Jamie Davis Writes



Q&A with Ryan Dunn, Savannah Author and Owner of Afterlife Tours

I am very excited about Ryan Dunn’s book that is coming out in March 2015. The book is entitled Savannah’s Afterlife: True Tales of a Paranormal Investigator. In addition to being an author and paranormal investigator, Ryan also operates Afterlife Tours in historic Savannah, Georgia. He was kind enough to let us tag along on an 8:00 tour last Friday night.

The locations we visited included: Twelve West Oglethorpe, the Foley House, Savannah Theatre, Colonial Cemetery, the Olde Pink House, and Moon River Brewery. Since moving to Savannah a year ago, I have been captivated several times by the old dilapidated home at Twelve West Oglethorpe.


I have heard many various stories about the home, but Ryan’s tour is unique in the fact that he has not only personally investigated each location, he has actually done extensive research with the Georgia Historical Society and other sources to tell the truth about the history of the locations. He is not just standing on a corner spouting recounts of local legends. He’s telling visitors what the documents actually show. I respect that a lot.

The other unique characteristic about how he runs his tours is that he shares evidence that he’s personally collected during investigations. You may see a combination of photographs, videos, and hear Class “A” EVPs.

Ryan has been featured on A&E’s My Ghost Story.

Five Questions for Ryan Dunn:

What made you interested in the field?
I became interested in the field when I moved into a haunted house here in Savannah’s Historic District in April of 2010. I began doing paranormal research as a hobby, but soon started catching very compelling evidence. It soon became a full time business and also evolved into a ghost tour company too.

Any dream locations to investigate?
My dream locations would be 432 Abercorn Street here in Savannah, Waverly Hills Sanitarium in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Winchester Mystery House in California just to name a few.

Can you talk about the pilot you are filming at Central State Asylum in Milledgeville, Georgia?
The upcoming investigation in Milledgeville will be a filming of a pilot for a new paranormal show based here in Savannah that we will be pitching to national networks as part of a 5 episode package. We intend to embody the flare of Savannah itself and the fact we live in the paranormal hotspot of the United States. Not only do we do investigations, but we live this day to day.

Do you have a favorite place to investigate in Savannah?
One of my favorite places to investigate in Savannah is the Savannah Theatre because we always capture great evidence there. Also, the Moon River Brewery always gives us great results too. We will be doing our 8th investigation there on October 19.

Any plans for a second book?
I am currently conducting research for a sequel, and intend to began writing that one this fall.

Thank you to Ryan for having us out. I am particularly interested in getting an update about the Central Asylum investigation!

Further reading:

Night Landing. Savannah International. Gorgeous.

Kicking off a Saturday – Tybee Island, GA

On the way to Tybee Island, there is a great multipurpose trail close to Fort Pulaski. The McQueen Island Rails to Trails park area gives a good six miles worth of exercise options. We took advantage of it early one Saturday and saw more wildlife than people. Once again, I saw a great raccoon that eluded my photography skills. He was waddling (much like me after eating redneck nachos at Wiley’s), and by all accounts appeared to be living quite lavishly out on the island.  This is what the trail looks like to the west of Pulaski.


I hear that the trail used to go on past what is now a witch’s curse sign:


I was going to cross it, but Bob said he didn’t think we should test the witches in the heart of voodoo country. I agreed.

Bicycle parking:


When you get to the end, there is nothing to do. You just rest a minute and breathe and take in the scenery. It’s funny, because, before I lived here I used to think that the salt marshes smelled funny (or even sort of bad). Now I love that smell.


You just stand out here and look at nature and think maybe this is the type of place where maybe the worst thing that could happen is somebody in the Deen family burns dinner or when Comcast lets their cable go out in a storm. This is the type of place where you stand in front of a witch’s curse sign and watch the ships roll out of port.


And you just stand there until they pass you.


They didn’t come out in the picture, but there were several dolphins out there. They were close enough that we could hear them exhaling. I did capture a magnificent turtle and a crab.

IMG_1573[1] IMG_1579[1]

Tybee Island and Wilmington Island. Places for people who don’t really want to have real problems. And I mean that in a good way.

Haunted Savannah

In America, the South holds a certain mystique. Whenever I meet someone who has never traveled in my section of the world, they invariably conjure up images in their minds of old plantation homes with Spanish-moss covered oaks lining the drive, gentlemen and ladies who entertain on front porches, the eccentric aunt who lives upstairs, and a slower way of life.

While these stereotypes may be true in many instances, there is another one that carries even more weight when discussing characteristics of the South. Savannah, Georgia has been named One of America’s Most Haunted Cities by U.S. Today. As the city grew, it built upon its dead.  Houses and commercial buildings were constructed right over burial grounds, and when people renovate it is routine to find human remains in the ground. The local courts ruled in the 1950’s that having a ghost in your house is a structural defect, and sellers must list paranormal activity in their Disclosure Statements. The below list discuss some of the reasons why Savannah is known for being so haunted.

