412 South Cherry Street
Most of the sources on Richmond’s famed Hollywood Cemetery speak only of the vague legendary hauntings with no personal experiences. There are legends surrounding the large stone Monument of Confederate War Dead that marks the resting place for tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers. Supposedly the soft moaning of the dead is heard here. There is also the cast iron dog marking the grave of a little girl that continues to guard her in death. But there are almost no documented personal experiences here save for one that I discovered in a back corner of the internet.
Ghostvillage.com hardly is a back corner of the internet, though with its thousands of pages of content, some things can seemingly get lost in the shuffle. The website was established in 1999 by author Jeff Belanger and has grown by leaps and bounds as more and more people have shared their paranormal encounters from all over the globe. Among the encounters is one from a sheriff’s deputy who worked off duty at Hollywood Cemetery.
One of this deputy’s first experiences happened at the tomb of President James Monroe. While patrolling the cemetery grounds late at night, a group of officers were standing beside the president’s grave. Looking at the size of the grave, the deputy remarked, “He must have been a short son of a…” Out of nowhere, a swarm of flies began to attack him, and he fled towards his van, followed by the flies. Perhaps the president was sensitive about his height?
The deputy notes another experience near the Monument of Confederate War Dead where he regularly encountered a cold spot.
Another notable experience involved the cemetery’s maintenance shed. The deputy was sick in the shed’s bathroom and vomiting into the toilet. He heard the door open and the sound of footsteps with the hair on the back of his neck beginning to stand up. Out loud he said, “Please leave me alone today, people, I’m not feeling well” and the sensation stopped.
There is no doubt that there are many spirits still roaming the cemetery’s rustic and hilly 135 acres. Among those at rest here are many notables including President John Tyler, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, 28 Confederate generals including J.E.B. Stuart, and many noted authors, diplomats, and businessmen. Some 18,000 Confederate soldiers are also buried here. The cemetery was first envisioned in 1847 with its first burial in 1848. Based on the concept of the rural cemetery, a 19th century idea that was used for many major urban cemeteries around the country, it is now maintained as an arboretum and remains an active cemetery for the living and the dead.
- Hollywood Cemetery (Richmond, Virginia). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 January 2020.
- Kinney, Pamela K. Haunted Richmond. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2007.
- Taylor, L.B., Jr. The Ghosts of Richmond…and Nearby Environs. Progress Printing, 1985.
- Womack, Rodney A. Sr. “Graveyard Shift at Hollywood Cemetery.” Ghostvillage.com. 22 February 2006.