Expedition Team: Rosie Miller, Dave Miller, Jill Crafton, Joe Gillivan
Expedition Date: November 12, 2013
Rosie’s cousin Joe works for the City of Savannah at this historical cemetery and gave us a first hand tour
HISTORY: Built 250 years ago on 200 acres, St. Bonaventure has been called the South’s most illustrious Victorian cemetery! Oscar Wilde called this 18th century plantation turned hallowed cemetery “Incomparable”. Others say “Where Death and Beautiful Artistic Creations Meet”. The cemetery is home to world class poets, songwriters, actors, artists and more such as songwriter Johnny Mercer, actor Conrad Aiken and Little Gracie.
TOUR FINDINGS: Joe drove us in his convertible on a chilly morning. The overcast sky made the rolling hills, moss covered trees and beautiful, artistic tombs look like an eerie black and white movie.
In photo’s #1 and #2, I asked Joe what are those things? He said those are 19th century bell ringers. If you have heard the expression, “Saved by the Bell” or “Dead Ringer”, these are safety or security coffins, fitted with a bell mechanism in the coffin to prevent premature burial or to signal that they have been buried alive. Medicine was not as good in the 18th and 19th century as it is today. Back then if a person was comatose and mistakenly pronounced dead and interred, if they revived, they could ring the bell attached in the coffin and be saved.
The cemetery was full of history and historic people. Little Gracie was the six year old daughter of the manager of a leading Savannah hotel. She died in 1889 of pneumonia. A year later a sculptor carved Gracie from a photograph a life-sized marble statue (Photo#3) which captivates all people who pass by. Photo#4 is a sculpture of a pair of twins that passed away.