Colonial Park Cemetery:

Colonial Park dates back to 1750. In 1820, Yellow Fever struck Savannah, and it is estimated that more than 700 victims are buried in this cemetery. Even more disturbing, during the Civil War, Yankee soldiers set up camp within the gates of the cemetery, and even inside the mausoleums.  Many graves and headstones were desecrated, and today you can see where random headstones have been placed against the back wall because it is simply impossible to establish where the original gravesites were (Link 1). One of the most popular local legends is that of Rene Asche Rondolier. Rene was born in 1777, and was over seven feet tall. He was known for killing animals around the neighborhood. When this came to light, his parents confined him on the property. However, soon, two mutilated bodies of young girls were found near the family’s property (now the cemetery), and Rene was found hiding in the tunnels below ground. Even after he was killed by the townspeople, two more children and one woman were later found dead. Rene’s ghost was blamed for these deaths (Link 2).

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace:
Savannah is the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts (link 3). The house is open for tours, and staff members have reported hearing piano sounds and have even seen apparitions. As I wrote in one of my personal blog posts, “Margaret Wayt DeBolt wrote Savannah Spectres and Other Strange Tales in 1984, and the tour began because of her and her fantastic book. As an aside, my favorite story in the book (and about haunted Savannah so far) is the one about Nellie and William Washington Gordon, II, who seemed to have a love that even death could not interfere with. As Nellie lay dying, her children who were in attendance were reported to say “when she died, her face took on the radiance of a bride, going to meet her bridegroom.” The family butler was said to report, through a face streaming tears, that he saw the General appear, and that he came to fetch her himself.” (Link 4)

Kehoe House:

William Kehoe’s 1892 Renaissance Revival home looms five stories over Columbia Square in downtown Savannah. Many family members died in the home, and as early as 1937 it was being operated as a mortuary. The home was owned by Goette Funeral Home during the 1950’s and 1970’s. Football great Joe Namath was the last private individual to own the home. There are many stories on the internet and even in some books that tell the tale of two Kehoe girl twins who perished in the home while playing in a chimney (Link 5).  There is a commemorative decoration in the chimneys on the main floor that is said to corroborate this story. During my personal overnight stay in the house, I asked a bellman about the stories. His reply?  “It’s not haunted.  There are two children, and they live here.  This is their house.” I interviewed Tara Kehoe Ryan on October 26, 2013, and she confirmed that two of the Kehoe girls passed away in the home at very young ages, but they succumbed to Roseola, and passed within days of each other, not while playing in the chimneys. For more history about the Kehoe family and their historic home, please see Carol Ann Causey’s research paper (Link 6).

Oatland Island:
Today, Oatland Island is a wildlife preserve and favorite field trip destination for local schools. While visitors walk the wooded trails, they will come across random abandoned buildings and old towers. In 1927, the main building was a hospital for The Brotherhood of Railroad Conductors. The 1940’s brought a syphilis outbreak, and locals (including children) were brought here. Somewhere along the way, rumors persisted of the government running secret tests on the patients. (Link 7)  For more information about the history and hauntings of Oatland Island, please see Shannon Scott’s short film (Link 8).

Old Candler Hospital:
Originally built in 1808 as a poor house and seaman’s hospital, this building claims to have its share of haunts inside. But perhaps the biggest attraction it holds is actually underground. The Oglethorpe Tour Company was the only company in town that held a license to take tours down into the morgue tunnels below the old hospital (tours currently suspended while construction is taking place on the new Savannah Law School) (Link 9). The tunnels are the subject of much speculation by locals. Tour guides tell tales of autopsies being performed underground, as well as claiming that the tunnel was used to carry victims of the Yellow Fever out of the hospital without drawing the attention of the public to the epidemic (Link 10).

The Pirate’s House:

The “Herb House” which adjoins the restaurant is said to be the oldest house in Georgia. The old wooden restaurant is dark and maintains the perfect old seafaring atmosphere. It is not hard to picture a room full of sailors drinking rum after arriving in Savannah’s harbor in the late 1700’s. Captain Flint, the famous pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island was reported to have died upstairs (Link 11). The tunnels (one of which is prominently displayed – yet roped off) reportedly lead underground to the Savannah River, where many men were shanghaied after a long night of drinking. (Link 12)

Marshall House:

When you check into the luxurious Marshall House you may not have ghosts in mind. But visitors and staff insist that Union soldiers remain from the Civil War days when the property served as a hospital. (Link 13) The Marshall House even topped Fox News’s list of haunted getaways. (Link 14) While on a recent tour, my guide informed us that during renovations, the Marshall House was one of the famous locations that unearthed some of those pesky Civil War human remains that people have been finding all over the historic district.

Old Pink House:

This is the home of Savannah’s best ghost host. James Habersham, Jr. built the home in the late 1700’s and reportedly is still hanging about. Women are advised to avoid the restroom in the tavern downstairs. This is because of so many people experiencing getting locked in! Ghostly children are blamed for these tricks (Link 15). James has been seen and experienced by staff and visitors alike. He will light candles, straighten table linens, and has even shared a toast with a guest (Link 16). A tip for travelers trying to sneak out on the bill by feigning terror in the restroom:  the bartenders are on to you. You will surely be caught.

Moon River Brewery:

Most of the ghost stories around Savannah are harmless in nature. Over at Moon River, the experiences tend to run a little darker. The Manager reports being pushed and shoved, has had bottles thrown at him, and has seen silverware thrown from the tables. He has also seen women walking up and down the stairwells (Link 17). One of the most interesting videos I have ever seen is of “Toby,” the entity purportedly captured on video lurking around a pool table in the cellar. A full body female apparition has also been witnessed walking up to the bar by multiple people simultaneously. The Brewery is in the same building as the former 1821 City Hotel. (Link 18)

1790 Inn & Restaurant:

The 1790 prominently advertises the spirit of Anna. They even (in good fun) have a replica of her spirit displayed in an upstairs guest room 204 by the window so passersby can see her. (Link 19) The truth of Anna has turned into nothing but rumor now, but the sad tale is one of heartbreak when the young lady was betrayed by the love of her life, who was a visiting sailor. She either jumped off the roof or was pushed to her death (Link 20). Whatever the origins of the story, guests keep leaving comment cards that reflect a presence is sticking around 1790. The most common guest comments? Well, they are from couples who report that the female has experienced something. Perhaps Anna is still bitter after all this time and is working diligently to prevent other people from being happy in their relationships.


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Inside Fort Pulaski

I took this photo while walking through Fort Pulaski last Saturday. I love it.

Weird Oatland Island

In Beth Dolgner’s Georgia Sprits and Specters, Oatland Island in Savannah, Georgia is mentioned as a haunted hospital. Today, the facility functions as a wildlife center, and there are no current public ghost hunts advertised.

The main building (pictured below) dates from 1927 when it was used as a retirement home for The Brotherhood of Railroad Conductors.DSC_0028

In the 1940s, there was a syphilis crisis and the building was occupied by those suffering from the disease. The patients included children. Ms. Dolgner’s chapter also mentions Oatland being a “development laboratory” for the government agency that preceded the CDC. Shannon Scott created a fantastic film, an excerpt of which can be viewed on his site:

Bob and I began our own personal Oatland exploration by exploring the grounds behind the main building.

View from the dock:DSC_0005

I thought I stepped into a scene of the old TV series Lost, when I stumbled upon this boat:DSC_0002

There is a mysterious building in front of the main building that is off-limits (which means I was dying to access it).DSC_0035



Bob was trying to teach me how to use my new camera, and captured some of Oatland’s current residents.DSC_0054



More mysterious buildings out back:DSC_0172


Further Reading

19th Annual Telfair Art Fair – Savannah, GA

I am a little late with this posting. The 19th Annual Telfair Art Fair was held November 16 – 17, 2013 in the Telfair Square outside the Jepson Center and the Telfair Academy. Bob and I perused the artist booths on Saturday afternoon. When we heard the term “art fair,” we tempered our expectations going in. I should have known better since the Telfair was involved!

No, this was a real deal fine art event with around 80 artists specially selected to showcase their work. I was particularly intrigued by three artists on scene.

Jenny Henley
Jenny took home an award from the show, and is pictured below with the typewriters that caught my eye:
Maybe it was the writer in me, but I was struck by these images. I must have totally been getting it, because Jenny was kind enough to answer a few of my questions and said that the typewriter “is a beautiful piece of equipment that is responsible for so much growth in modern technology.” Right on, Jenny Henley. I didn’t know it at the time, but now I think I feel the same way about the typewriter as I feel about aviation. My two most favorite things to do – write and travel.

The thing about Jenny Henley is that she’s talented, smart, and nice all rolled into this one unstoppable force of an artist. She describes her work and process lyrically:
“Working with a methodology that embraces sculptural practices in a painting framework, I attempt to reconcile ideas of technology, formal aesthetics and time. Typically I use recognizable imagery, appropriated for an audience familiar with contemporary notions of art; yet fused to a slightly nostalgic sensibility. My acrylic-based transfer process is considerably stable and archival. Inherently luxurious; the glossy surfaces I create allow me to create a hard, impenetrable, and thereby fixed and eternal work (I am concerned with time and viewer observation/commitment), but are also sly comments on the social markers that surround art, and art making.”

