My husband and I packed up the kids and headed to Beaufort, SC last Wednesday only to have our car break down about an hour outside of Savannah, GA (at two in the morning, no less). AAA towed the vehicle to a repair shop about mile or two from Savannah’s famed Bonaventure Cemetery, so we stopped by the grounds after picking up the car. We missed the cemetery during our last visit to Savannah, so I was glad for the opportunity to check it out.
The Bonaventure Cemetery is over 150 years old and famous for the “Bird Girl” statue which appeared on the cover of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The statue has since been moved to a nearby museum, but guests still flock to Bonaventure to gaze at the cemetery’s elaborate tombs, headstones, and carvings. The sprawling cemetery is also home to a few ghostly legends.
The Legend of Gracie Watson
Little Gracie Watson is one of Bonaventure Cemetery’s most famous residents. According to a plaque at Gracie’s grave, the “beautiful and charming little girl” died of pneumonia at the age of six, and legend has it Gracie now haunts the striking statue carved in her honor. Many visitors leave coins and toys at Gracie’s grave, and some say the little girl cries whenever someone removes the trinkets. Others say tears of blood flow from the statue’s eyes. Bonaventure officials have fenced off Gracie’s grave to protect it from visitors’ grasping hands, but some claim the fence is meant to contain Gracie’s playful spirit.
Gracie didn’t cry or laugh when we were there, though she did allow us to take lots of photos.
Statues That Come Alive
Dozens of beautiful, elaborately-carved statues adorn Bonaventure Cemetery. However, legend has it the statues don’t always stay put. Angel sculptures reportedly beam or grimace, and a statue named Corinne (below) is said to smile at visitors she fancies. Eerie sounds also surround the lifelike statues, such as the sound of a crying baby near an infant’s grave or giggling children near the tomb of a child.
Per local lore, Bonaventure Cemetery is also home to a pack of hell hounds that bark and snarl at lingering guests. No one’s ever seen the dogs, but some visitors claim to have felt the creatures’ breath on their heels or heard angry barks in the distance. Thankfully, the hostile dogs didn’t make an appearance during our visit. We did see this little guy though.
As with many cemeteries, Bonaventure, to me, felt more peaceful than paranormal, more serene than sinister. Has anyone out there experienced something strange at Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery?