Haint Blue

 

“Haints” are what some folks in the low country of southeast Georgia call “spirits”. Haint Blue is the paint color some superstitious folks put on their house’s porch ceilings, shutters and doors to keep unwanted ghostly visitors from entering their homes.

The history of the paint color comes from the Gullah people who were brought to the area as slaves. They believed haints could not cross water and they decorated their houses with blue paint to protect themselves.

The paint was a mixture of purple dye from the native indigo plant, lime, clay and water. The indigo plant is poisonous and lime is an insect repellent. With such a toxic combination painted on a home there were definitely dead bugs on the outside.

Visible evidence of the dead on the outside and nothing dead inside reinforced the belief that the dead could not cross the water represented by the Haint Blue paint.

Haint Blue paint can be seen on homes all along the Southeast coast and it does give a pleasant cool appearance to a house. Although the toxic ingredients are no longer included in the mix, one can only hope the ghost protection can still be applied with a touch of voodoo magic on the brush.

My book, Wicked Haints, is about what happened in Savannah when Haint Blue paint is removed from a house and troublesome ghost come in. It’s a quick fun read and guaranteed to make everyone laugh…. even the dead!
Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Hampton-Lillibridge House

If a house had the legend to have a suicidal sailor, a creepy burial crypt in the basement and a shadow man wandering the hallways (who was perhaps the workman who got his head smashed in the attic), then it must be the most haunted house in Savannah, The Hampton-Lillibridge House, and the perfect place for a Paranormal Freak Out!

The Hampton-Lillibridge House was originally built in 1996 on Reynolds Square by Rhode Islander, Hampton Lillibridge. When Hampton Lillibridge died his wife sold the house and it continued to be bought and sold a number of times. When it was a boardinghouse rumor has it a sailor hung himself on the third story. (Believe it or not)

The house remained vacant for awhile until 1963 when it was purchased by Jim Williams. Yes, the very same Jim Williams from The Book (Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil). Williams purchased the house and, the house next door, with the intent to move them to Washington Square and restore them. However, a laborer was crushed to death during the move of the second house and that freaked everyone out.

And then everyone freaked out even more when, during the relocation, they unearthed an ancient crypt under the house. (Some say it was empty and some say human bones were found). Since Savannah is city built upon its dead, and everybody in town knows its best to leave the dead alone, they naturally quickly reburied the tomb.

But some believe the digging up the dead is what started the paranormal activity in The Hampton-Lillibridge House because soon after, workers’ tools began to disappear or were moved to a different location. Mocking laughter and the sounds of footsteps were heard. Neighbors reported seeing shadowy figures in the windows dancing or walking aimlessly around. They heard eerie music, unearthly singing, creepy laughter, and sometimes they heard a woman screaming. Often the lights would turn on and off randomly when no one was home.

In 1963 Jim Williams, freaked out when he saw a shadow man go up the stairs and then disappear through a locked door. He decided to call in the big Ghost-Buster guns and invited an Episcopal Bishop to conduct an exorcism. Unfortunately, when Savannah’s dead folks are having a good time haunting an old house in the Historic District, it will take more than a sprinkle of holy water move them over to the otherside. The exorcism didn’t work and they say there is still paranormal activity going on.

That’s to say everyone says there is freaky weird ghostly activity going on in The Hampton-Lillibridge House, except the current owners who say they haven’t heard or seen anything freaky weird. And that “no trespassing” sign at 507 East Saint Julian Street on Washington Square is for the living to stay away, not the dead.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Kehoe House

The Kehoe House on Columbia Square in Savannah Georgia is a huge, four story, 1892 Victorian Renaissance Revival mansion. It’s most distinctive and unique feature is the “exclusive” use of cast iron for the exterior trim. And the other unique feature is the legend that it’s haunted by Kehoe’s twin boys that got stuck in a chimney and died.

A visit to the Kehoe House will show that all the chimneys are sealed up and little statue angels watch guard over the fireplaces just so nobody else gets sucked up into ghost smoke.

How could this have happened? Or a better question would be… Did it happen ?

Here’s a bit of history:

William Kehoe came from Ireland and grew up poor but apprenticed as an iron molder. He worked his way up the ladder of success until he owned his own Iron Foundry; Kehoe Iron Works.

