There are many stereotypes, wives’ tales, and myths all wrapped around cemeteries. But for many people, myself included, cemeteries are a place of peace and mystery.
I love weird and spooky, Halloween is one of my favorite times of year and the Addams family is a dream family reunion for me. So when we were planning out an itinerary for Savannah, Peter was adamant on adding the Bonaventure Cemetery to our list. Bonaventure Cemetery is noted as one of the worlds most beautiful cemeteries and I wouldn’t disagree. For Peter and myself when we arrived at the cemetery we found ourselves being chased by a thunderstorm. With lightning and rolling thunder in the background, the atmosphere was set for our exploration of the cemetery.
Laced in Spanish Moss, the cemetery is divided up into different time periods, where visitors can stroll around looking at some of the famous plots known to be in the cemetery along with many not so well known plots. One of the most famous gravesites is that of Gracie Watson.
The main office gives you a map of the cemetery and general directions on how to find Gracie and Johnny Mercer. While we did find both sites, we found ourselves drawn to the beauty of the cemetery and the inhabitants of many of the others who are laid to rest in the cemetery.
Gracie was just 6 years old when she passed away from pneumonia right after having her photo taken in her Easter dress. Gracie was the daughter of a popular hotel manager in Savannah at the time of her death. Her headstone is a carved of marble by John Walz in 1890. Walz took the photograph of Gracie to carve this gorgeous monumental piece.
When we arrived at the grave site, there was a maintenance man who was cleaning the statue of Gracie. So I asked if it was a weekly or daily cleansing in which I was informed that they clean it approximately once a year to help preserve the marble since over the last 100 years it’s more fragile then its original state. Gracie’s story is on a small headstone that sits inside of her fenced plot, where visitors bring small tokens of memorial and appreciation.
What I found the most fascinating for me was right next to Gracie’s plot was the plot of my own family name. I’ve spent years doing research on my family and to stumble across this, was invigorating. While I’m not 100% sure of the exact relation to me directly I do know that down the line of lineage I had relatives living in Savannah.
So as we were headed back to the front gate of the Bonaventure Cemetery we found that they offer visitors an opportunity to look up plots with a computer located on their porch. Now if you are like me & want to visit a certain relative, asking the office can sometimes be difficult, especially if you are emotionally not prepared for everything. Offering visitors this option was a great benefit that visitors with family can benefit from.
Preparing for Your Visit
Peter and I went during one of the most humid parts of the year to visit Savannah. One of our biggest mistakes was not having enough water with us throughout our whole visit. While at the cemetery this was a huge mistake as well. Even though the trees help block the sun on most of the paths throughout the cemetery, having a bottle of water with you is still a good idea, especially during the hotter seasons of the year. However, if you forget something to drink there is a vending machine at the entrance to the cemetery where you can pick something up before and/or after your exploration.
Some individuals had umbrellas in case of the impending storm, while the majority of us just walked around hoping not to get poured on. An umbrella can also be helpful in helping to block the sun in the areas where there are no trees and you might have forgotten your sunblock. Wear comfortable sneakers as the paths are uneven and made up of gravel. You might also want to explore some of the plots which can be a little treacherous in some of the locations.
We did find one bench towards the back of the cemetery to sit on & get some relief from the hot air, but for the majority of the cemetery there are no benches, so be prepared to walk and stand for a long period of time if you are not driving.
Getting to the cemetery can be a little difficult if you don’t have a car. We took an Uber from our breakfast location, where our uber driver gave us some great tips, that we completely forgot about once the heat hit us. But if you are not going to be using transportation such as Uber, Lyft, or car, getting to the cemetery can be difficult as there is no public transportation that stops out in that direction.
The cemetery is located outside of Savannah’s main city in Thunderbolt, Georgia.
The Portly Passengers provides plus size inclusive travel tips and advice for anyone who is looking to explore the world. From seat sizes on airplanes to exploring museums, restaurants, and nature Melissa & Peter have the experience and stories to help guide you through it.