Florence Bernardin Rees

Bernardine Rees
Birth Name:
Florence Bernardin Rees
Birth Date:
July 20, 1859
Birth Place:
Lexington, Kentucky
Death Date:
February 7, 1862
Place of Death:
Richmond, Virginia
Cause of Death:
Scarlet Fever
Cemetery Name:
Hollywood Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
The Odd and the Interesting
In 1862 two-year-old Bernardine died from Scarlet Fever and her grave is often found adorned with trinkets, toys, rings, flowers, and stones. But what makes Bernardine's final resting place such a tourist draw is that it is guarded by a black iron dog. How did it get there? Before the Civil War, the Richmond dog stood at a storefront of photographer Charles R. Rees (whose name is on the cemetery plot). Children loved the dog and his young niece was no exception. When his niece contracted Scarlet Fever and passed away (that area of the cemetery is loaded with plots of young children who passed in similar fashion) Charles had the statue moved to her grave as a tribute. Today the Iron Dog (aka the Black Dog) is one of the most visited gravesites in Hollywood Cemetery.

Fun Fact

On more than one occasion visitors have heard the dog growl and swear it moved if they got too close to the grave of Bernardine. Unfortunately upon our visit we did not encounter any paranormal activity.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

Hollywood Cemetery

412 South Cherry Street

Richmond, Virginia, 23220

United States

North America


Map of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia
Map of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia

Grave Location:

Section C, Lot 1, Grave 1

Grave Location Description

The Iron Dog (aka the Black Dog) that guards the final resting place of the infant girl can be found by entering the gates of the cemetery and taking the first right over the bridge. Follow the blue line to your right up the steep hill on Confederate Avenue. Stop at the first intersection of Confederate Avenue and Cedar Avenue. Park and look to your left for the large Newfoundland standing guard over the grave of Bernardine Rees.

Grave Location GPS

37.53978263685765, -77.45502493774777

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Nancy Martin

popular name: Nancy Martin

date_of_death: May 25, 1857

age: 24

cause_of_death: Yellow Fever

claim_to_fame: The Odd and the Interesting

best_know_for: Silas Martin was a successful sea captain and trader. The one thing he hated about his job was missing his family for long stretches of time. So when his son John and daughter Nancy (Nance to her friends) asked to accompany their father on his next voyage he did not hesitate to add them to the crew. When they set sail in early 1857, Nance took ill about three months into the trip. Silas detoured and sailed into Cardenas, Cuba in search of medical care but it was too late - Nancy succumbed shortly upon arrival. Rather than having Nancy buried on foreign soil or buried at sea, Captain Silas was determined to return to Wilmington for a proper burial with her family. The issue was how to keep the body preserved for the voyage home. They decided on a large rum barrel as a makeshift coffin filled with liquor to preserved the body. The thought of her body sloshing around in a cask during rough seas was too much for her father and brother, so it was decided that a chair would be placed in the cask, nailed in place and Nance seated and tied into the chair to keep her secure. Rather than disturbing the remains, upon returning to Wilmington, Silas had Nance buried in the cask in the port city’s Oakdale Cemetery.

Alfred Southwick

popular name: Alfred Southwick

date_of_death: June 11, 1898

age: 72

cause_of_death: Natural causes

claim_to_fame: The Odd and the Interesting

best_know_for: In 1881 Alfred Southwick heard a story about an intoxicated man who touched a live electric generator. Given that the man died so quickly, Southwick concluded that electricity could be used as an alternative to hanging for executions. And while his background included stints as a steam-boat engineer and dentist, Alfred was credited with inventing the electric chair as a method of legal execution. He also served as a professor at the University of Buffalo school of dental medicine, now known as the State University of New York at Buffalo.

W W Pool

popular name: W W Pool

date_of_death: February 26, 1922

age: 79

cause_of_death: Pneumonia

claim_to_fame: The Odd and the Interesting

best_know_for: William Pool was a well respected account manager and bookkeeper for the wealthy and influential Bryan estate. His wife died in 1913 with William passing away several years later. They are entombed at Hollywood Cemetery and you would think that would be the end of the story. Years later local residents claim that the mausoleum of W. W. Pool (dated 1913) in Hollywood Cemetery holds the remains of a vampire with the rumor that Pool was run out of England in the 1800s for being a blood-sucking creature of the night. The legend may have been influenced by the architecture of the tomb, which has both Masonic and ancient Egyptian elements, and the "WW" over the entry to the crypt looking like fangs. At the same time another version of events began on October 2, 1925, when a disastrous cave-in at the Church Hill Tunnel occurred, with tons of rock and soil crashing down on a work train, killing, trapping and wounding several laborers. Shortly after the catastrophe, eyewitnesses saw a horrific creature running from the tunnel’s end – with fanglike teeth and rolls of decomposing flesh hanging from its body. The creature is said to have sprinted into Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery and disappeared into the mausoleum of W.W. Pool where today the iron doors remain sealed to prevent the creature from escaping.

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