Ghosts Hauntings Savannah, Georgia

Ghosts and Hauntings of Savannah, Georgia

Haunted Savannah

Savannah, Georgia has a long, tragic history and this history makes the city prime for ghosts. In fact, Savannah is considered to be one of the most haunted cities in the United States. The following are locations where ghost have been witnessed by visitors and residents alike.

Have a spooky time in Savannah, Georgia. Learn about the ghosts who supposedly haunt this city. Are they real or not? You decide. There are several ghost tours available in Savannah. The Hauntings Tour is one of the walking tours. A guide takes visitors to Savannah’s graveyards and haunted houses at night in this 90-minute tour. Guests are encouraged to bring a camera and snap photographs, of what the guides say, are the paranormal activity which may not be seen by the naked eye, but can be captured with a camera.

James Oglethorpe founded the City of Festivals in 1733 on the Savannah River in southeastern Georgia. During the 18th century, Savannah served as the capital of Georgia, as well as a shipping and cultural center. Savannah was the nation’s first planned city, and the 2.5 square miles historic district was set up in a grid of squares with an estimated 1000 historic buildings standing. No one knows how many ghosts reside there, but some say that Savannah is the most haunted city in the US.

The Mercer House

Located on Monterey Square, this house once belonged to the sinister Jim Williams, who was an antique dealer and an occasional voodoo practitioner. John Berendt cast Williams as the central character in his work, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Williams lived in the house with his friend, Danny Hansford until 1981, when he shot and killed him in the heat of an argument. Pleading self-defense each time, Jim Williams survived three separate trials always claiming that his voodoo magic would set him free. And it did. Finally, a jury acquitted Williams, however, Danny Hansford’s ghost spirit wanted revenge. Williams suddenly succumbed to a heart attack and died on the spot where Danny would have killed him had Williams not gotten his first shot in.

There’s more to the Jim Williams tale. He also bought and restored a two-hundred-year-old house at 507 East St. Julian Street in 1963 and moved it to its present site, four blocks away. However, the house already had a resident ghost. A sailor had hanged himself in the bedroom and did not want the house moved. His ghost still curses the house with strange noises and cold spots.

Kehoe House in Savannah

The Kehoe House, named for former owner William Kehoe, for example, is one of the houses on the tour. In this home, twins of the Kehoe family died. It is thought that they died while playing in or near the fireplace. Guests who have stayed at the Kehoe House, which is now a posh bed and breakfast, claimed that they hear children in the house, although children were not allowed there.

Bonaventure Cemetery

The 140-year-old graveyard is a few miles from the Mercer House and is most famous for the Bird Girl statue pictured in the book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Of course, it’s haunted. It just looks and feels haunted. Spooky Spanish moss drapes many of the old tombstones and ancient live oaks. Azaleas bloom in the spring, making the cemetery both beautiful and eerie. Johnny Mercer, the songwriter, and Conrad Aiken, the poet, are in permanent residence here. Visitors sometimes report hearing laughter and conversation, and a pack of spectral dogs also haunts the grounds.

Originally named the Evergreen Cemetery in 1868, it changed to Bonaventure Cemetery in 1909. The cemetery received much notoriety when featured in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. The book’s cover dons a photo of the Bird Girl, taken by Jack Leigh, a statue that stood on the family plot of Lucy Boyd Trosdal. After the book gained popularity, Savannah moved the statue to the Telfair Museum of Art to avoid damage by sightseers. Notables buried at the cemetery include songwriter Johnny Mercer, poet Conrad Aikens, Edward Telfair, and Danny Hansford, who was shooting victim in Berendt’s book.

Paranormal activity at the Bonaventure Cemetery involves Gracie Watkins (b.1883), who died of pneumonia at the tender age of six-years-old – just two days after Easter. A year after her death, with her parents grieving so much, John Walz sculpted a life-sized statue of Gracie from a picture. The sculpture now sits on her grave. Visitors at the cemetery hear crying near her grave, so they leave trinkets in her hands to please her. Others see her wandering around lost and sad. In addition, visitors hear dogs barking and breathing heavily as if they were being chased, but the dogs have never been seen.

Colonial Park Cemetery

One of the oldest cemeteries in Savannah, it was founded in 1750 and used until 1850. Governors and Revolutionary heroes are buried here and, during the Civil War, Union troops slept in the cemetery and desecrated tombstones by carving into the gravestones and changing dates.

As for the ghosts, a passerby witnessed a man walking through the gates and disappearing. A decapitated couple without arms had been seen floating about in the cemetery. Another ghost story relates to Rene Asch Rondolier, a disfigured orphan in the early 1800s. After shunned by Savannah’s citizens, Rondolier began living in the cemetery. Soon the townspeople blamed him for a number of local murders. They lynched him and left his corpse in a nearby swamp. Some say Rondolier has returned to haunt the cemetery.

The Juliette Lowe Birthplace

Juliette Lowe– the founder of the Girl Scouts – was born in the house, but when her mother, Nellie, died, mourners saw Juliette’s deceased father, General William Gordon, standing in the next room next to where Nellie laid. Now people see Nellie wearing a blue flowered robe sitting at the breakfast table. Others have heard a pianoforte playing, similar to the one that Nellie loved playing. Nellie has also been seen sliding down banisters and rearranging furniture after the museum closes for the night.

