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.

img_3386

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.

screenshot_20200301-185021_messages

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

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?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

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.

20200226_152541

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.

20200225_113009

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.

20200225_112840

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?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

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.

20200212_125920
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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

20200212_125407
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.

20200212_125848
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.

20200212_125615
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.

20200212_125304

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.

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?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

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.

20200128_164125
“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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

screenshot_20200129-141808_chrome
(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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

20200128_164248
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.

20200128_164037
“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.

20200128_152552
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.

20200128_163847
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?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

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”.

Magnolia Map
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

20200113_164820
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.

20200121_164201
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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

20200121_164657
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.

20200121_164622
Picture 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?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

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.

20200113_164428
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.

pirate_stede
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.

20200113_164632
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

20200113_164259
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.
20200113_164208
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.
20200113_164820
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.

20200113_164551
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.

20200113_164735
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.

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?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

20191230_204645
Presbyterian Church, Edisto Island. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.
20191230_204556
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.

20191230_204807

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.

20191230_204742
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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 (including the Wagener Building) using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

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.

20191004_095116
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.

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 (including the Wagener Building) using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

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.

img_20190323_184449
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.

img_20190323_185427_1
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.

img_20190323_190721
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.

img_20190323_185831
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.

img_20190323_193055
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.

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 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?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287

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.

New Doc 2019-12-04 10.56.12_1
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

New Doc 2019-12-04 10.56.12_2
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.

Moultrie-Overhead vachowski
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.

New Doc 2019-12-04 10.56.12_2
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?

toppng.com-book-now-button-831x287