Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Crime Scenes: The Murder of Samuel T. Baker

Colonial Park Cemetery

Colonial Park Cemetery is Savannah's second-oldest graveyard. The 20-square-block cemetery was founded in 1750 and closed for new burials in 1853. During the great yellow fever epidemic of 1820, city officials buried all of Savannah's 700 fever victims in Colonial Park. Local historians estimate 10,000 bodies are buried in and around the park, although presently the cemetery has only about 600 marked graves.

As General William T. Sherman pillaged and burned his way through Georgia during the Civil War, Union cavalry troops quartered in Savannah used the gated cemetery as a corral and grazing ground for their horses. Some of the cavalrymen dug for valuables among the graves. Local legend also says the mischievous Union troopers played a macabre joke on their vanquished foes by switching around many of the headstones.

In 1896, five years before Samuel Baker crossed through the cemetery for the last time on his way home from work, Colonial Park Cemetery reopened as a public park.

Corner of Lincoln Street
Corner of Lincoln Street
The most direct route to Samuel's house from Gayou's Barbershop was to take Lincoln Street south. Lincoln Street intersects the northern boundary of the cemetery at East Oglethorpe Avenue and then picks up again on its south side at East Perry Avenue. Between the two intersections runs a footpath.

Instead of cutting through the cemetery, Samuel certainly could have turned left on Oglethorpe and headed east for a block, then turned right and continued south on Habersham Street, his path skirting the cemetery.

But why bother?

Colonial Park was a beautiful, peaceful place, especially in the dead of night. Friends and relatives later said that Samuel always strolled through the cemetery on his way home from work.

As he made his way along Lincoln Street, Samuel crossed State Street, President Street, York Street, and then York Lane. Finally, he passed Oglethorpe Avenue and stepped through the cemetery's north gate and into the quiet darkness. The south gate at Perry Avenue was five blocks away, a four minute stroll at most.

Samuel Baker never made it.

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