Ushering The Dead To The Other Side

In Savannah, the ushering of the dead to the other side, isn’t always an easy process. It’s a mish-mash culturally thing of European Christian belief from settlers, Native Americans, and African descendants.

Christians make it easy. Put the dead body in the graveyard, the soul goes to heaven or hell and that’s the end of that. The living are welcome to visit the marked grave, but don’t talk to the dead. Leave them in peace.

Native Americans send the dead off on a journey which requires a departure ceremony. They’re buried with items necessary for travel; foodstuffs, hunting tools, and of course trinkets of personal value. Have a nice trip!

The Africans put the dead in unmarked graves surrounded by a fence, but no gate. This is a sacred place and once a person was buried nobody was to disturb them. No visitors allowed. (Over time, people forget where the dead are buried and this is one reason why so many graves are accidentally discovered)

Of course, as everyone knows, the dead in Savannah don’t necessarily stay dead. So to be safe people had to come up with a back-up plan.

They put Haint Blue paint on a house to keep malicious spirits out. Or they make a Spirit Tree by hanging colorful glass bottles on branches that make noise in the wind which keeps the unwanted spirits away. Rich folk could have a house built with curved corners so a spirit would come in then follow the curve out. Having Mahi Mahi fish drain spouts pour spirits off the roof, down the drain, and into the streets where they can go bother somebody else.

And, if none of this works, perhaps a good o’l housecleaning exorcism might be what’s needed. Call in a priest, a shaman or a root-doctor and if that doesn’t work, call a realtor.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Do You Think You’ve Seen A Ghost?

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘What the heck was that? Was that a ghost?’

It helps to know a little about ghost characteristics to figure things out if what you think you saw was indeed a visiting spirit from the other-side.

First possibility that it’s a ghost would be if you were in a place with a haunted history. Second would be if the image you saw was dressed in out-of-date clothing. (not an actor in period costume). Another clue would be if it does strange unusual things like walk through walls, or if an unexplained figure shows up in a photo you took, or if there’s a weird mist or an orb floating around.

If you’ve witnessed one or more of these events, then perhaps you’ve encountered a ghost.

Most ghosts reported are deceased family members. They can become visible, speak, make noises, touch you or omit an odor like cigarettes to let you know they’re there. They show up to give you comfort, provide important information or they want you to know they’re nearby.

Perhaps you’ve seen a swirling grey, black or white ecto-mist hovering about three feet off the ground. They’re usually seen in graveyards, move quickly and sometimes morph into a full-blown apparition.

Maybe you could’ve experienced a poltergeist which is a fancy name for a ‘noisy ghost’. They can knock things over, move things, throw things, turn lights off-on, and just cause a whole bunch of unwanted nonsense.

Cold spots and swirling funnels are spirits who hang around a house because, as living souls, they once lived there and don’t want to leave.

Orbs are just wayward souls traveling around who like to have their photos taken. Some even make it into videos.

If you’re confident that what you saw was a noisy, ecto-mist, cold, ghost orb that smells like grandma and goes through walls, then the next question would be ‘what the heck does it want?’

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Underground Creepy

Georgia’s first hospital opened in 1804 on Drayton Street in Savannah. It was a hospital for Seamen and a Poorhouse.

And since the old hospital is in the haunted historic district it’s naturally going to be occupied by the dead, the I-don’t-know-I’m-dead and the I-don’t-wanna-be-dead-yet.

In front of the building is the 300 year old Candler Oak draped with creepy Spanish Moss which adds to the spooky weirdness of the ancient building. There are reports of many ghostly patients wandering around and it’s not unusual for visitors to capture orbs or whispery images on cameras.

It served as a medical hospital, and a medical school. It even had a psychiatric ward. Oooooh…. could experimental lobotomies been performed there?

The most interesting thing about the old hospital is the underground morgue tunnel that goes from the hospital to beneath the lovely Forsyth Park. It’s believed the tunnel and low ceiling room was a staging area for the dead bodies waiting to be hauled off at night to the cemeteries.

