Monday, February 4, 2013

Waving Girl, Florence Martus in Savannah

Add to Technorati FavoritesFlorence Martus the daughter of German immigrant is memorialized here in Savannah, Georgia.  There is much folk lore about this woman, and a fair amount of confusion/mystery about her.  Some information indicated she was born in 1869 and other information reports the date of 1868.  Her father immigrated to this country at the age of 14, served in The Civil War and later a Sergeant at Fort Pulaski.  

She was born in Elba Island, not Savannah and lived the bulk of her life in Elba.  However, stories indicate she had a fascination with ships in the harbor.  She waved a white handkerchief by day and lantern by night for 44 years.  She greeted the ships and the sailors.  She may have been in love with one that returned, say some; though others question there is nothing documented that indicates this was in fact, fact.  Either way, she is fondly remembered as the women who welcome ships into the harbor.

She lived with brother, George who for a time was The Lighthouse Keeper at Cockspur.  There are tales where she and her brother saved many a life.  A fire out in the water caught their attention, as did several wrecks and they rowed out in their Dorry and saved as many lives as they could.  Those stories are documented and deemed to be factual.

This statue by Felix DeWeldon, indicates her faithful Collie was her feet.  That seems to be well documented, except she apparently had 2 dogs who helped wake her during the night when they heard ships coming.  Felix is known for his famous sculpture, Iwo Jima.  

A local tour guide told us to notice her shoes.  Not sure this picture (taken from the moving tour trolley) let's you see them.  But, when you see them in person, you realize how irregular they are.  They're much to large for a person with such a small frame.  We were told, she wasn't wearning shoes originally, and people took offense and so shoes were added.  It's unlikely a poor single girl would have worn shoes except on special occasions in a warm climate.  Shoes were often considered a luxury back in the day and expensive to own, thus saved and not worn sun up to sun down.

After she and brother retired they lived out their lives at Bone Bella outside of Savannah.  She is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery, North in Chatham County, Georgia with her parents and brother.  Interestingly, I noted her father was born in Baden, Wurttemberg (don't remember how to make  the umlaunt over the u), same place my Great Great Grandfather, Wilhelm Heinrich Mader was born.

**Be sure and check out this beautiful sculpture when you're on the water front in Savannah, either walking or taking one of the many tours.  You know her waving all those years is something like our current Pay It Forward**  


  1. Lovely story and sculpture! I want to visit that area some day!

  2. I would like to go there some day. We have family there.


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