"Following where my camera leads me!"

"Following where my camera leads me!"

Friday, June 14, 2019

A walk in Savannah's cemetery

I was happy to finally get to visit Bonaventure! On our many visits to Savannah, we had never had time to come visit. I've never been to a more beautiful cemetery, or a larger one! It's so big you need a map!
I don't come to the cemeteries for any death related morbid or scary  reasons. Cemeteries are also sad places, because that is where we say our final good-byes to loved ones.
 I come for the beautiful monuments, the gardens and flowers,the marble sculptures, beautiful gravestone art, the remembrances and legends of people and times long ago because I love history and genealogy so much. A "taphophile" is a person who likes to study and visit cemeteries to look at and record/photograph beautiful statues and past lives.  I started enjoying marble statues and Victorian funerary art a few years back. (in one of my recent posts, at the Middleton Plantation, you can see me posing with the pretty marble statues)
Garden cemeteries started being built when the old churchyard burial areas were literally filling up. I read that in several of our Charleston churchyard cemeteries, there are actually coffins stacked on top of each other, six or seven deep! In some old cities that had flooding, the coffins would be uprooted and floated down the streets---how horrible! 
They built Magnolia Cemetery here in Charleston to give plenty of open space for burials and also to have the pretty and safe garden/park atmosphere instead of crowded and disease filled churchyards. Remember, this was back in the time of  yellow fever, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, cholera, typhus, measles,  malaria, and the such. Churchyards filled quickly because the death rate was so much higher due to plagues such as these, plus so many young women dying in childbirth... and people died from simple flu and pneumonia type illnesses because they didn't have the medicines we have today.

my map
Before real parks were built, Victorians hung out in cemeteries all the time.With the big green lawns and the pretty flowers, they were known as "garden cemeteries".  The old "skulls and crossbones" of the earlier era had been replaced with pretty images such as beautiful flowers, lambs, angels, cherubs, etc.
They were colorful and elegant places full of manicured gardens and lovely ponds full of ducks and swans. People came to stroll, visit on Sundays after church, ride bicycles,(men first---it was a long time before it was common to see women on bikes!), have carriage races, and have small parties and get- togethers. They would pack their croquet sets and big delicious picnics of cold sandwiches, ginger snap cookies, plain bread spread with butter, pickles, lemonade, apples and oranges, plain gingerbread and pound or sponge cakes,  and bring balls and hoops for the children to play with. Young lovers would bring a book of love poems and a blanket to picnic and court on, and if you wanted a nice quiet day, bringing a blanket and a good book was the way to go! Little boys would play "soldier" and with little wagons or marbles and little girls would bring their pretty dolls, glass tea sets and toy dishes and have a doll tea parties underneath the shady trees. Little girls also loved to play "hoops" and "jacks". You might've heard guitar and violin music. Ladies strolled with pretty parasols and men looked dapper in their suits. Babies sat on soft handmade quilts and played with carved wood animals and wooden blocks and rattles.
You can get a good look at what it was like in the photo below:
Woodland Cemetery, Dayton Ohio
It was common for people to load up their wagons or carriages and bring tables, chairs, and even hammocks to their cemetery picnics. There were no paper plates and such yet....they carefully packed up their china plates and cups and soft cloth napkins!
We stopped at the Gift Shop first.

Here is a replica of Little Wendy. She is better known as "the bird girl". They put her on the cover of the 1994 book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  and so many people began visiting her because of the book and movie and vandalism, they moved her to the Jepson Center for the Arts downtown. She was made out of bronze in 1936.

All sorts of curiosities and interesting things to see in here. 
I bought fans!

Peaceful lanes meander throughout the cemetery. The beautiful streets are lined with azaleas and the oak trees with the moss.

Shawls of Spanish moss stir in the breeze

The name "Bonaventure" means "good fortune". The cemetery sits on a bluff overlooking the Wilmington river. The land Bonaventure sits on was originally a big family plantation.
There are many tours available, or you can do the self guided tour. We had the girls with us, so we did the self guided tour.
(below) symbols I see all the time in South Carolina and Georgia cemeteries

Many many rocks are left in memory in the Veteran's section!

sweet little cherubs

Just about everyone who visits Bonaventure wants to see Gracie, or is curious about who Gracie was. Here is her story:

Her name is carved out of Acacia branches to symbolize immortality of the soul

Teenage vandals broke her nose off in 1967

Look how he carved out her little boots!
I read that around Christmas time , people leave all kinds of toys and dolls here at Gracie's grave.
This angel's wing is broken and so is her hand

Many rock have been left by visitors. I left a penny, as had many others. I love wandering around these old cemeteries and seeing what everybody leaves for remembrances. Stone, glass, coins, flowers, small statues, seashells, painted rocks.

I love this old gate!

I think this family lost two children at ages two or three....very sad

I don't see lovely sentiments like this on the modern stones

 Mary Doyle had this monument placed in memory of her husband Charles Hobenstein. The inscription says " To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die".

Tansy says "Lets go over and look at that fence!"

So sad.....but how lovely all the sweet little remembrances

Thanks for visiting with me this day and I hope you enjoyed learning about the old Victorian cemeteries! So much history to learn there....