Interments from Cholera

September 13, 1866


After trying to approximate the total number of citizens killed from the cholera outbreak, it became clear that little if any records were being kept on the deaths of "negroes". Many of them were buried in mass graves paid for by the Freedmen's Bureau, although they kept no records. It is suggested that the Board of Health and City Council require sufficient death records be kept on all people.


Interments from Cholera. One of our reporters attempted yesterday afternoon, to ascertain the number of cholera interments in the cemeteries near Richmond since 1st instant, but was only partially successful. At the Shockhoe Hill Cemetery there were eleven interments--seven white and four colored. At the "Mechanics" (colored), on the hill beyond, no record is kept of the causes of death, but the superintendent of the cemetery states that the number of interments from cholera, in his judgment, did not exceed eight since 1st September. Most of the deceased negroes are buried in an open field at the expense of the Freedmen's Bureau. No register of deaths is kept by the agent of the Bureau, and of course no information respecting the mortality from cholera could be obtained from him. No effort was made to get reports from Hollywood or Oakwood, as in the absence of data from the other cemeteries the figures would have been of little use. From all the facts gathered, we estimate the interments from cholera since 1st at an average of three a day, the heaviest mortality occurring since 5th instant. The Board of Health are called upon to do a great many things, and their time would be wholly occupied it they responded to the various suggestions made to them through the press and otherwise; but we may be allowed, in view of the facts above presented, to recommend that the Board, invoke the Council to pass an ordinance providing for the proper registration of deaths in Richmond, as is done in every other well-organized city in the civilized world. We propose no plan for effecting this desirable object, as the ordinances of other cities can be referred if the Council should be disposed to consider the subject.
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Nat Berry




“Interments from Cholera,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023,