No matter how far we are from the Civil War, I still cannot intellectually accept that people got so carried away with their greed that slavery was something they would defend.
I suppose that got me into a foul mood and so today when we visited a church that was just a set of walls and columns that had been a ruin for 150 years in the middle of enormous dark, droopy trees, and a cemetery that was similarly adorned by these enormous trees with Spanish moss, I was viewing most things with a sad eye.
Sheldon Church has lain in ruin for more than 120 years. Its gable roof, pediment, windows, and interior have disappeared, but the classic simplicity of its design still remains. One of the first Greek-Revival structures built in the United States, Prince William's Parish Church, erected 1745-55, was once one of the most impressive churches in the Province. During the Revolution, the Patriots are believed to have stored gun powder in it. In 1779, when the British General Augustine Prevost invaded the Lowcountry, the church was burned by a detachment which according to tradition, was commanded by the flamboyant local Tory, Andrew Deveaux. Rebuilt in 1826, the church was again burned by Sherman's men in 1865. The ruins are nevertheless a picturesque site from which the visitor can visualize the grandeur of the pre-Revolutionary church.
However, another possible fate has come to light. In a letter dated February 3, 1866, after the end of the Civil War, Milton Leverett wrote that "Sheldon Church not burn't. Just torn up in the inside, but can be repaired." The inside of the church was apparently gutted by whites and blacks who needed the materials to rebuild their homes burned by Sherman's army.
Between Sheldon and Bonaventure
Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah GA
Though not Savannah’s oldest cemetery, Bonaventure is certainly its most famous and hauntingly beautiful. Quintessentially Southern Gothic, it has captured the imaginations of writers, poets, naturalists, photographers and filmmakers for more than 150 years. Part natural cathedral, part sculptural garden, Bonaventure transcends time.
Military generals, poet Conrad Aiken, Academy Award-winning lyricist Johnny Mercer and Georgia's first governor Edward Telfair are among those buried at Bonaventure. The approximately 100-acre cemetery is also historically significant as a reflection of changing views on death and dying in the Victorian era. As death became more romanticized and ritualized during this period, cemeteries became lush, beautiful “cities of the dead.”
Another reason behind Bonaventure’s popularity is John Berendt’s book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which featured a cover photo of the now-famous "Bird Girl" statue, formerly located in Bonaventure. The statue has since been moved to the Telfair Museum of Art, founded through the bequest of Mary Telfair, also buried at Bonaventure.