Mary Pickersgill

Mary Pickersgill
Mary Pickersgill. Photo from the Maryland Archives.

So I’m going to start my series on Loudon Park with a non-Civil War burial, but it’s a big one. Mary Pickersgill is probably the most famous person resting in Loudon Park.

Apart from being a successful business owner and charitable figure in 19th century Baltimore – remarkable achievements for anyone let alone a woman back in those days – she is best known for sewing the giant garrison flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on September 12, 1814.

Her headstone is small and understated, but a plaque that briefly explains her importance was placed on her grave by a few historical preservation groups in 1976. In addition, the old cemetery gatehouse has a large, 15-star Star Spangled Banner draped on its eastern wall at all times – a subtle tribute to Mrs. Pickersgill.

Her grave is located near the Frederick Road entrance (which appears to be permanently closed these days) in Section AA in the northern part of the cemetery:

Map to Mary Pickersgill's Gravesite.
Location of Mary Pickersgill’s Gravesite. Map by Apple Maps.
Close-up of Mary Pickersgill's Headstone.
Close-up of Mary Pickersgill’s Headstone. Photo by the author.
The historical plaque placed at the grave.
The historical plaque placed at the grave. Photo by the author.

If you weren’t actually out looking for her grave, you’d never know it was here. With so many other large, ostentatious monuments in Loudon Park, seeing a simple set of markers is actually somewhat refreshing. It certainly speaks to what kind of woman she was.

In the next installment, we’ll see a pair of graves relating to one of the most famously shocking events of the Civil War era.

Loudon Park Cemetery

As part of the research I’m doing for an upcoming trip to Gettysburg, I’ve been looking more deeply into the Maryland connections to the battle.

There were 11 regiments present with a Maryland designation – 6 Union and 5 Confederate – but what I learned is that many of the officers of those units are buried right down the street from where I grew up, at Loudon Park Cemetery. Aside from those Civil War veterans, there are many other notable people buried there – in fact, I created new categories for Loudon Park so that I can share what I’ve found over several posts in the next few weeks.

Some of the sites on the Internet are a little confused about Loudon Park because there are actually two cemeteries there. Loudon Park Cemetery is owned and run by a private company. The northeast corner of the property houses Loudon Park National Cemetery, a separate burial ground run by the VA, and operated by nearby Baltimore National Cemetery. I’m going to try to clear up some of the confusion by actually visiting the gravesides and verifying their locations. It should be an interesting trip through Maryland history.

George R. “Cracker-baker” Skillman

This is a very long post about a piece of Skillman family history. There’s plenty of general interest history in here as well, but I go very deep in the weeds in some places. If you’ve stumbled onto this post via a web search and think that we may be related, please drop me a line!

When I recently wrote about my family’s connection to the Great Baltimore Fire, it got my curiosity going again about my great-great-great-grandfather, George R. Skillman. Since there are so many men named “George R. Skillman” in our family, we’ve always called him “Cracker-baker George”.

George R. Skillman, the Cracker-baker. Photo courtesy of George Skillman.
George R. Skillman, the Cracker-baker. Photo courtesy of George Skillman.

For a long time, that was pretty much all we knew about him: he lived in Baltimore, had some type of association with the Maryland Institute, and made a name for himself in cracker-baking. That was it.

In recent years, I’ve done some digging on Ancestry, and was able to locate some Census records and his Civil War draft registration on there, but my mission at the time was to try to get information on the whole family, not to just drill down on one or two members, so I never got that deep on his life story. That all changed with the anniversary of the Great Baltimore Fire. I wanted to find out more about who this guy was.

I collected all the data that I had from the traditional family story, to the Census records I found online, and went down to the main Enoch Pratt library, hoping that they would have some good sources. I’m happy to report that they were tremendously helpful. I was able to find some information about companies he worked for, and even some clues about a few other relatives in Pratt’s collection of books. Searching the city directories and the online archives of The Baltimore Sun (which the library subscribes to) were instrumental in putting some of the pieces together.

There are still plenty of holes – one of the Pratt librarians told me that this is probably always going to look like Swiss cheese – but here’s the story of his life that I have (so far):

George R. Skillman was born January 1, 1837 in Baltimore. His parents were F. Robert J. Skillman and Naomi Sophia (Miller) Skillman.

