Savannah, Georgia is known as one of the most haunted cities in America, and Bonaventure Cemetery is known as one of the most haunted sites within Savannah! Despite the rumored hauntings, Bonaventure is also one of the most picturesque cemeteries in the US. This eerily beautiful Southern Gothic cemetery has been around since the 1800s. It is filled with rows of weathered gravestones resting under 250-year-old live oaks draped with Spanish moss.
It is rumored that people have been buried alive at Bonaventure Cemetery
Before modern technology such as heart monitors, sometimes people in comas with a low pulse rate were mistakenly buried alive. Although it was a rare occurrence, there is proof that this did happen on occasion. As evidence, they have found scratch marks inside of caskets when bodies have been exhumed or ransacked by grave robbers. In order to prevent this from happening, a string would be tied to the finger of the deceased and attached to a bell next to the grave, which is where the phrase “saved by the bell” came from.
The grave of Gracie, the six-year-old ghost, is found here
One of the most famous residents of Bonaventure Cemetery is Gracie Watson, the sweet 6-year-old that supposedly haunts the Regions Bank. Gracie’s parents managed the prestigious Pulaski hotel in Savannah where Gracie was beloved by all the guests. She was known to sing, giggle, smile, dance, and play around the hotel at the delight of its patrons. However, in 1889 when Gracie was only six years old, she fell ill with a fatal case of pneumonia and died just days before Easter. Her parents were utterly distraught and commissioned the famed sculptor, John Waltz, to carve a statue with her exact likeness even down to her favorite dress.
After Gracie’s passing, her mother and other hotel staff claimed to have heard her laughter and singing echoing throughout the halls of the hotel and under the back stairs where she loved to play. The Pulaski Hotel was eventually demolished with a cafe being built in its place. The cafe has since been converted to the Regions Bank on Johnson Square where patrons and workers claim to still hear her laughter. Rumor has it that she plays pranks on unsuspecting people, like pulling makeup out of women’s purses. Some have even seen the apparition of a young girl in 1880s attire wandering around the bank and other locations around Savannah. It is also said that if you take any of the gifts left at her grave then her statue will cry tears of blood.
Bonaventure Cemetery plays a starring role in the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
The burial grounds have seen a dramatic increase in tourists since the release of the bestselling novel and subsequent movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The cover of the book features a statue known as Bird Girl that once resided in the cemetery. After fans of the book incessantly trampled the family plot to snap a photo of the statue, the family decided to donate Bird Girl to Savannah’s Telfair Academy Museum where it is safely on display. The statue is not the only tie that the cemetery has to the book.
In the book, the voodoo priestess Minerva routinely performed spells over Danny Hansford’s grave at Bonaventure Cemetery to vindicate Jim Williams of his murder. Discover the truth of a rumored ill-fated love story ending in suicide. One of the most controversial stories is in relation to Corinne Elliott Lawton. Many like to believe the Romeo and Juliet-esque version as it makes for a better story. Legend has it that Corinne was in love with a young man that was below her family’s social standards. Her parents did not approve and forced her into an arranged marriage.
On the eve of her wedding day, instead of living a life without her true love she threw herself into the Wilmington River and drowned. However, published accounts from her mother’s diary tell a different story. She writes that Corinne succumbed to a bout of Yellow Fever after being sick for 10 days and died in her bed while surrounded by family. Many also believe that the statue that was erected in her likeness is wearing shoes which symbolizes that Corinne is not walking with Jesus.
The ash remains of 344 Holocaust victims can be found at Bonaventure Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery within Bonaventure is a beautiful area to visit. There are a few things worth noting in this portion of the cemetery. You’ll notice that many of the headstones are engraved with the picture of two hands touching at thumbs with their middle fingers split in a “V”. If it looks similar to the “live long and prosper” gesture that Mr. Spock used on Star Trek, that is because it is the same gesture. Leonard Nimoy, the actor playing Mr. Spock, is Jewish. He adopted the symbol from the Jewish priests who make this gesture at the end of services in Orthodox synagogues as a traditional Jewish blessing.