The ghosts of Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah
Savannah is the home to some of the richest history in America. It is the oldest city in Georgia and it’s past is full of tangled and tragic events: bearing witness to both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the Southern city has seen in fact its fair share of death and catastrophe.
The city of Savannah itself is a stunning place to take in, with cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture that are like no other location in America.
The cemeteries across this coastal city have an abundance of reported spiritual happenings. However, few of these burial grounds have more history and bone-chilling stories than the Colonial Park Cemetery in downtown Savannah, but this is another story.
In any case, when Savannah’s Colonial Park Cemetery itself, the Old Jewish Cemetery, Potter’s Field, and the Old Negro Cemetery reached max capacity in the late 1840s, it was time to establish a new primary burial ground for local dead. Laurel Grove Cemetery, named after the native laurel oak trees which once inhabited the site, was the answer, and it became the main cemetery until the end of the Victorian period.
Although planned as early as 1818, Laurel Grove first opened for burials in 1853.
It includes the original cemetery for whites, now known as Laurel Grove North, and a companion burial ground, called Laurel Grove South, that was reserved for slaves and free people of color and holds the graves of thousands of slaves and free blacks from coastal Georgia.
A walk through Laurel Grove will remind you just how separate life was back in the Civil War era and even beyond. In fact there are two separate entrances and the distinction between elaborately carved figures and headstones and simple grave markers is quite evident. Both sections of the cemetery were added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), in 1983 and in 1978 respectively.
Among the famous laid to rest here are Girl Scouts Founder Juliette Gordon Low, 24 different Savannah Mayors, a US Supreme Court Justice as well as more than 1,500 confederate soldiers killed in the civil war.
But it is the ghosts that lure in visitors, including the sightings of a woman dressed in a wedding gown wandering about and the sounds of heavy footsteps when no one was in sight.
There’s also the ghost story that dates back all the way to 1894 when a trolley line that traveled past the cemetery reported that every time the railway car passed the cemetery, passengers and not only would hear the sound of a child crying. The crying continued for many years, every day and only in car #28.
The workers on board reported that although the sounds were pitiful and spooky, after a while they got used to it. Despite no one ever saw a child inside the vehicle….
Author’s notes: Laurel Grove is open every day of the week and is free. While there, keep watch for the spirits which may haunt your every step or, maybe even those who use the cemetery to practice witchcraft and Voodoo rites. And don’t say that we didn’t warn you!
Images from web – Google Research & Wikimedia Commons