He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His family attended services at High Street Methodist Episcopal (originally built at 230 S. High St. – now a parking lot) and later in life, at Grace Methodist Episcopal in Baltimore.

The first reference to him that I found was in The Sun on March 8, 1858. He apparently attended a meeting in Temperance Hall in Baltimore, where the attendees were discussing their support for “The President’s Plan” regarding Kansas. This is a reference to the Lecompton Plan for Kansas’ state constitution – a constitution that would have allowed slavery in the Sunflower State. From what I’ve been able to find, George was a life-long Democrat, so it isn’t surprising that he’d be supporting President Buchanan as a young man.

On April 22, 1858 he married Mary Elizabeth Pierce. The couple would go on to have 8 children, but three of them wouldn’t survive past their twenties. My particular branch of the family is descended from his 4th son, Robert G. Skillman.

He registered for the draft in 1863, listing his occupation at the time as “Clerk”. The 1864 Woods’ City Directory has him living at 90 N. Eden Street (a house that no longer exists), and shows that he’s working as a “Bookkeeper”, but on January 1, 1864, James Beatty announced in The Sun that he was entering into a copartnership with his clerk, George R. Skillman.

His name is called in the draft June 23, 1864, but he doesn’t end up going to war. By June 28, he’d found a substitute to serve in his place. You could do that back in those days, especially if you were a partner in a prominent manufacturing business.

The same city directory in 1865-1866 shows the first reference to the company that he made his name working for: James Beatty & Co. Steam Cracker, Cake, and Ship Biscuit Bakers. This firm seems to have been one of the largest commercial / industrial baking operations in Baltimore at the time. James’ grandfather was also named James Beatty (what is it with all these people having the same names?), and was the U.S. Government Naval Agent in Baltimore during the War of 1812. The Beatty’s were a prominent (and rich) family in 19th century Baltimore. Civil War nerds like me will also appreciate that “ship biscuit” is the naval term for hardtack, and from records I’ve found, the company was definitely a hardtack supplier for the Union army. The company’s address is listed as “Nos. 92, 94 & 96 Dugan’s Wharf, near Pratt Street” – what is now known as Pier 4 at the Inner Harbor.

In the 1870 Census, George lists his occupation as “Baker”, and on April 4, 1871, he’s granted U.S. Patent 113,356 for his Cracker Machine. Clearly, he was an innovative force in the industry. In an 1873 advertisement for the James Beatty Co., George is still listed as being James’ partner in the business. My feeling is that George became the brains, or the heart of the operation, and that James was providing the capital and the business side.

Sometime before 1878, George moves the family to a nicer house at what is initially listed as “329 Myrtle Ave.”, but later listings all show the property more accurately as being at 1408 Myrtle Ave (the current house at this address was built in 1920).

George joins the Board of Managers for the Maryland Institute in 1878. He would end up serving on the board for the rest of his life. Of course, it was through this association that my family first learned of him. In his first year as a board member, the institute held an exhibition (in those days, the school had a mechanical, vo-tech element to it as well as being an art school) in which the very latest technology was demonstrated. That year, the arc light, and the telephone were the big showpieces. The Baltimore Sun, describing the event 20 years later, had this to say:

On top of the tower of the building was placed one of these lights, with a reflector – a crude forerunner of the now well-known electric searchlight. An incident of this application was that when the light was thrown towards the home of Mr. George R. Skillman, on Myrtle Ave., and Mr. Skillman using the other unique exhibit, the telephone, read by it a newspaper extract to an auditor at the other end of the line.

Alexander Graham Bell had his successful test with the telephone just 2 years before. George was certainly a man who wanted to be on the cutting edge of technology.

His association with the Maryland Institute didn’t stop at serving on the board, though. An advertisement in The Sun on February 23, 1880 announces that “George R. Skillman, esq.” will be giving a lecture that evening about “Saalbec, Athens, and Pompeii”. So he’s a history buff, too.

