Uncovering Evergreen Cemetery’s Hidden History

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — They’re uncovering the past, inch by inch at Richmond’s Evergreen Cemetery.

“We are clearing pathways that haven’t been cleared in 30 or 40 years,” says EnRichmond Foundation’s Ted Maris-Wolf, who serves as the cemetery’s caretaker.

About 150 volunteers turned out int he 20-degree weather this week on the day we pause to honor Doctor Martin Luther King Junior.  It was all to help the EnRichmond Foundation reclaim and maintain the 60-acre site that became overgrown after decades of neglect.

“It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of people working hard together,” says volunteer Rachel Watman.

“I’ve been cutting ivy, cutting some branches off leaves and raking,” says Ten-and-a-half year old Leed Woodrum.   She was working hard on her day off from school. Every snip of the pruning shears revealing the historic African-American cemetery’s mysteries and hidden history.

“There’s lot of tombstones out here, dating back to the 1800’s, really buried down deep,” says volunteer Tammy Olszewski.

The site is the final resting place of thousands of people including community and civil rights leaders like Maggie Walker, John Mitchell, Junior and Reverend J. Andrew Bowler.   Many of the other names have been lost to time, until now.

“We have families that are
recording graves and grave plots, contributing to a database and archive” says Maris-Wolf.

That’s so families can find their ancestors and learn more about their own history.

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