He married the love of his life, Annie. He built a big house on Columbia Square and they settled into a happy family life. They had ten children, but two of their children; Anna Louise Kehoe (4 years) and Mary Elizabeth Kehoe (almost 2 years old) died from the childhood disease roseola, within days of each other. They were buried in Bonaventure and not stuffed up a chimney, but some believe the spirits of the two girls (because they look similar with blonde hair and blue eyes) are misidentified as being the twins who haunt the house.

The little girls are playful friendly spirits and appear at the end of beds giggling, whispering to each other, and are heard running up and down the hallways.

But it’s not just Anna Louise and Mary Elizabeth who’s spirits remain in the house. It seems mom and dad are also regular apparitions.

William Kehoe’s presence is sometimes detected up in the study in the home’s room with a cupola. During the evening hours, an unexplained light is sometimes seen in this unused room. Mrs. Anne Kehoe is known as the Lady in White seen mostly on the second floor. She is spotted writing at a desk in room 203 or floating around in room 201.

The Kehoe family sold the home in 1930. After this it was used as a funeral home and the downstairs front parlors, and the second story bedrooms were turned into viewing rooms. The basement was converted into embalming, prep, and cold storage for the dead. They say, if the deceased were too long for the coffin, the staff would cut the lower limbs off and when the place was renovated in the 1990s, they found hundreds of sawed-off feet. Of course it’s not true, but it makes for a creepy diabolical Savannah story that everyone loves to hear and tell.

In 1980 The Kehoe House became a private residence for quarterback Joe Namath (who, God forbid, was going to turn it into a nightclub). He sold it and in 1990 it opened as a Bed and Breakfast.

The William Kehoe House was built for a large family, (apparently a ghost family) and now it provides 13 rooms for guests. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and on one of the top ten haunted hotels to visit before you get stuck in a chimney and die list.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The General’s Daughter

Located in Savannah Georgia at 432 Abercorn on the east side of Calhoun Square is a big o’l creepy southern mansion rumored to be inhabited by multiple ghosts.

Reports include ghostly figures, strange sounds, children’s laughter and sightings of a little girl in a white dress tied to a chair looking out the window. Other restless spirits include a trio of sisters from Florida who were reportedly murdered in 1959 while visiting with their family.

The house was built in 1868 for Civil War veteran General Wilson. His wife died of yellow fever and he raised his two daughters alone. One was a good child and the other was not so good. The bad daughter wanted to play with the poor kids at Massey School across the street. As the legend goes, General Wilson did not like his daughter associating with the “lower class”. For punishment he tied his daughter to a chair and she sat for days facing the window, watching the children play, but not permitted to join them. After a couple days baking like a hot sweet potato in the blistering Georgia sun with no water, she died from dehydration. Her father, upset with his bad parenting supposedly killed himself in the house.

Apparently, as a ghost child, she’s still sitting there waiting for revenge, freedom or perhaps a glass of water. And Dad is wandering around feeling sorry about the whole extreme punishment torture thing.

Unfortunately that’s not quite what happened because records indicate that General Wilson died in Colorado in 1896. Both daughters, the good and the bad, grew into adulthood, got married, moved away and lived happily ever after.

As to the supposed triple homicide of Florida tourists, in the late fifties or early sixties, there’s no solid information on that either.

But typical of Savannah (the city built upon its dead) the house at 432 Abercorn is built on top of not one, but two overlapping cemeteries. So, perhaps there are restless spirits in the creepy big o’l southern mansion on Calhoun Square looking for the stairway to heaven.

 

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Fort Pulaski’s Dead

Fort Pulaski was built in 1847 east of Savannah on Cockspur Island where it guards the mouth of the Savannah River. Some people believe it’s haunted by soldiers who died at the fort. Entities of Union and Confederate soldiers have been seen in and outside the walls. Perhaps they’ve decided to reenlist in the afterlife.

An unseen presence is often felt standing near the living, calling a person’s name. Feelings of sickness, fear, despair and misery overcome ‘sensitive’ people. Visitors have reported hearing odd footsteps in a stairwell, strange unexplainable sounds, and the disembodied sound of a little girl crying. There seems to be an unusually large amount of spooky orbs captured by cameras.

Fort Pulaski must’ve been a government oversight because it wasn’t really equipped as a serious fort and, at the start of the American Civil War it was easy-peasy for the Confederates to take it over. They held for over a year until Union forces snuck over to Tybee Island and bombed the crap out of the fort with cannons and mortars.

