By Charity Hayes | Savannah is often revered as America’s most haunted city and has many tales to tell. You don’t become known as the city that lives upon her dead without a spooky story…or ten. In this series we’ll talk about a few of the hauntings and lore that encompasses Savannah and we’ll check out some really cool spots to visit this spooky season, including a Savannah haunted cemetery or two.
Colonial Park Cemetery
Colonial Park Cemetery opened in 1750. Located at the corner of Abercorn and Oglethorpe, Colonial Park Cemetery is considered one of the most haunted locations in all of Savannah. The Yellow Fever plagued Savannah three times. One outbreak alone in 1820 caused nearly 700 deaths. The Yellow Fever victims were buried in Colonial Park Cemetery. The cemetery is comprised of just six acres and has less than a thousand visible gravestones but technically houses more than 10,000 bodies. (insert goosebumps here) Visitors are usually none the wiser to the fact that just about every step they take in the cemetery, they are indeed stepping on a grave. If you’d like to know more about Colonial Park Cemetery and the hauntings that happen there, check out this site.
Did you know there are mass graves all over Savannah? Over one thousand soldiers were killed here in the Revolutionary War. The soldiers’ bodies were placed into a mass grave in Savannah, and its location is unknown to this day. In fact, mass graves are pretty common here in Savannah, with sidewalks, buildings, homes and even streets being built right on top of them! It was also common practice, at some point in time, that burials were allowed in the backyards of private residences. Some folks say that you really can’t walk anywhere in Savannah without stepping over a body. We’ve even heard tales about the cobblestone sidewalks throughout the city being on top of graves and where the sidewalks become uneven or irregular, is where the graves have settled. So the next time you trip on one of the uneven sidewalks, just think about that. If that doesn’t qualify as creepy, we’re not sure what does.
Let’s move on over to the infamous Bonaventure Cemetery, an enchanting, 160-acre historical cemetery. You can visit Bonaventure Cemetery on your own walking tour, which is our preference. We like to stroll and spend time really taking in and feeling the grounds. You can also take a guided ghost tour where they’ll point out all the haunted spots, tell spooky ghost stories and haunted tales of those that came before us. Don’t forget to visit little Gracie Watson. She died of pneumonia in 1889 at the age of six. Some say they’ve seen the statue cry actual tears. Could it be that she misses her family? Visitors often leave small toys at the grave site for Gracie. We’ve even left a few toys ourselves.
You may be looking for the famous “Bird Girl” statue that was originally part of Bonaventure, this statue has since been moved to the Jepson Center for the Arts and is on public display. The Bird Girl statue became iconic thanks to the cover of the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (grab your copy at Simply Savannah on River Street)
Although not Savannah’s oldest, Bonaventure remains the largest public cemetery and the most famous. The Victorian-inspired memorials and mausoleums lie under sheets of Spanish moss, lending to the eerie feeling of something or someone, watching. Bonaventure Cemetery is the final resting place of well-known names, such as lyricist Johnny Mercer and Georgia Governor Edward Telfair. Visitors say some souls of the dead remain restless and roam this haunted Savannah cemetery.
These are just a few of the haunted spots in Savannah. This city is full of haunted history and things that go bump in the night. Visiting either of these two cemeteries will definitely raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Remember while visiting these sacred places to be respectful and mindful of the dead that are resting there. You may also want to check the backseat when leaving for any unwelcome guests that may be trying to hitch a ride. Check back often for our continuing series on Savannah’s Most Haunted. Happy October!