In 1886, a book called “Half Century’s Progress of the City of Baltimore” was published. It included a one-page profile of James Beatty & Co., that mentioned how James took over the company from his father in 1858 and “some years later” added George R. Skillman as a partner. The article goes on to say that George “retired” from the firm in 1884. This isn’t entirely accurate, it seems. An announcement in The Sun on January 1, 1885 states that the partnership had been dissolved, and that James was bringing his son onboard in George’s place. It goes on to say that George had purchased another piece of property on Greene St., and would be starting his own bakery there.

On December 22, 1885, The Baltimore Sentinel published an article stating that:

Sunday afternoon, a fire destroyed the three upper floors of George R. Skillman’s cracker bakery, in Baltimore. The damage to the building is estimated at $10,000 and to stock and machinery $10-15,000.

Some “retirement”, huh?

The 1886 Woods’ City Directory lists “Skillman, George R.” under the category “Steam Bakers”, with an address at 51-57 N. Greene St. This was the location that was destroyed by the aforementioned fire. Luckily, George was fully-insured, and he rebuilt the business at a location up the street. By 1887, that new listing has appeared as “George R. Skillman Universal Steam Bakery” at 203-211 N. Greene St. (now a parking lot for the nearby University of Maryland campus).

203-211 N. Greene Street as it appears today. <em>Photo by the author</em>.
203-211 N. Greene Street as it appears today. Photo by the author.

The Sun has several text ads for the company from this period:

"Count the cost" - Making your own bread isn't worth it.

That last one is terrific. I have to wonder how much time was wasted by 19th century Baltimoreans in “scolding their cooks” about the low-quality bread they made. There’s also a collection of smaller ads. These are all great:

I think it’s interesting that his early ads are all about bread. In those days, most people baked their own bread at home. Even as late as 1910, only about 30% of bread was store-bought. His marketing push is based around his bread being an affordable luxury. He can make it better than you can yourself, and you might even save time and money. Rather than relying totally on local grocers carrying his bread, he also opens a full-service retail store at the bakery sometime in the 1890s.

On January 1, 1892, an advertisement in The Sun announces that my great-great-grandfather, Robert G. Skillman, has been made a partner in his father’s business. Only 26 years-old at the time, he is the eldest surviving son.

At the same time, George continues improving on the state of the art in his industry. In 1892, he’s granted U.S. Patent 487,431 for a commercial oven he’s invented.

It’s around this time though, that things look like they start going downhill a bit.

On January 27, 1891, The Sun mentions a court case, Edward A.F. Mears v. George R. Skillman. I don’t have any of the details of the case, but I know that George lost, and had to pay a sum of $45 to Mr. Mears.

Another article, entitled “Business Troubles” appears in The Sun on May 7, 1895. Guess what this is about:

George R. Skillman & Co., proprietors of the bakery at 203-211 N. Greene Street and of the restaurant at 225 N. Eutaw Street, made an assignment for the benefit of creditors yesterday to George D. Iverson, trustee. The bond was for $15,000, double the estimated value of the assets, which are said to consist mainly of special machinery. The liabilities, it is said, will aggregate about $30,000….They said the assignment was due to the low price of crackers and cakes, and to depression in the business.

So by 1895, he’s up to his eyeballs in debt, and he can’t seem to find a way out. This sounds like really bad news, except that another announcement appears in The Sun on June 21, 1895 – less than 2 months later:

George D. Iverson, Trustee of George R. Skillman & Co., bakers, under deed of trust for the benefit of creditors, yesterday reconveyed the trust property to the firm, who have settled with all their creditors. George R. & Robert G. Skillman are the members of the firm.

So it looks like George has found a way to pay-off all the people he owed money to. He must have come into some quick cash….

Fast forward to December 4, 1895 when The Sun ran an ad announcing that the Skillman Universal Steam Bakery had been purchased by the New York Biscuit Co. The ad expressed the hope that their customers would continue to support the business. George R. Skillman is listed at the bottom as the “Manager”.

In 1898, the New York Biscuit Co. (now owners of the Skillman Bakery) merged with the American Biscuit and Manufacturing Co., creating the National Biscuit Co. in the process. This conglomerate would later shorten its name to Nabisco. By 1900, they’ve consolidated their operations in Baltimore to the 203-211 N Greene St. location, and George R. Skillman is still the Manager.

