Showing posts with label Colonial Park Cemetery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colonial Park Cemetery. Show all posts

Monday, August 7, 2017

The City that Lives Upon Her Dead

Colonial Park Cemetery

The title of this post is the nickname given to Savannah, Georgia. This southern city is called this because like many other locations their old burial grounds were paved over and built upon without moving the graves that lay beneath.

This fact has led to reported ghostly sightings across Savannah. But many locals agree their city’s Historic District is the most haunted.

In the middle of this district is the 6-acre Colonial Park Cemetery that dates back to 1750. Over 10,000 souls are buried here despite the fact there are only 1,000 headstones that remain.

The reasons for this vary. Over 700 victims of the 1820s yellow fever epidemic are buried in mass graves at Colonial. This graveyard also has many family vaults were family members were placed. Their remains turned to dust and placed in urns so the next generation of deceased could be placed on the shelves—this cycle then continued.

Gravestones displaced by Union
Many of Colonial’s gravestones were moved or disfigured by Union troops during the Civil War, which leads to more confusion of where the deceased are buried.

But the most compelling factor is when the cemetery’s boundaries were shortened the surrounding streets, i.g. Abercorn and Oglethorpe, were paved over and many of the graves were left under them.

One area of Colonial today is a children’s playground and basketball court. Sightings of ghosts believed to be deceased men who were killed in duels are reported here. Other sightings in the cemetery include shadow figures and a green mist that floats among the gravestones.

By far, the most famous haunting at this park is known as the “Hanging Tree” ghost. Locals and tourists are fascinated by this story, which has taken on epic proportions.

A male ghost, known as Rene Rondolier, is often seen walking through Colonial or hanging from a tree called the “Hanging Tree” located at the back wall of the cemetery.

It is said Rondolier is easy to spot because he is almost 7 feet in height. His ghost is infamous because it is believed he murdered two young girls in this graveyard. He then was lynched either on the Hanging Tree or in a nearby square.

Footnote: There is little historic evidence that Rondolier ever existed but this story through several generations has taken on folkloric status.

Despite this fact there have been so many witnesses to this haunting as well as others that paranormal investigators in the area have dubbed Colonial Park “Paranormal Central” and of course ghost tours are offered.

Ghostly figure captured at Colonial

Friday, January 16, 2015

Savannah’s Feared Giant

Colonial Park Cemetery
Savannah Georgia’s largest cemetery is Colonial Park. It has over 14,000 documented graves. One of these graves stands out from all the rest because it is connected to the cities’ oddest ghost story.

The Legend of Rene Asche Rondolier

Rene was born in 1777. He grew to be well over 7 feet tall. In some accounts he is described as covered in a thick mat of animal-like hair.

As a young man Rene quickly gained a reputation as “the terror” of Savannah. Residents of the neighborhood in which he and his family lived proclaimed they had had enough when he started to kill the neighborhood pets.

His family agreed to build an 8-foot brick wall with shards of broken glass embedded in mortar at the top in an effort to confine Rene.

Guards were even posted around the property at night but this did not keep Rene from escaping.

Not long after this wall was completed two local girls went missing. Their mutilated bodies were found near the Rondolier property.

It was discovered later that Rene was able to escape via a maze of dark, damp catacombs that lay beneath his home.

His family and many locals knew that he used these tunnels before the wall was even built for he often hid from people in these catacombs--residents of the area even referred to them as Rene’s Playground.

So the families’ precautions were wasted.

After the discovery of the two-murdered girl’s, a mob took Rene into a nearby swamp and lynched him.

His family collected his body afterwards and buried him on their land.

Savannah Swamp
This legend takes an even stranger twist after this.

Following the hanging two other children and a woman were found murdered on separate days in what is today the Colonial Park Cemetery.

Since no other killer was found rumors started that the ghost of Rene was responsible for these deaths.

An Odd Discovery

In the 1900s, a builder working on the grounds of the former Rondolier home found Rene’s grave. He opened it but no remains were found inside.

Where the Rondolier home once stood is now a part of the Colonial Park Cemetery.

People to this day believe that Rene haunts this part of the cemetery as well as the catacombs that lay beneath.

Click to enlarge.
Other reports state that his large dark shadow can still be seen swinging from a tree in the nearby swamp where he was hanged.

Walking ghost tours are given at night through Colonial Park Cemetery.