Oakwood Cemetery has served as Charlottesville's primary public cemetery since the early 1860s when Maplewood, the City's other public cemetery at that time, began to reach capacity. This 14-acre area was formerly part of Alexander Garrett's 117-acre estate, "Oak Hill." Oakwood Cemetery was established as a racially segregated cemetery, with the southern quarter of the original seven acres near Elliott Avenue designated as the "colored" section. However, minority populations often chose to be buried in independent burial places, such as the nearby Daughters of Zion Cemetery and the still privately-owned Hebrew Cemetery. By 1939, an additional seven acres had been added to the west side of Oakwood. Burials in Oakwood Cemetery represent the diverse Charlottesville community: civic and religious leaders, professionals, workers, and residents of different races and nationalities. Oakwood was also the city's primary burying ground for the poor and indigent. Many of the cemetery's details, such as nineteenth century state markers, stone carvings and cast iron fencing, showcase the historic funerary practices of the time. The cemetery's stone and quartz walls also date from the nineteenth century.
Oakwood Cemetery marker near cemetery entrance on Oak Street