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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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!