All alone, in a secluded section of Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, is the grave of little Gracie Watson. Born in 1883 to W.J. and Francis Watson, formerly of Boston, Gracie, an only child, lived only 6 short years. During her short life, Gracie quickly became well-known and deeply loved by Savannah residents and tourists alike.
W.J. and Francis managed the Pulaski Hotel, catering to Savannah’s elite society, a group Francis longed to be a part of. Guests and visitors were often greeted and entertained at the Pulaski by little Gracie. She was a shining star in the lives of many.
In 1889, Gracie contracted a severe case of pneumonia, an illness from which she never recovered. Two days before Easter of that year, little Gracie succumbed to the sickness and departed her life on earth. Her parents were heartbroken, as were the residents of Savannah.
Gracie’s body was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery.
W.J. became deeply depressed and left the Pulaski Hotel for employment at the Desoto Hotel on Madison Square, but his term there was brief, as he and Francis decided to leave Savannah and return to Boston.
Before leaving town, the Watsons commissioned Savannah sculptor, John Walz, to sculpt a statue of Gracie out of Georgia marble. Today, the statue is surrounded by a black iron fence to protect it, and Gracie’s grave, from vandals.
It has been reported that Gracie is still seen and heard today, as she visits and plays at the graves of other children. Her laughter is often heard by employees of a bank that sits on the site where the Pulaski Hotel once stood. Visitors and residents alike have reported seeing Gracie playing near the bronze sundial located at Johnson Square. To this day, visitors to Bonaventure Cemetery still leave crayons, coins, and other items at Gracie’s grave-site.
I’ve visited Gracie’s grave site, and found myself drawn to it and the story of the little girl who once touched the lives of so many. I also found myself staring at the statue of Gracie, wondering what it was about the cute little girl that captivated me. Then it hit me, so I hurried home and began to search for one particular photo. I pawed through stack after stack until I found the one I sought. Holding it in my hand, well, I simply couldn’t believe what I saw. Was the photo I held a picture of Gracie Watson, the little girl who died in 1889? The person in the picture certainly bore a strong resemblance to her. The only problem, though, was the photo I held was taken sometime around 1982, or so.
I quickly placed the photo beside a photograph of Gracie Watson, and, well, you tell me. Is it a match close enough to be Gracie reincarnated?
I contacted the modern-day “Gracie” (she’s an adult now) to ask her opinion, and she was stunned when she saw the photos. “It’s like looking at…well, me. She looks like me when I was a child,” she said.
We continued to chat, reminiscing about the times when the early photo of her was taken, and about the days since. The conversation eventually turned to Gracie’s dress. I was reminded that the little girl in the photo above (right) had worn a blue outfit quite similar to the one in Gracie’s statue, when she’d posed for an elementary school class photo. To add a further twist to the story, her pose that day was identical to that of Gracie’s statue—no smile, facing slightly to the right.
I’m still searching for that second photo, and I should have it somewhere, because the little girl in it is my daughter. I remember that day as if it were yesterday…or was it a day in the 1800’s that I recall so vividly? Maybe I’ve been reincarnated, and not Gracie. I wonder…was I, in a former life, once the manager of a Savannah hotel? Was it I, a reincarnated W.J. Watson, who passed on historic genes. Or, does Gracie live on through my daughter?
Hmm… I wonder…
*By the way, I don’t know if you believe in reincarnation, or not. Or, if you’re into superstitions, voodoo, or crystal balls and numerology. If so, you might be interested in knowing that the above article consisted of exactly 666 words.