Historic Colonial Park Cemetery
The Colonial Park Cemetery, one of Savannah’s most beautiful restorations, is the final resting place for many of Savannah's earliest citizens. Established about 1750, it was the original burial ground for the Christ Church Parish.
The cemetery was enlarged in 1789 to become the cemetery for people of all denominations. Among those buried here are Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
666 victims of the 1820 Yellow Fever epidemic are buried in Colonial Park Cemetery. There are also many victims of Savannah's tragic dueling era. Savannah history records the first dueling death in 1740 and the final shot fired in 1877. Many of the duels left a number of men dead from what one source calls acts of "too much honor." Some of the duels were fought in and around Colonial Park Cemetery.
1815 headstone of James Wilde
He fell in a duel on the 16th of January, 1815, by the hand of a man who, a short time ago, would have been friendless but for him. . . . By his untimely death the prop of a Mother's age is broken: The hope and consolation of Sisters is destroyed, the pride of Brothers humbled in the dust and a whole family, happy until then, overwhelmed with affliction.
The cemetery was already closed to burials before the start of the Civil War and no Confederate soldiers are buried there. But the war did leave its mark on the cemetery. Federal troops took over the cemetery grounds during their occupation of Savannah and many of the graves were looted and desecrated. It has been said that Union soldiers changed the dates on many of the headstones.
According to one story, a maid at the old City Hotel on Bay Street was found in tears outside the gate of the cemetery. When her coworkers inquired what was wrong, she told them she had followed a young man from the hotel who walked into the cemetery and disappeared.
The Colonial Park Cemetery is also home to one of Savannah's most famous ghosts, that of "Rene Asche Rondolier (or Renee Rondolia Asch), a disfigured orphan who was said to have called Colonial Park his home in the early 1800s. Accused of murdering two girls whose bodies were found in the cemetery, Rene was dragged to the nearby swamps and lynched and left for dead. More dead bodies turned up in the cemetery in the days that followed. The townspeople were convinced it was Rene's ghost and some still call the cemetery, Rene's playground.
The following text is from the Colonial Park Cemetery State Historical Marker:
This cemetery, the second in colonial Savannah, was the burying ground for the city from about 1750 until it was closed against burials in 1853.
Among the distinguished dead who rest here are Archibald Bulloch, first President of Georgia; James Habersham, acting royal Governor of the Province, 1771-'73; Joseph Habersham, Postmaster General under three Presidents; Lachlan McIntosh, Major General, Continental Army; Samuel Elbert, Revolutionary soldier and Governor of Georgia; Capt. Denis L. Cottineau de Kerloguen who aided John Paul Jones in the engagement between the "Bon Homme Richard" and the "Serapis"; Hugh McCall, early historian of Georgia; Edward Green Malbone, the noted miniaturist, and Colonel John S. McIntosh, a hero of the War with Mexico.
The remains of Major General Nathanael Greene who died in 1786 reposed in the Graham vault until they were reinterred in 1901 in Johnson Square.
The cemetery became a city park in 1896.
Visitors are welcome
Some say if you take a photo in or around Colonial Park Cemetery at or near dusk, once you develop it, the picture will contain orbs. Supposedly more orbs than any other area in the Historic District.
It's only a short walk from our Inn and an interesting piece of Savannah's vast history.