Saturday, April 19, 2014

4/18 - 19, Stop #4 - Haunted Savannah

Old Savannah Tours - Trolley Stop #3

     The third stop on the Old Savannah Tours is the Weed-Sorrel House, supposedly one of the most haunted houses in America.  I decided to visit stop #3 with the evening tour bus, the Old Savannah Ghost Trolley.  I wasn't sure if being off in search of the supernatural on Good Friday was weird or made sense.  (If you weren't following this blog when I investigated the haunted hotel on Daufuskie Island and photographed an "orb," click Here.)  It poured rain all day Friday, and it had just let up to a drizzle at nightfall.  The trolley has big sheets of protective plastic, so although it wasn't as photogenic as it might have been it was nice to not get rained on.  

    Old Savannah Tours owns two trolleys outfitted with special paint and neon lights for these nighttime Ghost Tours.  

Tammy Marlow

     Tammy Marlow, an enthusiastic transplant from Tennessee, is our guide for the night.  She has been in Savannah three years with her 19 year old daughter.  She got it in her head a few years back that she wanted to move to Savannah and be a tour guide, and she has made it happen.

   Her night starts picking up clients at various hotels that have reserved seats on the tour, the first stop is the Sorrel-Weed house.  This house has been featured in TAPS - a paranormal investigative group and has been featured in many shows and publications including Ghost Hunter's Halloween show on the SyFy channel and in HGTV's "If Walls Could Talk" show.

     The tales about the house center about the original owner, Francis Sorrel.  According to the tales, Francis' parents, owners of a large plantation in the West Indies, died when he was young.  As a young man, he got involved in the cotton trade and moved to Savannah.  He became a very successful broker and had this Greek Revival house built.  

Weed-Sorrel House, stock photograph

     He married one Lucinda Moxley who was just 17 at the time.   She died just 5 years later, and in 1829 Sorrel married her younger sister Matilda.  Sorrel had an ongoing affair with one of the maids, and one evening Matilda caught them.  Distraught, she flung herself from the top of the house onto the stone floor of the courtyard.  A few weeks later the slave girl was found hanging from the rafters in the carriage house, supposedly another suicide but long rumored to have been murdered by another member of Lucinda and Matilda's family.  

     This all is compounded by the notion that many of these houses were built atop cemeteries where only the headstones were removed, not the bodies.  (Back in the day, when folks died of yellow fever the fear was that it would spread again if they were dug up.)  Numerous other tales are spun at various houses about town until the trolley arrives at the oldest building in town, the "Pirate House."

     This has since become part of a restaurant, but it has a seedy past of its own.  This was originally the area set aside for experimental gardening when Savannah was first colonized.  As the town grew, it became a favorite haunt of pirates who were hired by various parties to interfere with competitor's shipping.  The colony had a ban on hard spirits, so the pirates dug a tunnel out to the wharf so they could sneak rum into the basement of the house.  

    The same basement and tunnel served to assist in recruiting new pirates.  When patrons would pass out from drinking rum (drugged?) they were pitched into the basement.  They were carried out through the tunnel and "Shanghai'd" - which basically meant they woke up at sea on a ship with a new career - pirate.  Many others were murdered and their bodies secreted out through the tunnels.  So the tour group crowds into the dimly lit basement to hear the tales of drunken debauchery and takes pictures in attempts to capture photos of orbs.

    This is the dinner tour, and the guests are treated to a buffet at the restaurant. The food was pretty good - fish, chicken, a great casserole and other fixin's.  And the restaurant has a few actors of their own that regale you with tales about piracy in Savannah.

     Then it is back on the trolley to visit another number of houses that folks regularly talk about strange happenings around.  

     Afterward, guests are returned to their various hotels and Tammy heads off to the trolley depot to finish up for the night.  I am off to see if I can find any scary sights around Savannah.

     The old stone stairways that lead down to river street are kinda spooky at night.  Especially since there are no two steps the same size, and negotiating them in the rain is a bit scary.

     A few of the old iron stairways looked kinda spooky as well.

    Now down on River Street, a hub of the nightlife here, there were a few scary things.  Watching drunk girls trying to negotiate cobblestone streets in high heels is terrifying.

     And today's parting shot is this guy, who was trying to buy some crack cocaine but was out of money.  He was pretty scary as he argued with guys that lurked in the shadows and screamed at someone on his cellphone to transfer money to his ATM card account.  

     There were a lot of other interesting characters, but the rain kept fogging my lens, and this camera is not of the quality to shoot night scenes well.  Perhaps another night we can scare up some more creepy Savannah scenes.

Have a great Easter weekend !!

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