The Ghosts of Tin City Savannah

You can look for the location of Tin City on a map of Savannah, but you won’t find it. Like the ghosts that haunted it, the whole place just up and disappeared.

Tin City used to be east of Savannah nestled in overgrown grassland and abandoned rice fields. It was established in 1929 by an impoverished African-American man, Louis Ellis, who was granted permission to settle there. He built a home with discarded tin and scrap metal. He made a little garden for growing his own foods. Soon other African Americans joined him and they also built homes constructed of tin and junk metals. Soon Tin City became a little self-sufficient community and they even had a Mayor to represent them.

And of course they had a few ghosts

The Mayor, Nathaniel Lewis, had a short creepy annoying ghost that waited at his gate. If he talked to the spirit it would attack him, but if he ignored the spirit it wouldn’t do him harm. Naturally the Mayor pretended the ghost wasn’t there… but it was.

There were three ghosts that stood watch over what everyone believed was buried pirate treasure. The community made an attempt to dig up the gold, but just when they saw it at the bottom of the pit, the treasure fell deeper and out of reach. The three ghosts laughed and howled. Nobody went treasure hunting after that.

And of course Tin City had the usual dead folk who float around a few feet off the ground and don’t do much of anything at all. Except maybe when they fly in on a whirlwind and cause all sorts of trouble.

Tin City is gone, but what about the ghosts? Are they still there? Have they moved into Savannah and taken up residence in better accommodations?

Who knows what happens to places and people when they’re forgotten. Perhaps they linger on… waiting to be remembered.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Sherman’s Christmas Gift

As the holiday approaches some people have a long Christmas List to fill, and in 1864 General Sherman had one special person at the top of his list; President Lincoln. And the gift he gave was the city of Savannah Georgia.

After General Sherman and his Yankee troops burned Atlanta, he decided to “make Georgia howl” for their impudence and attacked the south’s civilian population. From November 15th to December 21st General Sherman embarked on his historic “March to the Sea” and led 60,000 troops 285 miles from Atlanta to Savannah. His goal was to make southerners give up their cause and to bring a swift end to the war. The northern troops burned, stole, raped and pillaged across Georgia, but nobody was howling. They we’re just really really mad.

When he reached Savannah 10,000 rebel troops flooded the rice fields so the approaching enemy could only come into town one way and that one way was heavily fortified.

But there was no battle and the reason for that gets a bit “fuzzy”. Some say General Sherman was charmed by Savannah’s beauty and could not destroy it. Others say the mayor cut a deal to surrender supplies and the city if the good citizens and their possessions would be safe. Most people believe Sherman realized the importance of Savannah as a seaport and it was in the north’s best interest to keep it intact.

And so, after six weeks of being “gone”, General Sherman sent a telegram to President Lincoln that read “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” The fall of Savannah was given a 300-gun salute Washington DC in celebration.

While in Savannah General Sherman was cordially welcomed to stay at the Green-Meridan house. He was wined and dined with Savannah elegance. His soldiers, who’d camped out in the Old Colonial Cemetery, had a bit of fun changing the birth and death dates on old tombstones. Some people lived to be a thousand years or died before they were born. In true Savannah politeness all was forgiven. (boys will be boys, no matter if they be Yankee or Rebs)

When Savannah General Sherman left Savannah, just to give everyone a scare, he led his army around South Carolina. The residents of Charleston thought he’d burn their town, but he didn’t go there because, like today, it wasn’t on the way to Richmond. He eventually went to Columbia and marched up to Richmond. General Lee surrendered in April 1865 and that was the end of that.

There haven’t been any reports of General Sherman’s ghost haunting Savannah, and the only howling done in Georgia is heard at a UGA game by the Bulldogs.

Merry Christmas!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Shrimp Factory

The Shrimp Factory on River Street in Savannah is the-place-to-go for some delicious local seafood. Today it’s decorated with coastal art displayed on old Savannah brick walls, but in 1823 it was a cotton warehouse.

The story goes that slaves worked all day in poor conditions pushing and hauling bales of cotton from the warehouse to shipping vessels. It’s understandable that perhaps a few might’ve died in the building and their spirits might be haunting The Shrimp Factory. Muted voices and rattling chains and unexplainable sounds are often heard on the top floor (where the slaves were kept) and when investigated nobody is there.

During the summer the staircase leading to the storage room is hot, but sometimes in the evening, about halfway up the stairs there is a blast of cold air.

