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Cemetery History


     Evergreen Cemetery, created in 1891 was intended to be the African American equivalent of Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond’s after-life residence for those white high-class individuals with notable tenants such as former Presidents Tyler and Monroe as well as President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. It was laid out by the Evergreen Cemetery Association situated on a high ridge overlooking the valley formed by Stony Run and Gillies Creek.[1] The last known burial in Evergreen took place in 2002. There are an estimated 50,000 plots in the cemetery, a little over 7,000 of which have been identified and catalogued on findagrave.com.

     In 1919, the City of Richmond ordered that any cemetery established after this date must have perpetual-care funds to ensure the upkeep of the land. Because Evergreen’s charter dates back to 1891, it was exempt from this law and the families of those buried were expected to keep up the plots or pay to have them cared for. Until the 1970’s, Evergreen was owned and maintained by the Evergreen Cemetery Association, however in 1970, the organization sold it’s more than 5,000 plots to Metropolitan Memorial Services, who went bankrupt in 1973.

     A group of African American funeral-home directors oversaw the site at auction, but shortly afterward sold it. Over the years, families moved away or could not afford the upkeep. Overtime, the cemetery became overgrown and forgotten, which is the way the majority of it remains today. “From below, dense woods obscure the effect of the massed monuments on its hillside, and the historic gravestones extend deep into the woods, where the dead are forgotten amid overgrown paths, upturned monuments and anonymous graves.”[2]

[1] https://evergreencemeteryva.wordpress.com/evergreen-cemetery-past/
[2] https://evergreencemeteryva.wordpress.com/evergreen-cemetery-past/
  1. Graves hidden in the overgrowth.
  2. A church group adopted a portion of the cemetery to clean.
  3. A broken head stone.
  4. Rev. J. Andrew Bowler's Foot Stone

Maggie L. Walker

Margaret Lena Walker
(July 15, 1864 – December 15, 1934)

Maggie L. Walker was an African-American teacher and businesswoman. Walker was the first female bank president of any race to charter a bank in the United States.

As a leader, she achieved successes with the vision to make tangible improvements in the way of life for African Americans and women. Disabled by paralysis and limited to a wheelchair later in life, Walker also became an example for people with disabilities.
Walker's restored and furnished home in the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia has been designated a National Historic Site, operated by the National Park Service.

John Mitchell, Jr. 
(July 11, 1863 – December 3, 1929)

John Mitchell, Jr. was an American businessman, newspaper editor, African American civil rights activist, and politician in Richmond, Virginia, particularly in Richmond's Jackson Ward, which became known as the “Black Wall Street of America.” An African American, as editor of the Richmond Planet, he frequently published articles in favor of racial equality. In 1904, he organized a black boycott of the city's segregated trolley system.
He founded and served as president of the Mechanics Savings Bank in the city. He served as a city alderman for two terms, and was active in fraternal and professional organizations. He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican Party candidate for governor in 1921.
John Mitchell, Jr.

Alfred D. "A.D." Price

As published by the Richmond Planet -
January 3, 1903

Rev. John Andrew Bowler

John Andrew Bowler 
(March 1, 1862 – October 7, 1935)

Rev. John Andrew Bolwer was an African American educator and Baptist minister. He was the first minister of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia and was one of the organizers for the first school for African Americans in Church Hill.

He died on October 7, 1935 and is buried in the historic Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.
The former Springfield School on Twenty Six Street in Richmond was renamed in his honor.

As published by the Richmond Dispatch -
December 25, 1902

Daniel J. Farrar

Daniel  James Farrar was born in Richmond on October 17, 1862. He joined his father in business after attending public schools in Richmond until he was 18 years old.  He completed training by his father in three years.

The 1910 United States census lists his occupation as a contractor and homebuilder.  Daniel married Leah Belle Holmes on May 17, 1888. She was the daughter of George Washington Holmes and Mildred Holmes.  He died in March, 1923 leaving his wife, two sons Joseph H. (b. 1892) and Daniel J, Jr. (b. 1897) and two daughters, Leah Belle (b. 1894) Alma R.M. Lucas (b. 1890)  and one grandchild, Yvonne Lucas. 

He designed, remodeled and built the Smallwood Memorial Institute in Claremont VA, the Mechanics Bank Building (where he maintained his office), the Second Street Bank as well as a number of dwellings, apartments, businesses, schools and churches.  He was prominently connected with the Masons, IBPOE, Lincoln Republican League and the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. He served as secretary and treasurer of the Evergreen Cemetery Association. Daniel died in March 1923.