Maybe illegal weird autopsies were performed in the tunnels or maybe it was just a cold place (underground) to store the dead from rotting in the Georgia heat until a burial place was dug.

Accordingly to the Savannah Morning News in an 1884 article, the reasoning behind the tunnel was to build an underground structure to replace the unsightly above ground “dead house”. Which makes perfect sense to the people in Savannah who like things all proper and nice-nice even for the dead.

The old Candler Hospital closed in 1980 and was renovated in 2014 by the Historical Society. It opened in 2017 as The Savannah Law.

Unfortunately, because of low enrollment the college is closing. Perhaps they should’ve opened the enrollment to include ghosts. After all, this is Savannah.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Haunted Poet – Conrad Aiken

Some hauntings don’t necessarily take place in a house, a graveyard, a brewery or a hotel room. Sometimes a haunting occurs within. Such was the unfortunate case of Savannah born poet, Conrad Aiken.

His father and mother moved to Savannah from “up north” and settled into a nice brick home. Dr. Aiken was a brain surgeon and his wife a popular socialite. But the Aiken house was not a happy home. Conrad’s parents fought a lot and as time went on Conrad’s father turned dark and volatile.

One night, as the eleven-year-old Conrad lay in his bed he heard his parents arguing. He heard his father count to three, followed by one gunshot, and then another. Conrad ran to his parent’s room to find them both dead. His father had killed his mother, then shot himself in the head.

Little Conrad was sent “up north” to live with family. He graduated from Harvard and eventually became an American Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, short-story writer, novelist, and a critic. But the tragedy of his youth would haunt him and his writings forever. He was fearful he’d be afflicted by the insanity that his father had succumbed to. His poems were sometimes dismal and hauntingly sorrowful.

In his later years, Conrad moved back to Savannah, and morbidly odd as it may be, he bought and lived in the house next door to the family home. He spent many days in Bonaventure Cemetery by his parent’s graves.

One day he saw a ship named Cosmos Mariner pass by. When he inquired about where the ship was going he was told “destination unknown”. He decided that would be the perfect epitaph for his own grave. Being a true Savannahian, he selected his grave stone made in to a seating bench to invite visitors to sit down and share a drink with him.

I have in fact visited Conrad Aiken’s grave in Bonaventure Cemetery. I sat upon the bench and raised a glass of wine to toast The Haunted Poet to bid him a peaceful journey home.

Because we are all Cosmos Mariners sailing among the stars to unknown destinies.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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A Grave Mistake

In Savannah Georgia there’s an old burial ground, Colonial Park Cemetery, that has over 10,000 dead buried in it, but less than 1,000 grave markers. You might think it’s a grave mistake, but not necessarily so.

The shortage of markers is because many of Savannah’s dead were buried in mass graves due to yellow fever epidemics and others were placed in family recycling tombs. It was common practice that, when pappy died, he was placed in the family vault until he rotted away, then his dusty remains were shoveled into the family urn and space was then available for the next deceased family member.

The cemetery covers 6 acres of prime historic downtown real estate. It was established in 1750 and dead folks were put there until 1853.

When General Sherman’s yankee troops came through town they used the grounds as a campsite. The soldiers had fun rearranging the grave markers and changing the birth and death dates of the dearly departed. There are date mistakes everywhere!

But in Savannah it ain’t so smart to go messing with the dead because everyone knows Savannah is haunted, especially old cemeteries! Duh!!! And naturally, Colonial Park Cemetery is a hot spot for ghostly activity.

Who haunts the old cemetery? Perhaps one of the “dueling ghosts” who got shot in the dueling grounds next door, or a yellow fevered southern belle, or maybe the 7-foot murdering beast-man, Rene Rondolier (see my blog Rene’s Playground) or maybe just the usual restless dead who will always call Savannah home.

Colonial Park Cemetery was made a park in 1896. Today visitors can walk among the dead and perhaps encounter a spirit while sitting on a park bench. It is after all Savannah, and it’s a grave mistake to think the dead stay in their graves.

