Elmwood Cemetery Page Header

John Henderson Core

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Extended, Block 19, Lots 11, 12, 13, 14
(1838 – 1910)

 John Henderson Core picture

John H. Core was a farmer who owned 475 acres in Norfolk and Princess Anne County, some of which is now the West Ghent section of Norfolk which encompasses the land to the west of Colley Avenue and north of the Armistead Bridge Road.  Core Avenue is named after him.  His wife, Martha Anne Tarrant Core, was a Norfolk County native.  The couple did not have any children.

Mr. Core was born in Belle Haven, Accomack County, Virginia, on November 12, 1838.  Mr. Core lived with his wife, Martha, at 302 Bute Street in Norfolk.  In 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate States Army as a member of Company G Sixth Virginia Regiment, Mahone’s Brigade.  He later became one of Mosby’s Rangers, an independent calvary unit formed in 1863 by John Singleton Mosby that made many raids behind Union lines during the Civil War. After the war, Mr. Core ran a wholesale grocery business with George J. Thomas and then a merchandise brokerage known as Thomas and Core.  With the death of his business partner in 1875, Mr. Core became an agriculturalist and real estate entrepreneur in Norfolk.  He made a specialty of stock raising, dealing in thoroughbred hogs that he was among the first to introduce to Norfolk County.  He spent his later years looking after his property and died at age 72 of “cardiac asthma.” 

In his will John Core left $100,000 to have a mausoleum built for his and Mrs. Core’s remains along with explicit instructions for its construction.  He willed another $2,000 to have a Cleopatra’s Needle monument erected for his parents; $5,000 to Epworth Methodist; and $6,000 for the Norfolk Protestant Hospital to care for his mausoleum. 

Mr. Core left instructions for the construction of the mausoleum in his will and requested that the following be engraved on the front of the sarcophagus: 

Within this mausoleum repose the mortal remains of John H. Core and Martha Anne Core.  John H. Core was born in Belle Haven in the County of Accomack, Virginia, on November 12, 1838, died ____________ 190.  He was a Confederate soldier having been a member of 6th Virginia Rangers.  Martha Anne Core, nee Tarrant, was born in Norfolk, County, Virginia , near Norfolk City, May 2nd, 1829, died June 14th, 1902.  She was a faithful and devoted wife, a true friend, sacrificing self for other, full of benevolence and charity, an exemplary Christian.”  On the top

The Core Mausoleum was constructed in 1915 in the Greek revival style.  The interior features a domed ceiling inlaid with mosaic tiles.  The heavy bronze sarcophagus containing Mr. & Mrs. Core’s remains sits on a raised marble platform and, in addition to biographical information about the couple, it is inscribed with an epitaph stating that Martha's “devotion to and affection for her husband was unbounded,'' and that Core “loved her with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind and with all his strength.'' The heavy bronze door with its plate glass and the windows in the east and west sides of the mausoleum provide plenty of light – another prescription in Core’s will.  Victorian symbols of immortality, resurrection, and belief in the afterlife are evident throughout the mausoleum.  These include scarabs, phoenixes, and butterflies.  Two bronze sculptures grace the entrance to the mausoleum, Romanesque in style.  These were sculpted by Edward Field Sanford who was the sculptor of several public art installations in Brooklyn, New York, specifically the Public Library there.  The sculptures were cast by Roman Bronze Works in New York in 1915.*

*Historical information & photograph courtesy of Tim Bonney

Biographical information provided by Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries.

Visitor Information

Visitor Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Office hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Free parking inside cemetery.

Admission Cost: Free

Address: 238 E. Princess Anne Road , Norfolk, VA 23510

Official web site for more information: www.norfolk.gov/cemeteries

Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation Web Site: www.norfolksocietyforcemeteryconservation.org