Attitude is everything. We thought we were booking one of the trolley ghost tours. When we looked closer we had booked a walking tour. Initially I thought, man this is going to be rough and 3/4 of the group were whining. However, once the sun went down, it was a nice night for a walk and we got to see some things that I think we would have missed if we were riding. The pace was pretty slow as well. Masks were required for groups of 6 or more, as well per Savannah’s COVID restrictions.
Savannah has a ton of history. The city is the USA’s first planned city. In fact, the original city was layed out in England before they even came over to build. Our tour guide said there were Native American burial sites and settler burial sites under the city’s streets and buildings. At one time there had been two cemeteries in the downtown area, but there is now only one, Colonial Park. Some of the tombs look like stone/brick tents, but they also extend underground. There are shelves inside to house the deceased, and just like in New Orleans, bodies got moved down to make room for new family members. Per our tour guide, Colonial park cemetery has 600 gravestones, but 1100 dead. The cemetery has lost both ground and tombstones, due to city growth and graffiti. Some were moved, but there are 4000 unmarked graves now outside the gates. Supposedly, some of the lost tombstones happened when the Union army was stationed there for a couple of months. When it got too cold for their fabric tents, some took shelter in the tombs. The sidewalk around the cemetery has special decorative bricks. We learned that the bricks actually mark the lost and unknown graves. Each circle represents an unmarked, lost grave. (Our guide pointed out that sitting in a cemetery for months in the cold had to be boring. Then add in that some states allowed as young as 14 to enlist, there wasn’t a lot of supervision, they were away from home, and whiskey was part of the daily rations. “You had a bunch of bored drunk children with no parental supervision away from home…”)
Ben’s favorite story was the Marshall House. It was a boarding house and a hotel, but during the Civil War, there were a lot of injured soldiers coming from Atlanta. It was turned into a hospital. There were a lot of surgeries and amputations. It reverted back to a hotel, and then to a hospital again during two yellow fever outbreaks. Afterwards, it would become a hotel again. During renovations in the 1990’s, they pulled up the floor to find saws and other surgical equipment, as well as bones. It was a medical dump site.
I didn’t find a lot of evidence to support the story of the bricks (although I did not see a similar design around the city), or the bones at Marshall House (although even AAA wrote about it). I was a little disappointed, as I like the ghost tours we go on to the have some facts to them, not just ghost stories.
Have you gone on a Savannah Ghost Tour? What was your favorite story?