One Faith, One Family: Diocese of Savannah 1850–2000
The story of the first 150 years of the Diocese of Savannah. Savor the stories that make up our heritage!
Edited by Mary Jane BeVard
Designed by Daniel J. J. Cameron
Mrs. Gillian Brown
Fr. Douglas K. Clark, STL
Dr. David T. Gleeson
Sr. Mary Faith McKean, RSM
Catholic Cemetery in Savannah: History and Preservation
The Catholic Cemetery in Savannah was opened on August 2, 1853 by Bishop Francis X. Gartland, after he was unable to persuade the City Fathers to set aside a specially consecrated Catholic section in the new Laurel Grove Cemetery. He purchased eight and one-third acres from the Rhinehart Plantation for the sum of $833.00. After the Cemetery opened in 1853, additional remains were exhumed from Colonial Park Cemetery and reburied in what is now the Old Section. Many stones and markers were also transferred around this time. Walking through the Cemetery today you will see stones that predate its existence.
Savannah's Catholic Cemetery served as the encampment area for some General Sherman's troops after the surrender of the city on November 23, 1864. Sherman ordered fortifications to be built, a project which removed cemetery fences, leaving it open to vandalism and theft. During this time many graves were desecrated by troops. The Sisters of Mercy, with the assistance of local women, rescued the remains of two bishops, two priests, and four sisters. It was only in 1867, after Bishop Augustin Verot urged President Andrew Johnson and Edwin M. Stanton (Secretary of War) to restore the Cemetery to its former state, that they were reinterred.
More land was added to the first purchase, expanding the size of the Cemetery. The last addition was the Holy Cross portion in the rear of Hillcrest Abby East Cemetery, purchased by Bishop Gerald P. O'Hara in 1934.