Some employees believe the cold spot is the ghost of a former employee named Joe. Although Joe was in good health, for some unknown reason he dropped dead on the staircase in August 1977. Joe also likes to hang out in the liquor storage room and, upon occasion has been known to knock over a few bottles of rum. He’s also been thought to be the mischievous culprit responsible for flickering lights and shutting down of all things electrical.

So if your in the mood for some popcorn shrimp, oysters on the half shell and want to enjoy watching the ships go up and down The Savannah River, then this might be a good place to go for dinner.

And if the ghost sitting at the next table asks for the hot sauce, please have some respect for the dead and pass it on over. It’s the polite Savannah thing to do.

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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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!

The Eliza Thompson House

The first house on Jones Street in Savannah was built in 1847 by the wealthy cotton merchant, Joseph Thompson and his wife Eliza. Joseph died soon after the 13 room mansion and 12 room carriage house was built. Eliza was left with a big house and seven kids, which would seem like a Nightmare on Jones Street.

But in true southern woman style Eliza took care of the estate, raised her family and even threw a grand o’l Savannah party or two.

Eliza Thompson died and her family eventually sold the house. It was occupied by other families and even a few businesses. Now it is the elegant haunted B&B Eliza Thompson House.

Who haunts this place? A soldier, a lady, a kid and a cat.

Eliza’s son, James Thompson fought in the American civil war. He survived the war to come home, but had the misfortune to be standing in front of the house when he was kicked in the stomach by a horse. He died of course.

It is believed James Thompson is the ghost who haunts room 132. He’s often seen dressed in his confederate officer uniform. And odd as it may be, only the top half of his ghostly shape can be seen seated on the couch or at the window overlooking the courtyard.

There is also a spirit woman dressed in white who wanders around the house. White apparently is the preferred dress color for spirit women to wear for haunting because most of them appear in white.

Visitors say they’ve felt the presence of a giggling ghost child who stands at the foot of beds. There is no explanation for that, but kids do the strangest things.

And there are reports of a ghost cat because, if The Davenport House has a ghost cat, then Eliza Thompson can’t be outdone and her house needs a ghost cat too.

The Eliza Thompson House was featured in The South Magazine’s Savannah Paranormal Investigation and got a 4.5 out of 5 on the Fright-o-meter.

Oh nooooooo! The ghosts have been certified! Beware if you spend the night there, or you might experience a Nightmare on Jones Street!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Savannah Cotton Exchange

The original Savannah Cotton Exchange was built 1872, but the structure has been added too and renovated a few times so who knows who was doing what, when and why. The current two-story building is a combo construction of ballast stonework on the lower River Street level and brick on upper Bay Street level. In the olden days the ships unloaded the shipped merchandise from the river and moved it to Factor’s Walk where factors (buyers) made purchases at the exchange.

The Savannah Cotton Exchange was a symbol of importance of the cotton industry in Savannah and was originally called King Cotton’s Palace and by 1880 the area was known as the Wall Street of the South. In the 1920’s the boll weevil did some weevil-evil-cotton-eating devastation to the cotton industry and the old exchange closed.

Today the building serves the tourist industry with retail stores, antique shops and a tavern. The living people enjoy shopping, dining and drinking in the Cotton Exchange, but the dead folks also seem to like hanging around.

Renovations were done after a fire in the building and it sort of stirred up some ghostly trouble. Now people hear footsteps when no one is there and the sounds of crying babies. In the tavern there are reports of flying bread loaves, deadly ice-cream scoopers, unexplainable falling objects and the volume on the radio randomly changes.

A ghostly woman in a long white dress has been seen descending the staircase and another ghost is thought to be Oompah, an old clockmaker who liked to visit the tavern for his morning coffee. The strong smell of coffee sometimes fills the tavern before anyone has turned on the pot.

On Bay Street the impressive old Savannah Cotton Exchange has a beautiful red terra cotta winged lion fountain in front surrounded by a fence with medallions of poets and presidents.

The original terra cotta lion, which dated to 1890, was shattered by a car that sped north on Drayton Street, jumped the curb at Bay Street, knocked down a section of wrought-iron fencing, obliterated the winged lion, snapped a lamppost in half, soared over a pedestrian walkway and came to a grinding halt at the front steps of the Savannah Cotton Exchange.

The most amazing part of the accident was that the driver was a native Savannahian, not a tourist and nobody died, which was fortunate otherwise there might be more ghosts haunting the old Savannah Cotton Exchange.

 

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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