A Return to Old City Cemetery

Before stopping by Spring Hill my first destination in Lynchburg last weekend was Old City Cemetery. Longtime readers here probably recall some of my previous excursions to OCC, which I consider to be one of Virginia’s loveliest burial grounds.


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The Manzanar Internment Camp-Frances Misaye Fujino

This is the shared marker for Frances Misaye Fujino and her parents, Koheiji Fujino and Yoshi Kobayashi Fujino. Yoshi’s birth and death dates aren’t on the stone so I’m not sure whether or not she is actually buried  in Los Angeles’ Evergreen Memorial Park and Mausoleum. Since I took this photo in October 2013 I’ve researched Frances’ story on and off, halted by dead ends (no pun intended). Her story was particularly interesting and tragic because she and her family lived at the Manzanar relocation camp during World War II. While information pertaining to her cause of death has eluded me, we know that Frances died at Manzanar on December 1, 1942 at age 23.

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The Mysterious Private Life of a Public Man: Richmond’s Lewis Ginter

It’s almost impossible to miss Lewis Ginter’s magnificent mausoleum in that particular area of Hollywood Cemetery, as it juts upward into the Richmond sky towering over the sparsely populated plot. It wasn’t until I peeked through the barred windows that I realized there was only one tomb inside of a building that could have easily accommodated the remains of several others. Between the opulence of the mausoleum and the fact that he was buried alone in the late 1890s, when family members were usually interred in close proximity to one another, I had a hunch that there was something here worth digging into.

The Times, 3 Oct. 1897

My initial search began as it usually does: combing through the old newspapers for obituaries. As expected, prominent businessman Lewis Ginter’s name appeared numerous times in the archives. He was well-known for being a man who gave generously to charitable organizations, as a champion for the growth of Richmond, and he was hailed as a shining example of entrepreneurship. He lived a very private life and despite his standing in the community many Richmond residents had never actually seen him by the time he passed away.

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Mark Dickerson: Scurvy in a Civil War Prison Camp

Danville National Cemetery

Private Mark Dickerson is another Union soldier who died in one of Danville, Virginia’s prisoner of war camps during the Civil War. His body rests many miles from his former home in Illinois.

Information about Mark in public records is limited, as is the case with many young Civil War soldiers who never married or had children. Even though these people didn’t leave behind much of a paper trail, they were no doubt important to someone and deserve to be remembered.

Mark Dickerson appears on the 1860 Census at age 18, meaning that he was born around 1842. He lived in Newburg,  Illinois in a household of 11 people. The relationships among household members aren’t reported on that census, but it seems like the parents were Thomas and Sarah Dickerson and Mark had eight siblings ranging in ages from 20 to 2. Mark’s father, aged 55, was a laborer who was born in England. Sarah, aged 44, was born in Ohio. Mark and three of his siblings were also born in Ohio. Based on the ages and birth places of the other siblings, it seems like the Dickerson family moved to Illinois sometime during the first five years of Mark’s life.

In 1862, Mark and his older brother William went to fight in the Civil War in the same company. William died from chronic diarrhea in Nashville’s General Hospital 16 on December 1 of the same year.

The next piece of concrete information about Mark is from the record of Civil War soldier deaths. On June 22, 1864 Mark died from scorbutus (scurvy) in one of Danville’s prison camps (called a General Hospital.)

In an earlier post I touched on the nightmarish conditions faced by Union soldiers living in Danville’s prison camps. At least 1,000 of the burials in the National Cemetery are Union prisoners and based on my research the vast majority of those deaths were due to diseases caused by poor diets and unsanitary conditions. Chronic diarrhea, smallpox, and scurvy seem to be the major culprits.

Drawing of a scorbutus patient’s leg after 12 months
From Henry Walsh Mahon’s scurvy journal
Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Scorbutus, or scurvy, is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency, making soldiers extremely susceptible to the disease. In addition to the inadequate food rationed in the prison camp where Mark lived, often soldiers were given dessicated fruits and vegetables, unaware that the Vitamin C that they needed was boiled out of the food. Soldiers on the battlefield weren’t fans of these “desecrated vegetables” either.

Some of the common symptoms of scurvy are fatigue, muscle aches and pain, swollen and bloody gums, tooth loss, hemorrhaging skin, gangrenous ulceration of the skin, protruding or sunken eyes, fainting, high fever and trembling, and eventually death. As the condition progressed, the pain became increasingly unbearable and by June 1864, Mark may have welcomed the end rather than continue to suffer from a condition that could have easily been prevented or treated. 

