Real haunted houses of Savannah

Ah, fall in Georgia.

There's really nothing fall-like about it.
Yup, October in Savannah.
Such festive colors.
No apple orchards, hay rides, or woolly sweaters.
But they do rock the pumpkins.
Still, $4 pumpkins from Kroger and overpriced lattes only do so much to get me into the spirit of fall. Especially when it still feels like June.

But Halloween is coming, I should totally get my scare on and check out some haunted houses!
You know, like Gates of MiserySlaughter at Sundown, and my personal favorite, Haunted Farm of Terror.
Yes, I want all of that.
Plus Rob Zombie's greatest hits.
So, I start googling up haunted houses in Savannah.
Except instead of being directed to gory attractions where teenagers and college students jump out of the dark with fake chainsaws and hockey masks, I'm greeted with a list of bed and breakfasts, restaurants, museums, and old theaters.
Interestingly enough, Savannah has consistently made all the "Most Haunted Cities in America" top ten lists since, like, ever. Often placed in the #1 spot. Seriously.
Don't believe me? Google it. I'll wait.

Still waiting...

Granted, most of the reported hauntings aren't so much Amity Horror as they are things that go bump in the night.
Still, seeing apparitions and witnessing doors creak open by themselves are not exactly how I'd like to end my day at the local B&B.
Fake scares I can handle, real ones tend to degrade me into a quivering puddle of goo.
Check out the creepy tunnel of death, you say?
Sorry, no. I'm too busy crapping my pants.
The city of Savannah is actually rife with tunnels, that particular one is real and is located underneath the Pirate House Restaurant.

Aside from the creepiness, the she-crab soup is pretty decent.
Motivated by the all mighty tourist dollar, the Pirate House does tend to get a little gimmicky.
Their brochure claims that Captain Flint, of Treasure Island fame, hung out there, despite being a fictitious character. Also, Blackbeard's ghost supposedly roams the halls.
Also: Aarrghh!
For those history fans that may be playing along, that's obviously nonsense since Blackbeard died in 1718. Savannah wasn't even founded until 1733, and the earliest possible construction of the Pirate House, although debated, wasn't until 1753.

And if I've learned anything from Sid Meier's Pirates!, besides that governor's daughters really dig dancing...
Spin her enough times and her giant rack heart will be yours!
...it's that the "Golden Age of Piracy" ended around 1680. Finally petering out around 1730.

But privateers were still a thing during the early years of the Pirate Houses' existence in the 1700's, and it has always operated primarily as a bar/restaurant/swashbucklers retreat. And if anything is haunted there it probably is the tunnel. Just not by Blackbeard's ghost.

Back in the day the majority of able-bodied men weren't exactly keen on the idea of seeking adventure on the high seas as a privateer. Conditions were lousy and they didn't even get a decent cut of the plunder. 
The chances of hanging out and drinking rum with the likes of Kiera Knightly or Johnny Depp were also slim.
Weird, I know.
So, resourceful captains resorted to impressment to fill out their crews. Which is a fancy way of saying, "Hey, that guy looks like he'd make a good sailor. Lets get him drunk/whack him on the head and drag 'em over to the ship. Yarrrgh!"

And guess how they sneaked these knocked out soon-to-be sailors over to their ship?
Why do I feel like I've been here before?
Those who enter the tunnel have reported hearing low moans, cold spots, and feelings of nausea. Not unlike what the kidnapped, barely conscious men must have felt like as they were dragged to their new occupation.


This cannot possibly end well.

 Another purportedly haunted establishment is the Marshall House. An upscale hotel, it was originally built in 1851, and certainly has it's fair share of disturbing lore.

Conveniently located minutes from everything creepy.
During the Civil War, Union forces occupied the hotel, employing it as a hospital. The downstairs was used as a surgery. Medical knowledge being what it was at the time, if there was a problem with a limb, it got cut off. The average amputation took less than a minute, and with anesthetics being in short supply, the practice of placing a bullet in a soldier's mouth to give them something besides their tongue to bite down on, is where we get the phrase "bite the bullet".

