“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Woolen Mills in Charlottesville, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Riverview Park

Riverview Park Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 8, 2021
1. Riverview Park Marker
You are standing on land once inhabited by the Monacan Indians and bison. While much of the landscape has changed, the Rivanna River still runs through, connecting past to present.

1733. The property first came into European hands in a 1733 land patent from the King of England to Charles Lynch of 400 acres lying on both sides of the Rivanna River near Moore's Creek.

1735. In 1735, Nicholas Meriwether, son of a Welsh immigrant, bought the 400 acres and obtained patents from King George III to approximately 19,000 acres in Albemarle County east of Charlottesville. One parcel of 1020 acres was located west of the Rivanna River, the area that now is the Locust Grove and Belmont neighborhoods. It became known as "The Farm" because it was the one cleared area in a virgin forest.

1809. Upon his death in 1809, Nicholas Meriwether bequeathed this land, 20 head of cattle, 20 hogs, and a young male slave to his grandson, Nicholas Lewis. Lewis was a Revolutionary War veteran who continued to farm the land. Lewis was a caretaker and accountant for Thomas Jefferson during Jefferson's stay in Paris
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and was the operator of Lewis's Ferry on the Rivanna River near Free Bridge.

1825. By 1825, Lewis' house was sold as part of a 36-acre lot to Professor John A.G. Davis, a law professor whose murder on the lawn in 1840 sparked the formation of the UVA Honor Code. Davis reassembled 262 acres of "The Farm," including the cemetery property. Davis continued farming operations with the labor of slaves.

1850. In 1850, John A.G. Davis's wife, Mary Jane, sold the property to William Farish to pay off debt against the Davis estate.

1868. William Farish bequeathed the property to his son Thomas L. Farish, who was already living on the property in 1868.

1892. Riverview Cemetery Company incorporated by a group of local businessmen on December 29, 1892 with a mission to establish a cemetery "near and convenient" to the City of Charlottesville that was properly ornamented with "trees, shrubbery or flowers."

1893. During February 1893, the Riverview Cemetery Company made its first land purchase of 27 acres from the Charlottesville Land Company. Riverview continued to acquire small quantities of land over the years from neighboring lot owners, residents and the Albemarle Golf Club on its western border.

1894. In 1894, the Charlottesville Land Company purchased "The Farm", including the land
Riverview Park Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 8, 2021
2. Riverview Park Marker
that would become Riverview Cemetery, from the Farish heirs. The Land Company subdivided the land into housing lots except for a section they titled "Reservation," which lay partially within the flood plain.

1894-1899. Seventeen burial sites were purchased between 1894 and 1899 to board members and officers of the Cemetery Company.

1895-1899. During the late 1890s, Henry Clay Merchant, a well-known businessman and driving force behind the neighboring Woolen Mills, acquired the land to the west of the cemetery.

1918-1930. In 1918, H.C. Merchant's land to the west of the cemetery was sold to the Albemarle Golf Club by Merchant's heirs and was used as a golf course until the 1930s.

1929. The Riverview Cemetery Company acquired the old graveyard in a purchase from the Albemarle Golf Club.

1936-1986. In 1936, Samuel Jessup, founder of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Central VA and the Monticello Dairy, discovered that the perpetual care offered by the cemetery was not secured by a legally required fund. JEssup purchased a majority of Riverview stock, became president of the Riverview Cemetery Company and created a fund for perpetual care to ensure the maintenance of the family plot at Riverview. His son Claude Jessup took over management following his death. The Jessup Family ran the Riverview
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Cemetery Company until 1986 when it was sold to E.E. Wood and Wilson W. Crop II.

1963. In 1963, the Riverview Cemetery land was annexed by the City of Charlottesville.

1974. The land annexed by the City of Charlottesville was donated by Riverview Cemetery in 1974 for use as a public space.

2007. The Rivanna Conservation Society completed its Dam Removal Project at Woolen Mills.

2016. Today Riverview Park provides opportunities for walking, jogging, bicycling, fishing or simply observing nature.

Monacan Indians, Enslaved Africans and African Americans at Riverview Park
For thousands of years, the land that includes Riverview Park was home to a variety of animals, including bison. Eventually, this land became home to Native Americans, particularly the Monacan tribe. Monacan Indians were the first to use the area alongside the Rivanna River, just a few miles away from Riverview Park, as a burial ground. Thomas Jefferson himself watched Monacan Indians pay tribute at a burial site. He later excavated this site.

During Nicholas Lewis's ownership the land was farmed by slave labor, growing such crops as corn and tobacco and also raising cattle and hogs. Despite their work, enslaved Africans and African-Americans were not granted the same formal burials as their enslavers, so they were forced to bury their dead in an area far from the main farmhouse without gravestones. Thus, the names of slaves who maintained the land for centuries are not included on headstones at Riverview Cemetery.
Erected by Rivanna Conservation Alliance.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAgricultureColonial EraSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1893.
Location. 38° 1.415′ N, 78° 27.241′ W. Marker is in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is in Woolen Mills. Marker is on Riverside Avenue, 0.2 miles north of Chesapeake Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 302 Riverside Ave, Charlottesville VA 22902, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Woolen Mills Village Historic District (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Charlottesville Woolen Mills (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Woolen Mills (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named The Woolen Mills (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named The Woolen Mills (approx. 0.3 miles away); Birthplace of George Rogers Clark (approx. 0.8 miles away); North Terrace Wing (approx. 0.9 miles away); Barrier (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Charlottesville.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 11, 2024. It was originally submitted on May 10, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 261 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 10, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 12, 2024