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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Marshall House Bones

The Marshall House, built in 1851, is a stylish hotel and restaurant located on Broughton Street in Savannah. The architecture resembles the style found in New Orleans’ French Quarter with its ornate balcony ironwork, but this place has its own unique creepy design that includes buried bones and wandering ghosts.

It’s understandable that perhaps the dead linger in the hallways and foyer since, in the past, the building has been used as a hospital three times, once by the Union Army during the Civil War and twice for yellow fever epidemics during the 19th century. There could be lost souls haunting this old building for sure.

Guests have reported hearing children’s laughter and the pitter-patter of little ghostly feet running down the halls. Objects rearrange themselves in the foyer, water faucets turn on by themselves, lights randomly turn on and off, and sometimes electronic items power up without being touched by human hands. On the fourth floor door knobs wiggle as if someone is attempting to open them and loud crashes are heard when nothing has fallen.

A little girl visitor, staying in room 304, screamed and told her mother a boy with big teeth in the bathtub bit her. Her mother found no one there, but her daughter had a bite mark to prove something had happened. And other people have reported feeling as if children’s fingers were tapping on their toes when no one was around.

During renovations in 1999 workmen found human remains; bones, hands, feet, arms, legs beneath the floor. It was believed the bones were amputations from 1864 when General Sherman visited and used the hotel as a hospital. It was very cold that Christmas so the rotting flesh couldn’t be detected under the floor. This could explain why some people have witnessed a one arm man dressed in a dark blue overcoat roaming the halls. Has he come back looking for his lost arm?

There are stinky bad vibes in rooms 214, 314 and 414. It must be a number 4 sort of thing so I would avoid booking a room at The Marshall House that ends with a 4, or you could encounter a ghost touching your forehead to test your temperature. Just make sure your body temperature isn’t stone cold dead, or you might not  be checking out anytime soon, or perhaps you’ve already been checked out and don’t know it because your Savannah Dead and lingering in the hallways of The Marshall House waiting for your luggage to be sent to the afterlife.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Sorrel-Weed house is one of Savannah’s most haunted hot spots. It has been featured on numerous TV paranormal investigation shows and is a must-see for visiting ghost seekers.

Weird vibes at the house cause the living to get nauseous and have the sensation of being strangled. Strange bangs, thumps, and disembodied voices are heard. Shadow figures are seen roaming the rooms and halls. People’s cameras and cell phones are sometimes found to be completely drained of energy. And Psychic Sensitives run away having panic attacks.

Who haunts the house is questionable and the story behind the haunting is about as clear as tidal pluff-mud.

The house was built in the early 1840’s by Francis Sorrel, a wealthy plantation owner who married Lucinda Moxley, who died five years into their marriage. Francis married his dead wife’s younger sister, Matilda, but he also had a long ongoing affair with Molly, a young slave girl. Molly lived above the carriage house and one night they were discovered by Matilda Sorrel. Enraged by her husband’s betrayal, Matilda committed suicide by leaping from the second story balcony of the house. Distraught over what had happened to Matilda, Molly hung herself in the carriage house.

Sounds like good enough reason to haunt a house except that there isn’t a record of a slave woman named Molly and Francis Sorrel sold the house before the date of Matilda’s death. The Sorrel’s moved next door and Matilda took her flying suicidal leap from the balcony at 12 West Harris Street and not The Sorrel-Weed House. Yes, Matilda did kill herself.

And so if it isn’t Matilda and Molly haunting the house, who can it be?

Perhaps the paranormal activity could be Savannah’s mischievous wicked haints following a ghost tour around. It could be a hot spot for ghosts playing pranks on the living. Just think how much fun it would be to scare the bajeebees out of a group of ghost hunters stuck in the basement “voodoo room” at The Sorrel-Weed House!

It’s all in what you believe.

The Ghostly Guest 17Hundred90 Inn

17Hundred90 Inn and Restaurant is the oldest hotel in Savannah. It was built in 1820, but 1790 was a better year so, like many places in Savannah, the name was changed out of confusion and convenience. And so it also goes for the ghost stories surrounding the old Inn which have been changed or invented for entertainment.

Story 1: Anne in Room 204. Anne White was the wife of the Inn’s builder, Steel White. When he died in an accident she was so upset she jumped out the window of room 204 and killed herself.  She haunts the room, moves objects around and steals jewelry.

To believe this story a person must overlook the fact that room 204 is located in a portion of the hotel that had not been built when Steel White died and to forget that, after his death, Anne moved to Isle of Hope to live with her sister and brother-in-law.

Story 2: Anne In Room 204. Anne Powell was a flirtatious servant girl who had an affair with a German sailor. He sailed away, she found out she was pregnant, and out of despair and heartbreak committed suicide by diving out the window. She haunts this room by caressing men’s faces, rearranging women’s clothes, and making a dramatic tearful appearance before she takes the fatal leap out the window.

