Hollywood Cemetery: Former President John Tyler

Former President John Tyler is buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery atop a hill facing the James River, his mammoth obelisk towering above the surrounding markers.


There is no shortage of biographical information on the tenth President, who was once referred to by Theodore Roosevelt as a “politician of monumental littleness,” so I’ll focus on Tyler’s eternal resting place instead.

                                                                Regardless of what one thinks about Tyler as a man or a politician, there’s really no denying that his marker, and the tombstones and statues of nearby relatives, are painfully beautiful and extremely well-preserved. I have yet to find an “undesirable” location on the grounds of Hollywood Cemetery, but John Tyler and his family are situated in what I consider one of the most picturesque spots, with James Monroe’s gorgeous birdcage tomb just a few feet away. You can hear the river in the distance, but the graves aren’t so close to the hill overlooking the James to pose an imminent danger of collapse through erosion. (If you spend enough time in cemeteries, you’re haunted by such details.)

Here are a few that I took with my phone, which were first posted in Images From Hollywood Cemetery.

The cross and angel mark the graves of John Tyler’s daughters Pearl and Julia

Tyler’s grave wasn’t always marked with such an impressive monument though. This illustration accompanied an article widely reprinted in newspapers in 1897. It looks like his daughter Julia’s angel/surrogate mourner is at the left of the image, just behind the tree.

The Times 11 July 1897

 John Tyler wanted to be buried on his property at Sherwood Forest in a location selected by his wife memorialized with “an uncostly monument of granite or marble.” After his death in 1862 from a stroke his body was interred at Hollywood. The General Assembly of Virginia originally planned to erect some type of monument, but their focus at the time was on the war and not placing headstones.

I apologize for not cropping the article into one column. The text missing at the bottom of the left hand-column and at the top of the right one (with some overlap) is, “Miss Letitia Christian, born at Cedar Grove, New Kent county, Va., November 12, 1790, and who died at Washington on September 9, 1842.”

It wasn’t until 1914 that plans were made to build John Tyler’s marker. The following article reported that the idea was to reveal the monument in March 1915 on Tyler’s 125th birthday, but it was October before the actual unveiling occurred. 

excerpt, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 29 Nov. 1914
Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10 Sept. 1915
Tulsa Daily World, 14 Oct. 1915

%d bloggers like this: