The Colonial Park Cemetery is located in downtown Savannah), at the intersection of Abercorn Street and Oglethorpe Avenue. Take time to study and appreciate the gate at the entrance. Entrance The arch framing the main entrance to Colonial Park Cemetery was placed here in 1913 by the Savannah chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The cemetery is also known as The Old Cemetery and The Brick Cemetery. The Colonial Park Cemetery is the second cemetery in Savannah. It was opened by the English in 1750 and was closed for burials in 1853. The cemetery is 22 acres. It was then reopened as a park in 1896.
Many famous Revolutionary War heroes are buried in Colonial Park Cemetery. Button Gwinnett was buried in the cemetery in 1777. He is one of the three Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was also the acting governor of Georgia during the Revolutionary War. He was not on good terms with General Lachlan McIntosh, the leader of the Continental troops in Georgia. Gwinnett challenged McIntosh to a duel. Gwinnett died three days later of a leg wound suffered in the duel. General Lachlan McIntosh died in1806 and was also buried just a short distance away. If you are interested, you can view the dueling pistols that they used at the Georgia Historical Society. Duels were so common there is a “Duelist” section in the cemetery.
During the Civil War, Union troops were stationed at the cemetery because it was ideal for horses. The troops often searched for valuables among the graves. Since most of the soldiers were mischievous, they switched a number of dates on some of the tombstones.
When Restoration began in the early 1950’s, the women of the Trustees Garden Club who made the cemetery their work. They did not know where to replace the vandalized tombstones so the hung them on the east wall, side-by-side were they can still seen today.
If you walk along the Abercorn side of the cemetery you will be able to see the “roots” of Savannah populace: Scots, Irish and French. Each nationality it seems as its own section.
Today, this historic place is also a park and open to all who care to visit, walk and set awhile.
The Colonial Park Cemetery of Savannah is open from 8 to 8 daily.
By Chuck St. Arnaud