After 30 hours of bombardment, the Rebels surrendered and the Yankees held the fort for the remainder of the war.

In 1864, 592 of the original Confederate prisoners from Fort Delaware, known as the ‘Immortal 600’ who became political pawns in the Battle of Charleston, arrived at Fort Pulaski, where they suffered in retaliation for the South’s poor treatment of Union prisoners.

After the Civil War, Fort Pulaski, was abandoned and forgotten until 1906 when it became a National Monument. Cemetery sections were found for many of the Confederate and Union soldiers, but just because the men were buried, doesn’t necessarily mean they were sleeping peacefully in their graves.

One of the most documented accounts of the fort being haunted happened in the 1980s during the filming of Glory. A group of Confederate soldier extras, dressed in their uniforms, were surprised when a Confederate lieutenant officer reprimanded them for not saluting him. He ordered them to fall into line because a Union attack could happen at any time. They humored him and followed his orders to get in line, but when the officer gave the order to face about, he vanished!!

Yep, that’s what they say; he just faded away like cannon smoke on the battlefield. He’s an officer of the dead and y’all visitors might want to be careful when wandering about the parade grounds or you might just get recruited into the army of the afterlife.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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At the pub on 21 West Bay Street in Savannah you can get some Boo! With Your Brew at Moon River Brewing Company where a ghostly crew is mixing a paranormal brew.

There’s a shadow ghost child named Toby who likes to steal billiard balls and play tricks. Women in 19th-century clothing walk the stairwells, a Union officer wanders the hallways, and the third floor is haunted by a phantom lady dressed in a white gown.

The building was constructed in 1821 by Elazer Early to be the city’s first hotel, understandably named; City Hotel. In 1851, Peter Wiltberger bought it and put a live lion and lioness on display to draw attention to his business, or perhaps to eat unruly guests. During Yellow Fever Epidemics the top floors were used as hospital space. In 1864 the City Hotel closed when everyone went to fight the Yankees. Later the building was used as a coal warehouse and an office supply store until Hurricane David blew the roof off in 1979 then it remained empty for 16 years.

16 years is plenty of time for the ghosts to settle in and make themselves at home.

The Oglethorpe Brewery took over and began major renovations, but the presence of restless spirits made them run away without finishing the job. The current owners of Moon River Brewery don’t seem bothered by bottles flying off shelves, silverware sliding off dining room tables, and shadowy figures roaming the restaurant. In 2009, Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures visited and recorded weird footsteps, peculiar knocking, scary dragging sounds, and creepy disembodied voices.

Some believe it’s the violent history of the building that attracts paranormal activity. In 1832 Dr. Minus shot James Stark who was in the City Hotel drinking and spewing nasty remarks against him. The good doctor was acquitted of all charges because every town needs a good doctor more than a loudmouth drunk. In 1860, Mr. James Sinclair from New York City, came for work, but locals didn’t react kindly a Yankee taking their jobs. They politely asked Sinclair to leave, but when he refused, he was dragged out of the City Hotel and almost killed. There is after all a limit to Southern Hospitality.

Perhaps the evils of the past create a dark place for a demonic entity in the basement to linger in the shadows. Maybe bad vibes opened a door for a hostile spirit who likes to push people down stairs. Or maybe there are ghostly guests of the old City Hotel who just want have a glass of Moon River Brew because it’s deliciously evil.

I’ve dined in Moon River Brewery and drank the tasty brew myself. I highly recommend the Beer Sampler. I’ve never encountered a spirit sipping a drink at the bar or had a billiard ball tossed at my head, but there’s definitely a disturbing ambience that makes me glance over my shoulder from time to time. Because, in Savannah, ya just never know if you’ll be served some Boo! With Your Brew that makes you do something embarrassingly stupid that’ll haunt you the rest of your life.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Every southern town needs an evil ghoul roaming the back alley’s stalking innocent children and Savannah has a doozie of a demon known as Rene Asche Rondolier

In the 1800’s he hung out in the dark catacombs of the Old Colonial Cemetery and wandered around the crypts and burial plots. He was over seven feet tall, hairy, mute, stupid and very strong. It was rumored he killed small animals and had a collection of rotting bones hidden in his secret lair. The cemetery was Rene’s Playground.

Because of his oddities people feared him and the good folks of Savannah required his parents to build an 8 foot stone retaining wall around their property to keep him confined.

Rene was kept under constant guard until one night he was left unattended and escaped. When two young girls were discovered dead in the cemetery everyone thought he was the murderer. An angry mob hunted him down, trapped him in his underground playground, dragged him out and lynched him. He was such a big bad demon that he hung there kicking and moaning for quite some time before he died.

Rene was kilt-and-buried-for-dead in his parent’s backyard, and when two more young girls and a woman were found dead in the cemetery everyone knew it was Rene’s ghost prowling the streets of Savannah. It was said more killings continued after his lynching into 1821. Rene was a very busy ghost.

In the early 1900’s a workman discovered Rene’s backyard grave and it was empty. It was believed the body had been moved to an unmarked grave somewhere on Hutchinson Island, just across the Savannah River. During construction of the Westin Resort skeletal remains of a human over 7 feet tall were found in an unmarked grave. The remains were undisturbed, covered over, and the hotel’s foundation was built over the gravesite. As everyone knows in Savannah, it’s best to let the dead rest in peace.

It’s thought Rene’s spirit still haunts the catacombs and grounds of the Old Colonial Park Cemetery and the shadow of his body can sometimes be seen hanging from a tree. The Cemetery will always be known as Rene’s Playground, but it is advisable that no children go playing there least they be murdered and buried for dead with the dead.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Bo-Cat at Hell’s Gate

 

It was a fateful Friday the 13th in 1932 when Bo-Cat (Limerick De Lancy) argued with his wife Catherine over the deed to their house in Pin Point in Savannah’s usually peaceful Southside.

Bo-Cat’s temper flared and he smacked Catherine over the head until she was good ‘n dead. He needed to cover up the murder and dragged her lifeless body into his boat and headed out to Hell’s Gate to dispose of her corpse.

Hell’s Gate, is situated off the treacherous waters of the Ogeechee River, and is known for fast moving currents, hidden sandbars and deep water holes. It is a stressful and difficult area to navigate a boat, but Bo-Cat figured it would be the perfect place to sink down a dead body.

He left the Pin Point neighborhood on Moon River, went past Pigeon Island, Burnside Island and down the Vernon River until he reached Green Island Sound. In the darkness of the night, just off Little Don Island and Raccoon Key Bo-Cat entered Hell’s Gate and proceeded to dump Katherine into a deep 38 foot fishing hole. He loaded her down with an anchor, a cement block and an assortment of household objects, and then pitched her overboard.

That seemed to cover up the murder of his wife, but Bo-Cat was about to learn that he shouldn’t go knocking on the devil’s door at Hell’s Gate.

After about two week Catherine’s friends began to wonder what had happened to her. They asked Bo-Cat and he just shrugged his shoulders. He said he didn’t know where she’d gone. But then two hunters came across decomposed human remains on Raccoon Key and the devil was about to get his due.

Catherine’s body had floated up from the deep water hole in Hell’s Gate, drifted 20 miles south in the currents and got stuck between two logs. Her corpse had been an easy meal for crabs, fish and buzzards and there wasn’t much left of her. Catherine’s sister was only able to identify the right foot of her poor dead sister. Bo-Cat confessed to the horrible crime and was hauled off to jail where he spent the rest of his life.

They say Catherine’s ghost haunts Hell’s Gate where Bo-Cat laid her down into a watery grave. And they say, on a starless night, off Georgia’s coastal waters, on Friday the 13th, sometimes boaters and fishermen hear the mournful cry of a dead woman saying… “It’s a shame how Bo-Cat done his wife….It’s a shame how Bo-Cat done me wrong.”

Savannah – True Crime

The Gribble House Ax Murders

Every town needs a gruesome gory ax murder and Savannah, not to be out done by any other town, had a Triple Ax Murder!

The diabolical crime was committed on December 9, 1909 at a Mrs. Gribble’s shabby cheap rundown boarding house on West Perry Street.

Carrie Ohlander, a 36 year old deaf lady, lay in the hall; her bloody head crushed and her throat cut. Eliza Gribble, 76, Ohlander’s crippled mother, was found dead with a smashed skull in a back bedroom. Maggie Hunter, 35, had a busted skull, but was still alive and lying at the front door in a pool of blood. She died three days later.

A bloody ax, found in the house, was believed to be the murder weapon. The crime happened at 2:00 in the afternoon on a busy street and, odd as it was, there were no witnesses. There was no sign of a struggle.

