Boo Hags


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Savannah is considered one of the most haunted cities in the states, attracting millions of of curious and inquisitive folks from all over. South reveals the inside scoop on the blue painted houses seen throughout the city.

“I always say I’m Savannah born, Savannah bred, and one day I’ll be Savannah dead.” Lisa Prentiss knows the ins and outs of Savannah’s history. Walking through Columbia Square she pointed out building after building, all rich with history. “The Kehoe house is haunted by twins, that house with the white trim? That’s haunted by a cat.” There is little paranormal activity going on here that Prentiss does not know about. Pointing out some of the ironwork on historical buildings, she divulges that after The Great Depression families would steal from their plots in Bonaventure cemetery and bring the  ironworks back into town to decorate and fence their houses. Prentiss is so in touch, she can identify exactly where in the cemetery some of the pieces came from. 

The quick relaying of facts didn’t stop there. We passed the oldest slave quarters still intact, and she shared that Miss Margaret’s place, too had the mysterious blue paint we see on the outside of houses on the inside ceiling. So what is it about this blue paint? 

Ever heard the word BooHag thrown around? Maybe not, but it was once a word with real weight.

The neighborhood near Price Street that was once an Irish ghetto still has a prime example of just what the word BooHag meant. At the end of the Civil War, the Gullah people would knock on every door in the area. 

“They would come up to the door and they would say, ‘You got a lot of sick people in there? You got a job? I bet you’re having some bad dreams? Have you been losing a lot of people? Sounds like you got a BooHag.’” A BooHag is an evil spirit that came out of a voodoo doll that hangs on your back. The legend goes that if you have a BooHag, at night, it picks your skin and hangs it up in your closet while you sleep.

Taking your muscle-y body out into the city, it collects all of the evil and bad luck and brings it back before slipping back into your skin before morning. This was considered to be the cause for lack of work, for sickness and death. Of course the people were afraid, so the Gullah people would sell the cure. First, to rid of the spirit, if you see skin in your closet, sprinkle sea salt on it.

When the BooHag slips your skin on the salt will make the spirit itch and burn. Secondly, to get the spirit out of the house you need a broomstick. Once the spirit jumps out of victim it’ll attach to the broom and you can sweep it out in the morning when you’re sweeping away the dust. But still, the BooHag can always come back into your house, right? You need this special paint to keep the evil away. This sounds expensive, but can you put a price on your families life? On your own future?

These people couldn’t. The Gullah people made paint out of cemetery dirt, Indigo and according to prentiss, “a sacrificed cat,” which most likely means the bones, considering the Gullah people’s ties to voodoo practices. This paint was called the haint blue paint because it kept the haints away. A haint was another name for evil spirit. The Gullah people walked away with extremely full pockets after every house they stopped at. 

Prentiss is a tour guide for America’s Most Haunted City Tour, and works with Bonaventure Cemetery Journeys. She lives and breathes the old world culture. Without missing a beat she told me the Gullah people are still in Savannah, still practicing, and of course, if you still see the haint blue paint around town, it must mean it’s doing something, right? 

To read the full article, subscribe now or pick up the January/February issue of South Magazine.

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Events Calendar

  • Brunch, Wine, & Song

    Jan 20, 2019
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Elizabeth on 37th

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    7:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Fit912savannah

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  • License to Chill Snow Island

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    All Day @ Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

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  • Toddler Touch Tanks

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    All Day @ UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium

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  • Clean Coast Annual Oyster Roast

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  • 2019 The Delta Quadrant 5K & 10K Savannah Virtual Run

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  • Annie the Musical

    Jan 18, 2019
    All Day @ Savannah Children's Theatre

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  • Tipsy Hot Chocolate Festival

    Jan 22, 2019
    5:30 PM - 7:00 PM @ Grand Lake Club at Southbridge

    Guests will enjoy “tipsy” hot chocolate samples and sweet treats from Savannah’s best chefs and bartenders, and will have the...

  • "The Favourite"

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    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

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  • Fundamentals of Bachata

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  • Blowing Rock Winterfest

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Downtown Blowing Rock

    Don’t hibernate-celebrate! Join us for the fun side of winter with events like the Polar Plunge, WinterFeast, WinterPaws Dog Show, WinterFashion...

