Thursday, April 5, 2012
Savannah has been dubbed "America's Most Haunted City." So we knew we wanted to take a ghost tour, but which one? There are dozens. There are walking tours, trolley tours, hearse tours, etc.. We collected brochures from as many as we could find and then did the only logical thing we could think of: we laid them all out on the counter and took a picture of them to see which one had an orb over it.
None of them did.
So instead, we read the brochures and made our decision the old-fashioned way, by deciding which one interested us the most. We settled on Blue Orb's "City of the Dead" tour.
We gathered in Chippewa Square and headed over to the Old Colonial Cemetery. Our tour guide gave us an abbreviated history of all the death and tragedy that had occurred in Savannah's past: yellow fever epidemics, Revolutionary War battles, slavery, etc.. They had more tragedy per square yard than any other place in America.
Most chilling to me were the tales of the yellow fever deaths. Tell me about a plague or epidemic and I'm hooked. Plus, I'd read Fever 1793 years ago and loved it. Apparently here in Savannah, some of the coffins were dug up after the fact and it was discovered that people had been buried alive and tried to claw or even gnaw their way out of their graves. Some corpses were found with wood chips in their throat. Chilling.
The slave square was equally horrendous as our guide tried to describe the huge number of slaves penned, prodded and sold there. The Gullah people have now cursed the place, calling it evil. It was not only the site of the slave auctions, but also a mass burial ground for their bodies.
We also went past the Mercer House (of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame) and the abandoned Candler Hospital where Union soldiers were kept and hanged.
The tour ended at the Hag House. If I heard correctly, the Hag is a spirit sent by the Gullah. She preys on the miserable and depressed, haunting their sleep and pressing down on their chests. Eventually, she possesses the person as chronicled by Sarah Adler, who was menaced by the hag for 35 years before finally telling the world that The Hag used to appear in front of her, but she now saw her behind her eyes, looking out. We almost had nightmares about that, but none of us were miserable enough to worry, since we are, after all, on vacation.