Kehoe House Bed & Breakfast

Irish immigrant William Kehoe finished the house in 1892 and it has become – after a number of years as a funeral parlor — one of the most romantic bed and breakfasts in Savannah. At one point, football star Joe Namath owned the Kehoe House. During a renovation in 1981, six caskets and some remains were found in room 203. Some have seen a female specter in room 201 as well as the smell of roses. Most agree that the ghost is friendly. Casper? On a recent visit, a group of Girl Scouts on a carriage ride screamed at the sight of a woman with no feet in a white gown, hovering over the balcony.

Pirate’s House Tavern

The tavern, the oldest building in Georgia, first opened their doors in 1753 and was immortalized by Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island. Even though the infamous pirate, Jean Laffite, lived here, it is Captain Flint, who buried his booty on Treasure Island, that died in a room upstairs. Employees hear strange noises coming from the second floor. His last words were “Darby, bring aft the rum.”

Captain Flint’s scar-faced ghost has also been seen in the tunnels discovered beneath the building. The tunnels, since bricked up, were used for quick escapes as well as smuggling men, women, and goods from Savannah. Witnesses have also seen men pulling a body along the ground and disappearing through the brick wall.

The 1790 Hotel

The structure on East President Street draws in tourists who want to meet the ghost of Anna Powers. She once fell in love with a married sailor and jumped off the balcony where she watched his ship depart from the port of Savannah. Now she hangs out in Room 204 and is reputed to crawl into the bed with the guests and run her cold fingers over their faces.

See Anna the Ghost, at the 1790 Inn In Savannah, Georgia

Visit the Seventeen Hundred and Ninety Inn and Tavern during the tour. A young woman, Anna, who was shunned by her sailor boyfriend apparently jumped out of a window and committed suicide there. Anna sometimes haunts the building and terrorizes a beautiful young woman who spend the night in the end. She also sometimes steals their belongings. Anna’s bedroom was room 101, and people who have stayed in the room have said that they have felt Anna’s presence or have had mysterious occurrences in the room.

The Sorrel Weed House

Charles B. Cluskey, a Savannah architect, built the Greek Revival style house in 1840 and the State of Georgia designated it a state landmark in 1953. It is also a National Trust Historic Landmark. General Gilbert Moxley Sorrel, the youngest Confederate general lived here, and General Robert E. Lee visited the house in 1862. General William T. Sherman invaded it in 1864 but neglected to burn it down.

Ghost Hunters on the Sci-Fi channel documented several hauntings in October 2005. According to the history of the house, a slave died there and Francis Sorrel’s wife killed herself by leaping from the second-story balcony.

Fort Pulaski

The National Park Service owns and maintains the fort which is located on US 80 outside the city. Construction was completed in 1847 and a moat surrounds the structure. Major General David Hunter captured the fort in April 1862. He freed all the slaves in the area and many of them joined the Union Army under the first South Carolina Colored Regiment.

In 1864, the Union housed 520 Confederate officers and horribly abused them. Several ghost sitings occurred during the filming of the movie, “Glory.”

The Most Haunted Place

The American Institute of Parapsychology named Savannah “The Most Haunted Place in America.” Its moss-draped trees, the “haint blue” painted old homes and its often violent and sorrowful history make a good case for this reputation in a haunted city of moonlight, fragrant magnolias spiced with a little voodoo.

How to Take the Hauntings Tour

The Hauntings Tour will send shivers down spines. Tours meet at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. nightly at 135 Bull Street, on the Corner of York and Bull in Savannah, Ga. The tour fee is $13 for adults $5 for all scouts (boy scouts, girl scouts, cub scouts), and $5 for children 6-14. Reservations are encouraged but not required. Call 912-234-3571. Other haunted tours in Savannah include:

Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour

This 75-minute tour features entry into the Sorrel-Weed House in Savannah, which was on the Sci-Fi channel’s Ghost Hunters. Meet at the Simply Savannah Depot, 301 East River Street.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for children 4 to 12, and free for children under 4. Call 912-233-0083 for more information.

Haunted Pub Tour

This Creepy Crawl Tour is a walking tour that lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes. Professional guides lead visitors to some of the most haunted pubs in Savannah. The cost is $15 per person. Call 912-238-3843 for meeting locations and times.

Ghosts and Legends

Meet at Johnson Square for the Ghosts and Legends tour, which is about 90 minutes long. See where the first woman in Georgia was hanged and see the places where they say ghosts of pirates roam. Reservations are required for this walking tour which meets at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. The cost is $18 for adults and $10 for children. Call 888-419-4467 for reservations.

Sources

  • Haunted Savannah: The Official Guidebook to Savannah Haunted History Tour by James Caskey; Bonaventure Books
  • Berendt, John. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. New York: Random House, 1999.
  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Georgia: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Peach State. Mechanicsburg, PA:Stack Pole Books, 2008.
  • City of Savannah Home Page. 2010. Web.
  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory: Ghostly Abodes, Sacred Sites, UFO Landings and Other Supernatural Locations. New York: Penguin, 2002.
  • Juliano, Dave. Shadowlands: Ghosts and Hauntings. 2010. Web.
  • Myers, Arthur. Ghosts of the Rich and Famous New York: Contemporary Books, 1988.
  • Ogden, Tom. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ghosts and Hauntings. New York: Penguin Group, 2004.
  • Pitkin, David J., New York State Ghosts. Chestertown, NY: Aurora Publications, 2006.
  • Porter, Darwin and Danforth Prince. Portable Savannah. Second Ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2005.

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