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 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 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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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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