1465 or visit www.gravegarden.org.
The pictures of the roses, found in this blog post, were taken by Mike Bedsworth during last year’s rose festival.
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