Be careful where you tred… you walk upon Savannah’s dead.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Deathbed Confession

If you were to give a deathbed confession what would it be? What would you want your loved ones to know before you died and went off into the great beyond? I doubt you would tell them about the person you kilt-and-buried-for-dead in the wall of your house. Well, that’s what Honoria Foley did on her deathbed… she fessed up about murdering of one of her guests.

The Foley House Inn on Chippewa Square in Savannah Georgia was owned and operated by Honoria Foley. As the story goes she had an unwanted suitor who would not leave her alone and, much to her displeasure went so far as to book a room in her Inn. He proceeded to make inappropriate advances and snuck into her bedroom one night for a visit. She fought him off and eventually beat him in the head with a candlestick which resulted in his untimely, but seemingly necessary death.

Much to her dismay, Honoria found herself with a body to dispose of and she did what every proper southern lady would do; she called in a few “favors”.  The next day a brick mason friend came over to seal up the dead man good and tight in a wall. The murderous secret was kept a hidden until 1989 when workers, doing a bit of reconstruction, were surprised to find a skeleton in a wall at The Foley House Inn.

Hononia had no explanation for how a dead person could’ve ended up in her wall. She said she knew nothing about it and was just as surprised as everyone else. And as for who the gentleman was, she had no idea about that either.

People dismissed the matter as being just another Savannah unsolved mystery and they saw no reason to purse the matter further. It was not until Honoria died that she confessed to killing Mister Guest in the bedroom with the candlestick.

And today they say Mister Guest, having been disturbed from his resting place in the wall, haunts The Foley House Inn.  There are no records of who this ghostly guest is (Honoria left that bit of information out of her deathbed confession). The owners affectionately named him Wally. His ghostly shadow is a harmless presence and he doesn’t seem to have any ill feelings towards Hononia for killing him. Perhaps it’s because she made a sincere confession on her deathbed, or perhaps it’s because none of this is true and somebody just said that Hononia confessed, although that somebody didn’t hear it all personal from the source, but heard it from somebody who knew somebody who heard it from somebody who told them that’s just the way it happened.

A deathbed confession. True or false? Ask the dead.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Willink House

Henry Willink built his little house south of Oglethorpe Avenue at the corner of Price and Perry Streets sometime around 1845 or maybe it was built in 1851 when he returned from New York having learned more about the ship building business. (He built the C.S.S. Georgia Ironclad for the Confederate Navy and The Ladies’ Gunboat Association thought it was too ugly so he had to build a second one, which was just as monstrous, heavy, stinky and it leaked. The Confederates sunk it themselves in 1864).

His shipyard business and his life was going pretty well until a fateful day when he invited his wife to join him at the shipyard. Poor Mrs. Willink tripped, went over a ship’s rail, and drowned. She couldn’t swim and her heavy skirts dragged her down.

Needless to say, Henry was quite upset that he couldn’t save her, and spent much of his time at the shipyard to forget the tragedy… until another fateful day when he saw his wife’s ghost standing on a ship’s deck. He was so stunned to see her that he tripped, went over the ship’s rail and fell into the Savannah River. He didn’t drown, but was saved and went home safe. He was so mad at her for frightening him that he slammed the front door on his way inside.

And so… now the ghost of Henry Willink opens the front door and closes it with a loud bang just to make a statement, but for some strange reason he can’t get out of the little house he shared with his dearly departed wife.

The house was also rumored to have been used as a school for African American children where they were taught secretly by a white school teacher. She would reward the children for doing their school lesson by bribing them with candy treats. It is said now the living encounter a ghostly Candyland as sugar treats are randomly found in the house and the house smells of sweet spirits.

The house was moved to 426 E. St. Julian Street and is privately owned. If you take a walk by perhaps you will find a candy treat or get a door slammed shut in your face. Will you get a trick or a treat? It must be Halloween at the Willink House all year long. Trick-or-Treat!