31
Aug
10

Bonaventure

I’ve been reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I saw the movie a long time ago at a sleep-over party and once I moved to Savannah, I watched it again. I came across the book at Goodwill and I decided to buy it. The book is always on display at gift shops so I figured I better read it before I have to say no to multiple Savannahians that ask if I’ve read it.

Anyway, there is a cemetery in downtown Savannah that is the subject of ghost tours and historical tours. Fact! Union soldiers got bored while they stayed in Savannah and vandalized some of the headstones, broke into family vaults for warmth, and used headstones as target practice. The guide told me there are over 10,000 people buried in the cemetery. You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at it. It’s probably only two or three blocks in size. The headstones are definitely weathered. They say the oldest person buried there is 1700 years old (from the Union soldiers vandalism) but I did not have the patience to try to read every marker to find him. I feel I should also mention there are some markers that were moved and when people came along later to try to put them back where they belonged could not find where they went so they just stacked them all up along the back wall. And when I say “some” I mean around 50.

Until this past weekend, boyfriend and I thought the downtown cemetery was the same cemetery in Midnight in the Garden. Afterall, the rest of the movie/book is set in downtown Savannah so why not? We were wrong. We really wanted to look for Bonaventure Cemetery which is about 10 miles out of downtown in the little township of Thunderbolt! I wanted to go on an adventure to visit this famous cemetery so that’s what I did. I was really adventurous too because I didn’t even use my Garmin! However, Thunderbolt isn’t that big and chances are any road I picked would lead me to the cemetery.

I really should have done my research before hand. This cemetery is HUGE! I figured I could just walk around and find the famous bird girl statue, take a picture, and leave.

1 inch = 60 feet

I walked around for about an hour and couldn’t find the statue. I thought I was getting close when I saw two people looking through an iron fence at some statue but as I got closer, I realized they were actually paying their respects. Woops. The statue they were looking at was really pretty though. In fact, the entire cemetery is really beautiful!

At the back of the cemetery you can see a creek that runs in between the islands/marshes (third picture). I think you can even see part of the cemetery in the distance when you drive down Victory going into town. It was a pretty windy day today so the leaves on the oaks would sway back and forth too. It was very serene. Most of the plots had “perpetual care” carved in somewhere but there were other plots with a “do not service” sign. This was neat because what would make someone choose one over the other? A money thing? A status thing?

Still, even the “do not service” plots were in good shape. The whole cemetery was in very good condition. You could read the majority of the inscriptions on the headstones. Probably because they were more recent, but none of the plant life had overtaken any of the plots. In the Colonial Park Cemetery (the downtown one), the markers were from the 1800s. Most of the markers at Colonial Park are covered in moss or other elements and the inscriptions were fading.  The markers at Bonaventure seemed to be from the mid 1900s and I even found a couple marked within the last 10 years. Another difference was there were not a lot of family vaults at Bonaventure, but there were a lot of family plots. The vaults that I did find were older.

The vaults though were fancier than the ones at Colonial Park. I don’t know if that’s a period difference or just because the people buried in Bonaventure had more $$$.

As I made my way around the back side of the cemetery, I found a building. The building was a Synagogue or a Temple or something for the Jewish faith. And it is located in the area with a lot of Jewish headstones. It is separated from the rest of the cemetery by an asphalt road. It’s possible that it was a completely different cemetery all together. I found it interesting though. The headstones were also placed closer together.

The red brick building in the left corner is the Jewish place of worship. This was only part of it. I wasn’t sure what the etiquette is for taking pictures in a cemetery and I didn’t want to be disrespectful. Or haunted.

There was also a mini-Arlington.

About half the allotted space was filled up. I didn’t see anyone from Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. I liked it though because all the markers were the same just like in Arlington. Bonaventure is a lot more shady though.

So where it the bird girl statue? I had walked around long enough so I decided to go back home and look it up. Another time when an Iphone would have been helpful. I’m glad I didn’t walk around any more too because Wikipedia told me that after the book was published, the family had the statue donated to the Telfair museum so the plot wouldn’t be disturbed. I did find out where the statue used to be though so next time I go, I’ll look for the Trosdal family plot. I actually think I saw that family’s plot so I’ll know where to go next time.

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2 Responses to “Bonaventure”


  1. 1 Mommy
    September 1, 2010 at 5:54 am

    i never read the book or saw the movie…i think uncle damian did, and when i mentioned that you were moving to savannah, he mentioned it and spouted off a bunch of facts–you know how he is ;)

    LOVED the awesome dunk tank photos and the cemetery photos. what’s the girl with a bird statue?


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