But there’s still more trouble brewing.

The Sun publishes an article on July 25, 1899 entitled “To Fight the Trusts – Wholesale Grocers Declare War on Big Corporations”. In the article, its reported that the local grocers don’t want to deal with the larger suppliers, and several have agreed to only buy from smaller, local providers. One of the companies that is specifically targeted in this protest is the National Biscuit Co. that George sold-out to, and is now managing the Baltimore operations of. But there’s about to be another plot twist.

The Polk’s City Directory for 1901 lists the following under “Bakery, Wholesale”:

  • Skillman Bakery (National Biscuit Co.), 203-211 N. Greene St., Elmore B. Jeffery, Manager.
  • Skillman, George R. (Union Biscuit Co.), 115 S. Frederick St.

By 1903, the listings look like this:

Under “Bakery, Wholesale”:

  • National Biscuit Co., 203-211 N. Greene St.

Under “Bakery”:

So when the big, national baking interests had become the bad guy, George removed himself from that situation and started up another operation of his own. And look at how he’s marketing the new venture: “biscuits” and “crackers” in 1903 are products that are made almost exclusively in large commercial bakeries. “Bread” and “pie” are still primarily products that are made at home by most people. He’s trying to make this new business at least appear to not be a big, scary company.

Other than the damage to the Maryland Institute that I talked about in an earlier post, I don’t think George is personally affected by the Great Fire in 1904. All his properties are outside of the disaster area. He suffers a very personal disaster a few weeks later, though. On February 20 his wife Mary dies.

1905 is the last year that George is listed in the city directories as being the “proprietor” of the Skillman Bread & Pie Co., so it looks like his day-to-day involvement has slowed. Elmore B. Jeffery (who replaced George at National Biscuit Co.) is brought onboard as the Manager of Skillman Bread & Pie in 1906. How about that, huh? George has also left the family home on Myrtle St., and moved to 3617 Forest Park Ave (the current house on this site was built in 1920). I have to imagine that his wife’s death had something to do with both moves.

In 1909, George sued the Skillman Manufacturing Co., claiming that they owed him $115 and that the company was insolvent. He won himself the company receivership in the case, and the managers of the firm were forced to admit that George’s claims were true. At this point, the company address is listed as being 110 S. Charles St. The old Regester St. location was sold in 1910 for $14,000 to a man who built an auto repair shop there.

Skillman Bread & Pie Co. moves again to 104-112 W. Barre St. at least by 1912, and by 1914, it has completely disappeared from the city directories. It seems like the business had run its course.

George is back in The Sun in 1912, though. An article on November 19 states that he had sold the property at 203-211 N. Greene St. (somehow, he must have re-bought the place) to the Lexington Storage and Warehouse Co., and the next year’s city directory lists him as the President of that company.

The gig doesn’t last long, it seems. While he remains involved with the Board of Managers for the Maryland Institute, and as a Board Member for The Boys’ Home on Calvert and Pleasant St., by 1915, he no longer has an occupation listed in the directories. Sometime before 1917, he’s moved in with his daughter and son-in-law, George MacCubbin, at 3803 Clifton Ave (the current house at this address was built in 1910, so this seems to be the only house he lived in that still exists).

He died in that house, October 18, 1918 at the age of 81, having led a very full life.

He is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Baltimore.

George R. Skillman's Grave in Mt. Olivet Cemetery
George R. Skillman’s Grave in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Photo by the author.

The best indication of what he did is found in the 1917 edition of “A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents”. This collection of Presidential remarks also includes an “encyclopedic index”, there to give background information on a number of topics that may come up in speeches and letters of the Presidents. The entry in the index for “Baking Industry” explains that it has become at least the 12th largest industry in the country, and that the growth has been incredible in recent years. It specifically states:

Some of the other bakers engaged in interstate trade in the early history of the industry and who contributed to its national importance were…Skillman, of Baltimore….

Husband, father, baker, inventor, technologist, historian, businessman, civic leader, and “contributor of national importance”. George R. Skillman, my great-great-great-grandfather, was all of these things.