More about Jenny Henley:

Clifton Henri 

A self-described storyteller who was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Clifton’s work grabs your imagination and pulls you into his scenes. The door series (one of which is pictured below) IMG_1168 was the image that first caught my attention. The idea being conveyed is one of unknown opportunity. You never know what is on the other side of the door until you open it and come out on the other side. The idea is inspiring enough, and certainly one that we can all relate to at some point in our lives. Seeing the idea captured in an image makes it particularly powerful and thought-provoking. Do we stay where we are, or do we dare go through the door even if we don’t know what is going to come? It could just be where I am right now in life, but I loved these doors. There comes a moment in life (or at least for me that moment came) where you take stock and weigh your options. Maybe a moment of clarity finally comes. Peace came upon me. I don’t know what is waiting for me on the other side of the door, and it doesn’t matter anymore. I can’t stay here. I’m going through. There are no guarantees that what is on the other side is going to be immediately better, but it will be different. And sometimes that is enough. A “I don’t know where I’m going, but I can’t stay here” moment. You don’t know, but you jump anyway. And then you are free.

Craig Brabson

I knew this guy was special the first time I saw him. I wanted to buy Blue Timbers, IMG_1170 and probably just should have. I need to work on my art patronage. Perhaps after that second book sells….. But I digress. Craig is a gifted fine art abstract photographer, who showcases the beauty in ruin. Think old pieces of wood from a sawmill somewhere in Alabama. A rusting door perhaps, as shown in Aquatic. His work struck a chord with me because it reminded me so much of the scenery I saw while traveling and exploring the subjects of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums. I just love the concept of documenting and preserving the historic ruins throughout this country. That is not all he does, but that is my particular favorite genre.—retro-relics

Boiler - Ashmore Estates: Ashmore, IL
Boiler – Ashmore Estates: Ashmore, IL

Maybe, there is hope for me as a photographer yet. I did capture an orange rusting boiler in the basement of an old poor farm in Illinois last year. However, there is a gnawing knowing inside of me that tells me it is just not quite the same thing.

Savannah: A Study in Haint Blue

No doubt, the city is full of topic ideas for this Savannah freelance writer. Bob and I have been noticing all of the various shades of blues and greens on many houses, restaurants, and industrial buildings in the heart of the historic district of America’s Most Haunted City. We didn’t know what we were seeing until we went on a tour in the Owens Thomas House and were told that:
“The ceiling on the first floor of the Owens’ Thomas slave quarters features the largest example of “haint” blue painting known to exist in America. “Haint” blue paint was believed to have spiritual properties in many African cultures, such as the ability to ward off evil spirits. In nineteenth-century America, the paint-created by mixing indigo, lime, and buttermilk-was used on ceilings, around doors or windows, and even behind or under furnishings.”
Savannah’s 1820 yellow fever epidemic wiped out about 660 people, but the lime in the paint may have kept mosquitos out of many homes (which spread the fever).
The idea is to invoke the appearance of water surrounding entry points into the home, because according to Gullah culture, it is believed that spirits cannot cross water. This idea is alive and well in Savannah, Georgia to this very day.  Shades range from seafoam green to deep indigo. Even Sherwin Williams has something to say about it:
Tonight, we were frequenting a local coffee shop, and lo and behold the ceiling was HAINT BLUE!  As we were waiting in line, the cashier heard us talking about it and informed us that the ceiling was intentionally painted that color for the specific purpose of warding off ghosts!
Ceiling of coffee shop 11.1.13
I also hear that The Pirates House is another good example of Haint Blue:
The Pirates House - Savannah, GA
The Pirates House – Savannah, GA

Do What You Want Saturday – Tybee Island

Saturday is officially DO WHAT YOU WANT DAY in my world. November 16, and the weather was so good we had to hit the beach.

Bob took some nice shots of the lighthouse and underneath the pier from his phone.

Tybee Island, GA - Lighthouse
Tybee Island, GA – Lighthouse
Tybee Island, GA - Underneath the Pier
Tybee Island, GA – Underneath the Pier

But what really had me thinking about life was a dollar I pinned to a bar about a year ago. Down what I call cottage shop lane on Tybee Island, Tybee Cottage Shopsyou will find a pizza joint by the name of Huc-A-Poos.

Outside Huc-A-Poos - Tybee Island, GA
Huc-A-Poos – Tybee Island, GA

And inside this joint you will find this little nugget:

Guess what? I still believe it.

Further Reading:

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