One of the most beautiful as well as historic cemeteries in the nation is Hollywood, situated on the north bank of the James River and within the corporate limits of Richmond. Its sleeping inhabitants number over forty-four thousand, of which 18,701 represent those soldiers of the Confederacy who were killed in the battles around Richmond during the War Between the States.
Hollywood’s natural beauty is unrivalled. The southern boundary of the cemetery is on cliffs overlooking the river, and its winding paths traverse many rolling hills between the river and the city. These hills are thickly grown with magnificent holly, magnolia, and yew trees. In the spring and summer months the sections are dotted with a great variety of roses and other gorgeous perennials.
This history of the cemetery dates from 1847, when a few distinguished citizens of Richmond took steps to incorporate a rural burying ground which would rival in beauty Mount Auburn, near Boston. They purchased forty-two acres of land in what was then the Town of Sidney. This acreage included the private burying ground of the Harvie family which is still to be seen near the main entrance.
In 1847 William A. Pratt, former engineer for Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, was chosen to make the first topographical layout of the grounds. A more complete survey was later made by John Notman of Philadelphia, who suggested that the name be Hollywood because of the magnificent growth of this specie of trees within the area. The cemetery was incorporated on February 25, 1856. Its present area is one hundred and twenty acres.
Hollywood contains the graves of two presidents of the United States, John Tyler, and James Monroe; also those of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America; Varina Davis his wife; Winnie Davis his daughter, known as “The Daughter of the Confederacy,” and Jefferson Davis, son of the President, who was killed as the result of a fall from the portico of the mansion on Twelfth Street. The Davis section overlooks the rapids of James River and commands an extensive view of Richmond on its seven hills.
Among the noted Confederate generals interred in this cemetery are Fitzhugh Lee, J. E. B, Stuart and George E. Pickett. John Randolph of Roanoke, is one of the many distinguished statesmen who rest in this beautiful spot.
The Confederate section, which is located near the main gate, contains what is perhaps the first monument to be erected to Southern soldiers-a pyramid of granite spalls. Here rest 18,701 of the rank and file of the Confederate army. Memorial Day exercises for the Southern dead are held here each year.
It is of interest to note that the holly trees in this cemetery evoked the highest praise from M. Correvon, the noted botanist, who is the owner of Floraire gardens celebrated over the world for its Alpine plants.