By: Marlene Ratledge Buchanen | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Marlene Ratledge Buchanen | Gwinnett Citizen
Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

It was a dark and stormy night on the lonely, haunted cobblestone streets of Savannah. During the Revolutionary War, many soldiers on both sides of the battle were killed. The townspeople could not bury them fast enough.

The heat, typhoid, and yellow fever were causing even more deaths. Trenches were dug in the roadway. The dead from both sides of the conflict were rolled into mass burials. This is one of the most haunted streets in the world, if not the most.

Well, actually the street lights were on. It wasn’t storming. There was a ghost tour group of us, so it wasn’t very lonely, either.... but it was haunted.

Our first stop was the Andrew Low House. It was the threat of the destruction of this house that started the Savannah Preservation Society. Initially, the Low home was a private residence. After Andrew Low’s death, it became a boarding house. It remained a boarding house operated by one family for 109 years. Many children lived there. Some were moved in after they had lost parents to many of the epidemics rampant in Savannah and outlying areas. Of course, bringing in children from the home of a typhoid sufferer meant that the child could also be a carrier of the disease. This perpetuated the sicknesses infecting others in the house. The death toll was enormous.

The ghost story told on the tour of this house is about those children who still inhabit the home. Our tour guide, Lady Ivor, said to us that the children liked to play tag and run along the upstairs landing. They do that to this day. Their cat still stays around, and occasionally some visitors feel him brush against their legs or see him in one of the upstairs windows. Only the basement and first floor have electricity. Nevertheless, lights have been seen in the upper floor windows. Obviously, hoo-doodies doing their thing.

We were told to take a picture up the stairwell. Frequently people later find orbs of light or the shadowy outline of a child or two in the photograph. Our son James took a picture of the original owner’s top hat which is in the front parlor. His camera worked perfectly, and the picture is clear as it can be. When he used his zoom lens on the staircase, the lens started zooming in and out on its own. He couldn’t get a picture. As soon as he stepped away from the first-floor staircase, the camera worked as it should. Close to the steps—zooming frenzy—away, perfect behavior. You decide. Was a ghostly child messing with our son’s fancy camera? Maybe.

Next, we went into the Gribble home where someone had used an ax to murder the three women of the Gribble family. The crime is still unsolved. One woman lived a few days and muttered the name of her ex-husband. He was promptly brought to trial. He swore he was innocent. “Don’t they all?” thought the jury, who promptly sentenced to him to life imprisonment.

Snell could not understand the tour director clearly, so I was explaining the story as we proceeded to the Gribble’s spooktacular location. It was along this street, paved over hundreds of dead soldiers, that I had my ghostly encounter. Suddenly, one of the Revolutionary War soldiers reached up from his ancient burial pit and grabbed me by the ankle. I was thrown flat on the ground. I am sure that it was the ghost and not the manhole cover or cobbled streets that got me.

Here is a bit of news that you may not know. If a fragrant homeless person comes to your rescue, you will not need smelling salts. Trust me. I couldn’t stand up, but I regained consciousness very quickly. People were accommodating, but I had to lie there for a minute before they could stand me up. I am not sure if my eyes were watering from the pain or the aroma of the helpers. I was left with a broken right wrist, torn up cartilage in my left knee and lingering olfactory memory.

That is my version of my ghost experience in Savannah, and I am sticking to it! It has nothing to do with the cobblestone streets and a faulty manhole cover.