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The Lost Cemetery of Church Hill

VIEW LARGER (courtesy of The Valentine)

The area that is now Church Hill was once dominated by the Adams family, led by its patriarch, Col. Richard Adams (1726-1800). Adams served in the House of Burgesses, the House of Delegates, the Virginia Senate and the Convention of 1776. He and his wife Elizabeth Griffin were the parents of eleven children, almost all of whom stayed on Church Hill as adults and built houses on Adams’ extensive land. Several of the children married into prominent Virginia families and went on to political careers of their own, including Dr. Samuel Griffin Adams, a mayor of Richmond, who also served in the Virginia Assembly.

Adams’ first house in Richmond likely stood on the north side of East Grace Street between 22nd and 23rd streets, with a later house built on the lots now occupied by Richmond Hill.

A notable building still extant that is known to be associated with Adams is the Ann Carrington House, built circa 1810 by Adams’ daughter Ann Adams Carrington and known for its unusual, bow-front façade.


Ann Carrington House (photo circa 1930)
Ann Carrington House (2306 East Grace Street) (photo circa 1930)


It would be natural to assume that Adams and his numerous children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews would have been laid to rest in St. John’s churchyard, but that was not the case. The Adams family had their own family cemetery, located on the north side of East Marshall Street between 23rd and 24th streets. Most of the Adams graves were clustered around the northeast corner of East Marshall and North 23rd streets.

The cemetery was to be used for Col. Adams’ direct heirs, his siblings, nieces, nephews, and their heirs. The graveyard, in fact, ended up the final resting place for dozens of Adamses and their relatives, including William Marshall (the brother of John Marshall and who was married to Col. Adams’ daughter Alice), and Col. Mayo Carrington, who was married to another daughter, Ann.


Adams’ cemetery plot


Next to the Adams Burial Ground, toward the center of the block, was the Pickett Burial Ground. This cemetery included the remains of Col. George E. Pickett (1752-1821) and his wife Margaret Sanderson (the grandparents of Confederate general George E. Pickett), as well as about fourteen family members. Another single grave lay just next to the Pickett Cemetery, that of a Mrs. Shore.

Interestingly, General Pickett’s first wife was Sally Minge – granddaughter to Col. Richard Adams.

Most of the Adamses and Picketts – and Mrs. Shore – lay undisturbed for several decades. In the late 19th century, though, development in Church Hill exploded. By 1876, houses had begun to encroach on the block itself, with three houses showing up on the northwest corner of 24th and Marshall in the Beers Atlas.


Detail (1876 Beers Atlas)


By the early 1890s, development made the real estate of the Adams and Pickett cemeteries too valuable to ignore, and beginning in 1892, Adams and his entire family were disinterred and removed to Hollywood Cemetery. Sadly for the Adams family, even though they helped to found Church Hill, they were not able to remain here.

The Hollywood Cemetery burial register states that in December 1892, “about 60” bodies that had been removed from the corner of 23rd and Marshall were reinterred. Most were identified in the Hollywood records, although more than a few were unidentified. Richard and Elizabeth Adams were reburied at Hollywood under a massive monument, surrounded by their descendants as they had been in Church Hill. Their neighbors in life and death, the Picketts, joined them at Hollywood Cemetery.

On the site of the former burial grounds, a row of brick, Second French Empire-influenced houses were built.


2300 block of East Marshall Street
2300 block of East Marshall Street

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CH Resident 10/24/2014 at 8:51 AM

Sad but nonetheless great info for all of us on the Hill about the Adams family and their graves. Unfortunately this is just another example of progress over lineages and heritage.

John Vetrovec 10/24/2014 at 9:40 AM

@3 Michael Hild- I love spooky stories so close to Halloween. Thanks for sharing.

@ john murden- great piece a continuing reminder of why you have so many readers.

John M 10/24/2014 at 9:55 AM

@John – Thanks to Tricia for this gem! This is her 5th piece for CHPN.

REMINDER: Towards making CHPN more sustainable, growing local talent, and increasing the value of the coverage that the site is able to offer, I’d like to bring in a few folks who would like to be active contributors here.

If you’d like to be a part of this, hit me at and we’ll figure out how to make it happen.

Katherine J 10/24/2014 at 10:07 AM

That was really cool- I saw the headline and said, “ooh!”.

