Grove Street Cemetery is a small space, and unless you live in the neighborhood or you’re at a nearby store buying chicken salad and croissants, you might not even know it exists. Surrounded by a stone wall and closed only by a latched gate, this is the final resting place for many of Danville’s former residents, including politicians, doctors, slaves, veterans, and educators. Many of these individual stories may never be told. Records of burials weren’t kept prior to 1833 and many bodies are in unmarked graves. Some of those graves were never marked and other tombstones were removed or vandalized beyond recognition over the years.
I found two older articles from the Danville Bee with some basic historical information that might be of interest to someone. The articles reference a book written by Mary Mack and I’m going to double-check, but unfortunately I don’t think this particular book is available at the city’s public library.
|15 Mar. 1951|
It’s remarkable that the cemetery is in such good condition today, given that it was a popular target for vandals and due to the fact that at one time the City planned to level the space, leaving no marked graves. This action stopped after many of the markers had been removed and because no burial maps existed, it was impossible to plot out the graves again.
By the time the Danville Garden Club took the initiative to clean-up Grove Street Cemetery, it had been abandoned long enough to develop a “wilderness-like” appearance.
The 1951 article contained a story that I had never heard before about a woman who was almost buried alive in Grove Street. She had wanted to be buried in a particular dress and when her daughter came to view the body, she was unhappy with the clothing. While the daughter argued with someone over the burial attire, the mother sprung to life and joined the discussion. She hadn’t been dead after all, only in a trance. I wish there was more information available about this “supposed corpse.”
I’ve written a few posts about people buried in this graveyard: Elizabeth Royall, George Price, and the Dame children. There are other “stories” about Grove Street Cemetery’s residents and admirers, such as a bank clerk who was hiding stolen money near his girlfriend’s tomb, the teacher who broke her back ice skating and never walked again, and the remains of some of the victims of an 1865 arsenal explosion that were allegedly buried in one coffin.
|1 May 1975|
|These are the 2 monuments visible in the 1951 article.|
|Mary Page & Channing Dame|
|I believe that these are soldiers’ graves, marked with limited information.|