Maury and Mt Olivet Cemeteries
Maury and Mount Olivet cemeteries are located on the south side of the James River, within an easy walk to Forest Hill Park. Initially, the settlements across the falls from Richmond had been incorporated as the town of Manchester, and burials in this busy area had taken place on private lands. After Manchester became incorporated as a city in 1874, its government outlawed such burials and sought to consolidate earlier burials at its newly-established Maury Cemetery. As a result, some markers (as early as 1847) predate the founding of the cemetery.
The city continued the well-established tradition of segregating burials, relegating African American burials to an adjoining section, soon known as Mount Olivet Cemetery. The name must have been in use by 1918, when the Richmond Planet instructed readers that a recent burial had taken place “in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, the colored section of Maury’s.” Both sections were laid out in grids with decorative circles, and they were separated by a wall, since removed. The entire complex now covers ninety acres.
Maury Cemetery features two war memorials aligned on a bluff near the entrance from Maury Street. The first lists the names of “our heroes” who fell during World War I, and the second offers tribute to the “sons of south Richmond” who gave their lives during the fighting of World War II. There is also a small Confederate monument and flagpole raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1930.
In 1910, Manchester merged with the city of Richmond, which still operates Maury and Mount Olivet cemeteries to this day.
For more information, see:
Veronica Davis, Here I Lay My Burdens Down: A History of the Black Cemeteries of Richmond, Virginia (Richmond: Dietz Press, 2003)
Nancy C. Frantel, Richmond, Virginia, Lost Souls Restored: African-American Interments as Listed in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery Register, 1875-1908 (Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2011)