Thanks for teaching one more CH secret.

Eric S. Huffstutler 10/24/2014 at 11:02 AM

Great piece Tricia and research too. It is shown in the “Old Richmond Neighborhoods” book under the Church Hill section but obviously you have taken it to the next level, thanks.

I wish I could do the same for my CHA articles but I am restricted to 3 pages and if more photos are added there would be less space to tell the stories. Possibly a venue like this would help me in-between articles, if John is up to it?


JessOfRVA 10/24/2014 at 12:25 PM

Fantastic article! I believe these houses are called “Adams Row,” are they not?

Eric S. Huffstutler 10/24/2014 at 12:26 PM

Michael, our house is over 200-years old so you can imagine the births and deaths that have happened there. The thing is that I can only find about 3 actual notices of deaths in the main house mainly in the 19th century excluding the two men who died from burns after the rear section of the house blew off from a gas leak in 1969. The macabre poet Larry Levis died in the North Wing of our house (the ½ address) in 1996. And the husband of Sarah Wills, John F. Alvey, who also built the brick house next to us, committed suicide by drowning in 1837.

We had one “poltergeist” if you will, experience the first month we lived there. I walked down stairs one morning only to find the crystal chandelier above our dining table shattered into a million pieces like someone had taken a baseball bat to it several times over yet neither the dog nor us heard a thing! Objects would be moved or small ones taken from room to room and even had a sensation of someone sitting on the bed next to you when no one was there. These extreme occurrences eventually stopped except during times of activity like Christmas when shadows and smells would be active in the upper hall. So yes, I believe in the afterlife cohabitating our house as well.

Eric S. Huffstutler 10/24/2014 at 1:23 PM

Jess… it may be known to locals as the “Adams Row” but don’t see a mention right off that it is an official designation? Here is the excerpt from the Church Hill North Historic Regristry about this block:

” Still, housing continued to be. built, with rowhouses becoming popular in the 1880’s and 90’s. In 1884 the gradual slope of East Marshall Street was developed with a row of five attached Queen Anne-Style houses located in the 2200 block. During the 1880’s and 90’s the last large tracts of available land were subdivided into lots for homes. In 1894 the occupants of the Adams-Picket Cemetery located in the 2300 block of East Marshall Street were disinterred and moved to a more fitting resting place in Hollywood Cemetery. A row of nine Second Empire-style houses was built in its place. It was also dwing this time that the last house occupying a half city block, the home of Cornelius Lipscomb, was demolished and replaced by a row of houses in the 2800 block of East Marshall Street, also built in the Second Empire style. “

Katherine J 10/24/2014 at 1:24 PM

I have some ghost stories. Two in my house and one involving lights at Chimborazo Park…I try not to tell people that, though, as it makes them look at you a little funny!

John M 10/24/2014 at 1:27 PM

Each of the houses has a plaque similar to this one

2014-10-24 11.11.56

Sammy P 10/24/2014 at 1:35 PM


Your article in the CHA newsletter about the cemetary was in poor taste. Your comment about the african american community turning their backs on that area was out of line. Poor taste brother.

Eric S. Huffstutler 10/24/2014 at 2:00 PM

Sammy P… it is not poor taste but the facts. It has been written about for many years with the same thing brought up in newspaper articles as eary as the late 1970s. But when the African-American churches refuse to reply or step in. When familys contacted refuse to respond. When even black historian Veronica Davis says in an article that the black community has turned their backs while whites seem to have more of an interest which she find embarrasing and a disgrace … then there must be something to my statement don’t you think?

chpn 10/24/2014 at 2:03 PM

Eric & Sammy – interesting conversation, but I don’t want to derail Tricia’s piece.

A post about the newsletter is here if y’all would like to carry this further.

Eric S. Huffstutler 10/24/2014 at 2:24 PM

Tricia, is there more of the plot map? I see that it is irregular in shape (arch) and mentions other pages so wonder if there are more names as well? It is so close to our house I had often wondered if anyone related to it were buried there but seems to have been basically an exclusive burial grounds?

JessOfRVA 10/24/2014 at 3:50 PM

Here’s the map Eric.

Although you can click on the link provided in the article to see all of the maps.

