After Johnson, Savannah’s second square was laid out in 1733 and named after the Irish politician John Percival, who was involved in the founding of Georgia. Later, however, Percival Square was renamed in honor of Georgia’s last royal governor James Wright.
The marble monument in the middle of the square is to William Washington Gordon, a successful businessman and politician, who was highly-regarded among Savannah society. When he died, his influential friends suggested that the city honor him with a lavish memorial in Wright Square. “There should be no trouble”, they reasoned. “Right now, there are just some Injun bones.”
These weren’t just any Indian bones, though; they were the remains of Tomochichi, who had been buried in the center of the square 144 years prior. The leader of the Yamacraw Tribe had worked with Oglethorpe during Savannah’s harrowing first years, helping the fledgling colony survive, and the city had repaid his kindness with a burial ground in the center of one of its primary squares.
When Gordon’s monument was erected over the bones of Tomochichi, most of the city’s citizens were outraged. In consolation, a memorial stone was placed in a corner of Wright Square, and the nearby Tomochichi Federal Building was named in his honor. Not enough, if you ask me.
There’s always something going on in Wright Square. During our time in Savannah, the northernmost bench in the square was always occupied a big old guy, singing a sort of ad-hoc blues. “Girl, you done me wrong. Girl, why you do that to me? Girl, I wish you was dead“. On our return to Savannah, five years later, he was still there… and his song hadn’t change. Man, that girl must have really done him wrong.
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Wright Square Cafe has yummy chocolates.
Did you see “Guitar Bob”? Kind of scraggly looking, always sits at the opposite end of the “Girl you done me wrong” guy.
(By the way, he’s always singing that song – over and over and over.)
It’s funny that you can recognize some of Savannah’s most colorful characters based on the Squares they hang out in.
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One of the all-time Savannah “characters” who used to frequent the squares was Arthur Brannen. He was often seen knitting cast nets in Johnson and Wright Squares. He was a friendly man with a bushy white beard and wore white rubber boots. He rode a bicycle. Other than making cast nets, he didn’t appear to have visible means of support. Once a year, during the fall, he rowed a boat from Thunderbolt to Jacksonville. He had not been seen in over a year when the newspaper found out that he had died in a VA hospital in Jacksonville in April of 2004. We learned that Arthur was a Bethesda man and was a Marine in the Pacific and had been permanently disabled serving at Guadalcanal.
Gil – thank you! We love getting these little stories, they make our blog much better!
you guys are incredible! amazing photos and on many an occasion you have caused a chuckle deep down with your musings and writings…..love following you guys!!! ALWAYS impressed.!
Not enough, indeed! I love Georgia, it is my home, but when I learn of such atrocities as this, I cringe! We lost our oldest son at age 10 in 1991. AFTER he was buried in my hometown, we received a deed to the plot in the cemetery. We were aghast! But there it was in writing…the document stated that burial was for humans of the “White Race” only. How horrible! We had no idea. Still shaking my head over this as Georgia State Governor Nathan Deal considers his options with regard to the so-called “Religious Protection Bill” ie.the pro-discrimination, anti-gay bill sponsored and introduced by Georgia State Republican Senator Greg Kirk, of Americus, Georgia, the location of the cemetery where my son is buried. 🙁
The monument over the grave of Tomochichi is a giant disgrace and says plenty about the people that allowed it to be placed there. The powers that be in Savannah should right this wrong and remove the Railroad monument to somewhere useful like the Railroad Museum. Is nothing sacred anymore. To have the monument over the grave of ” some indians” just perpetuates the racial division that the South is well known for. Its time for some new energy in the Old South.