UPDATE – 12/27/2014:

I was able to find a display tin from the Skillman Universal Steam Bakery in an antique shop on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. My brother and I bought it to give to my father this Christmas so that it can stay in the family.

My dad holding a piece of family history.
My dad holding a piece of family history. Photo by Sharon Skillman.

Elizabeth Thorn

One of the human interest stories around the Battle of Gettysburg that has come to the forefront in the last few years is the story of Elizabeth Thorn.

Her husband, Peter Thorn, was the caretaker of the Evergreen Cemetery on Gettysburg’s famed Cemetery Hill from 1856-1874. The Thorns and their children lived in the gatehouse of the cemetery during this period. Of course, the battle took place right in the middle of their tenure, in July of 1863.

Peter wasn’t home during the summer of ’63, though. In August of 1862, he joined the war effort himself – enlisting with a local infantry company. Elizabeth was left to tend to the children and the cemetery by herself. When the armies started closing-in on the town, she fled the battle zone with the kids.

Despite his being away at war, Elizabeth must have had some contact with her husband during his service. She was 6-months pregnant when she was forced to leave her home.

My niece, Abby and nephew, Nathan in front of the statue of Elizabeth Thorn.
My niece, Abby and nephew, Nathan in front of the statue of Elizabeth Thorn. Photo by Karen Michener.

After the danger passed, she made her way back to the cemetery gatehouse only to find that it had been looted and damaged in the fray. The cemetery itself was right in the middle of the battlefield, and there were bodies strewn everywhere.

The cemetery was her responsibility as well as being her home, and she got right to work – personally burying somewhere between 91 and 106 bodies herself in the mid-July heat.

The daughter she was carrying at the time died young, only barely reaching her teenage years. Elizabeth blamed the stress of her post-battle experience for the poor health and eventual death of the child.

On a happier note, her efforts have recently been recognized more properly. There is now a statue of Elizabeth, placed in 2002, known as the Gettysburg Women’s Memorial just inside the gates of Evergreen Cemetery.

But that’s not all there is to the story. I wanted to tell Elizabeth’s story so that I could set up the telling of part of Peter’s. The wartime service that took him from his home, brought him closer to mine – much closer. But we’ll explore that further in a future post.

Gettysburg at Hollywood Cemetery – The Black Iron Dog

This is a continuation of my series on famous burials in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Other posts in the series can be viewed here.

Another of the sites at Hollywood Cemetery that I never posted about during my series at Gettysburg Daily was the grave of Bernadine Rees. While not a famous Civil War figure – let alone a Gettysburg-related one – her grave is best known for the black iron dog watching over the plot.

The loyal dog watching over the little girl. Photo by John Dolan.
The loyal dog watching over the little girl. Photo by John Dolan.

Ms. Rees died before she was even 3 years old – probably a victim of the 1862 Richmond scarlet fever epidemic. There a many stories associated with the statue of the dog. One is that it was a bought by the family especially for the plot (as Bernardine supposedly loved dogs). It’s also said that the dog statue belonged to a family friend who loved to see the little girl pat it whenever she came over, so he placed it next to her memorial.

A head-on view of the Black Iron Dog. Photo by John Dolan.
A head-on view of the Black Iron Dog. Photo by John Dolan.

The dog makes for an odd curiosity to be sure, but there may be a Civil War connection, too. One of the stories is that the piece was a treasured object to the family (maybe because of Bernardine’s connection with it) and the family didn’t want it to be confiscated in a metal-hungry Confederacy in the midst of war. Not even the Confederate government would be desperate enough to turn to grave-robbing they thought, so they put the statue here for safe keeping.

Whatever the truth happens to be, it’s a unique site for a number of reasons, and very popular with tourists to the cemetery. It’s become something of a tradition to leave toys and other gifts for Ms. Rees, and many of the visitors take part. The shape of the alcove in her headstone makes that a very tempting thing to do. Maybe it’s the dog, and maybe it’s the story of the death of a young child who never got a chance to grow up, but something about this place really seems to resonate with people.

