By Jessica Ferri.
The state of Georgia is undeniably beautiful. It’s also home to some of the United States’ most bloody history. The host of many of the Civil War’s most brutal conflicts, Georgia embodies William Faulkner’s maxim that that “the past isn’t dead and buried—it’s not even past.”
From the swampy burial grounds of Savannah, to the hidden histories of Atlanta, with a few horrifying haunts in between, here are the 11 reasons we’ve got Georgia on our minds, giving us anything but peaceful dreams.
1. Bonaventure Cemetery
Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery became iconic after being featured in the 1997 movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but its ghosts have long made this burial ground infamous. Built in 1846, on the site of a plantation, visitors have reported paranormal activity here for decades. The sculpture that adorns the grave of Gracie Watson, a young girl who died of pneumonia at the age of six, is said to weep bloody tears at night. Those who come to pay their respects to Gracie often leave her toys and trinkets. Other visitors have reported hearing the sounds of disembodied children playing near the graves of the young, and have furthermore claimed that statues move position in the night. One angel statue allegedly smiles down on those to whom she takes a liking.
2. The Pirate’s House
Built in 1753, The Pirate’s House in Savannah, Georgia is one of the state’s oldest standing structures. Sailors were reportedly lured into the building in hopes of finding dinner and a place to rest. Instead, they were dragged through a tunnel underneath the building to Savannah’s river, and forced into the service of pirates. Patrons of The Pirate’s House, which is now a restaurant, claim to hear moans and screams coming from the basement, and have glimpsed the shadows of doomed sailors in the hallways.
3. Andersonville Prison
The conditions at this prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War was so horrific, that after the war, the captain responsible for running it was charged with war crimes and executed. Of the 45,000 Union soldiers that were imprisoned here, 13,000 died. A soldier described his entrance into the camp in a letter to a friend: “As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror, and made our hearts fail within us.” Visitors to the site today report hearing disembodied voices, crying, and a horrific stench as they walk through the grounds where so many men suffered and died.
4. Central State Hospital
In the former capital of Georgia, a small town called Milledgeville, you’ll find the ruins of one of what was once one of the largest hospitals in the United States. At the infamous Central State Hospital, thousands of the Southeast’s insane and unwanted were locked away. At one point, 13,000 patients were being treated at Central State. And if the gigantic graveyard on the grounds, with over 2,000 unmarked graves, is any indication, many never made it home. Curious tourists claim to have experienced unexplained phenomena while walking the grounds, including feeling an inexplicable chill, and hearing the sounds of moans or footsteps behind them in empty rooms.
5. Bulloch Hall
In Roswell, north of Atlanta, is a former plantation home that may look familiar if you’ve seen Gone with the Wind. The large, four-column portico entrance may have inspired Margaret Mitchell’s fictional Tara Plantation. Bulloch Hall is home to Teddy Roosevelt’s mother Mittie Bulloch, as well as myriad other who lived, suffered and died there. Some talk of the ghost of a slave girl, who is said to move from room to room, turning off the lights. Other visitors have seen the specters of those dressed in antebellum garb or Confederate gray, who vanish into thin air. Mittie, who was a voracious reader, is said to sill sit in her favorite chair in the library, which rocks back and forth, though there’s no one there.
6. Roswell Mill
Just across the street from Bulloch Hall, you’ll find the Old Roswell Mill, founded by Roswell King, the town’s namesake, in 1836. Slaves built the mill, and an outbreak of the measles in 1847 left many dead. However, the mill went on to be prosperous, creating the wool uniforms for the Confederate army. Because of its importance, Union General Sherman seized the mill in 1864 and shipped 400 mill workers to prison, where most died from exposure and starvation. Now protected by the National Parks Service, the Roswell Mill’s violent history makes it one of Georgia’s most haunted places.
7. St. James Episcopal Cemetery
Though many may come to visit St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia to see the grave of the murdered child beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey, there are several ghosts who have haunted this graveyard for much longer. Most notably, the grave of one Mary Meinert features a statue that depicts a young woman holding two babies, one in each arm. Students from the nearby Marietta High School have claimed that at night, Mary cries tears of blood. Others hear the sounds of a young woman weeping near her grave. The baby statues are also said to switch position. There’s only one sure way to find out if the legend of Mary Meinert is true … we’ll see you there.
8. Kennesaw House
Now home to the Marietta Museum of History, Kennesaw House was originally a cotton warehouse, built in 1840. In the 1850s, it was converted into an inn. Its location, adjacent to the railroad stop for Marietta, made it a popular place for Union sympathizers and spies to congregate. In 1864, General Sherman even used the house as his headquarters as he marched through Georgia. Later in the war, the house was used as a makeshift hospital and morgue for fallen Confederate soldiers. Visitors to the museum today have reported chilling encounters, including riding the elevator with a surgeon attired in Civil War era clothing, or catching sight of a woman wearing an antebellum gown with pink trim, who matches the description of the inn’s owner. The most disturbing paranormal activity at Kennesaw House lies in the basement, where visitors have supposedly been greeted by the grisly sight of a Civil-War era hospital room, filled with dying soldiers and frenzied doctors.
9. Ellis Hotel
In downtown Atlanta you’ll find the Ellis Hotel on Peachtree Street. It was the site of one of the worst fires in Atlanta history, so horrible it was nicknamed “the Titanic on Peachtree.” In December 1946, the hotel was at its busiest, with 260 guests in for the weekend. The blaze started, but firefighters could only reach the eighth floor of the 15-floor building. One hundred and nineteen people perished in the fire. Though the hotel was rebuilt in 1950, guests today report unexplained phenomena, such as things going missing, or objects moving around in their rooms. There’s also the terrifying sounds of voices, including the screams of women and children running down the hallway. Supposedly there were two weeks when the fire alarm sounded every night at 2:48 A.M., the exact time the blaze began in 1946.
10. Oakland Cemetery
The oldest and largest cemetery in Atlanta, Oakland was built in the vein of the great rural cemeteries of the Northeast. Opened in 1850, the cemetery houses a large section of the Confederate dead, containing 6,900 internments with 3,000 unknown soldiers. Twenty seven Atlanta mayors and Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell are also buried here. Most of the paranormal activity, however, seems to stem from the Confederate section. Visitors claim to see Confederate troops wandering the area. One tourist saw the body of a Union soldier, clad in navy blue, hanging from a tree. Most disturbing was the account of one visitor, who heard the disembodied roll call of a Confederate regiment. What’s worse: his own name was read.
11. Chickamauga Battlefield
Over 36,000 troops lost their lives during this three-day battle at Chickamauga in North Georgia, the largest battle fought in the state of Georgia during the Civil War, and the largest Union defeat. Now a national park, visitors have heard gunshots, screams, and the moans and cries of dying soldiers. Chickamauga is also home to a “lady in white” phantom, who searches for her lost husband, and a horrifying ghost called “Green Eyes.” Those who have encountered Green Eyes say from far away, the phantom appears to have green, glowing eyes, but when it approaches, it becomes clear that the ghost has no head.
This article was first published on The Lineup.
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