Additional Sources:
Medical News Today
Scurvy and Vitamin C
The Civil War Diet
“Truly Horrible” Danville Civil War Prisons
Wikimedia Commons

Civil War Soldiers in Danville National Cemetery

Just beside Green Hill Cemetery on the other side of a stone wall in Danville, Virginia, is Danville National Cemetery, which appears as a sea of uniform marble tablet stones marking the graves of thousands of United States veterans from many different wars/conflicts (and a number of civilians who were related to veterans). You can read about the general history of the cemetery from the previous link, but until a few months ago I didn’t know that somewhere around (if not over) 1,000 of the burials were Union prisoners of war who died in Danville’s disease-ridden and overpopulated prison camps. These men were initially buried in mass graves and moved to individual graves at the newly formed National Cemetery in 1866. (I wonder if they were able to identify the bodies in the trenches to accurately match them with names for the headstones.) Just from the small sampling of prisoner of war causes of death that I found in a few hours’ worth of research, a picture of how unsanitary and hellish conditions in Danville’s prison camps begins to form. (Not all of the markers shown in this post are of Civil War veterans.)






I’m not sure if this is a carving or naturally-occurring.




National Cemetery and Green Hill Cemetery, divided by the wall




I didn’t stay at National long enough to photograph many individual markers, but here are a few:

Augustus Seip, of Pennsylvania was single & 25 in 1863
Cpl. Zach Westbrook, d. Nov. 7, 1864
Pvt. Henry Layfield, d. Dec. 12, 1863
Several “Unknown Soldier” markers





Lavel F. Hull, d. Nov. 22, 1864


Pvt. Recompense Conover, d. Dec. 11, 1864 in a prison camp of “chronic diarrhea.”
Lewis Whitney, d. Dec. 11, 1864
Elias Darling, d. Jan. 20, 1864 of “Sickness/Variola” (Smallpox outbreaks were common in the prison camps.)
J.M. McDowell, d. Apr. 16, 1864 of chronic diarrhea
Jasper Hand, d. Apr. 2, 1864 of chronic diarrhea
Hiram Gillispie, d. Jan. 2, 1864 of chronic diarrhea
Zachariah Collins, d. Dec. 21, 1863 in the “Rebel Hospital” of chronic diarrhea
David Park, d. Mar. 2, 1864 of “Typhoides Febris”
Pvt. Freeman Ham of Maine, d. Aug. 20, 1864 of “Febris Typhoid”
J.W. McElfresh of Ohio, d. Mar. 28, 1864 of chronic diarrhea

These are photos around Danville’s Confederate Prison No. 6.


The building in the background is not the prison.
According to this, the original building consisted of only 3 stories.



It looks like there’s some “work” being done in the area between the old prison and the building beside it. Through the opening you can see size of the prison more clearly.


“…the crop reap’d by the mighty reapers, typhoid, dysentery, inflammations—and blackest and loathesomest of all, the dead and living burial-pits, the prison-pens of Andersonville, Salisbury, Belle-Isle, &c., (not Dante’s pictured hell and all its woes, its degradations, filthy torments, excell’d those prisons)—the dead, the dead, the dead—our dead—or South or North, ours all, (all, all, all, finally dear to me)—or East or West—Atlantic coast or Mississippi valley—somewhere they crawl’d to die, alone, in bushes, low gullies, or on the sides of hills—(there, in secluded spots, their skeletons, bleach’d bones, tufts of hair, buttons, fragments of clothing, are occasionally found yet)—our young men once so handsome and so joyous, taken from us—the son from the mother, the husband from the wife, the dear friend from the dear friend—the clusters of camp graves, in Georgia, the Carolinas, and in Tennessee—the single graves left in the woods or by the road-side, (hundreds, thousands, obliterated)—the corpses floated down the rivers, and caught and lodged, (dozens, scores, floated down the upper Potomac, after the cavalry engagements, the pursuit of Lee, following Gettysburgh)—some lie at the bottom of the sea—the general million, and the special cemeteries in almost all the States—the infinite dead—(the land entire saturated, perfumed with their impalpable ashes’ exhalation in Nature’s chemistry distill’d, and shall be so forever, in every future grain of wheat and ear of corn, and every flower that grows, and every breath we draw)—not only Northern dead leavening Southern soil—thousands, aye tens of thousands, of Southerners, crumble to-day in Northern earth.   
  And everywhere among these countless graves—everywhere in the many soldier Cemeteries of the Nation, (there are now, I believe, over seventy of them)—as at the time in the vast trenches, the depositories of slain, Northern and Southern, after the great battles—not only where the scathing trail passed those years, but radiating since in all the peaceful quarters of the land—we see, and ages yet may see, on monuments and gravestones, singly or in masses, to thousands or tens of thousands, the significant word Unknown." -Walt Whitman, Specimen Days