According to legend, the area where Colonial Park Cemetery now sits was once the local dueling grounds in the 1740s. In the 1700s and early 1800s, it had become a very popular method for settling disputes spreading quickly to the colonies. However, in 1838, the Governor of South Carolina established the ‘The Code of Honor; or Rules for the Government of Principles and Seconds in Duelling’.
Challenges could be dared in newspapers and local storefronts. Once two men agreed to the duel they would meet in the cemetery, walk their agreed upon paces, turn to face their challenger, and fire. Sometimes the men would fire their pistols in the air and shake hands without harming the other. Other times, they would shoot and try to harm or kill their opponent. Duels continued to take place in Colonial Park Cemetery into the 1870s, but soon after the Civil War ended, dueling began to fade away eventually becoming illegal.
From 1750 to 1853, the Colonial Park Cemetery was Savannah’s primary burial ground, and it was originally much larger than what exists today. In 1896, more roads and sidewalks were needed as the city was growing, and unfortunately, this resulted in the boundaries being pushed back at Colonial Cemetery. Construction moved forward despite the dead buried just underneath.
On the northern end of the cemetery, you will find a swing-set and some benches. Under them, buried in a mass grave, are the remains of nearly 700 people who died from Yellow Fever in 1820.
When Union General Sherman invaded Savannah during his March to the Sea in December 1864, he stayed in Savannah for several weeks. While in Savannah, his soldiers set up camp within Colonial Park Cemetery as they awaited their orders from Washington D.C.. The young, rowdy soldiers passed the time by defacing headstones. Some even dug up graves to use the coffins as beds. Unfortunately, many names and dates have been changed on the headstones to make it look like some people lived over a thousand years.
Ghosts and mysterious blue and green orbs have been seen in the cemetery during the day and the night. One of the scariest and most notorious encounters in Colonial Cemetery is the ‘Savannah Ghost Boy’ which can be viewed on YouTube. It shows a little boy running through the cemetery and then leaping into a tree. Other sightings include children on the playground just outside of the cemetery.
Colonial Park Cemetery is open daily from dawn to dusk.