The origins of Woodland Cemetery go back to the Civil War. Many wounded or sick soldiers were housed in large homes or churches in the area. Beginning in 1862, the large number of deaths presented a problem because Ashland had no cemetery. Citizens and some officers purchased land just west of town to inter the soldiers’ remains. Four hundred Confederates were buried there.
The area became overgrown with briars and weeds because no one was able to maintain the graves. After the war, a group of young Ashland girls, accompanied by Dr. William P. Mayo, a beloved citizen of Ashland, went to the burial grounds with rakes and hoes and cleaned away the debris. In 1866 this same group of young women formed the Confederate Memorial Association. They sponsored fundraisers as the only source of income for the maintenance of the Confederate section.
Additional land was purchased and in 1876, by an act of the General Assembly of Virginia, Woodland Cemetery was granted a charter.
The Woodland Cemetery Company is now in charge of the property’s management and maintenance. This includes care of the Confederate section. Each year Woodland Cemetery receives a donation from the United Daughters of the Confederacy to help with this maintenance. Woodland is currently the final resting place for over 6,000 persons, many of whom called Ashland home for most of their lives. In 2008 the cemetery began its final expansion with the development of the west section just inside the main gates.
Woodland Cemetery celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2012.
(Above text by Susan Tucker. From: Ashland, Virginia, 150 Years, 1858-2008, Ashland Sesquicentennial Committee, 2009)
Woodland Cemetery is on Hanover Avenue (State Rt 1306) in Ashland, 0.8 miles southwest of the intersection of Rt 54 (England St) and the railroad tracks. Google map.
See also the related article – Civil War Soldiers Buried at Woodland Cemetery.
The Ashland Museum hosts guided tours of historic Woodland Cemetery from time to time. Check our Events page for updates.