Tricia 10/24/2014 at 4:00 PM

Eric, the plot map is from the Hollywood Cemetery records. I found the image online, so I’m not sure what’s on the next page. It’s possible there are more people, but it looks like there are 58 names on the list, and the Burial Register states that they moved about 60 bodies, so I don’t think there are too many more. The Book 3 page 21 that is referred to at the top of the plot map is from the Burial Register, which basically just lists the people moved to Hollywood. Yes, they were family burial grounds, just for people in or connected to the Adams and Pickett families.

Aud 10/24/2014 at 4:41 PM

Great piece, Tricia!

Eric S. Huffstutler 10/24/2014 at 5:54 PM

Jess, I wasn’t talking about the Beers Atlas map (which I have a copy of) but the Adam’s burial plot map 🙂 Tricia caught that and I can probably ask Hollywood but seems like there is not much else. Odd they don’t list the original dates people died or were interred on the Hollywood plots/names? I know many headstones were destroyed or vandilized by 1892 yet someone had a list of names of nearly everyone there so there must have been other information as well?


Tricia 10/24/2014 at 6:05 PM

Thanks, Aud, and everyone else who commented. Glad you enjoyed it.

Jeffry Burden 10/24/2014 at 11:24 PM

Just FYI: General Pickett’s parents, many of his his siblings, and wife Sally are buried in a family plot at Shockoe Hill Cemetery.

Katherine J 10/25/2014 at 8:29 PM

I have a question; how long have we been calling Church Hill “Church Hill”?

Eric S. Huffstutler 10/26/2014 at 1:23 AM

Katherine J.

When St. John’s Church was built in 1741.

paula boisseau 11/13/2014 at 2:44 AM

In reference to Sammy p & Eric

Greetings to all fellow residents,

I pray that we will find some way of understanding each others differences, backgrounds and have compassion for one another. Our ancestors did us no justice by en-slaving and destroying the culture of fellow humans. It not only hurt the African American of today but the White American as well. We are all Gods creation. No one is above the other. We must move on with understanding, and compassion in order to heal the open wound, and the mentality of AMERICANS. History and culture of the Blacks in “Fulton, Churchill, The World” is constantly swept under the rug. How can a people care about things that don’t feel apart of? Black history isn’t taught correctly in schools.

My family came from the bottom of the hill, they were forced out of fulton, they were told that jobs were coming, and the city tore the community down. My great-great grandfather was a mulatto, who looked exactly like a white man lived on top of the hill, “churchil”.

I’ve seen this community when Blacks were thriving, and doing well. Blacks owned stores, Nursing homes, fish markets and properties.
Drugs were the ultimate destruction of our black community. Drugs invaded our community, what black person owned a poppy field? Not making excuses but no one knew what drugs would do.

African Americans bought houses that were already in ruins or rented from slum lords. Lets be honest with ourselves “Americans”, we have laws in place so that lenders will be fair and just. Suntrust Mortgage just paid out millions of dollars for disparity in their lending practices, in 2012. Imagine 1950 or before.
What other race of people have laws in place just to be treated “civil”. So please, stop the put downs, and racist mentality. We all know Blacks have not had it easy. I’ve lived in Churchill my whole 45 years and never knew there was a slave trail, a slave cemetery. I knew where Patrick Henry spoke, Edger Allen Poe. Its not racist to speak of Robert E. Lee, but why couldn’t they point out where Gabriel Prosser was hung. That’s why blacks don’t seem to care because it wasn’t taught to us to care. Its the knowledge we seek, and most of us get caught up in working and just trying to survive because at the end of the day, we have to fight to hard for our voices to be heard. I will say that those older books, such as, “Old Richmond Neighborhoods”, the words written regarding African Americans were a bit dis-tasteful and insulting. We should be writing today in this era, with the knowledge of our history, in knowing that the people of that time were a bit racist and without reasoning.

I pray that we can all move forward for peace amongst American people, love for God and our home “the Earth”. Our children, Our future
Peace and Blessings to all


Marilyn 08/23/2016 at 10:32 AM

Thanks for the good information. The Ann Carrington house at 2306 E. Grace St. was once owned my Micajah Bates (died in 1861). A member of the Society of Friends (Quakers), he served as Richmond’s Superintendent of Streets which is somewhat akin to today’s City Engineer. He was married twice and had 20 children!


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