If you’d like to see it for yourself, the Rees plot is located at one of the major intersections within the Cemetery. It is highlighted by the red box on the map below:

The grave of Ms. Rees - with the Black Iron Dog - can be found here.
The grave of Ms. Rees – with the Black Iron Dog – can be found here.

My speech in the video below repeats a lot of the information from above, but it also gives you a better idea of the scale, and a closer look at the kinds of trinkets people leave on the headstone.

Video by John Dolan

Gettysburg at Hollywood Cemetery – The Confederate Pyramid

This is a continuation of my series on famous burials in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Other posts in the series can be viewed here.

I never posted about the massive Confederate monument in Hollywood Cemetery during my series at Gettysburg Daily. That makes this post the first of the “lost episodes”.

South of Gettysburg Hill is a giant monument to the Confederate dead that was erected by the Hollywood Memorial Association in 1869. It’s a 90-foot, 4-sided stone pyramid on top of a hill. It makes for a very hard-to-miss landmark.

The Confederate Pyramid
The Confederate Pyramid. Photo by John Dolan.

Each face of the monument has an engraved stone with an inscription near the middle of it, about 6 feet off the ground. The one on the west side reads, “Erected by the Holly-Wood Memorial Association A.D. 1869”. On the south side, “Numini et Patri ae Asto” (my Latin is a little rusty, but I think this translates to “God and the Father Await”). On the north side, “Memoria in Aeterna” (or “Eternally in our memory”). Finally, the main inscription is on the eastern face:

The inscription dedicating the monument. Photo by John Dolan.
The inscription dedicating the monument. Photo by John Dolan.

As I said above, the pyramid is located just south of Gettysburg Hill, and is plainly visible on satellite photos. It’s that big.

The Confederate Pyramid is located inside the red box.
The Confederate Pyramid is located inside the red box.

In the short video below, I give a description of the monument and tell one of the stories people tell of how it was built.



Video by John Dolan
 

Next time, we’ll showcase another landmark in Hollywood Cemetery from the “lost episodes” archive.

Gettysburg at Hollywood Cemetery – John Wesley Culp

This is a continuation of my series on famous burials in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Other posts in the series can be viewed here.

Most Gettysburg nerds have heard of Wesley Culp – the boy from Gettysburg who went south and fought for the Confederacy. The story is that he was killed on Culp’s Hill (owned by members of his family) during the battle some time between July 2nd and 3rd, 1863.

John Wesley Culp
John Wesley Culp

As you can imagine, since we aren’t really sure when he died, we aren’t really sure where he died either. So we don’t know for sure where his remains ended up. That being said, he has a marker here at Hollywood:

The marker for John Wesley Culp. Photo by Scott L. Mingus, Sr.
The marker for John Wesley Culp. Photo by Scott L. Mingus, Sr.

This marker is located among the multitudes on Gettysburg Hill:

John Wesley Culp's marker is located at the red square.
John Wesley Culp’s marker is located at the red square.

I explain more about the controversy here (along with giving some more background on Private Culp) in the video below:



Video by George Skillman
In the next installment, we’re going to move away from the Gettysburg Hill section of the cemetery and explore some of the other notable landmarks.

Gettysburg at Hollywood Cemetery – Richard B. Garnett

This is a continuation of my series on famous burials in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Other posts in the series can be viewed here.

Anyone who has seen the movie Gettysburg knows the story of Brigadier General Richard Brooke Garnett (or at least an interpretation of it). The fact of the matter is that he is shrouded in some mystery.

For one thing, we don’t reliably know what he looked like. The usual picture that you see of him is this one:

Richard B. Garnett?
Richard B. Garnett?

But there’s some thought (spurned on by members of the Garnett family, I think) that perhaps this was a photo of his cousin, Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett, the first general killed during the Civil War. Apparently the two men had very similar features.

There is another photo that could be Garnett. This one was found in the Library of Congress labelled as “Franklin Gardner“. At least some people think that this is in fact, Brig. Gen. Garnett:

Is this Richard B. Garnett, and not Franklin Gardner?
Is this Richard B. Garnett, and not Franklin Gardner?

Yet another mystery surrounds the whereabouts of his remains. As I explain in the video below, none of the Union burial details ever made note of finding the remains of a General among the Pickett’s Charge dead.


