Unlike the sprawling area covered by the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Colonial Park can be found occupying just 6 acres at the intersection of Abercorn and Oglethorpe roads.
Opened in 1750, the cemetery is considered to be the oldest in Savannah that hasn’t been destroyed, covered over, or relocated.
Many reports have come from the cemetery that include strange green or gray mists, shadow figures, and odd EVPs captured from outside the cemetery gates at night.
While there are believed to be more than 10,000 bodies in the ground at Colonial Park there are less than 1,000 marked graves. Historians and Savannah residents believe this stems from a variety of reasons such as desecrated markers, relocated bodies, and mass graves.
One of the most well-known mass graves in the cemetery is that of the Yellow Fever victims of 1820. Seven hundred residents of Savannah and two physicians lost their lives during this epidemic and were placed in a mass grave due to the quickness with which bodies were piling up from the disease.
The Ghosts of Colonial Park Cemetery
There are three main ghosts of Colonial Park cemetery. More interestingly, the stories behind them have been told for years despite the fact that there is little to no proof of the existence of the individuals or events behind them.
Yellow Fever Mass Burial
Apart from the traditionally known mass burial from the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1820 there are many who believe that a second mass grave is located outside of the southern gate of the cemetery in a smaller park.
While Savannah has a long history of moving bodies or just building over them, no proof has been found that there are bodies in the secondary park. In fact, in 2009 an archaeological study of the area showed there were no bodies in the ground beneath the other park.
There are reports of multiple coffins unearthed in the 60’s during road construction on the south side of the cemetery, and many believe that the bumpy sidewalk along that area points to the possibility of unmarked burials beneath the pavemen.
Many state that they have witnessed a mist or other mild aparition from the Yellow Fever epidemic.
One of the most famous ghosts of Colonial Park is that of a man by the name of Rene Rondolier. As the story goes Rondolier was a serial killer who took the lives of two young girls on the cemetery grounds in the early 1800’s.
Rondolier measured nearly 7 feet tall when he was strung up to the “hanging tree” near the back of the cemetery. According to some this makes his spirit easy to recognize.
No record of either Rondolier or the murder of two girls on the cemetery grounds exists to shed light on this story.
Several have witnessed a shadow figure that they believe is Rondolier near the back wall of the cemetery.
Major Nathaniel Greene
Quite possibly one of the most interesting stories of Colonial Park is that of Major Nathaniel Greene and his son. Both Greene and his son met untimely deaths while in their summer home in Savannah. When each was buried, they were put within the Graham Family Vault. The Graham family weren’t using it as they had returned to England.
Although the bodies weren’t meant to stay where they were for long, it was one of the many times that Savannah would mistreat their dead. The pair were forgotten and lost to time for several years.
It would not be until a historian many years later went specifically looking for Greene that the remains were found and moved to a proper monument in Johnson Square.
Many others may well wander the graveyard simply due to the lack of concern shown for the dead that the ctitizens of Savannah during colonial times. This disregard has earned Savannah the title of “the City That Lives Upon Her Dead” as many bodies have been built over, unmoved, and disregarded.
Interestingly, many of the tombs of Colonial Park were in the form of an underground vault that bodies would be placed into on a shelf and left for the elements of time and erosion to turn the body to dust. Once completed, the dust would be added to a family urn to make place for the next.
One would have to wonder how many were simply forgotten, or even put into the wrong urn or vault.
During the Civil Warn the cemetery was used as a camping grounds by the Union army. During their stay there many tombstones were vandalized. This included individuals carving the wrong years onto the tombstones on the grounds there.
Visiting Colonial Park Cemetery
There are numerous walking ghost tours that visit the cemetery as one of their stops. However, it is important to note that the cemetery is closed at night and very carefully watched on surveillance video. This means that trespassing is not allowed, even by tours.
For a visit inside the cemetery it is best to stop by during their hours of 8 am to 8 pm.
There are benches along the outside of the cemetery that visitors can make use of to watch inside the gate to see a mist or ghost of their own. Some have also attempted EVP recordings along the edge of the gate, and reported luck in speaking with the spirits of Colonial Park.
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