This 42 acre parcel of land was once called Harvie’s Woods and owned, not surprisingly, by the Harvie Family.
In June of 1847 some of the more prominent citizens of Richmond purchased the property – which included the Harvie Family cemetery that is still on the property – with visions of creating of beautiful cemetery. The land was just outside of the city at the time and had breath taking (no pun intended) views of the nearby James River.
Its name comes not from the as yet unknown section of Los Angeles; but from the numerous holly trees that grew in the woods on the property.
In 1869 a large pyramid was constructed on the property to honor the 18,000 Confederate enlisted men who died in the Civil War and are buried in the cemetery.
There are some very famous people buried within the cemetery including the only President of the Confederate States of America – Jefferson Davis – as well as well known Confederate Generals including J.E.B. Stuart.
There are also 2 United States Presidents buried here: James Monroe and John Tyler.
The 90 foot pyramid honoring more than 18,000 Confederate dead is said to have been cursed from the very beginning. There were very numerous worksite accidents in the year it was constructed – constructed by prison labor – so many, in fact, the prisoners feared the monument would create nothing but misery for future generations.
The man who placed the capstone on the monument – because no one else would do it – disappeared from the face of the Earth once the deed was done. Optimistically, he was given a pardon – he was horse thief – for his deed; or maybe the monument claimed one last life.
Many historians and archeologists believe there are in excess of 11,000 more bodies on the site. Of course, no one can go digging in a cemetery let alone at the base of one of the most important monuments to the former Confederate States of America.
Paranormal Activity reported near the pyramid: ghostly moans at both dusk and dawn; disembodied voices including full conservations; freezing winds out of nowhere at the rear of the monument and feelings of not being alone and not wanted.
In February of 1962 two year old Florence Rees passed away from Scarlet Fever. She was buried in the cemetery but with something very different than any of the rest of interned. Florence has a guardian in the form of a life sized Newfoundland dog cast in iron.
It is thought her father – an outspoken pacifist – knowing the iron in his possession would soon be appropriated by the government for use in the Civil War cast the dog knowing no one would dare desecrate the grave of his baby girl. Apparently, he was right, as Florence’s iron guardian stands to this day.
The dog’s position tends to change according to witnesses as it watches over the little girl. It will turn toward any approaching threat; no one sees the dog move it’s suddenly just facing another direction. Anyone with questionable energy and/or intent has hears a phantom deep growling near her grave. No one has dared put the guardian to the test by either interfering with the girl’s grave or the dog.
The grave of W.W. Poole is said to hold the remains of the legendary Richmond Vampire. Apparently, Poole was forced out of England to the Americas for feeding on the living.
The collapse of the Church Hill Tunnel – also said to be haunted and will be covered in a future article – is also linked to the vampire legend. The noise of the tunneling is said to have awakened the vampire who burrowed to the work site and collapsed the tunnel. Rescuers found a blood soaked creature with elongated canine teeth and tattered skin when they opened the site. Allegedly, the creature fled the men and disappeared near the tomb of W.W. Poole.
The more acceptable story is that they actually found Benjamin Mosby – the fireman on the train – who was horribly disfigured when the train’s boiler exploded near him. Most of his teeth were broken and his upper body was burned so badly his skin was coming off in tatters. He died of his injuries and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
By <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:RVA_all_day&action=edit&redlink=1" class="new" title="User:RVA all day (page does not exist)">RVA all day</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link