Video by George Skillman
The location of his marker is right in the middle of Gettysburg Hill:

The monument to Richard Brooke Garnett is located at the red square.
The monument to Richard Brooke Garnett is located at the red square.

His “headstone” itself is also unique. Since the whereabouts of his remains is unknown, it’s more of a memorial than an actual marker. It was placed here (as it says) by family and friends in the 1990s.

The front of Richard B. Garnett's monument. Photo by John Dolan.
The front of Richard B. Garnett’s monument. Photo by John Dolan.
The back of Richard B. Garnett's monument. Photo by John Dolan.
The back of Richard B. Garnett’s monument. Photo by John Dolan.

In the next installment, we’ll highlight another mysterious “burial” on Gettysburg Hill.

Gettysburg at Hollywood Cemetery – John T. Ellis

This is a continuation of my series on famous burials in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Other posts in the series can be viewed here.

Another of Pickett’s officers that was involved on July 3, 1863 was Lt. Colonel John T. Ellis of the 19th VA Infantry. He didn’t participate in the attack itself though, because he was killed shortly before Pickett’s division set out across the field.

Lt. Colonel John Thomas Ellis
Lt. Colonel John Thomas Ellis

Ellis is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in the Gettysburg Hill section, just a short way down the hill from General Pickett himself.

The grave of John Thomas Ellis is marked by the red square.
The grave of John Thomas Ellis is marked by the red square.

In the video below, I give a very brief biography of Lt. Col. Ellis and explain how he was killed.


Video by George Skillman
And of course, we have a close-up shot of Lt. Col. Ellis’s headstone. One of many here on Gettysburg Hill.

The headstone of Lt. Col. John T. Ellis. Photo by John Dolan.
The headstone of Lt. Col. John T. Ellis. Photo by John Dolan.

Next time, we’ll talk about another high-ranking officer in Pickett’s division who is likely to be buried here among his men.

Gettysburg at Hollywood Cemetery – “Gettysburg Hill”

This is a continuation of my series on famous burials in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Other posts in the series can be viewed here.

The area of Hollywood Cemetery that we’ve been exploring so far is known as Gettysburg Hill. This hill got its name from the more than 2,000 Confederate dead from the Battle of Gettysburg that are buried in this section.

This stone marks the area where the Gettysburg dead are buried.
The marker where the Gettysburg dead are buried. Photo by John Dolan.

As we know, the Confederates didn’t hang around very long after the battle. They were on the road south by July 4. There was no way for the Confederates to collect or bury all of their dead – especially those who died near or beyond the Union lines. Those men were buried largely in mass graves by Union burial details and U.S. government contractors. So how did thousands of dead from Gettysburg end up in Richmond, VA?

The southern economy was wrecked by the war. Even families who wanted to exhume their relatives to move closer to home couldn’t afford to do so. It took until 1872 for the Hollywood Memorial Association to raise enough money to have a large number of these men – mainly the dead from Pickett’s Charge – moved to the cemetery. After nearly 10 years, there wasn’t much left of the remains, and no good method for identifying them. They were buried in a mass grave, much as they had been on the battlefield.

Since so many of the dead in this area were from Pickett’s Charge, Pickett himself chose to be buried on this hill near his men. For better or worse, July 3, 1863 really had become the defining moment in his life, and would remain so for all time.

In the last few years, headstones have been added to this section for the men who are likely to have been buried here. We’ll talk about a few of them in the next few posts, but for now, here are some views of the hill that we took during our visit two years ago:

Looking down the hill from the top. Photo by John Dolan.
Looking down the hill from the top. Photo by John Dolan.
A view from the opposite direction, looking up the hill. Note the top of General Pickett's monument at the top left. Photo by John Dolan.
A view from the opposite direction, looking up the hill. Note the top of General Pickett’s monument at the top left. Photo by John Dolan.
One more view from the bottom of the hill showing all the headstones. Photo by John Dolan.
One more view from the bottom of the hill showing all the headstones. Photo by John Dolan.

In the next post, we’ll talk about one of the men who is memorialized by a headstone in this section.