The Catastrophe That is Colonial Park Cemetery

We tiptoed across the mass grave of people buried prematurely. They’d succumbed to Yellow fever and were tossed onto death carts that rolled through the streets of Savannah. Hastily, they were buried, though some of them were still alive.

They clawed at the lids of their coffins, leaving scratch marks that screamed their vitality. Yellow fever masked that, leaving them in comatose conditions in its late stage. They were buried. They woke up. They tried to claw or gnaw their way out of the ground. Their skeletal remains showed they’d ingested wood chips.

This was the fate of some of the souls buried in Savannah’s Colonial Park Cemetery.

Others seemed lost forever; a fate as scary as death itself. For we know that more than 10,000 people were buried in the cemetery, yet only 600 gravestones remain. And some of those don’t even make sense.

In addition to the Yellow fever deaths, a number of dead from dueling, slavery, and war were buried here. Later, many of these graves were looted and desecrated. The soft sandstone of the headstones was easily changed and now the birth and death dates of some of those buried don’t make any sense. According to the headstones, some children bore their parents. Others died before they were even born. Union soldiers have been blamed for this disrespectful prank.

Now the cemetery is said to be haunted. It could be the ghosts of the fever epidemic, or murdered slaves, or those whose graves were disturbed. More than 10,000 were reportedly buried here. But there’s not enough space for 10,000 bodies. It’s commonly acknowledged that the city of Savannah — its streets, buildings, and picturesque parks — are built atop burial grounds.

Savannah is touted as “America’s Most Haunted City.”  With all its deathly disrespect, I’d haunt it, too, wouldn’t you?

20 responses to “The Catastrophe That is Colonial Park Cemetery

  1. Such a creepy place. A truly horrific story about being buried alive. I can’t even imagine what that would be like, and hope I never will know. Thanks for sharing something that I never would have known. 🙂

    • It is a terrifying thought. I can’t imagine the horror of being buried alive. I also can’t imagine what it must have been like when the yellow fever epidemic swept through Savannah, but it fascinates me.

  2. I was just in Savannah over the summer and those funky dates on some of the tombstones were indeed amusing. We did a ghost tour at night, and although Savannah is considered a haunted city, there were too many people to have a one-on-one interaction with the ghosts. I tried, I really did! 😉

  3. OK, this is one of those situations where simply clicking the “like” button seemed a bit strange. Just wanted to clarify…I didn’t like the fact that so many people died, naturally. However, I loved the historical information you shared and thought it was written in a lovely way, even though the content was…shall we say grim? That’s tough to pull off, my friend! Nice job. : )

  4. Just as Britt said, clicking “like” felt a bit strange, but it was to say how beautiful I thought your writing was. The opening lines… chilling….

    • My mom and husband both fear that, too. My husband read my post and told me again that he wants to have one of those bells you can pull put into his coffin. I’m happy to oblige, but who does he think is going to hear it? I’m not going to sit by his grave waiting for him to ring a bell. 😉 I’m just not that good of a wife.

  5. Yeah I live in Savannah and I was born here half of what you said is just stories there are no mass graves in colonial park and the reason the stones are missing is because the cemetery was used by the union soldiers to keep horses. As a result many of the head stones were broken and the soldiers also changed and desecrated the head stones. Many of the earliest graves had wooden markers and have rotted away. Also there is no evidence that any of the people in that cemetery were buried alive. So I am afraid what you heard was just creepy stories told to tourists for a good time 🙂

    • I can certainly believe that. I love ghost walks and ghost stories but always take them with a grain of salt. I think especially when stories are dealing with something that can’t be proven, entertainment and shock value starts to trump any basis of fact. Thanks for sharing your insight!

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