  • "Keita Takahashi: Zooming Out" Exhibition at Telfair Musuems

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums hosts the first museum survey of the work of visionary videogame designer Keita Takahashi (Japanese, b. 1975). Takahashi is noted...

  • MAKE Savannah Roundtable

    Jan 24, 2019
    5:30 PM - 7:00 PM @ CLARK CREATIVE 208 W HALL ST SAVANNAH UNITED STATE

    Please join us for our New Year roundtable featuring creative consultant, stylist, podcaster and small business owner Kelsey Bucci. After years of...

  • Let's Talk Mental Illness: Childhood Trauma

    Jan 24, 2019
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Frank Callen Boys & Girls Clubs

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  • Mountainfilm on Tour Savannah

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  • 2019 Lip Sync Battle

    Jan 24, 2019
    7:00 PM @ Savannah Station

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  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents A Doll's House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath

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  • Rich Dad Poor Dad

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    All Day @ Embassy Suites and Hyatt Regency Center

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  • Mountain Film on Tour

    Jan 24, 2019
    All Day @ Trustees and Lucas Theater

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  • 2019 Night at the Museum

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    3:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah History Museum

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Scenes of the South

PUTTING Away Crime

On Saturday, January 12, 2019 Savannah helped McGruff the Crime Dog take a bite out of crime at the Crimestoppers Savannah's 3rd Annual Putt Putt Mini Golf Tournament held at Island Miniature Golf and Game on Wilmington Island. Proceeds went to helping fund rewards for the Crimestopper's anonymous crime tip line.

Dining in the Dark

On Saturday, January 12, 2019, the 3rd Annual Dining in the Dark event presented by The Charles C. Taylor and Samir Nikocevic Charitable Foundation benefitting the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision, was held at the Embassy Suites/Downtown Savannah.

Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2018

Savannah's 39 Rue De Jean celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine.

A Chefs Collaborative

This five course dinner held at Pacci Italian Kitchen and Bar allowed guests to taste exceptional flavors steeped in tradition. Included were the culinary skills of Chef Adam Barnett of The Katharine Brasserie & Bar, Winston-Salem, NC, Chef Robert Hoffman of Angeline’s Charlotte, NC, Chef Daniel Gorman of The Henley Nashville, TN, Chef Sebastien Rondier of Brabo, Alexandria, VA, and Chef Lauren Teague of PACCI Italian Kitchen + Bar.

East and West BBQ

A whole hog BBQ showcase, from two of the south’s most legendary Pitmasters, Pat Martin and Sam Jones. Hosted by Alida Hotel this event was a fabulous juxtaposition between Eastern North Carolina style BBQ and Western Tennessee style. Made possible by the Savannah Food and Wine Festival.

Savannah Food & Wine Fest

Hundreds came to experience Southern charm and hospitality, Savannah Style. The South's best culinary happenings - one exceptional week in Savannah. Iconic and historic coastal venues provided the perfect backdrop for gourmet and fun. South magazine captured the experience at the VIP tent.

Big Wig Boat Bash

Savannah's Riverboat, The Georgia Queen set sail to host the final fundraiser for the 2018 class of Big Wigs, together raising over $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia Foundation. This evening included heavy hors d’oeuvres, beverages, a silent auction, music and dancing and a contest to crown the Biggest BigWig! Contest categories included: The Biggest Wig, The Pink Ribbon Award and Best Pink Personality.

Boo Bash

This spooktacular evening included hors d’oeuvres, “spirits,” music and dancing, a Halloween costume contest with cash prizes, Halloween-themed entertainment, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and talent contest. Contest categories included: Dancing, Singing, Rapping, Stand-up Comedy and Lip Syncing.

Masquerade at the Mansion

Plenty of patrons donned masks and beads for an unforgettable Mardi Gras at the Mansion. There unique entertainment, food, and decor including magic fire, beignets, king cake and a photo booth, plus music and dancing, libations, late-night treats, and lots of surprises.

DineSouth After Party

This year's DineSouth ended in a blast. Dozens headed over to Barrellhouse, who hosted the after party. They enjoyed great drinks and live music by Individually Twisted.