To believe this story a person must overlook the fact that there is no record of Anne Powell living in Savannah. There’s an Anna Powers who lived in the house, but she didn’t dive out a window and actually lived to into her 80’s at the residence with her 82 year old husband.

Story 3: The Voodoo Kitchen Servant. A ghost haunts the kitchen basement and has been reported to push around, pull hair, blow air in ears, and throw pots and pans at women.

To believe this story a person has to believe there isn’t a rat in the kitchen causing mischief and blaming the dead.

Story 4: The Servant Boy. He has no explanation for why he’s there, but he leaves change around.

To believe this story one must believe nobody drops change or has holes in their pockets.

Paranormal investigators ask specifically to spend the night in room 204 for a chance ghostly encounter with Anne. People dine at the restaurant and wait for The Voodoo Spirit to blow air in their ears. They walk the Inn’s hallways and hope to find spare changed from The Servant Boy.

Of course you have to believe the conveniently invented confusing entertainment stories or nothing will happen and you’ll miss all the ghostly fun in The 17Hundred90 Inn and Restaurant. But in any case, you most certainly will have a pleasant dining experience and sleep in a nice hotel.

It’s all in what you believe.

There’s a basement bar in City Market known as Pour Larry’s. Not only is this popular pub known for featuring local musicians and cheap drink specials, it’s also known to be haunted by an usually stinky ghost.

The unforgettable nauseous smell of burnt flesh is often combined with unexpected flying drinking glasses aimed at employee’s heads by unseen forces. The overall ‘bad vibes’ experienced in Pour Larry’s, and the unexplainable stench can only mean one thing; it’s haunted by a previous owner, John Montmollin.

John Montmollin was a wealthy plantation owner who owned the brick building at 206 west Jullian Street. He also operated a slave trade business out of this location and kept slaves in the basement. He was an evil sinister man who didn’t treat people fairly and had a devious reputation for crooked dealings. He financed the building of the sailing vessel, The Wanderer, to import slaves. Since it was illegal to bring Africans directly into Georgia The Wanderer secretly wandered up and down the coast with its human cargo. But eventually the ship was confiscated and his lucrative business ended. He was not sent to prison or fined, but instead confined for a week to his luxurious apartment above his business office in City Market. He continued other distasteful rat business ventures for many years after.

And here is how John Montmollin became Savannah’s Stinky Ghost. On June 9th 1859 he was aboard the steamer, J.G. Lawton, 20 miles up the Savannah River when the ship’s boiler exploded and he was killed. He was found two days later with his head and upper body stuck in pluff mud and his legs sticking up like stiff boards. He was burned to a crisp and, after rotting in the Georgia sun for two days, he stunk to high heaven.

But heaven is not where John Montmollin went. Instead he went back to his place of corrupt business to stink up the basement with his rotten burnt flesh smell. He’s not a very happy bar patron (a disgruntled business owner gone mad) and makes his presence known by busting up glasses, stinking up the place and giving off some really ‘bad vibes’.

If you visit Pour Larry’s for a drink and you get an uneasy feeling, and your nose is accosted by the disgusting odor of burnt flesh then perhaps John Montmollin is sitting on the bar stool next to you, or maybe somebody just farted.

In Savannah ya just never know.

It’s all in what you believe …

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

Casting The Gift Net

I enjoying fishing in the tidal creeks around Savannah, but buying bait (shrimp and mullet) can become expensive. I decided to do what the locals do and learn to throw a cast net to get free bait that God so graciously put in the water for me.

Casting a net is no simple task. It requires practice to acquire the skills needed to toss out a perfect circle, tighten it up and haul in the bait.

To learn this skill I watched YouTube videos, asked questions, observed other cast netters, and I practiced, practiced and practiced until I was able to cast out my net and catch live free bait to go fishing.

The next trick was finding the bait to catch. I learned a bit about catching mullet (little 1-3″ fish) and found a creek that provided a good supply, but I had not been able to find a source for catching shrimp. I really wanted bait shrimp, but I couldn’t find any.

My perfect mullet spot was popular not only for me, but for another cast netter and often he’d be there first and he’d get all the mullet or we’d cast our nets in the same place and scare all the bait away. One day I got so mad that he was in my casting spot that I said, “forget it, I’ll find another mullet hole!” and I went to a different place.

I didn’t have much faith in this new place because it was not a good environment for little bait fish, but I cast out my net and to my delight and surprise… I pulled up a cast net heavy with shrimp! After only a few more casts I had a bucket of bait shrimp!

This wonderful new spot became a shrimp goldmine throughout the fishing season.

I’m grateful to the fisherman who forced me out of my favorite mullet hole because that was how I received the wonderful unexpected gift of the perfect shrimp casting hole.

Sometimes you never know how or where gifts will come to you, so my advice is Go forth… cast a wide net… see what ya get… and be thankful for cast net gifts.