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432 Abercorn Street: one of Savannah’s most haunted houses between history and urban legends

8 min read

For generations people have talked about one house in Savannah more than any other, with creepy tales of the past owner, Benjamin Wilson, becoming more and more different and rich in details with every decade that passes by. This house is known simply by its address: 432 Abercorn Street.
The privately owned home (and not open to visitors) is a place of endless rumors that draw tourists from around the country, including rock star Alice “No More Mr. Nice Guy” Cooper.
The story of 432 Abercorn begins in the year 1868, when its ground was first broken, or, rather re-broken. In fact, long before plans to build the 432 Abercorn house came to fruition, the land was home to a slave burial site.
Just a suggestion: don’t ever build your house on top of burial ground, not just because it’s in poor taste, but because you and your home will forever be cursed and protagonists of every kind of ghost story!
But in any case, in a city like Savannah, this situation was seemingly unavoidable as many of its structures were built on the forgotten graveyards of the Native Americans and the enslaved Africans. This has lead many people to believe that Savannah is a cursed city, haunted by a curse that has burdened the city with the endless bloody battles of the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
A curse that supposedly has also plagued the city with innumerable outbreaks of yellow fever and cholera, and apparently countless people in Savannah have perished at the hands of the curse, leaving these departed souls to linger the grounds of the city for eternity.

The area around 432 Abercorn, known as Calhoun Square, is part of Savannah’s hotbed for supernatural activity and, over the years, it has witnessed murders, suicides and disappearances, that left the city infected with an incurable darkness filled with ghosts of soldiers, souls of slaves and spirits of Native Americans.
The main street that follows alongside Calhoun Square is Abercorn Street, and the construction of the house at no. 432, built for Benjamin Wilson and his family, ended in 1869. Wilson was a veteran of the Civil War, with an ambition to climb the Savannah social ladder. The home he had built was considered to be one of the most expensive houses in all of Savannah, and was valued at over 20,000 dollars, a staggering amount at the time.
Shortly after the family moved into the new house, his wife died, and she was one of the many victims claimed by Yellow Fever. Reportedly, Mr. Wilson fell into a deep depression, but tried his best to recover, as he was now the only parent his children had. It is believed that Mr. Wilson was not the warmest of individuals, hardened by war and lost after the death of his wife, but some say he did do the best that he could given the circumstances, while others claim he was too strict and overbearing.

And from here on out the facts about 432 Abercorn become still more confused.
Problem is: while it’s rumored the house is haunted, there is no truth to the following story about Benjamin Wilson.
According to rumors, his punishment techniques went well beyond a spanking or sending his child to their room without supper. However, It was the Post-Civil War era, when racial tension and hatred were still threatening to completely destroy the United States of America. The country had just reunited after being split in half by a gruesome and bloody war. Also, one must remember, that the United States had only been a country for less than a century, nothing compared to their counterparts in Europe.
In any case, Mr. Wilson’s daughter was seen playing with the children for the Massie School.
Apparently, nothing wrong with that.
But the children who attended Massie School were a collection of the city’s poor, mainly orphans and African-Americans students. Of course, Mr. Wilson was not pleased by his daughter’s choice of friends and disapproved of a classy young girl like his daughter playing with children from a lower class.
Upon his daughter’s arrival home, Mr. Wilson proceeded to berate her without mercy until he believed she received the message. However, the very next day, the daughter went back to the Massie School to play with her friends. It did not take long for Mr. Wilson to learn that his daughter had not heeded his warning. She needed to be taught a lesson, he thought. So, he took a chair and placed it right in front of her bedroom window, a window that overlooked the area outside of the Massie School, where the students routinely gathered to play. He then dragged his daughter to the chair, he forced her daughter to take a seat, tying her wrists and binding her ankles to the arms and legs of the chair.
There she was left to look out of the window, down on the children from Massie, as they played without her. He left his daughter tied to the chair for days, ignoring her pleas and cries for forgiveness. Apparently, she was unable to hold on and died from heat exhaustion. When Mr. Wilson finally entered her room, he noticed that she was unconscious and called out to her. Needless to say, she not respond. It wasn’t until that very moment that he realized just how wrong he was. He couldn’t believe that he had just killed his own daughter.
In the days to follow, no charges were filed against Mr. Wilson, as he was viewed as an important man in Savannah. Thus, his crime was swept under the rug by the police and went unreported in any newspapers.
However, Mr. Wilson was distraught over what he had done. It seems that the departed soul of the daughter he had left to die never crossed over to the other side, instead opting to stay in the house in which she had perished. She contentiously showed herself in apparition form to her father, with the intention of serving as a constant reminder of what he had done.
After only a week Mr. Wilson went up to his daughter’s room, his LeMat revolver gripped tight in one hand. When he entered her room, he saw it, the chair his daughter died in, still facing the window. He took a seat, he rose the revolver to his temple and pulled the trigger, taking his own life in the very same spot he’d killed his daughter’s.

As previously stated, the rumor about the Wilson family is just that, a rumor, just a way for the (countless) ghost tour companies to cash in and to have something to tell.
The truth is completely different: Benjamin Wilson did not commit suicide at 432 Abercorn. He didn’t even die in the state of Georgia.
The poor Mr. Wilson passed away peacefully in 1896, in the state of Colorado. As for his children, he did indeed have a daughter. Two, actually, and neither of them daughter died in the Abercorn house. The eldest Wilson daughter lived long passed her childhood, so long to be in her eighties! As for the other Wilson daughter, she married into one of the most affluent families in Savannah.
Oh, and according to the 1870 Census, two years after the Wilson family moved into 432 Abercorn, the whole family was alive and kicking!

Another rumor told about 432 Abercorn is set in the backdrop of the late fifties (or early sixties, depending the story you heard), when the owners of the house were a young husband and wife that lived in the house with their two daughters.
Around one holiday season, the couple invited family friends to spend vacation at their home, together with their two children, two girls as well.
During the evenings the adults would go out on the town, enjoying Savannah’s nightlife, leaving the four children alone in the home. On the last night the adults stayed out a little longer than usual.
When they finally arrived home, they discovered that three of the girls had been viciously murdered and contorted together to form a triangle, their bodies laid bloody and with their organs removed. The fourth child was later found hiding inside of a closet, frozen in fear. Some say that the current owner of the home is the same girl, and that she believes the house is cursed and that anyone who lives in it will die. It is for this reason that she lets the house sit abandoned, vowing that no one will ever occupy 432 Abercorn as long as she lives.
This story is equally as creepy as false, so much that one of the last owner seemed very annoyed with the constant touring around 432 Abercorn!
The third most popular story told about the house might just be the most absurd of all. Years ago, a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design found himself staying at the Abercorn house, when one night he disappeared, never to be seen again. Some say he was transported into another dimension by the will of demons, while another demonic rumors is that the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey, tried to buy the house for the purpose of using it as the base of operation for the east coast branch for the Church of Satan.
These stories too have been, of course, disproved.

In any case, some people have felt the negative energy that the house emits, while others have take photos of shadowy apparitions in the windows, ghostly images that apparently have convinced even the most adamant of nonbelievers that there is something inside 432 Abercorn.
What or who is may never be known, as the house is sealed in secrecy and therefore forever encompassed by rumors and more or less contested ghost stories…

Images from web – Google Research

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