Disease and Dying in Savannah
Today, in part three of our series on Savannah, America’s most haunted city we are going to talk about another of the theories as to why Savannah is soo haunted. Disease outbreaks have caused much death and agony during the history of Savannah. Do the dead of these disease outbreaks continue to haunt Savannah? On our ghost tours, we always have guests asking us why we think Savannah is as haunted as it is. Well, these are our explanations.
Savannah has endured more than her share of disease and death since the founding of the city in 1733. The disease which has caused the most damage is almost certainly Yellow Fever. Yellow Fever is a viral disease which is carried by mosquitos. During the 1700’s and 1800’s the medical community had no idea to the true cause of Yellow Fever..or how to treat it. Symptoms of Yellow Fever include muscle aches, bleeding, vomiting..and can progress until the victim is in a coma or suffering from delirium, followed by death. In the swampy environment in which Savannah was founded and was built mosquitos were everywhere. And more than once a large portion of the population lost their lives to Yellow Fever. In total, according to Dr. William R. Waring, almost 4,000 people lost their life to Yellow Fever between 1807 and the great epidemic of 1820. On September 15th, 1820 only 1500 of the original population of 5000 remained in Savannah. Yellow Fever continued to plague Savannah until the end of the 19th century.
In Colonial Park Cemetery, pictured above, there were mass graves set up for the dead from one of the Yellow Fever outbreaks. If you read the sign on the site of this mass grave it will state that ‘almost 700 people’ were buried in the mass grave. The exact number? 666 people. If you died from Yellow Fever and were lucky you were placed in a coffin and given a proper burial. However, even that had its problems. See, one of the results of having Yellow Fever is going into a coma. The victim’s heartbeat would slow to a crawl with breathing soo shallow it was barely perceivable. Many times the people, still alive, were placed in a coffin and buried. Buried alive. Coffins have been uncovered from Colonial park Cemetery which have scratch marks on the lids, suggesting that these people awoke from their coma to discover their rather dire situation. If anything could cause a ghost to remain behind in a cemetery surely it could be a result of being buried alive. One of the most reported ghosts in Colonial Park is that of a shadow person weaving its way through the headstones and burials plots. Is it possible that this ghost is one of the Yellow Fever victims? I don’t know that we will ever know for sure, but it is certainly possible. In other areas of the city, buildings which once housed Yellow Fever victims are swarmed with the paranormal. Ghosts and other paranormal activity are regularly reported at places such as the Chandler Hospital. The ghosts of Doctors who died while treating patients are said to walk the floors of homes on Oglethorpe and Jones Streets.
With so many instances of death from disease, and on a massive scale, it only stands to reason that it surely helped make Savannah as haunted as it is. The number of dead from Yellow Fever will never be known for sure, but is certainly in the 10’s of thousands. Many of these individuals were simply tossed into mass graves or even buried alive.
Yellow Fever touched all areas of life in Savannah. On all of ours tours, you are going to hear a story or two about the horrors that Yellow Fever fell upon Savannah. For more information on our tours give us a call at 1-888-859-5375