Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Savannah’s Waving Girl

Waving Girl statue.
A beautiful bronze statue sits in Morrell Park along Savannah’s historic riverfront. This memorial was placed here to honor one of the city’s favorite residents.

This statue depicts the beloved Florence Martus waving a cloth with a large dog sitting next to her.

Florence was born in 1868, on Cockspur Island where her father was an ordnance sergeant at Fort Pulaski.

Legend states she promised her fiancé to greet every returning ship entering Savannah Harbor until he returned to her. 

Unfortunately, he never came home again.

Florence became the Waving Girl of Savannah or “the sweetheart of mankind” because for forty-four years from 1887 to 1931, she greeted every ship entering or leaving the Savannah River by waving her apron during the day, or a lantern at night.

Cockspur Lighthouse 
It is estimated she helped 50,000 vessels off Cockspur Island avoid the rocks during this time. Florence did this from the front lawn of the white cottage where she lived with her brother the light keeper at the nearby lighthouse—located just south of Savannah.

It is said that after her death in 1941, her ghost could still be seen waving her apron or a white cloth at this spot near the harbor entrance.

Florence Martus
Her service was so admired, ships today still sound a salute to her memory as they enter the harbor. She is so beloved that the captain who delivered the memorial statue of her in 1971, to Savannah’s riverfront refused payment for his service.

Her apparition has been seen near this memorial as well. Witnesses state they see this statue come to life in Morrell Park at night. She is seen waving her cloth of stone.

Other witnesses have claimed to see another ghost of a little boy near her statue. A grisly legend states this boy broke the necks of several children and small animals, so he was hung near the river.

The owners of River Street Market Place, Traci, and George also lay claim to Florence Martus’ ghost. When they open or close their market, they state they have felt a presence that whooshes from one corner to another in a shed where their alarm system is located.

This shed is just a few yards away from the park that contains the statue. They state that they have seen shadows at night playing across the market’s antique doors, that are similar to Martus and her dog.

When the lights are out, they also have heard a mournful cry that states, “Come back” repeatedly.

River Street Market Place
One of the market’s vendors, Peggy Kenny displays some Waving Girl memorabilia. She often returns to her space in the morning to find items either gone or rearranged—they are always items connected to the Waving Girl.

Skeptical at first, she now believes this must be the work of Florence Martus’ ghost.

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