Savannah: Colonial Park Cemetery

I visited Savannah for two days before Christmas and then again for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day this year. I’ll be posting this week and next about aspects of Savannah (as well as Jekyll Island, where I spent about 10 days).

Today, a little field trip to Colonial Park Cemetery, the second cemetery established in Savannah, in 1750, almost 6 acres at the corner of Oglethorpe and Abercorn streets, right in historic Savannah, nine or ten short blocks from the hotel. It was closed to burials in 1853, prior to the Civil War, and became a city park in 1896, restored in 1967 and in the 1990s researched and documented by the city of Savannah.

Famous folk buried here include Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as Georgia governors, continental congressmen, and war heroes. Obscure burials include about 700 victims of the 1820 yellow fever epidemic, most in a mass grave, and victims of dueling — duels took places in or near Savannah from 1740 to 1877; Gwinnett himself died at age 41 or 42 after a duel with Lachlan McIntosh, a Revolutionary War Continental Major General, who is also buried here.

During the Civil War, federal (Union) troops occupied the cemetery grounds, looting and desecrating graves and tombs, changing dates on some of them. There is a quite lovely wall of tombstones that were at some point disassociated from their bodies.

You can find more detailed information at Savannah author James Caskey’s website.


Looking out of the entrance at Christmastime:



Button Gwinnett’s memorial stone:



Trees and views in the cemetery:

treeviewColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 CathedralofStJohntheBaptistthroughtreesinColonialParkCemeterySavannah28Dec2013 tulippoplarleavesononesidenototherColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 evergreenChristmastreeColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015


Headstones, footstones, and other grave markers, some fenced in, some broken … “His manners were unassuming…”

headstonesandfootstonesColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 headstonemonumenttreeSpanishmossColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 angelfaceoldheadstoneColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 fenceheadstonestreeColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 oldheadstoneColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 oldgravestonesColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 headstoneColonialCemeterySavannahSept2008


Tombs; you unbricked and walked down into some of these:

treewithSpanishmossandcryptColonialParkCemeterySavannah28Dec2013 mossoncryptroofColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 fernsgrowingoutofcryptbrickColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015


The stones on the back wall, no longer associated with those whose graves they marked:

brickwallofgravestonesColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 brickwallofgravestonespalmrosesbColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015 LeviWristmemorialColonialParkCemeterySavannah18Dec2015


View from the cemetery of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church nearby:



Meanwhile, life goes on:

common buckeye butterfly
common buckeye butterfly


If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life:  worms, fungi, microorganisms of all kinds. …  Given only the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for very long.”

~  Wendell Berry,  The Unsettling of America, 1977


(This Essential Cemeteries Bibliography may interest some.)

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