Savannah was originally laid out around four squares before expanding to the 22 that are still here today. Each is slightly different in layout and size, some have fountains while others have monuments, some just have beautiful greenery. And some are home to restless spirits…
Johnson Square is the largest and the first square on the central street of Bull Street. Many ghost tours start here to draw attention to the ghostly figure that is actually buried right here in the middle of the square. That’s right, the monument in the center of the square is actually a giant grave marker. This is the final resting place of Nathanael Greene, Major General and hero of the American Revolution. He was gifted a plantation by George Washington after the war, settling here in the south. You would think that after his death (the poor New England native died of heat stroke!) this monument would have been constructed in his honor, right?
…well, you would be wrong.
One of the reasons that Savannah is so haunted is because this city had a habit of either building over graves OR just moving the bodies all together. Even with all of that going on you would think that a hero of the Revolution wouldn’t be disturbed right? Not only was he moved, but his movement was actually delayed because they didn’t know where in Colonial Park he was buried! They actually lost the records and they had to figure out where he was before moving him here to Johnson Square. After being lost, found, then moved around, I would be a little restless too!
It is said that you can see Nathanael Greene walking through the square, pulling the Spanish moss from the oak trees. Like many visitors to the area he wasn’t warned of the little red bugs that live in the moss and mistakenly made a bed from it. They burrow under your skin and can make you itch for days. Naturally, he hated the moss after that! There is moss just about everywhere in the city; it’s the south after all. But, if you look around Johnson Square, you’ll see there’s not a trace of moss in any of the trees.
Wright Square is home to more than one spirit.
The first is a story you are guaranteed to hear while you’re here, the story of Alice Reilly. She was one of two of the first murderers to be tried and executed in Savannah in 1735. While her partner Richard was hanged right away, her execution was postponed because she was pregnant. After she gave birth she was hanged and sadly her baby died a few weeks later. It’s said you can still see her running through the square, frantically looking for her baby.
Another spirit of Wright Square is the Yamacraw Chief Tomo-Chi-Chi. He was originally buried in the middle of the square, but his grave was desecrated in order to put up the monument that is there now. Yes. Desecration of a Native American chief’s grave. The exact recipe for a haunting. There’s debate on where his remains are (they gotta stop losing bodies around here!) but I believe the theory they’re under his monument which is a stone off to the side. It’s said if you run around the circle three times you can summon his spirit (just let this man rest!) by asking “Where is Tomo-Chi-Chi?” His response will be “No where,” due to the destruction of his grave site.
Madison Square has one of the scariest residents, a shadow that lurks throughout the square. This was the site of a battle during the American Revolution and, while it can’t be confirmed, it’s believed to be a mass grave site from that battle. This I can believe because at the time it was common to bury soldiers where they fell. Unfortunately, I’ve also heard that not all of the soldiers buried here were dead; many are believed to have been buried alive. This shadow figure may be one of the soldiers that perished during the battle.
It probably doesn’t help that one of the most haunted homes in the country (not just Savannah) resides on the square, the Sorrel-Weed house. But, more on that in a later post…
Similar to Madison Square, Calhoun Square is also a mass grave. When you find out what happened here, it’s no wonder the square is rumored to be haunted. I knew it was haunted, but I never knew why until I started researching for this post.
Sometime in the early 2000s it was discovered to be a slave graveyard when a construction company came across bones. From what I read there are estimated to be a thousand bodies buried here. Safe to say they’re unable to rest as they had been left in an unhallowed burial ground and left ignored for nearly 200 years.
While Reynolds Square isn’t a mass grave, mass death happened in this vicinity. In addition to frequent yellow fever outbreaks Savannah also had a malaria outbreak. Mosquitoes in the south, right?
To help prevent the spread of disease many of the bodies were burned where the square’s monument is now located. Many people claim to get orbs as well as apparitions in their photos of the monument. I had no idea this square was haunted at all until I started researching for this post.