Blog/Show Notes

The Oddity of Orbs

To listen to this week’s podcast episode on The Oddity of Orbs, visit https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/episodes/E28-Oddity-of-Orbs-ebvba1

Orbs have been caught on camera since the invention of the picture capturing device. This is a known fact. You, dear reader, have probably caught some miracles of light on photos without even realizing it. Go ahead, go through some old photographs, I dare you.

But what exactly is an orb? Some would say that it’s dust, pollen, an insect, an infrared flare of light reflection, or any other normality to debunk the situation. But what about those that can’t be debunked? What are they? Let’s dive in.

Orbs Defined

By definition, an orb is just a spherical globe. This could be a number of things including a crystal ball, a soccer ball, or the earth. By definition, all these physical objects meet the criteria for the definition.

In the paranormal world that I live in, if someone says orb, my mind automatically goes to a floating ball of light in a picture or in a video. On my Stories in the Cemetery Interactive Ghost Hunting Experiences, I encourage my guests to take plenty of pictures during the tour of downtown Charleston. And I always encourage to take two pics of the identical placement. This is to ensure that if something is caught, then we can either debunk it with the following or previous picture. The following is a picture taken by one of my guests.

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At first glance, we were interested in the top right corner and the middle left side of the original photo. We were able to debunk this as streams of light coming in from other corners outside the photo.

But a deeper look at the photo, we noticed a blue streak. Analyzing this streak, we first thought it to be a dragonfly as they are common in Charleston. But the blue depiction doesn’t reveal the body of a dragonfly and is independently depicted as a streak.

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The photographer who analyzed this knows the different cameras on phones and was able to debunk the top right mass and left side mass rather quickly. However, the blue streak of light in the foliage cannot be debunked since the foliage is in clear focus. This could possibly be a dragonfly in flight or could be a mysterious blue streak of light caught in a haunted area of Charleston. Leave your comments below.

Orb Colors

For the rest of this post, we are going to allege that most orbs that haven’t been debunked by skeptics are that of the spiritual world in which we can’t fully understand or explain.

The defined colors found in orbs hold meaning. To some, it shows the mood or personality of a spirit. There’s an excellent article on orb colors by Beth Asaff entitled “The Different Colors of Ghost Orbs and Their Meanings”. The article explains how orbs are spiritual energy and how each color refers to what type of energy you are dealing with. I urge you to use this article for the colored orbs that you will find in your own photographs and videos. But here is a simple breakdown of the article’s color meanings:

  • Clear: Communicative energy
  • Black/Brown: Unsafe area
  • Red/Orange: Safety and Security
  • Green: Human spirit/one with nature
  • Blue: Psychic energy/truth
  • Gray: Fear
  • Pink: Love

As much as I want to believe that the blue streak in the picture above is some type of anomaly and part of the supernatural world, I can’t justify that it’s not a dragonfly like the shape depicts. I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a line in the comments below.

Michael Newton, Ph.D

I, for one, believe that the colors of the orbs do hold significant meanings. Most of my fiction work is based on a surreal reality of studies done by Michael Newton, Ph.D. He wrote two volumes of his studies of reincarnation and life between lives called “Journey of Souls.”

The study he did was through hypnosis of subjects outreaching into their souls and revealing the in between life of a soul. The significance of these hypnotized subjects is that they all explain a divinity of colors that advance the soul through each reincarnation. Fascinating topic for a fiction author who needed a description of the afterlife. All of my works reflect this depiction of Newton’s study. Check out “Byron” if you would like my take on the study.

In the conclusion of Volume 1 of Newton’s “Journey of Souls” he writes:

“We are divine but imperfect beings who exist in two worlds, material and spiritual. It is our destiny to shuttle back and forth between these universes through space and time while we learn to master ourselves and acquire knowledge. We must trust in this process with patience and determination. Our essence is not fully knowable in most physical hosts, but Self is never lost because we always remain connected to both worlds.” —Michael Newton, Ph.D from “Journey of Souls” 1996

Newton’s theory shows the color hierarchy of souls in a succession pattern. Taken from an article that explains chakras, the color scheme matches that of Newton’s theoretical pattern of the age of the soul:

newtons stages of reincarnation
Diagram from https://eternalcircleblog.wordpress.com/consciousness-and-spirituality/auras-soul-age-colors-and-chakras/

Along with the article about the energy of orb colors, I highly recommend you use the chakra/soul chart as well. By using both charts, we begin to understand the orb and why it may have shown itself either in photograph form or in video format.

Proof of an intelligent orb

This video was sent to me by a Facebook fan who wanted some answers. It shows an orb coming in from the right side of their porch and intelligently moving through a plant and then behind the left pillar.

Notice how the orb goes through the plant while the plant moves in the opposite direction. This debunks any wind that could be passing through the area.

The orb also goes behind the pillar. I’ve blown this video up on my screen to see if it is depicted on the left pillar and it is clear that it moves behind the pillar.

Watch the video several times to see how the wind patterns and plant movement differ from that of the orb. This is clearly an intelligent orb and with the yellowish hue, it tells me that this is a middle stage soul passing through and not just a dust particle on the lens of the camera.

Conclusion

My conclusion on orbs is that they need to be debunked before any mysterious conclusion can be made. Skeptics will bash this post and try to debunk any circle of light that appears at the bottom in the comments, I’m sure of it.

However, as I’ve stated in my fiction work “Growing Dim”:

“We are raised in a society where we are taught to believe a more logical reason for an illogical happening rather than the illogical reason for something which may be of the unknown, hence, why the logical answer is illogical to the logical person.” —Nicholas McGirr

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Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. We’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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References Used to Inspire this Post

ArtMart. “Ghostly Orbs: Fact or Fiction?” n.d. ArtMart The Creative Marketplace. https://www.artmartstl.com/ghostly-orbs-fact-or-fiction/. 25 March 2020.

Asaff, Beth. “The Different Colors of Ghost Orbs and Their Meanings.” n.d. Love to Know. https://paranormal.lovetoknow.com/Ghost_Orbs_Different_Colors. 25 March 2020.

Broome, Fiona. “Ghost Orbs: An Overlooked Question.” 12 September 2008. Ghosts and Hauntings at Hollow HIll. https://hollowhill.com/orbs-the-overlooked-question/. 25 March 2020.

Newton, Ph.D., Michael. Journey of Souls. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications, 1996. Print Book.

Smedley, Jenny. “10 Things You Need to Know about Orbs in Pictures.” n.d. Soul and Spirit Magazine. http://www.soulandspiritmagazine.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-orbs-in-pictures/. 25 March 2020.

“Stages of Reincarnation.” Auras, Soul Age Colors and Chakras. n.d. https://eternalcircleblog.wordpress.com/consciousness-and-spirituality/auras-soul-age-colors-and-chakras/.

 

Hollowed at Halfway Creek Church

From time to time, followers of this blog or friends who know I’m always looking for a new location to investigate will private message me a place without any explanation. These are my favorite types of investigations. I love going in blind, not knowing what to expect. Let’s face it, with my love of Geocaching and putting clues together, sometimes finding the location is half the fun. As was the case for the Halfway Creek Church in Francis Marion Forest.

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Francis Marion Forest is a mysterious place all on its own. I’ve driven through the 258,000-acre forest on several occasions to stay away from the busy traffic of Charleston or as a shortcut with a peaceful drive. To come across an alleged haunting in the forest was exciting and I couldn’t wait to get the day going to find the Halfway Creek Church.

Disappointingly, it was easy to find; a simple Google map search and I arrived an hour later. There were groundskeepers on-site and a funeral canopy in the cemetery ready for the mourning of a loved one. I grabbed my gear and headed to the church. With my voice recorder running and smartphone in hand, I said: “Good Morning” to all the men working. It was a peaceful morning and I looked like any other photoblogger investigating his site.

The history of the church is simple. Built originally in 1828 as a log building, the church had changed hands several times among congregations until it was rebuilt in 1941 to the dilapidated, hollowed-out building we can see and visit today. Church services ran until the 1970s.

Through vandalism and weather conditions of South Carolina, the church has fallen into more than dismay. Funding for the grounds stays with the graves and cemetery on site and leaves the building to rot along with its ancestors buried 6 feet under.  The floorboards were too worn for me to enter safely, so I remained at the doorsteps and windows peering in with my paranormal tools hoping to catch a glimpse of the history here.

The claims of hauntings come strictly from random threads and comments of pictures online. Some say that fog will come over the road that leaves one feeling disoriented, others just leave a simple line of “haunted church”.

I’ve said in earlier posts that a cemetery is usually one of the last places I would deem to be haunted, but with the church nearby, I thought I would take a chance on the allegations. It looked creepy enough and was far enough into the forest that I was willing to fulfill a curiosity.

Much like the absence of research to be found on the property, other than a listing of burial sites, the paranormal equipment left much to the imagination with absent reporting. A small glimmer from the EMF, no EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon) from my voice recorder, and not a single anomaly on any of the pictures I took.

I also used the spirit box apps in the background of shooting pictures with my phone. The word list is inconclusive and if there is a connection to any of the words/phrases listed, I could not find any research to tie the location.

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As for now, I’m deeming the Halfway Creek Church “not haunted” as per the claims of online thread commenters. With the number of pictures I found for this location, I’ll simply say that this is a quiet place to take beautiful pictures for photographers practicing their craft. Perhaps, a private picnic area to enjoy lunch or watch the stars through the trees of this giant forest. But definitely not haunted.

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Called out at the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

Visiting this giant piece of Charleston’s history is a must-do for any local as well as any travelers coming through Charleston. I’ve been through the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon on several tours, learning about the history throughout the building and piecing the clues together for hauntings around the city. However, going back to 1771 when the building was constructed, allows any visitor to see the connection Charleston had to our great nation.

The History

Constructed in 1771, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon has been used as several different operations including a mercantile exchange, a post office, and military headquarters to name a few. These different operations show the exchange of hands this building has undergone since the birth of this Georgian-Palladian structure.

Another fascinating piece to this building is that you can see a sliver of the original wall of Charles Town through the Provost Dungeon.

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The original wall of Charles Town. Photo by Nicholas McGirr

The dungeon was said to have housed criminals of all sorts; men, women, pirates, and tea. Yes, I said tea, because, during the Charleston Tea Party, this is where the tea was held to keep it away from the British hidden behind a wall that no longer exists.

The Old Exchange is also one of the four locations where the Declaration of Independence was ratified, an immense part of our American and Charlestonian history. The rooms above the dungeon glorify this moment with the artifacts and staff dressed in period costumes.

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Know that through this article, I am not even touching the surface of the history of this building. I am not claiming to be an expert by any means and I encourage you history buffs to put this building on your bucket list to enjoy for yourselves. For this article, I am focused on basic history to explore any proclaimed paranormal activity.

The Paranormal Claims

There are plenty of paranormal claims to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon including guests getting tugged, pushed or clothing pulled. Others claim that the period costumes of the staff make it confusing for the spotting of spirits because they, too, are in period dressings of their own time. Some staff claim that “staff members” are seen walking into walls from time to time.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr

In February of 2019, a paranormal investigation was led by Grant Wilson from “Ghost Hunters”, Chad Lindbert from “Ghost Stalkers” and Carol Cleveland from YouTube’s “Haunt ME”. I could not find the evidence from this ghost hunt, but tickets ran about $185 for a meet and greet with the celebrities and then a 30-minute ghost hunt afterward.

What I will say is that the venue for this ticketed event usually comes with some merit of the legitimacy of the alleged haunted location and I trust that the pros leading the investigation came up with more than substantial evidence.

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Stairs from the original Post Office. Currently, the lead to overtopping the exposed wall of Charles Town.

My Visit

Once paying for my ticket for the dungeon tour, I immediately head downstairs where my tour guide is about to begin. I already had my spirit box app running as well as my EVP digital recorder. The EMF detector was tucked away in a side pocket of my satchel so I could easily tell if any spikes would occur during my tour.

I will say that once I hit the stairs to the dungeon, the EMF detector was active throughout my entire tour of the dungeon. The erratic lights drew so much attention to other guests of the tour that I had to turn it to face me. The lights were not patterned as I was originally suspecting. With all of the hype of paranormal activity around this building, I was honestly expecting it to be rigged, hence why I took a daytime tour with the normal historian tourists.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr

I reviewed the spirit box app list of words after my tour and was surprised by a number of words. For those of you that have taken one of my “Stories in the Cemetery” ghost hunting experiences, you know that I find that 60-75% of the words provided are bullshit. With this list from the Provost Dungeon, not so much.

Words and phrases like “commit”, “cruel”, “he is guilty”, “violation” were all common themes throughout the word list. Check out the full word list in the picture slides below.

The words “cruel” and “violation” came through right around the time my tour guide was describing the conditions of the dungeon. Women were kept with the men without privacy, rat infestations and of course water coming over the top of the bricks from 1702. All these conditions were in fact “cruel” and were likely a “violation” of standards for prisoners.

The word that stood out to me most was my own name about 16 minutes into the tour. Just the night before, I told one of my ghost hunting guests that I would visit the Old Exchange and he texted me later that day asking how my investigation went. I showed him the list and his reply brought clarity to my work here in Charleston. He said, “They know you by name?!” Ironically, they do. I was called out just 16 minutes of my entering the building and beginning my tour of the dungeon. I have never seen any variation of my name (Nick, Nicky, Nicholas) ever brought through the spirit box app previously.

Conclusion

Upon listening to the audio from the tour, I could only find one instance where I may have heard something paranormal, but the evidence is insubstantial at this point and not worth posting until I have it analyzed. Other than that, I am pleased with the erraticism of the EMF detector (which stopped after I left the building) and the array of words I received through the spirit box app.

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I have explored the city of Charleston with my EMF detector looking for new locations to take my guests. With each passing of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, the EMF detector usually signals for me to look further. Sometimes it’s just a blip, other times it’s an erratic display of lights screaming to be heard. I encourage you to visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, find an EMF app (yes, they work, just not as sensitive) and see for yourself who might be lurking in the basement of this extremely creepy structure that holds onto so much history of our country.

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Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. We’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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A Piratey Powder Magazine?

With 307 years worth of history (as of the year 2020), the Powder Magazine has seen centuries worth of tragedies, restorations, and faces. Not to discount any previous work from historians, paranormal investigators or other Charleston fanatics, but to narrow down one of these elements and tie it to an alleged haunting has been quite the task.

A brief timeline of tragedies

Let’s get started with an overview of the history of the Powder Magazine to give you a scope of the historical timeline the building has suffered through.

  • Wars served:
    • Yamasee War
    • Tuscarora War
    • Stono Rebellion
    • King George’s War
    • French and Indian War
    • The Cherokee War
    • American Revolution
    • Civil War

Although the magazine wasn’t a major factor in all of the wars listed above, it did partake a role in some format.

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“Pirates and the First Revolution” Guide Panel

The Powder Magazine is said to be the oldest building in Charleston, SC being built in 1713. However, research shows that the Pink House on Chalmers street could date back as far as 1694 -1714. Regardless of which building is older, there is no doubt that The Powder Magazine has survived a much more tragic lifespan than that of the infamous Pink House.

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The Structure of the Building

There’s something to be said about the structure of the Powder Magazine and its lifespan. With 35-inch thick walls, sand in the attic and slate rooftop, the design was meant to contain any explosions from the gunpowder that resided here. I find the sand-filled lofted roof to be very interesting and the 307-year-old sand is still laid inside the loft. The nine pillars that make up this building were constructed in a groin-vault style. Along with the sand in the roof and groin-vault construction, this was meant to contain internal explosions and to shield the powder from enemy projectiles. The magazine could house up to five tons of black gunpowder.

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(The Old Powder Magazine, Cumberland Street)

Pirate History?

So, amidst all the wars served and survived, Charleston has had an attraction for our Pirates. Connected to the history of The Powder Magazine is that of Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Through any historical tour in Charleston (especially one based on the bloody scoundrels), you’ll hear stories of these pirate ladies along with Stede Bonnet and even Blackbeard himself. I’ve mentioned a bit about Bonnet and Blackbeard in my White Point Garden post.

Ghost stories and lore will tie the spirit of Anne Bonny to The Powder Magazine with alleged sightings and shadows.

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Bonny’s story is lacking details, to say the least. Just like the absent blueprints for the Powder Magazine, such is the written history of this female villainous pirate. Legend has it that Bonny, from Ireland, moved to the Carolinas with her father. It is said that her mother was a servant and Anne was born out of wedlock. Bonny’s defiance of authority led her to piracy where she married James Bonny, another pirate. She would soon leave James and meet up with Mary Read aboard the ship of Calico Jack, with whom she fell in love.

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Notice the groin-vaulted walls. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

Upon being captured, both Mary Read and Anne Bonny claimed to be pregnant and were released. To this day, it is unsure if the two women went on to live the pirate life or if they settled and lived out their days with children at their feet.

I have no doubt that either of these two female pirates knew of The Powder Magazine or had raided its contents at one point in their piracy.

However…

In all the research for a tie to either pirate that is said to have had their spirits seen at the Powder Magazine could I find ANY tie to this historic building. I could find no pictures, video or any personal claims of persons visiting the Powder Magazine of such ghosts or haunting activity.

My Visit

I visited the Powder Magazine in the late afternoon just before their closing and told the staff why I was there: to research ghosts and paranormal activity. They welcomed me to do my research and then sold me a copy of the building’s history, The Arsenal of History by R. Alan Stello Jr. A fantastic read for this ghost enthusiast, I might add.

With my EMF detector running and spirit boxes gurgling out static, I took plenty of pictures and waited for any activity while touring the building and outside yard reading the guide panels and listening to other guests whisper to each other showing respect to the old building.

My EMF gave a “blip” (I should really define this one day) of just outside the green zone on occasion, but I couldn’t relate it to any other activity to the spirit boxes or specific location of an artifact inside the museum.

The Spirit box app, “Ghost Detector” gave me one word that stood out: “Writing”. I took this as I should really dive into the book I purchased as well as other research, in other words, the “writings” about the building would give me what I was looking for. Coincidental enough, I took the clue and ran with it.

The manual spirit box, spit out static and nothing else. Not even a whisper of any kind of activity came through this device.

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“The Walled City” guide panel.

So, I dove into the book, by Stello Jr. and read from cover to cover. Stopping at the Anne Bonny page, I read it over several times looking for any connection or tie into the Powder Magazine. Without a direct relation to Anne Bonny, Mary Read or any other pirate, I was baffled as to why she was even mentioned in a book strictly about the magazine and its history.

I dove into an online search looking for more about Bonny and her whereabouts in her life. Not one indication of historical videos, articles related to her history, or other experts on Bonny could I find any relation to the Powder Magazine. I researched evidence of sightings or shadows and came up with zilch.

In Conclusion

As a writer who needs evidence and physical proof of alleged hauntings, I have to say, the whole Anne Bonny and Mary Read correlation with the Powder Magazine feels more like a tourist trap attraction to liven up such a historical building. Let’s face it, when someone starts rattling off dates and war heroes, most of us get a little bored and/or if nothing else, a little confused about how things tie together. Throw a pirate into the mix after a few blockbuster hits with a big name actor and the history juices start flowing again with interest.

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The Powder Magazine and front yard. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

I pass by the Powder Magazine on my Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tours, mainly because I didn’t know much about the history of the building other than haunting “claims”. In the future, I will take my guests closer to the structure (it’s closed in the evenings) and do a bit more researching with gadgets we use on my tour. The Grid Pen will come in handy in this scenario as well as any thermal imaging from our camera.

In the event that any new evidence is found with an actual piece of evidence, this blog post and podcast episode will be updated with such evidence. For now, enjoy the legends and lore on other tours as they will heighten your attention to look closer at the history of Charleston, even if some of the stories are a stretch to attract attention.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always

Buy Me A Coffee

Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. We’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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References

Bartelme, Tony. “The true and false stories of Anne Bonny, pirate woman of the Caribbean.” 21 November 2018. Post and Courier. https://www.postandcourier.com/news/the-true-and-false-stories-of-anne-bonny-pirate-woman/article_e7fc1e2c-101d-11e8-90b7-9fdf20ba62f8.html. 29 January 2020.

National Park Service. “The Powder Magazine.” 15 February 2018. National Park Services. https://www.nps.gov/places/powder-magazine.htm. 29 January 2020.

Sandlapper Water Tours. “7 Spooky Charleston Ghost Stories to Get Those Goosebumps.” 21 March 2019. Sandlapper Water Tours. https://www.sandlappertours.com/7-spooky-charleston-ghost-stories-to-get-those-goosebumps/. 29 January 2020.

Stello Jr., R. Alan. Arsenal of History: The Powder Magazine of South Carolina. Charleston: History Press, 2013. print book.

The Old Powder Magazine, Cumberland Street. Charleston, 24 November 1860. https://lcdl.library.cofc.edu/lcdl/catalog/lcdl:281?tify={%22panX%22:0.489,%22panY%22:0.531,%22view%22:%22info%22,%22zoom%22:0.479}.

Traveler of Charleston. “6 Spookiest Places in Charleston.” 10 October 2017. Traveler of Charleston. https://travelerofcharleston.com/6-spookiest-places-charleston/. 29 January 2020.

 

Magnolia Cemetery

To listen to the accompanying podcast episode visit Stories in the Cemetery.

I’m not even going to pretend that I can cover the 130 acres of history that makeup Magnolia Cemetery. Normally, my posts will give you the history of a location before I dive into the paranormal activity. This post will give you some connections to my previous investigations.

Famous South Carolinians

Among the 35,000 burial sites at Magnolia Cemetery, lie 39 known famous South Carolinians that helped shape the history of both Charleston and South Carolina. Among this list of elites are politicians, writers, and soldiers. I will mention only a few of them here as they relate to my previous research. This is not to say that any of the others not mentioned here are any less important, but as a researcher and writer, I found it interesting that my previous investigations are linked closer to home.

William Bull

Although not listed among the 39 notable burials in Magnolia, I couldn’t help but notice on the map of the cemetery, in the upper left-hand corner, the name of “William Bull”.

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Map of Magnolia Cemetery. Picture found on http://www.magnoliacemetery.net

If you recall, William Bull was the man who funded Old Sheldon Church, a study I did in 2019. You can find that post here: Spirit Shoes at Old Sheldon Church.

William Gilmore Simms

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Bust of William Gilmore Simms at White Point Garden, SC. Picture by Nicholas McGirr

Last week, I posted about White Point Gardens and the lack of hauntings there. If you recall, there was a picture of a bust of William Gilmore Simms in White Point Gardens. Simms was a poet and novelist and his list of works includes “The Yemassee” written in 1835. Simms was also pronounced the “best novelist that America produced” by Edgar Allan Poe, another well-known author who spent time in Charleston. As an author myself, I like to think that Simms and Poe spent time together conversing over war and hardships of the South. The time periods match closely enough that this could’ve been possible.

Josephine Lyons Scott Pinckney

A descendant of Eliza and Thomas Pinckney, Josephine is also buried in Magnolia Cemetery. Eliza Lucas Pinckney, if you recall my post on their mansion site, was the mother of our indigo plants here in Charleston. Not only did she discover the crop’s capabilities to rebound Charleston’s crops, but she also stood as the businesswoman who was able to create and sell the crop overseas. A pioneer paving the path for future women of Charleston, Eliza’s tenacity lived through Josephine.

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Ravenel Bridge in the background of Magnolia Cemetery. Picture by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

Josephine was the founder of the Poetry Society of South Carolina, Josephine also played a key role in the preservation of the Holy City. Active in the literary community, she influenced the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society through the restoration of Charleston buildings and neighborhoods.

The Hunley Crew

The men who served under Captain Horace L. Hunley and Lt. Dixon are also buried here at Magnolia. There are signs that lead you right to it, or you can use the map of the cemetery grounds.

Although I have no direct research of the Hunley and its crew, I have plans in the future to dive into this research and of course, visit the Hunley itself in hopes of learning more about the vessel, it’s missions and it’s men.

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The remains of the crew were buried here in 2004, after author Clive Cussler and his group, NUMA found the vessel with the remains and time-capsule like artifacts. The funeral and memorial service took place in White Point Gardens and in Magnolia Cemetery with a full honorary service to remember those heroes that were lost.

Feels like an art exhibit

Walking and driving through Magnolia Cemetery, one gets a feeling that they are not only stepping through time but quite possibly through lost craftsmanship. The style of memorials, statues, headstones, and incredible carvings is astonishing. So astonishing in fact, that there are numerous books with depictions of the grave markers. One that comes to mind and more recent is from Patrick Harwood, “In the Arms of Angels”.

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There are plenty of newer style headstones but the uniquity of this cemetery is the vast array of styles of carvings, tombs, and crypts spread throughout the large grounds. An appreciation of artistry and craftsmanship aren’t needed while exploring the grounds, because it will be provided. You can’t help but notice how many different types of stone there are throughout the cemetery.

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Paranormal Activity

It’s a cold January here in Charleston and I had to get in and out of my warmed car between research sessions in the cemetery. I mention this because with each step back into my car, the spirit box app would give me another warning of precaution. Words like “speed”, “coordinate” and “squeeze” came through. In other words, in my small car, I had to watch my “speed”, “coordinate” my next stop and “squeeze” through the thin dirt roads that lead you around the graves.

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The word “perception” also came through on the app around the same time I heard “picture” in the manual spirit box. This was telling me to change my “perception” in the “pictures” I was taking and so I used my selfie stick to raise the camera and get a fuller view of the grounds. I was hoping for anomalies to show themselves or even an orb, but research on my pictures found nothing.

Throughout my stay in the cemetery, I would get random “blips” from the EMF detector. Nothing too significant, just a little touch out of the green zone. I couldn’t recreate the data, nor was anyone answering my questions when talking out loud. At times, I’ll use the EMF detector to communicate.

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As I was driving towards the exit, passing by the land that honors the Confederates killed during the Civil War, the word “soldier” came through. I stopped, rolled down my window, and enjoyed my last moment of peace in the old cemetery.

This was a peaceful drive and walk, despite the cold weather, and my understanding of the grounds and those buried there are deepened, though not fulfilled.

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Picture by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

Current Walks of the Grounds

There are activities that occur on the grounds to commemorate soldiers lost, ghost stories with more in-depth tales of the South Carolinians buried here, and to honor the deaths of those aboard the Hunley. The website for Magnolia Cemetery gives regular updates on happenings with the grounds as well as any updates to the property.

I’m sure this will not be my last tour of the old cemetery, as it holds many graves that need to be researched and preserved. As for this post, let this be the beginning and very broad scope of the importance this land on the banks of the Cooper River holds for Charleston.

I shall visit again, soon.

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Picture by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

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Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. We’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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References Used to Create this Post

Bulldog Tours. Spirits of Magnolia Cemetery Tour. n.d. https://www.bulldogtours.com/tours/the-spirits-of-magnolia-cemetery-tour/1. 23 January 2020.

Charleston Currents. HISTORY: Josephine Lyons Scott Pinckney. 23 November 2015. https://charlestoncurrents.com/2015/11/history-josephine-pinckney/. 23 January 2020.

City Walking Guide. Charleston. n.d. https://www.citywalkingguide.com/charleston/magnolia-cemetery. 23 January 2020.

Find A Grave. Famous Memorials in Magnolia Cemetery. n.d. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/70585/famous-memorials?page=1#sr-6719543. 23 January 2020.

Harwood, Patrick. In the Arms of Angels. Birds Eye Productions, 2014. Print Book.

Hunley.org. Hunley crew to “rest in peace, at last”. 6 May 2003. https://www.hunley.org/hunley-crew-to-rest-in-peace-at-last/. 23 January 2020.

Magnolia Cemetery. Magnolia Cemetery Blog. 16 August 2019. http://www.magnoliacemetery.net/. 23 January 2020.

SC Picture Project. Magnolia Cemetery. n.d. https://www.scpictureproject.org/charleston-county/magnolia-cemetery.html. 23 January 2020.

Wikipedia. William Gilmore Simms. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Gilmore_Simms. 23 January 2020.

 

Silence in White Point Gardens

With all the stories of ghosts, hauntings, boo-hags and paranormal activity, one cannot ignore the tales of White Point Gardens which adds pirates to all of our ghoulish tales.

I’ve been to White Point Gardens on multiple occasions while living here in Charleston, and for those occasions, it was of no importance other than to enjoy a water view with some fantastic architectural surroundings.  This last visit was different.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

With paranormal activity tools in hand, I set off to learn more about the paranormal activity on these grounds. Let’s look into the historical nature of the grounds first.

The History/Legendary Tale

The haunting story comes from that of Stede Bonnet and his men. Bonnet, known as the “Gentleman Pirate” was a family man and wealthy landowner gone rogue in 1717. He purchased a ship, named it Revenge, as most ships were named in this piratey age. He recruited anywhere from 50-70 men depending on which article you read and set sail. His notion of becoming a pirate is unknown since he left his wife and children behind to set forth a career of crime and piracy. Some articles state he borrowed a sum worth $400,000 in current currency and was bound to pay it back. Others say he simply had a mental breakdown and went mad for piracy.

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Stede Bonnet. Image from NCpedia.org.

After meeting Edward “Blackbeard” Thatch (or Teach, depending on who you are chatting with), there was turmoil afoot as the pair went their separate ways after befriending each other for a brief time. It is said that Bonnet was after Blackbeard, but was caught by Colonel William Rhett in Cape Fear. Bonnet’s men forfeited themselves and were hung from the numerous trees in White Point Gardens. Several days later, Judge Nicholas Trott condemned Bonnet to hang as well. All, including Bonnet, after being hung for several days from the trees as a warning to all other pirates, were buried in a nearby marsh.

The tale you’ll hear around Charleston after knowing this in-depth history of Stede Bonnet and his fated men, is that you can hear the screams from the hanging men and sometimes see their faces in the leaves of the trees at night. Fantastic story, especially when you bait in the legendary Blackbeard.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

Byron Preiss’s The Secret

As a treasure hunter for Byron’s treasure casque, I couldn’t help but notice the hype around White Point Gardens when beginning my research into the casque’s burial site. This is truly what brought my attention to the hauntings that are said to be at this location.

I have to say, to all of you treasure hunters out there looking for Byron’s casque, that White Point Gardens is definitely the wrong location.

There are clues like the fairy wings on the painting being “white tipped” and the “white point” on the clock, but I, as a fellow treasure casque hunter, feel these depictions on the painting were meant to merely bring us to a point of such interest as Charleston. The “white” depictions in the painting are just clues to the city.

Okay, phew, off my soapbox….back to White Point Gardens ghosts.

Memorials on the White Point Gardens Grounds

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U.S.S. Amberjack Memorial pays tribute to the 374 officers, 3131 men aboard these 52 named submarines from the U.S. Navy. These submarines aided in the success of World War II.
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Erected in 1954, this memorial pays tribute to those who passed away on the U.S.S. Hobson. All 176 men have a tile below the memorial with their home state.
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William Gilmore Simms. Charleston native author known as “The Antebellum South’s leading man of letters”.

Although there are only three dedications/memorials listed on this post, there are others to be seen. I’ll leave those up to you to find on this over 5 acres of beautiful landscape.

Paranormal Activity

Sometimes silence can be a beautiful thing, just not when you’re looking for paranormal activity. During my walk of these grounds, I used two spirit boxes; one digital app and a manual spirit box. I also used my EMF detector during my walk of these grounds. I took several pictures that you can see throughout this post.

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Not a Spirit Box.

The spirit boxes remained silent for over an hour with either complete static coming through the airwaves or no words coming through the digital app. The EMF detector stayed on green without so much as a blip into the next level. And the pictures you see were analyzed for anomalies and blurred specs of dust. I came up with nothing.

However, I have to look at this two ways. With the spirit boxes being “dead”, I have yet to have that happen where something didn’t come through, at least on the digital app. At White Point Gardens, it was an empty word list. Very odd indeed.

I visited in the middle of the afternoon with other visitors enjoying the breeze off the water and traffic whizzing by.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

After researching more about “what” the paranormal activity is said to have been experienced here, I realized, perhaps I should’ve visited closer to the evening hours. The alleged activity is to see the pirates faces in the trees and hear their screams to avenge their executions. Perhaps the silence I experienced was due to the time of day?

I, like many other ghostly tale tour guides, give my tours/experiences at night to add to the effect of the stories being told. I often tell my business partner, Brian McFarland that “ghosts don’t care what time of day it is.” Perhaps with White Point, I am dead wrong?

My Conclusion

After all the ghost hunting I’ve done on the streets of Charleston and with actual evidence, I have to say that the stories of White Point Gardens are just that: stories. I can admit that the lure of adding a pirate to a ghost story will bring us closer to learning about the history of Charleston. But even researching the history of Bonnet and his men, the story changed over time from different articles. Who’s to say it hasn’t completely become a tourist trap story like that of Blackbeard’s treasure being buried beneath the street leading from the Pirate House to Dock Street Theatre?

I’m going to call it as I see it at this point and claim that White Point Gardens is not actually haunted by paranormal activity. In this case, I would need proof of pirate faces in photographs and/or audio evidence for myself. In the near future, I will continue to visit this site for its beauty, but I always keep my paranormal activity kit nearby for more testing.

In the event, I prove myself wrong, I will be the first to admit. But for now, when you’re taking your “ghost tours” downtown and you hear this story, know you’ve been pulled in for a pirate story to liven up Charleston history. Enjoy the story as the storytellers tell it, it’s a great tale.

To read a full story of Stede Bonnet and his encounter with Blackbeard, I recommend visiting the Smithsonian website.

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Inside the Julia Legare Tomb

To listen to the accompanying podcast episode visit: Podcast episode

Believe it or not, most of the hauntings I investigate are not in an actual cemetery. But it’s always fun to tell stories in a cemetery, nonetheless. Such is the case of Julia Legare’s tomb in Edisto Island.

With so many versions of this story, it’s hard to determine if any of them are true, but the myth piqued my curiosity enough to take the short trip from Charleston. The pictures I took were gorgeous but they don’t really do the cemetery of the Presbyterian Church any justice. You’ll just have to visit Edisto’s graveyard for yourself.

The Myth

The story is simple and leaves many holes in the plot. Julia (Seabrook) Legare was buried in the tomb of her husband’s family after being pronounced dead from Diphtheria. After moving the marble door to the tomb to inter another family member, it is said that the remains of Julia’s body were found near the door with scratches on the inside of the door and the tomb.

I’m not going to debunk all the holes in the myth here for storytelling’s sake, but I will point out a few things worth noting.

There is currently no door to the tomb, so all are free to walk inside and for some of us, it’s a mere curiosity of what the inside of a tomb feels like, smells like and looks like. It’s creepy to say the least, but a peaceful creepy, in case you were wondering.

The door was removed after finding it open on more than one occasion and the legend says it’s Julia pushing it open so she doesn’t feel trapped any longer. I also found websites that claim the marble door is on the ground near the tomb. I can say, as of this writing, that the door was nowhere to be found when I visited.

Julia Legare
Miniature portrait of Julia Legare

I also wanted to note that with each version of the story I was told and what I read, Julia’s age always seems to be a bit off. Some stories claim her to be a child, others at 22 or 23. It makes for a much creepier tale if it is one of a child being locked into a tomb versus a grown woman. Grapevine effect at it’s finest here, folks.

I want to point out the obvious as well; the door. It is said to be made of marble. Even though I can’t verify this because the door is absent nor is it lying nearby, I find a larger than life portion of the story that says that Julia’s nail marks/tracks were found in a marble door. Keep in mind, I’m not ruling out that Julia’s death confirmation was false and she truly was buried alive. What I am debunking is the part of the story that says human nails of a weakened sick person could penetrate marble.

If you are curious about all the other debunkings of Julia’s story and family history, I urge you to check out J’aime Rubio’s article “Stories of the Forgotten: The true legend of Julia Legare – Fact vs. Fiction”. This is an in-depth look into Rubio’s research at debunking the myth. I, as a storyteller and paranormal investigator simply sought paranormal activity of one of the great myths of the Charleston area. I am not here to fully debunk the family’s history nor to expose any secrets the family may want to have kept.

The Grounds

As I said earlier, the cemetery and location of Julia Legare’s tomb are beautiful and peaceful. The pictures below show you the amazing craftsmanship of tombstones and memorials that seems like a lost art in today’s burials.

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The gates to family plats were also of note in the cemetery. Though aged, I always stop to appreciate the time it took to craft and mangle metals to become a well-built adornment.

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The church sits slightly off the road and has a welcoming appearance as well. When roaming in our islands of Charleston, you can always get a sense of the lifestyles that once were by visiting some churches and how you feel when you’re on the grounds. The welcoming feeling here says that Edisto Island is a place for family and all are welcome to come worship here.

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Presbyterian Church, Edisto Island. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.
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Presbyterian Church, Edisto Island. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

Inside the Tomb

Another visitor the tomb asked if I was alright with going inside the tomb itself. I chuckled as April told them not to worry. “This is what he does,”, she said.

Inside the tomb was not as creepy or spooky as you would think. Of course, dealing with death is never an easy thing, but being inside the walls of where remains lie was interesting. I was enthralled at the structured and immediately began pulling out my equipment to talk to whatever spirit that wanted to talk back.

I did receive completely random EMF (electro-magnetic field) spikes and wasn’t able to recreate any of them. They weren’t strong spikes, but just enough for someone to let me know they knew I was there. With my spirit box app running as well, the only term/phrase that was of note was when I left the tomb to explore more of the cemetery. The spirit box told me to “Come Back”.

Normally a tomb would have burials in the walls of the structure and I began to question how and where Julia and her family members were inside the tomb. I happened to notice that the cracked plate on the floor of the tomb might have been (and this is my own speculation) where a sarcophagus was kept.

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This would explain the crack on the floor with the weight of a crypt, and what looks like a cement pillow could have been a slight step in order to move the lid to the crypt. Again, just my speculation.

Since the walls are not deep enough to hold bodies, it could also be said that the family is buried below the cement slab which would also debunk the story of Julia being trapped alive and the marble door having fingernail scratches. If she was buried under the slab, then the slab would have to be moved in order to add a family member and that’s where her body would still be, only slightly moved or with evidence to show she tried to get out. Again, my mind goes to a weakened woman with diptheria and how she would have found the strength to do anything let alone come out of a cemented slab once inside a crypt in the ground.

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J.B. Legare tomb in Edisto Island. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

Also inside are three headstones along the back wall which leads me to believe that these three family members are also buried with Julia below the cement slab.

I found coins of patronage to Julia’s story along the ledge of the headstones and on the stepping stone.

Summary

As to not ruin a great ghost tale of Charleston and to keep the memory of Julia Legare alive, I will not further debunk any more of this ghost story. I will say that during my time at the Presbyterian Church cemetery and graveyard, I had paranormal activity from the tomb and only inside the tomb. Whether or not it was Julia herself, I cannot be certain. With the design of the tomb and no electrical influences to my EMF detector, I can honestly say that I would like to visit again with a more thorough investigation using my grid pen, thermal camera, and live spirit box. A more private investigation might bring about more evidence of paranormal activity in this absolutely gorgeous cemetery.

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Works mentioned in this post:

Julia Legare Picture: https://digitalcollections.frick.org/digico/#/

Article from J’aime Rubio: https://jaimerubiowriter.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-true-legend-of-julia-legare-fact-vs.html

Shadows of a Swinging Corpse: The Wagener Building

To listen to the accompanying podcast episode of this blog post: Stories in the Cemetery

The Wagener building is one of the stops on my Stories in the Cemetery Interactive Ghost Hunting Experiences and I felt the need to dive further into this huge building on East Bay Street.

A Ghost Story

The building holds an often told ghost story of George Poirier, a suicide from the third floor. His story goes a little like this:

After inheriting a very wealthy cotton business from his father, Poirier knew very little about investments and business management. To escape the demise of his cotton business from the boll weevil insect, and to pay off debts, Poirier sold his cotton stock to the British.

Poirier was already a depressed man, having his fill of dealing with his father’s passed down business and being in over his head after spending his inheritance.

East Bay Street Wagener Building
Photo found in “Indelible Photographs” of Charleston, S.C. from the Low Country Digital Library (lcdl) of the College of Charleston. 1890-99

With the British ship loaded with his last load of cotton, Poirier watched the ship head out to see from the third floor of the Wagener building. The ship allegedly caught fire from someone smoking a pipe too close to the load of cotton and caught the entire ship ablaze.

In all the stress of handling a business he was not trained to manage, losing his inheritance and now the shame to his family of selling the last bit of cotton to the British that was set to fire, Poirier was at his ultimate limit. The story says that Poirier stacked the furniture in the room with his captain’s chair on top; climbed the furniture and hung himself from the rafters. It is said that a broken window on the third floor invited the crows to feast on his carcass before a newsboy found Poirier’s swinging remains the next morning.

Not too bad of a ghost story, huh?

Paranormal Evidence

The claims of furniture moving, being stacked, cold drafts that can’t be explained have all pushed subsequent owners and tenants out of the Wagener building.  There are also claims of a swinging corpse shadow on a stormy night from the third story windows.  I’ve had some subtle evidence come through on my tours of downtown Charleston while passing by the building.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Taken from a rooftop across from the Wagener Building.

EMF spikes around the corner doors and my trusty ghost detector app giving off phrases like “Under the Chair” and “Insects Itching” all come to light after this research. I’m taking the “Insects Itching” as the boll weevil insect that invaded the cotton crops of South Carolina during this time. According to a CDC study, the boll weevil can cause rashes and itching to those allergic to the beetle.

Just before writing this post, I visited the building one last time to look for more paranormal evidence other than a few EMF spikes. What I found was a construction crew working diligently inside and in a restricted area.

With the EMF detector and Ghost Detector app running, I paced around the building a few times waiting for answers. One name, in particular, showed up that I’ve never seen come through the app before: “Elias”. I did my research.

Writer Richard Fowler wrote an article on the building while he, too, was researching the haunting. He discovered a scandal from the original Wageners whose name bears the building but also involving a Washington Whilden, son of Elias Whilden, wrapped around lost business ventures around the great earthquake of 1886.

Reading his article and speculative theory, I’m convinced (again) that I have come across paranormal evidence that my tools are working. You can check out Fowler’s theory here:

Nothing New Under the Sun by Richard Fowler

Future Use

The Wagener Building has plans to be used for an upscale restaurant (yet to be determined) and for wedding receptions. This makes complete sense since the three floors facing East Bay Street are all wide open floorplans and would be a perfect venue for a Charleston wedding.

The back of the building is currently comprised of condos. During one of my tours, a guest explained that she had a friend who lived in one of those condos and has never mentioned any abnormal or paranormal activity. If I’m following the story of George Poirier, I can see where this would be legitimate due to his hanging in the front of the building.

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Stories at the Sorrel-Weed House

To listen to the accompanying podcast episode: Click Here!

The great thing about visiting Savannah, Georgia is that the city seems to welcome its own paranormal history and evidence. Such is the case with the Sorrel-Weed House. It is said to be one of the most haunted locations in Savannah. April, Byron and I took the haunted tour with a great guide by the name of Graham.

The History

From the feature picture of the historical marker, you can read that the house was built in 1840 and was influenced by the French background of the original owner, Francis Sorrel. The story of his wife, Matilda and his slave mistress, Molly is what makes this location so interesting.

Molly, who had her own bedroom in the carriage house, was the mistress of Francis. After Francis’s wife was unable to find him one night, Matilda decided to ask the slaves if any of them had seen her husband. What she found was her husband in Molly’s private bedroom above the carriage house. Matilda ran away from the carriage house and into the main house. From the second-story balcony, Matilda argued with Francis while he was standing in the courtyard. Matilda fell to her death from that balcony.

It is also alleged that Molly, through all the turmoil of being discovered with Francis, that she hung herself in her bedroom. However, in today’s world and looking at the forensic evidence, a 4’11” woman was unable to reach the 8′ beams in her bedroom where she was found, nor did she have tall enough furniture to aid in her suicide. What logic also tells us about this death, is that hanging wasn’t necessarily a form of suicide in the mid-1800s, but more a way of the white man’s homicide as a form of punishment sentence. To this day, Molly’s death remains a mystery.

Multiple Haunted Rooms

Throughout the main home and carriage house, Graham was able to tell us the history of each room and some of the paranormal activity in each room. Although, after listening to the recording of the tour, I couldn’t truly put my finger on all the evidence to tie it together. Each room also had photographic or audible evidence that Graham presented.

There is a gathering room in the main house that has a giant mirror over a fireplace. Our guide was able to show us a photo of apparitions in the reflection of the mirror.

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Although we couldn’t capture any apparitions in the reflection, it’s difficult not to stare into this stunning mirror. Photo by April McGirr

The room was also decorated with ornate furniture that could’ve probably told more stories of the happenings during the prime of this gorgeous home.

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An old desk urging us to look for clues to the mystery of the deaths in the home. Photo by April McGirr

The basement we found most interesting. According to Graham, the home was bought in the 1950s and turned into an old dress shop. The shop changed out the old black slate tiles in the basement and cemented over them, ruining the originality of the home. However, when repurchased for restoration, the slate was too far ruined to be restored. Instead, the restoration turned into digging up the flooring to be renewed and artifacts from the Revolutionary War were found: buttons, red cloth, and a French Cannonball. Interestingly enough along with these artifacts, the bone capacity of 12 bodies was also found. Instead of spending restoration funds to further research the bones, the bones were returned into the earth. So, in the event, you ever visit this home, know that you are walking over the remains of human skeletons while in the basement.

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An old wheelchair found in the basement of the Sorrel-Weed House. Photo by April McGirr

There was an eerie feeling when walking into the “laundry room”. A heavy feeling came over me as I passed through the door and my depth perception began to waver. I don’t normally discuss my personal emotions and feelings from my investigations, but Graham told us later in the Carriage House that these types of feelings were normal while in the Carriage House. Odd that I felt them so much earlier in the tour.

There are claims of a “Shadow Man” in the basement as well. The staff at the Sorrel-Weed House have even given him his own breezeway since his tall shadow is often seen there. In the breezeway is one creepy old chair.

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Shadow Man’s chair. Photo by April McGirr

Other claims in the basement are that of clothes being tugged, jewelry and metals being pulled and purses being unbuckled. None of these things happened on our tour, at least no one confessed, but we found one interesting anomaly that we caught on camera. When we started looking at it again, another tourist said she captured three anomalies coming together in one of the other segments of the basement.

At first glance, it looks like the anomaly is on the camera lens, but it begins to move quicker than the motion of the camera towards the end.

A friend of ours, also showed me similar footage from his visit to the Sorrel-Weed house basement, proving the validity of this video.

I will also mention that Byron (my dappled dachshund) was also with us on this tour. He could not take his gaze off the fireplace area while Graham was speaking and telling us the history. The video above was taken after realizing that Byron was a bit uncomfortable with the fireplace.

The Carriage House

The history portion of this location is mentioned above and I’ll say again that Graham warned us that during most of his tours, at least one guest becomes nauseated, disoriented or hears footsteps while in the Carriage House. During our tour of Molly’s bedroom and the Carriage House, I did not feel any of these emotions and there were no footsteps being heard over the audio.

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Molly’s private bedroom in the Carriage House. Photo by April McGirr

However, the TAPS team of Ghost Hunters was able to capture a very distinctive yelling that lasted for several seconds. In the evidence of EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon), it is rare that an audible piece of evidence is broken up into clear audio of screaming over a time span of a second or two. The TAPS team captured this audio without anyone in the Carriage or nearby to manipulate a different sound. Your guide will be proud to honor this audio evidence while on your tour.

As I said earlier, Savannah welcomes its haunted history. Graham later took us on a walking tour throughout the city and was able to tell us more of the haunted history. The Sorrel-Weed House welcomes paranormal groups to investigate and Graham even offered up a direct email in the event any guest captures photographic or audio evidence while on the tour.

While looking for more evidence on the Sorrel-Weed House, I discovered this video on YouTube: (pay close attention around the 2-minute mark)

Could this video be actual evidence of Matilda walking around? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video. Feel free to leave comments below.

In future visits to Savannah, GA, I’m hoping to book a lockdown night in the Sorrel-Weed House and use my own equipment for a full investigation. There seems to be enough evidence here to last a lifetime and well, let’s face it, the Sorrel-Weed House staff will actually appreciate what paranormal investigators can bring to light.

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Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. Even though we won’t trek to Savannah, GA, we’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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Links to references used for this post:

All photos were taken by April McGirr and cannot be used without permission.

Paranormal

Quest for Byron’s Charleston Secret Treasure

**Please note: There are updates at the bottom of this post. Each update will be dated with links to the BONUS episodes of our Quest to unbury Byron’s Charleston Secret Treasure.

To Listen to this week’s episode with an interview from Brian McFarland, visit Anchor here or listen to Stories in the Cemetery on your favorite podcatcher.

To continue following the updates on the methods of finding this mysterious casque, you can support “Stories in the Cemetery” on Buy Me a Coffee, and receive the BONUS episodes. Just a buck in the coffee pot and you can stay up to date with the folks that are going to pull the Charleston casque out of the ground.

 

This week’s post and podcast episode is a Secret: Byron Preiss’s Charleston Secret. If you’ve been following my podcast episodes, you know that this book and the verses within it have been consuming quite a bit of my time. However, I think I am truly onto a solve for Preiss’s Charleston riddle and it’s not anywhere near the previous solves for this near-impossible puzzle.

The Book

If you’re unfamiliar with this book, let me give a quick and brief explanation. Byron Preiss wrote a fantasy novel in 1982 that held 12 paintings and 12 verses. Each of the 12 verses matches up to one of the 12 paintings for clues to a hidden treasure in 12 different cities. The verses are not aligned with the picture, so it’s up to the treasure hunter and reader to interpret which verse matches to what picture.

Since 1982, only three of the 12 puzzles have been solved. The interest here is that one of the paintings in the book points straight to Charleston, SC. I was dumbfounded when Brian McFarland, owner of Charleston Cavalier Tours sent me a link to this book, saying “I think this is right up your alley…” I couldn’t believe with all the research I do on Charleston’s haunted locations that I never came across this book and its puzzles.

The treasure in each city is a key in a casque that is protected by a plexiglass box buried three to four feet in the ground. The key can then be mailed in exchange for the gem represented in the painting for each city. The gem for Charleston is a diamond.

Preiss passed away in a car accident before all the treasures could be found. The key at this point can be taken or mailed to his living wife in exchange for the gemstone.

There is a conglomerate of YouTube videos, TV Shows, blog posts, wikis and websites dedicated to giving readers clues on how to solve the puzzles. Each one of them has their own interpretation. I’m not downplaying any of these puzzle solvers answers to where the remaining 9 treasures are buried, but if their solves are so accurate, why haven’t they been found?

I will not reveal my solution for the Charleston puzzle in this blog post or on the podcast.

However, keep reading and you’ll find some of my theories and thoughts about each verse: yes, I said “each” simply because there are two puzzles that are associated with the Charleston painting.

The Painting

The painting for each of the already solved puzzles: Cleveland, Chicago, and Boston shows that the painting merely takes you to the correct city with the clues that are beheld in the brush strokes. It’s the verse that gives you step by step directions on how to find the actual treasure.

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Painting 2: Charleston from Byron Preiss’s “The Secret: A Treasure Hunt”

I feel as though some treasure hunters are taking the painting a bit too far and overthinking it. Many hunters have already figured out that Painting 2 is representing Charleston. Here are some of the clues that you can look for:

  • The pendant: Obviously in the shape of Fort Sumter. It also holds the three stripes of the French flag which are represented on a guide panel on Sullivan’s Island.
  • The African lion: a representation of the slavery in Charleston’s history
  • The African fairy: another representation of the slavery in Charleston’s history
  • The map on the African mask forehead: This is obviously a map of the islands that make up Charleston.
  • The pear: This is said to represent “Pearman Bridge”
  • Lion’s mane: If you look closely, you can see the words “Navy Way” at the very top of the mane. There are numbers throughout the mane. In previously solved puzzles, numbers represented the coordinates of the city. The numbers hold some weight with the Charleston painting as well.
  • The cross: There’s a cross in the lower-left portion of the lion’s mane. I point this out singly because it’s not a word or a number. It represents the many churches we have around Charleston.
  • There are dozens of more clues that are open to interpretation. What did you find?

Verse 6: Commonly Wrong

Verse 6 is the most commonly used verse to match with the Charleston painting. There are wikis and other studies that show this is the correct verse. The most commonly used resource is a wiki that you can find here: Verse 6 Interpretation

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Verse 6 from Byron Preiss’s “The Secret: A Treasure Hunt”

The first five lines are said to reference the poem at the beginning of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”. With Byron’s purpose to start a treasure hunt and Charleston’s long history of pirates, this holds some merit. However, I do not feel strong enough about this reference for it to be part of Charleston’s treasure location.

Again, my theory is that the verse is a line by line guide that will lead you straight to the exact location.

Feel free to explore more of the Verse 6 Interpretation. It seems legit at first glance and I applaud those that have put the effort into piecing together the Charleston history to make this verse work for their theory. I simply feel as though you are all overthinking this process.

Let’s talk about the OTHER verse that is open to interpretation for Charleston.

Verse 5: Vachowski’s Study

James Vachowski wrote a blog post of his “solve” for the Charleston treasure and he claimed it was on Sullivan’s Island. He shows his full solve for matching the Charleston painting with Verse 5 on his website. You can read the full solve here: Vachowski’s Verse 5 Solve. 

It’s a great solution for a couple of reasons. First, he went against the grain of all other puzzle solves by using a different verse. Verse 5 is commonly disregarded because of the word “Citadel” in Line 8. Most treasure hunters would claim that this one word, with the complexity of these puzzles, would make the search a bit too easy. I, like Vachowski, disagree.

Vachowski’s solve for the Charleston puzzle places the buried treasure in Fort Moultrie very close to the USS Patapsco obelisk monument. However, Vachowski’s claim puts the treasure on the grounds of a National Park where excavating anything is simply prohibited. This sucks for Vachowski, after reading his blog post, his research was well thought out, detailed with pictures and references and very well written. I was highly impressed.

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Picture of Vachowski’s theorized casque location. Picture from Vachowski’s blog, “The Buried Treasure on Sullivan’s Island” on http://www.jamesvachowski.com

Regardless of how I was impressed with Vachowski’s research, I think he’s wrong.

My thoughts and theory

After reading Vachowski’s study of Verse 5, I felt like he was onto something. His advice to read previous solves for the riddles was great advice since I was already reading his. If you decide to go into this rabbit hole of looking for the clues and matching verses, you’ll start to doubt your own research with each interpretation you come across, that’s a guarantee.

Vachowski’s thought that Preiss could bury something in a National Park is a bit far-fetched even for the time that Preiss was piecing together his puzzles in 1980-81. Burying a casque three feet deep in a National Park would definitely get noticed, even if he did it in the middle of the night.

Like I said earlier, I’m not going to post my theory and thoughts on my own research, but I will say that the research done by Vachowski holds some merit. I, too, am using Verse 5 for my interpretation of the clues. Although there are some clues to the exact location hidden in the painting, I feel that the verses hold more water than the paintings.

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Verse 5 from Byron Preiss’s “The Secret: A Treasure Hunt”

For updates on my research, please continue following this blog or you can listen to the Stories in the Cemetery podcast episode on your favorite podcatcher. I may have plans to do a special one-hour episode at the beginning of each month until I solve the Charleston puzzle. There are plenty of other podcasts and blogs that talk about the puzzles, but if you are interested in hearing a month to month update on where I am with solving the puzzle, stay tuned.

UPDATE 3.22.20

Brian McFarland and I have been recording BONUS episodes on the crowdfunding site http://www.buymeacoffee.com. If you’d like to hear those episodes to hear more about our research and methods for finding the casque, drop a buck in the coffee pot at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/nicholasmcgirr

UPDATE 3.22.20

We are closer than ever to dig up the casque in Charleston. If you’ve been following along, Brian McFarland and I have been using Verse 5 with the heeded warning of “Get Permission, To dig out.” We have asked for our permission and have been granted our request to probe, use an endoscope for clarification and then to dig.

However, we’ve been sworn to secrecy due to the laws and regulations of the city of Charleston. We understand that the only proof one treasure hunter can have is a casque in hand, but know that we are both very excited and honored that our request has gone through many committees and our research was thorough enough and convincing enough to be granted this amazing opportunity.

Stay tuned to Buy Me a Coffee BONUS episodes to find out WHEN we find this casque. Granted, through the struggles of the COVID-19 virus spreading, we are in waiting. You can be one of the first hunters to know when the casque has been found. Keep following.

If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always

Buy Me A Coffee

Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. Even though we won’t trek to my alleged Secret Treasure site, we’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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Swamp Fox Ghost Town

To listen to the accompanying podcast episode, CLICK HERE

Taking a step back in time is a normal activity for Charlestonians and tourists alike. However, this hidden gem of history is located outside of Charleston in Summerville, South Carolina. What remains of the Colonial Dorchester Site are tales left to be told of how early settlers in the area lived and eventually vanished after the Revolutionary War.

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Inside the bell tower. Photo by Nicholas McGirr

The Structures

The first thing anyone would notice as you pull in to this park is the remains of the St. George Bell Tower. Erected before 1756, the bell tower was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War. It held four bells in it’s prime and was slightly repaired after the torture of being burned. What remains today is a scope of historical architecture for all to observe.

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Burned bell tower of St. George’s Church. Photo from Art of Charleston
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Repaired bell tower of St. George’s Church. Photo by Nicholas McGirr

Towards the back of the park next to the Ashley River is a tabby fort with walls made of oyster shells and concrete. Today, this is the best-kept display of tabby in America even though it was damaged during the earthquake of 1886.

Inside the fort walls are the remains of a powder house where Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion was stationed. The remains are preserved by keeping visitors from climbing or damaging the remaining structure. Along the Ashley River, the park has set up benches and tables for fishermen and for those wishing to enjoy a very peaceful lunch. At low tide, you can observe the wharf and dock that was once used in this colonial society.

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Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

Behind the church, you can stroll through the base structures of homes and the school that was located there complete with informational panels to guide you. There were even street signs still visible, their date is unknown.

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The History

With the site once thriving with homes, two schools and a church, where did everyone go? I’ll keep it simple.

During the Revolutionary War, many settlers began to flee the area after many of the structures were burned. These areas included parts of Georgia and further south to avoid another raid in the area. By 1788, the entire town was abandoned leaving it to become a ghost town.

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Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

During the war, it was Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion and Thomas Sumter that were stationed at the site to guard the powder magazine. The remnants of the magazine can be seen today in the middle of the fort walls.

During my research, I found no reported deaths or tragedies on the area which left me curious as to find any paranormal activity on the grounds.

The Data

It was on the bell tower that I first received EMF readings, but after several visits to the site, I have never been able to recreate the readings. Even with a small cemetery nearby (at least what’s visible as a cemetery), there are absolutely no EMF readings, cold spots or spirit box activity of any kind. Even the app that I normally use to accompany the actual spirit box gave random answers and words while investigating this site. None of the terms and words that came from the app could be linked to the site.

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Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

This ghost town is just a town abandoned. Even though I was able to find a slight EMF detection near the bell tower, I was unable to recreate it. This tells me two things: First, any hauntings that are at this site do not wish to be found. Second, that this was once the home to many of our early settlers doesn’t mean it will hold onto the residual spirit activity.

The intent for my research is to not just investigate the famously haunted locations but to find new locations that may not have been discovered as having activity. The Colonial Dorchester site is not one of those locations. What I did get out of this investigation is a furthered understanding of the Charleston history which may tie into future investigations later. This is a good thing.

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Photo of the tabby fort walls at Fort Dorchester. Photo from Art of Charleston.

So even though I found no paranormal activity, to keep my integrity as an author and researcher, I presented this investigation anyway. Not all investigations are going to be a success, but with the history attached to the Colonial Dorchester site, I am claiming success on what I’ve learned to further understand how our ancestors lived before us.

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Parish Church of St. George. Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

I recommend you visit this site for yourself to not only see the tabby walls but to get a feel for how our ancestors before us would have created a community.

If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always

Buy Me A Coffee

Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. Even though we won’t trek up to Summerville to visit the Colonial Dorchester site, we’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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References Used to write this post

City of Charleston. Art Work of Charleston: Published in 12 Parts. W. H. Parish Publishing Co., 1893. https://lcdl.library.cofc.edu/lcdl/catalog/lcdl:129214?tify={%22panX%22:0.449,%22panY%22:0.964,%22view%22:%22info%22,%22zoom%22:1.393}.

South Carolina Picture Project. Colonial Dorchester, Summerville, SC. Updated 2019. https://www.scpictureproject.org/dorchester-county/fort-dorchester.html. 28 November 2019.

South Carolina State Parks. Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. 2019. https://southcarolinaparks.com/colonial-dorchester. 28 November 2019.

 

Pinckney Mansion Site

I discovered the Pinckney Mansion site while looking for more locations to investigate on my Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience Tours in downtown Charleston. It was completely by chance that my EMF detector started showing signs of paranormal activity while standing in the middle of the parking lot once known as 235 East Bay Street.

Built in 1746 and burned by the great fire of 1861, this site is chock full of paranormal activity and rightfully so. The home belonged to Charles and Eliza Pinckney and was an absolute marvel for the 1740’s neighborhoods being built in Charleston. Forget the Jones’s, keeping up with the Pinckneys was hard enough.

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Original photo of Pinckney Mansion ruins by George N. Barnard

The remains from the Pinckney Mansion were eventually torn down after fire damage. The land eventually turned into an Irish Pub called Molly Darcy’s, but today, the address sits as a parking lot. There are plans to turn the lot into a hotel which could make for a very haunted stay, but the historians of Charleston are afraid that historical artifacts could be forever lost if the parking lot is too be dug up and accommodated to favor the new hotel landscape. An archaeological dig before the hotel is raised can bring new data to slave quarters, the gardens as well as artifacts that might bring light to the architecture of this very important era in American history.

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Photo from the National Archive Records Group found on http://www.worthpoint.com

My fears are joint with historians and with good intent. Keep reading.

A local told me a story about the land after researching the readings from my EMF detector. The story said that another local witnessed a full-body apparition of a woman in period dress and he was able to circle her in full view. He literally walked around the full apparition of a woman in a dress!

Granted, Charleston is full of ghost stories, but rightfully so. I believe in the story and with evidence.

One of the stops on my Interactive Ghost Hunting Experiences is the address of the Pinckney Mansion. With each visit, I’m able to acquire new evidence using all the ghost hunting tools on my tours. I’ve visited the site several times without a tour group and was still able to capture EMF readings in different areas of the parking lot. The fact that I cannot recreate the same type of pulses on any given night or day tells me that the spirit activity moves around, but stays on site.

I’ve even tested this theory. There are wires and other street light cables around the site and even on the wall of the front of the site that faces East Bay Street. There are absolutely no signals or pulses from the EMF detector when placed on or around the wiring!

I will also say that the EMF detector erratic pulses also emulate a light just outside one of the nearby buildings. When holding up the EMF detector so that both the light and EMF detector are in view, the two resemble the same erratic pattern of pulses. I’ve only seen this happen once thus far but will be tested on all future tours.

Using the spirit box, both the “Ghost Detector” app and the physical spirit box, I, along with ghost hunting tour groups have captured different phrases. The term “we will” has occurred several times within one tour. Even though I couldn’t find a relative piece of history with this phrase, I found it interesting nonetheless that it revealed itself to two different ghost hunters on the same night.

Later, on one of my tours, the name “Lucas” came through. The interesting thing about this name is that Eliza Pinckney’s maiden name was “Lucas”. I was standing near St. Philip’s Church when this name came through, so of course, I had to research. Eliza Lucas Pinckney isn’t buried in St. Philip’s Church Cemetery. She’s buried in Philadelphia, PA., but her husband Charles is buried at St. Philip’s, but his name has no relation to Lucas.

Why the significance with Eliza Lucas Pinckney you might be asking? Eliza is the mother of Charleston’s indigo crop which was the saving Grace after rice plantations began their decline.

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Eliza Lucas Pinckney, photo found on the National Park Service website.

Eliza was also the mother of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, one of the signers of our U.S. Constitution. I would say that Eliza is a large part of the history of South Carolina and finding the site of her former home using an EMF detector is quite the find.

Eliza has done more than just mother one of our founding fathers and begin our indigo crops. She was also the international businesswoman for insuring her indigo crops would help South Carolina by exporting it to various locations in Europe. You can read more about Eliza’s life on the National Park Service website. She’s absolutely fascinating.

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Zoomed copy of Page 4 of the U.S. Constitution showing Charles Cotesworth Pinckney’s signature. Digital copy found on http://www.constitutionday.com

As for the SITC Ghost Hunting Experiences, I will listen intently to each and every tour to listen for any EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). This site will change again in the future and I’m hoping that the new construction will not disrupt any of the paranormal activity. As most of you already know, construction can either enhance or destroy this type of evidence.

An archaeological dig can also bring about new evidence and data that will tell us more about the Pinckneys’ life as well as the architecture about this unfortunate building that housed so much historical significance. You can read more about the future of the Pinckney Mansion site on the Post & Courier website.

If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always Buy Me A Coffee to keep me fueled and ready for more investigations. Your contributions to my craft are always appreciated!

Works Cited

Behre, Robert. “One of Charleston’s most intriguing archaeological sites could be lost forever.” 16 July 2018. Post & Courier. https://www.postandcourier.com/news/one-of-charleston-s-most-intriguing-archaeological-sites-could-be/article_835fd8dc-7f99-11e8-acb1-0b1ca7fa47f1.html. 19 November 2019.

National Archives Records Group. Charleston: Worthpoint, n.d. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/south-carolina-history-charleston-1811125761.

National Park Service. “Eliza Lucas Pinckney.” 22 August 2019. National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/chpi/learn/historyculture/eliza-lucas-pinckney.htm. 19 November 2019.

“U.S. Constitution.” Page 4. n.d. https://www.constitutionday.com/the-constitution.html.

 

Philadelphia Alley

To listen to the podcast episode for Philadelphia Alley click here: Stories in the Cemetery Episode 12.

History

Philadelphia Alley, named after the help from Philadelphia after the fires of 1810, has had many names. Along with “Philadelphia Alley”, it was also known as “Dueler’s Alley” and originally named “Cow Alley” because it mainly held livestock.

This post will focus on why it was called “Dueler’s Alley”. It’s the name that also gives the alley a famous urban legend haunting. Which, of course, is the purpose behind my investigation.

Handprints in the Bricks

There are a few unique attributes to the alley that contribute to its spookiness. Search hard enough in the laid bricks and you’ll find the handprints and fingerprints of the slave children who made those bricks. These prints usually came from the child who was given the unruly job of turning the sundried bricks while they hardened.

Bricks like these can be found all over the Charleston area including Drayton Hall and Boone Hall Plantation. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon these bricks while exploring Philadelphia Alley. They’re not difficult to find.

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A full handprint in brick on Philadelphia Alley. Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr
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Partial palm print and fingerprints in brick on Philadelphia Alley. Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

Entry to St.Philip’s Church Graveyard

During the times where dueling was a way to settle differences, an entryway to St. Philip’s Church was provided for easy disposal of the losing party of the duel. How convenient. So, instead of waiting for an ambulance and a time of death report to come through, the townsfolk simply picked up the loser and took him to his grave.

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Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

The Whistler

So, now comes to our urban legend slash haunting of Dueler’s Alley.  It is said that Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd, a known whistler, can be heard while walking through the alley. During my early morning walk through the alley, the only whistling I heard came from the early morning birds nearby and there were quite a few of them. There are also claims of heard gunshots while walking through the alley at night.

Now, Dr. Ladd was only in town after being shamed in his own hometown in Rhode Island. He was courting a young woman that he was intending on marrying, but his fellow townsman felt that he was only after the young lady’s family funds that she inherited after her parents had passed away.

So, to prove his lack of cowardice to establish his practice, he fled his hometown and came to Charleston, SC. Upon his arrival, he immediately became friends with Ralph Isaacs, who saved Ladd from a robbery and a group of conmen. This friendship contributes to the other party of the duel later to come.

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However, as Dr. Ladd’s popularity grew, the friendship with Isaacs began to dissipate and Isaacs began to resent his friendship with Dr. Ladd.

After a showing of a Shakespearean play, Isaacs and the doctor began to argue about one of the actresses which quickly turned into an argument about Dr. Ladd’s love, Amanda, back in Rhode Island. After a few slandering words (some of even went public in a local paper), a duel was set up for them in Dueler’s Alley.

The duel would follow the rules of standard dueling and Dr. Ladd had no intention of shooting his friend. However, Isaacs had a different plan.

Although Ladd’s shot was intentional to the side of his opponent and friend, whereas Isaacs made a direct hit into Ladd. He was forced to retreat back home.

 

59 Church St.

Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd was living at 59 Church Street where he retreated after his soon to be famous duel with Ralph Isaacs. So, no, he was not taken through the entryway to his grave to St. Philip’s Church. He was aided to the second floor of his home where he spent his last ten days suffering from the gunshot from Isaacs.

 

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59 Church Street, home of Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd

The Readings

As for my investigation of the Ladd/Isaacs duel, I found little evidence, but some evidence is better than no evidence! I researched this story during the daylight hours. Hopefully, with my upcoming “Stories in the Cemetery” Interactive Ghost Hunting Tours (hosted by Charleston Cavalier Tours)  I’ll find more substantial evidence.

There were spiked EMF (electro-magnetic field) readings while in the middle of the alley. The morning was quiet aside from the whistling birds (or was it Dr. Ladd?) and the EMF detector spiked in several areas multiple times. I spent over an hour in the alley looking for light posts and other electrical entities that might deter an accurate reading but could find none. The EMF readings were true while I stood in the middle of the alleyway with nothing in arms’ reach.

I also had a spike on the EMF when I placed the device near this sign that is posted on the home at 59 Church Street:

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Spiked EMF readings on the home at 59 Church St. Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

Now, I haven’t researched Thomas Rose yet, but as my investigations continue, I’m sure I will come back to this location for multiple investigations.

On my future Interactive Ghost Hunting tours with the tourists that come through Charleston, I will keep a sharp ear for the whistling and gunshot claims that roll through this alley. All tours will be recorded for the tourists to have access to later and it is through these recordings that I hope to stumble across and verify the claims of hearing the Whistler and/or the Gunshots that mortally wounded Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd.

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Rustic metal sign found in Philadelphia Alley. Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

Stories in the Cemetery Interactive Ghost Hunting Tour in Downtown Charleston

To hear the story of Dueler’s Alley and other haunting tales around downtown Charleston, be sure to sign up for my email updates and follow this blog. To visit the website to purchase tickets for my upcoming tours, please click: http://www.charlestoncavaliertours.com. I can’t wait to investigate haunted locations with you!

If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always Buy Me A Coffee to keep me fueled and ready for more investigations. Your contributions to my craft are always appreciated!

 Vacations Made Easy

Spirit Shoes at Old Sheldon Church

The Grounds

In Beaufort, South Carolina sits the serene and very still ruins of The Old Sheldon Church. Originally named Prince William’s Parish Church, the site holds gorgeous oak trees, randomly scattered headstones/graves and the remains of a twice destroyed Georgian style place of worship.

What better place to find supernatural happenings than a building that was destroyed twice?

Originally built in the 1740’s and 1750’s, the contributor who funded the church was that of William Bull whose grave is still on the grounds, allegedly. He was married to Ann Bull, and it was the stories of his wife, Ann, that led me to this visit.


 

There are stories online of a lady in a brown dress guarding the grave of her child. The gender of the child she’s protected is unknown by the headstone, but research states Mr. & Mrs. Bull had only one child. I mention this because of some of the research conducted on site later.

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Stone marker connected to outside church wall. Photo courtesy of April McGirr.

Once Loved, Twice Burned

According to www.scriptureproject.org, the history goes like this:

Originally organized and funded in the 1740s and 1750s by William Bull, whose Newberry Plantation bordered church grounds, … The church was set on fire in 1779 by British troops led by General Augustine Prevost during the Revolutionary War. 

