Happy Hollow in Roanoke County VA
(1908 to Present)
Bernard and Ellen Burgess Wharton purchased a mountain cabin and the surrounding acres in 1908. They made additions to create a comfortable home. They expanded the yard and enhanced the surrounding area to create a garden. They named their place Happy Hollow.

Front View of House in 1999

Ellen was the fourth Daughter of John Henry and Mary Foster Burgess. When John Henry died in 1914 and her brother John Abe sold the Old Home Place in Henry County, her mother came to spend much of her time at Happy Hollow. The place became the gathering spot for the 10 Burgess children and their families. Virtually every child came to spend time in the summer and be taught to love nature by Aunt Ellen. It was the sight of many family reunions.

Burgess Family Reunion in 1932
Grandmother Mary Foster Burgess is the lady at the right near the bottom. Aunt Ellen is seated left and a little above her Mother. John Abe Burgess is third from left on bottom row. Jack Airheart is the boy in the front right. His Mother Aunt Posye is behind Grandmother Burgess.

House and Gardens From South – Fall 1999

Walter and Cherie Burgess Shindell retired to build a home at Happy Hollow in 1945. Cherie was the oldest daughter of John Abe Burgess, Ellen’s younger brother.

Bernard started a wholesale nursery business and used Happy Hollow to grow many plants. It was particularly suited for azaleas.

Bernard’s business thrived and the Whartons spent winters in Florida. During the winters Grandmother Burgess spent most of her time with Aunt Posye Airheart in her Roanoke City Home.

The Whartons celebrated their fiftieth anniversary at Happy Hollow on August 9, 1956.

Bernard Wharton died May 11, 1965. Around 1970 Ellen moved to a Nursing home in Salem VA, where she lived to be 100 in 1981. Various members of the Burgess family spent weekends and weeks in the Wharton home.

In 1974 Cherie’s sister Mary Jane Burgess retired to Happy Hollow and made the Wharton Home hers. Mary Jane invested much effort maintaining and improving Happy Hollow. She encouraged visitors and organized their efforts to work on the grounds.

In 1985 Cherie and Mary Jane donated Happy Hollow to Roanoke County for the promise that it would be maintained as a County Park. The park was named Happy Hollow Gardens.


Roanoke Times Article May 19, 1996

Mary Jane’s Great-Great Niece Althea visits the Memorial

Cherie died in 1996 at age 87. Mary Jane died in 1998 at age 84. Memorials were built in the park and memorial services held for their dedication. This and the following photos were taken during the October 17, 1999 service for Mary Jane's Memorial.

Family at Memorial Service
The unveiling was performed by four generations of Burgesses. Her sister Charlotte is holding the ribbon.
Mary Jane Burgess Memorial Unveiling – 10/17/1999

Mary Jane Memorial Plaque

In memory of Mary Jane Burgess,
"Self-appointed, Acting Superintendent"
and co-founder of Happy Hollow Gardens Park
Her dream was to share nature’s
beauty with others – Happy Hollow Park
is the fulfillment of that dream!
October 1999

A View of Happy Hollow from the North

Living Room Fireplace

Dining Room
Happy Hollow has been the source of pleasure for five generations of Burgesses. This special place is now positioned to bring pleasure to many Roanoke area families for many generations to come.
The Roanoke County Park’s Web site that lists Happy Hollow Gardens: http://www.co.roanoke.va.us/Parks/parks.htm
© 2001 by John Burgess Design