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Elizabeth River with a Tugboat, Sailboat and the USS Wisconsin
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Magnolia Cemetery

Other Link Cemeteries Website
*Magnolia Cemetery records are kept at the Riverside Memorial Park office.

History

Magnolia Cemetery is located in the Berkley section of Norfolk. It was established in 1860 on land donated by Lycurgus Berkley. Magnolia was operated by a private cemetery corporation until the City of Norfolk purchased it in 1911. Berkley is one of the oldest communities in Virginia.

Its history began when the Herbert family of Lower Norfolk County received land grants at the junction of the Eastern and Southern branches of the Elizabeth River in 1644 and 1666. By the 1700s, the Herberts established a shipyard on what was later known as Berkley Flats. One of the Herbert’s homes, Riveredge, later became the home of Thomas Asbury Hardy, the father of Mary Pinckney Hardy, the mother of General Douglas MacArthur. She and the General’s father, Arthur MacArthur married there in 1875.  Berkley underwent several name changes from 1728 to 1890 including Powder Point, Ferry Point, and Washington Point. It was the seat of Norfolk County from 1790 to 1803.

Berkley did not become a progressive community, however, until after the Civil War when Lycurgus Berkley, a wealthy Norfolk dry goods dealer, began to develop it as an organized town. Berkley married Eliza A. Middleton whose family owned much of the land on which the town named for her husband was built. Berkley was incorporated as an independent town in 1890 and John Berkley, a son of Lycurgus, was elected its first mayor. Northern capital, attracted by the town’s accessibility to the sea and the availability of raw products of Tidewater, opened lumber mills, box factories, knitting mills, shipyards and a nationally-known winery in Berkley.

During the next quarter of a century, the fortunes of many now-prominent Norfolk families were made in these facilities. Berkley’s period of prosperity ended by World War I due in part to exhaustion of its lumber supply and Prohibition. Shortly after World War I, the St. Helena Training Station, the town’s most important government-operated facility, was incorporated into what is now the Norfolk Naval Station.  A disastrous fire destroyed much of Berkley’s livelihood in 1922. Berkleyites began moving to Ghent, Larchmont, Lochaven and Meadowbrook. 

Aerial Photograph & Map

Interment Information Online
USGenWeb Archives, a cooperative network of volunteers that provides genealogical information on the Internet, has partnered with the Bureau of Cemeteries to provide an interment catalog of Magnolia Cemetery. The Bureau is currently working with Web Cemeteries to implement a web-based cemetery management system to enhance public access to interment information.  If you cannot locate an interment, please call 757-441-2654 or email for more information.

Cultural Resource Management
A cultural resource management assessment is currently underway for Magnolia Cemetery.  Volunteers are necessary to complete this assessment and to plan for the long term conservation of Magnolia Cemetery.  If you are interested in helping with this effort or volunteering in another capacity to conserve our historic municipal cemeteries, please visit the Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation website at www.NorfolkSocietyforCemeteryConservation.org and get involved today!

Norfolk Notables Project
The Norfolk Notables Project began in 2011.  The goal was to gather information on notable individuals interred in Norfolk's historic municipal cemeteries and make it accessible to the public.  Though the project is far from complete, we are excited to announce that thanks to the research efforts of Bureau of Cemeteries interns Oliver Garland and Daniel Hennelly and the generosity of historian Stephen Forrest, information about Magnolia Cemetery Notables 
can be viewed online.  Kudos to Robert Hitchings, Troy Valos, and Bill Inge with the Norfolk Public Library's Sargeant Memorial Collection, City Historian Peggy Haile-McPhillips, Tim Bonney with the Friends of Norfolk's Historic Cemeteries, Donna Bluemink with US GenWeb Archives, and Dr. Thomas Bogger with the Norfolk State University Black History Archives for their considerable contributions to this project.  If you would like to contribute information on a Norfolk Notable, please contact Bobette Nelson at 757-510-5879 or email cemeteries@norfolk.gov


Cemetery Events, Volunteer Opportunities, Conservation Information

Click here for information about Norfolk Historic Cemeteries events, volunteer opportunities, and conservation information.