Tradition states that on January 14, 1865, near the end of the Civil War, General Sherman’s troops burned the church a second time as part of his “March to the Sea” campaign… In a letter dated February 3, 1866, …, Milton Leverett wrote that “Sheldon Church not burn’t. Just torn up in the inside, but can be repaired.” “

So, there it is. Destroyed twice in two different wars: The Revolutionary War and then the Civil War. It is a possibility that the materials inside the church were stolen by locals to repair their own homes during the Civil War, but the church was destroyed nonetheless.

There is no doubt that between both of these vandalizing acts of war, that death occurred on the grounds of the church.

My Visit

Our visit to this location was one of two locations that day. We visited the Old Sheldon Church in the early afternoon. There were others there also visiting the site, taking pictures and the site remains open to the public to visit the history of South Carolina without a cost or a tour guide.

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Taken from behind the remains of Old Sheldon Church. The crypt of William Bull. Photo courtesy of April McGirr.

As said earlier, the grounds are covered with plenty of mossy oaks, some with cement blocks in them to retain the strength of the trees. The air is quiet and very still in this place as it sits in the backwoods of a very old South Carolinian city. It is exactly as you would suspect.

Some new testing

For our day in Beaufort, I decided I wanted to test a spirit box app and an EMF detecting app from my phone.

A spirit box uses radio frequencies to allow spirits to communicate. The app I found is called “Ghost Detector”. And yes, I chose it for the clichéd name. I tested this app at home first, playing with the features and waiting for anything to come through. At random intervals, it spits out a word. It seemed pretty bogus at the time, but thought I would give this a try at an actual haunted location. After all, according to the technology, a spirit simply needs the right frequency to communicate. Who cared if the app I was using was a hoax? It still provided random frequencies and that’s what the spirits needed.

I also want to point out that when toying with this app at home, the words came across my screen about every 5-10 minutes. While at Old Sheldon Church, the words came much faster.

The EMF (electromagnetic field) detector was also tested at home. Electromagnetic Fields are said to determine whether there is spirit activity nearby.

I walked around my home placing my phone around electrical outlets and electronic items and it actually worked! I don’t know how my phone is able to do this through an app, but I went with the proof of little lights on my screen lighting up.

**(Note that while I used the EMF detecting app at Old Sheldon Church, there was no activity to be documented.)

I brought a third person with me to handle my phone with these new apps. April (my wife) was taking pictures as usual. Byron and I walked around reading as many headstones as we could find and the third person was gauging the apps letting me know which words were coming through the “Ghost Detector” app.

Shoes at the Church

As we were all exploring the grounds, the app was spitting out random words that made no sense. Like my investigations with Psychic, I thought these words might make more sense with research.  Take a look at these screenshots:

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Notice that there was a word coming through every 1-3 minutes. This is more activity than I had at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now take a look at this screenshot. This is from the same location, you can tell by the timeframes.screenshot_20190415-145151_ghost-detector

 

See the word “SHOES”? Yeah, I thought the same thing; stupid. I originally began researching these words with “RANDY” in mind since it came up twice. I found nothing. Even on the gravesite listing on www.graveyard.com did I find anyone, even a middle name, of Randy.

 

 

 

 

What I did find was section from the book, “Wicked Beaufort” by Alexia Jones Helsey. Here’s the section:

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Jones Helsley, A. (2011). Yamassee War. In Wicked Beaufort. History Press Library Editions.

“SHOES” doesn’t seem so stupid now does it?

Arbitrary Headstones

This leaves me to wonder if these apps that are built to be hoaxes or just for fun can actually be useful. The “Ghost Detector” app seems like a hoax with the weird sound effects and the cheesey pixelated screen, but it gave me proof that someone was there. All the other clues listed like “MY SON”, “FIND HIM” and “RANDY” all seem relevant too, but I wasn’t able to find any research to justify any of these phrases.

I wanted to note that with all the 75 headstones in Old Sheldon Church, most of them seemed to be broken, cracked, sinking, or had some other type of vandalization. I can’t help but wonder if this was done by actual vandals or if the graves were moved from their original burials. The headstones were randomly placed as well. In other words, unless you are part of one of these families, the reasoning behind the arbitrary placement of these graves is uncertain.

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Randomly placed headstones at Old Sheldon Churchyard. Photo courtesy of April McGirr.

 

Conclusive Evidence

With the end of our visit to Old Sheldon, I concluded that the grounds are indeed haunted. After the research and the common term of “SHOES” and the story from “Wicked Beaufort”, I have to say, I can see the connection.

Other words that came through the “Ghost Detector” app are inconclusive at this point, but may shine through with another visit to this location later. But for now, I’m convinced that there are those from beyond the grave trying to speak to us at Old Sheldon.

As always, let me know your thoughts below. Have you visited this site? Have you had an experience? Sometimes that experience doesn’t come to light until later.

This week’s book sponsor is “The Umbrella Tree” by Nicholas McGirr. Be sure to check out this title on Amazon or you can read about it here: The Umbrella Tree.

Listen to the podcast episode Right Here!

https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/episodes/E8-Spirit-Shoes-at-Old-Sheldon-Church-e3qthu

If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always Buy Me A Coffee to keep me fueled and ready for more investigations. Your contributions to my craft are always appreciated!

Foley House Inn: Romantically Haunted?

You can listen to the podcast episode right here!

https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/episodes/E6-Foley-House-Inn-Romantically-Haunted-e3p97b

Our Haunted Weekend

So April and I decided that we needed a weekend away and what better way to enjoy each other’s company than through haunted Savannah, GA? A friend of mine told me “Nick, that’s not very romantic!” but to us, it was one of the best getaways we had in a long time.

We visited haunted locations like the Sorrel-Weed house and took a haunted tour around downtown Savannah, and we even stayed overnight in a haunted inn: the Foley House Inn.

The History of the Foley House

So, the stories go a little something like this:

From www.hauntedrooms.com, it reads:

The Foley House Inn was built in 1896 by Honoria Foley.  Honoria was the widow of an irish immigrant.  The Foley House Inn was undergoing renovations in 1987 the owners found a skeleton not in the closet, but behind a wall they had just knocked down.

The Skeleton was thought to be that of a rich lodger that was murdered for his money.  This discovery has led to the ghost of a man in top hat being seen walking in the gardens at night.  The ghost has been nicknamed Wally by staff at the hotel.  There have also been reports of strange noises and rushes of air at the hotel.”

No matter where I looked via the internet, this was the story. So, I felt like there was some justification to it, or…Foley House Inn is really controlling what media is portrayed. Regardless, the Inn was beautiful and I wanted a room, so I booked it. We stayed in Room 304.

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This Place is Stunning

Once we finally arrived at the Inn, we realized there were going to be quite a few steps in the process. The amazing staff checked us in, told us about parking and someone else took us to our room. We passed by the gorgeous dining room and made our way through a number of up and down staircases.

Winded from the steps we realized what part of the house we were in by the view from the balcony.

Room 304-page-001

We had access through the bathroom ceiling to the attic but April wouldn’t allow me to push through for EVP’s. Go figure.

More of the story goes to the garden that’s behind the old building, so we took plenty of pictures, of course. Although we didn’t see or hear any of the proclaimed hauntings in this area, we found it to be a serene area where one could enjoy breakfast after staying in a haunted room.

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A haunted night on the town

So, part of the legend from the Foley House Inn’s website states that guests will see someone in the garden wearing a top hat. This claim is that this person is the boarder that was buried in the walls of the Foley House.

During our haunted walking tour of downtown Savannah, our tour guide also mentioned this as we were walking through one of the many squares. His claim is that some people/tourists mistake a person wearing a top hat and costume as one of the many actors that provide a similar walking tour. If you haven’t been on one of these tours, some of the guides dress in costume for the effect of the ghost stories they’ll tell.

The tour guide also proclaimed that these sightings of a man in a top hat were in the early morning hours. The significance of this is that the tours don’t usually start until the afternoon into the evening.

With that said, I didn’t experience anything while in the Foley House itself, other than a magnificent breakfast and the noisy drinkers outside our balcony.

Byron needs to go outside

The next morning however, I took Byron out for his morning walk. I walked the many staircases down to the street before my morning coffee and out we went. I’m a writer, so morning coffee is a lifeblood first thing in the morning. Without it, I second guess anything.

We walked out to the square so he could do his business and we were the only beings on the bright sunny Sunday morning. Then someone walked by across the square wearing a white shirt, suspenders and a derby hat. He was walking pretty briskly. Then he was gone.

It didn’t dawn on me right away, again, I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet, the things I heard and read about this area with the man walking around in a top hat and that of the tour guide that mentioned tourists making the mistake that these people were tour guides dressing up the part.

I’ll first point out that the hat was wrong. The man I saw was definitely wearing a derby hat. A derby hat is completely different than a top other than color preferences. A derby hat is rounded, where a top hat is pipe shaped.

I tried to follow the man after I realized what was happening. He was originally across the square from where Byron and I were and it is possible that he turned a corner and simply was no longer in my sight. But I never kept my eye away from him until he was gone. I moved towards the tree he disappeared behind and looked down every road. He was nowhere to be seen.

So to give a much clearer picture of where Byron and I were, I want you to remember the movie, Forrest Gump. C’mon, we’ve all seen it. The multiple scenes where Forrest is waiting for the bus telling his story to all the strangers…Yep, the very same square. If you remember, there are roads and sidewalks all around this square and I can guarantee you that I peered down every one of them looking for the derby hat guy. Vanished.

Did I actually see one of these men that other tourists proclaim to see? I can’t be certain, but I want to say “Why yes, yes I did.” I’d like to know your thoughts on my experience. Do you think I saw a ghostly figure walking through the square in downtown Savannah on a bright Sunday morning? Leave your comments below and share this post. I love telling stories, especially from real experiences.

April thinks I’m a zombie

I don’t know whether April believes me or not. If she were to go off my reaction once I climbed the staircases back up to our room, she would say yes, that I absolutely saw a ghost before I had my morning coffee.

But then again, she claims I’m a zombie before that first sip as well.

Tell me your thoughts and I’ll keep writing about haunted locations that I visit for the research for my books. It’s instances like this that keep me writing and now you know where I get the ideas for my books. Feel free to check them out on Amazon.

To read more about the Foley House Inn, be sure to check out their page on the hauntings here: Foley House Hauntings

Thanks for reading,

Nick.

If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always Buy Me A Coffee to keep me fueled and ready for more investigations. Your contributions to my craft are always appreciated!

References

Forrest Gump. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. 1994.