This. But not as sexy.
Anyway, body parts from the amputations began to pile up, and being that the hotel was in the middle of town, there were limited places to discard them. So, the good doctors ripped up the floorboards and deposited the various limbs underneath.
Is it just me,
or is this is almost as disturbing as the real thing?
The winter following the Union occupation was unusually cold, which kept the smell to a minimum and allowed the severed body parts to decompose slowly. There they stayed until the hotel underwent renovations in 1999. 135 years later.

That's a hell of a surprise to have when all you're trying to do is upgrade the plumbing.

Dammit! No way are the HVAC guys going to come back after this.
Obviously, as the renovations progressed the limbs were removed. Around this same time people also began reporting seeing shadowy apparitions, hearing footsteps and voices from people who weren't there, foul odors, and just really bad vibes, man.
So yeah, all your typical haunted, let's get the hell out of here, type stuff.

It's been theorized that the dead soldiers miss their severed limbs and are looking for them.
C'mon guys!
I just want my right arm back, is that so much to ask?!
On an interesting side note, apparently the wicked aura and odors were super nasty in room 414. Various deodorizers were tried to no avail. Staff even tried group prayer, but were overwhelmed by the sense of pants soiling dread. So they hit upon a fairly ingenious solution; by cranking up the volume on a radio station that played nothing but gospel music and leaving it there. Supposedly the hauntings died down after that. Or someone finally cleaned the grease trap.

Either way, I really hope they got the idea from watching Ghostbusters II.
You know, that scene where the Ghostbusters use positively charged slime
and played Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher"
to animate the Statue of Liberty?
And while we're on the subject of bodies (or parts of them) in odd places, bizarre as it is, much of Savannah is actually built upon the dead.

Times were tough back in the day. Savannah endured several yellow fever epidemics, was almost burned to the ground twice, and it's citizens actively participated in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
So, yeah, a lot of people died there.
That said, finding bodies while digging in the city is extremely common. When old cemeteries closed, headstones were moved. But, in true Poltergeist fashion, they didn't always move the bodies.
Not really sure where these go. Guess we'll just lean them up against this wall here...
Here's a particularly fun excerpt from the book Haunted Savannah that details a related incident:

"Some road crews and utility companies have been accompanied by an archaeologist, and they usually turn up a few of Georgia's earliest inhabitants when they do any sort of maintenance. A man working for Georgia Power relayed a grisly tale about laying some cable using a machine that burrows sideways through the ground. He said, 'A human body makes a sound unlike any other when that machine bores through it. We are supposed to keep a log of when we hear that sound. When we laid a cable in an alley downtown, I was busy all day writing down the fact that we kept on hitting body...after body...after body.' He then described the sound, likening it to a wooden spoon caught in a garbage disposal."
Except not.
 With all the dead people around, the number of reported hauntings is suddenly not so surprising.

And since we're getting our haunted Halloween on, here's another story that takes place just east of town at Old Fort Jackson.
Originally built in 1808 as a stronghold against the British, Fort Jackson was also utilized by the Confederates during the Civil War.
The details surrounding the incident and subsequent haunting are unknown, but what we do know is that a Private Garrity was on guard duty near the drawbridge when he was approached by Lt. Dickerson.

Good lord, old forts are frickin sweet.
Private Garrity, for some reason, decided that it would be a good idea to bludgeon Lt Dickerson, breaking both his musket and the lieutenant's skull, in four places.

Garrity! You are such a dick!
Other soldiers rushed to the scene to apprehend Garrity, but in another brilliant maneuver, Garrity decided to evade capture by jumping into the moat, where he drowned.
Dickerson somehow survived, but never fully recovered. He was also neither able to remember the incident or the reason for it, or just didn't want to say.

Anyway, there has been a ghostly figure seen at the scene of the attack. Most assume that it's Garrity. Supposedly he is only visible from the waist up, walking alone, his legs a misty blur.

Eh, probably just a bunch of overactive imaginations.

Happy Halloween everyone!