Wednesday, June 21, 2017

#1892 cemeteries

For the United States, Savannah and Charleston are among the oldest cities in the country. Savannah was founded in 1733; Charleston is even older, founded in 1670. Both cities have seen both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. There are many, many graves in the cities. Lizzie and I spent time in four cemeteries between the two towns. All of them were quite old and picturesque.

Colonial Park Cemetery is right in the heart of the Savannah historic district. It has quite an interesting history. It was a Revolutionary War cemetery and was already closed to burials by the time the Civil War came around. Union troops camped in the cemetery and moved lots of headstones, so some of the tombstones may or may not exactly be at the correct graves. There was a mass grave for victims of the yellow fever epidemic if 1820. My favorite signer of the Declaration of Independence, Button Gwinnett, is buried there. I should have looked for his grave, but it was hot the day we wandered through there. Of course, the cemetery is said to be haunted. You can go to YouTube and google Colonial Park Cemetery and watch a video of a "little boy" that is pretty creepy. Both ghost tours we went on stopped outside the cemetery. It's locked at night, but you can walk around in there during the day.

Colonial Park Cemetery 

Colonial Park Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery is just outside of Savannah, only about a 10 - 15 minute drive. It is huge, covering several acres of land. It's very pretty too, full of giant oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. The thing that's cool about Bonaventure Cemetery is that there are many old Victorian style monuments on the graves. The statue on the cover of the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, used to be in Bonaventure Cemetery. It has been moved to a museum in town.

Monument in Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

One of the most famous graves in the cemetery is of a little girl named Gracie Watson. She was ill and died before Easter, possibly after having her portrait painted. Her father commissioned a sculptor to make a statue of her that sits at her grave. She was buried in the family plot at Bonaventure Cemetery, but her death so broke her parents' hearts that they moved back to New England and they are buried there, far away from little Gracie. I don't mind telling you that of all the graves, this one kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Little Gracie
In Charleston, we happened upon two old cemeteries. The first one is on the grounds of the Circular Congregational Church. Lizzie and I didn't know much about the history of the church or the graveyard except that it was old. The little map we were following (that I had on Pinterest) said the cemetery dated back to 1695.

Part of the graveyard at the Circular Congregational Church

The steeple in the background is not the Circular Congregational Church

I'm not sure it's entirely appropriate to have a favorite cemetery, but if I were to have one, it would definitely be the Unitarian Church Cemetery in old Charleston. Our little Pinterest map told us we would get there, but it was so unexpected. It is overgrown with trees and vines and shrubs and flowering bushes. I could have taken a hundred photos in there easily. Every time I turned around, I saw a sight worthy of a photo. Maybe that sounds creepy, but, at least in the daytime, it was the least "creepy" of the cemeteries, in my opinion. I loved the wildness and the peacefulness of it.

Unitarian Church Cemetery

The iron fence, the old tombstones, the Spanish moss, the greenery

Same photo as the one above it, I just made it black and white. I like the effect

I do not have a particular fascination with graveyards in general, but these four were really interesting. When we were in New Orleans, we visited a cemetery in the Garden District. Those graves are different because they are all above-ground. That is not the case in the cemeteries in Savannah and Charleston. If you go to any of these cities, take a bit of time to visit the cemeteries.

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