During my visit to the historic Old City Cemetery of Lynchburg, founded in 1806, I experienced and encountered many exciting remnants of history and learned more about this historic city I currently call home. The cemetery is very diverse in citizens and within it lies the great niece of our first president George Washington, Maria Ball Carter Tucker. She and her daughter are both buried in a wrought iron enclosure. The cemetery is one of the oldest public cemeteries in the United States that has rarely been used continually since its beginning. The gravestones are remarkable, many of which were hand crafted and chiseled. This cemetery holds a lot of history and opens your eyes to the world of our past. It is interesting to note that just as today we often visit our loved ones resting sites, so did others hundreds of years prior, a tradition that has been passed down through the centuries. It was a fascinating thought to note that many people stood where I stood to mourn the death of their loved ones hundreds of years prior. There were many family plots in the cemetery and above ground graves made of stone.
Some graves belong to soldiers that fought during many important US wars including the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Vietnam War. There is a large number of African American individuals buried here both free and enslaved. In addition, another large community of this cemetery’s citizens are children. There is a specific section of the cemetery dedicated to over 2,200 Civil War confederate soldiers. It is set up much like Arlington Cemetery in Northern Virginia. Within the confederate section, there is a tall white monument that has the 14 states that were represented by the soldiers carved in it. Nearby the Confederate section is two-room restored building that is a recreated Lynchburg House of Pestilence during the Civil War. This house served as a quarantine building for residents who contracted deadly diseases. There is also a doctor’s office recreated there to depict medical conditions during the time. The cemetery offers much insight during historic Lynchburg’s involvement in the Civil War. There are recreated buildings that offer much to learn about the history of Lynchburg’s involvement and they also offer tours to see remaining artifacts more closely.
The cemetery center towards the back of the cemetery has much information to offer and enclosed artifacts about families buried in the cemetery as well as real clothing, shoes and a hand crafted casket from the past on display. The cemetery contains a scatter Garden in which those who are or have been cremated can have their ashes spread throughout the enclosed garden. Towards the end of the Cemetery there is a beautiful white and green chapel. Underneath the chapel is a columbarium where the cremated remains of individuals can be kept within a niche or buried within the crypt.