How could this horrendous crime happen without anyone seeing or hearing anything? Was it a robbery-gone-wrong or was it a revenge killing? No matter what it was, it was murder and mayhem in true Savannah style.

Police stomped all around the crime scene, so did attorneys, reporters and morbid curiosity seekers. Everybody and anybody was welcomed in to see the dead and give their assessment of the fiendish assaults. Evidence was compromised. Gossip, hearsay, and suspicious behavior was reason enough to haul somebody off to jail. They let lose the Bloodhounds, a $1,000 reward was posted and anybody with a bloody ax was suspect. (I guess they forgot the murder weapon was left at the crime scene)

There wasn’t very many bloody ax welding killers around and eventually the suspects narrowed down to three. 1) Maggie Hunter’s third x-husband JC Hunter from Guyton who turned out to really be David Tayler; a horse thief, a bigamist and an x-convict. 2) William Walls, a family friend and a possible lover of Maggie. 3) John Coker. A cocaine addict neighbor said John Coker did it, but it was discovered she lied and wanted the reward money to buy herself two gold teeth and a diamond ring.

All three men denied the killings.

On her deathbed Maggie told Reverend John S. Wilder who the real murderer was, but he never divulged that information and nobody asked.

Matters got more complicated and weird when rumors spread that Maggie Hunter had a premonition about her pending demise. The morning of the murders she told a friend that ‘Bloody work would be done.’ And when an insurance salesman tried to sell her an insurance policy for JC she told him, ‘I won’t live long enough to collect’.

Apparently in Savannah a death premonition is evidence enough for a conviction. It was decided the crime was not a botched robbery, but a sinister premeditated murder by Maggie’s vengeful x-husband.

JC Hunter was sentenced to death by hanging. He went to prison, but wasn’t hanged and instead spent his time working as a waiter in the Confederate Veterans’ Home. In 1923 he was pardoned and returned to Savannah as a free man.

After the murder and mayhem, the boarding house opened again. But typical of Savannah’s restless dead folks, they just wouldn’t stay dead. Living persons who rented rooms in The Gribble House said blood stains reappeared on the walls where the three women were killed and misty apparitions wandered the halls.

The Gribble House was demolished in 1941. The lot is now a car barn for Old Town Trolley Tours and they say the portion built over the scene of the triple bloody ax murders is haunted.

This is a True Crime Story and I didn’t have to make any of it up because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction; especially in Savannah.

Fish Karma

BlogArtFishKarmaI was doing my power-walk around the neighborhood. I was fashionably attired in my stretchy pants, scrunchy top, florescent headband, moisture absorbent socks, and impact power sneakers. I had my iPod velcroed to my upper-arm, ear buds jammed into my ears, and I listened to a motivational power audio book.

I was power walking, power thinking and doing everything in power time. I was full of power!

I reached the lagoon at the mid-point of my workout that I designated my power break. I stretched my legs, flexed my arms, rolled my shoulders, and I was about to arch my back when, only two feet away, a fish flew out of the water and landed on the rocks by the lagoon.

I stopped my power everything and stared in amazement at the little colorful tropical fish. It was absolutely beautiful! It flopped around trying to find water and then, having lost the battle, it lay still gasping for life with little fish lips.

I removed my ear buds and stepped closer to the edge of the lagoon for a better look. My assessment of the dire situation was: this fish would die. It did not have the strength to return to the lagoon. The hot Georgia sun would soon bake it as crispy as potato chip. Or a bird would swoop down and gobble it up. The only way this fish would survive would be by intervention.

There was no doubt in my mind what I had to do; save the fish.

I removed my power sneakers and my moisture absorbent socks. I climbed easily down the rocky embankment and gently scooped up the brightly colored fish. I admired it in my hand for only a moment before I carefully placed it in the water. “Go back where you belong little fishie,” I said.

I guess I expected a gratitude smile bubble or at least a goodbye flip of its tail, but it darted off quickly and disappeared. I did not really need a thank you. I was content and happy knowing I did the right thing.

As I continued with my power walk my steps slowed to a casual walk and I pondered the true essence of fish karma. I had been in the right place at the right time to make a difference and although my action seemed simple to me, it had made a huge difference to another’s life.

Good fish karma is the ripple effect of doing something small, but the outcome is enormous. Take time to make a difference in the world.