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.

More than just a Blog

This is episode 21 of the Stories in the Cemetery podcast.

E38: The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, PA Stories in the Cemetery

Head over to http://www.nicholasmcgirr.com to view the blog post with bonus sections. References used for this podcast episode: Find A Grave. (n.d.). Jennie Wade. Retrieved  from Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1064/jennie-wade Joe’s Ghost. (2011). Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1-3govRv8nE Serfass, D. R. (2014, June 27). Remembering  Gettysburg. Retrieved from Time News Online:  https://www.tnonline.com/20140627/remembering-gettysburg/ Small, C. L. (2018). Jennie Wade of Gettysburg. Gettysburg: Gettysburg Publishing. Svehla, J. (2010, September 17). Ghost Adventures.  (Z. Bagan, Interviewer) Retrieved from https://youtu.be/vq3R_x_moCs The Jennie Wade House Museum. (n.d.). The Jennie Wade  House Self-Guided Tour Pamphlet. The Jennie Wade House. Women Behind These Walls. (n.d.). Women Behind  These Walls Pamphlet. Retrieved from YWCA Gettysburg:  https://www.ywcagettysburg.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/WBTW-brochure-2015.pdf — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/support
  1. E38: The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, PA
  2. E37: The Flight 93 National Memorial
  3. E36: The SBox Ghost Scanner by Ghost Stop
  4. E35: Homage to Vincent Price
  5. E34: Three books to study Cartomancy

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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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 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.

More than just a Blog

To hear more about Byron Preiss’s secret in Charleston, check out episodes 16, 19, 24 and 26 on the Stories in the Cemetery podcast.

E38: The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, PA Stories in the Cemetery

Head over to http://www.nicholasmcgirr.com to view the blog post with bonus sections. References used for this podcast episode: Find A Grave. (n.d.). Jennie Wade. Retrieved  from Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1064/jennie-wade Joe’s Ghost. (2011). Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1-3govRv8nE Serfass, D. R. (2014, June 27). Remembering  Gettysburg. Retrieved from Time News Online:  https://www.tnonline.com/20140627/remembering-gettysburg/ Small, C. L. (2018). Jennie Wade of Gettysburg. Gettysburg: Gettysburg Publishing. Svehla, J. (2010, September 17). Ghost Adventures.  (Z. Bagan, Interviewer) Retrieved from https://youtu.be/vq3R_x_moCs The Jennie Wade House Museum. (n.d.). The Jennie Wade  House Self-Guided Tour Pamphlet. The Jennie Wade House. Women Behind These Walls. (n.d.). Women Behind  These Walls Pamphlet. Retrieved from YWCA Gettysburg:  https://www.ywcagettysburg.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/WBTW-brochure-2015.pdf — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/support
  1. E38: The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, PA
  2. E37: The Flight 93 National Memorial
  3. E36: The SBox Ghost Scanner by Ghost Stop
  4. E35: Homage to Vincent Price
  5. E34: Three books to study Cartomancy

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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Dock Street Theatre

With a long history of changing businesses and fires, the Dock Street Theatre is known as the first building to be used for entertaining plays in the United States. However, the building we now know as the Dock Street Theatre is the third business to call this plot of land home.

Its original building was the Dock Street Theatre named after Dock Street where it is located. Dock Street later became Queen Street, but the name Dock Street stuck.

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After a fire in 1740, the building was rebuilt into Planters Hotel, which is when the first haunting story hails.

Lady of the Night

Nettie, a lady of the night, is often seen wearing a red dress near the second floor. Yes, an actual apparition. Her story goes a little something like this:

Nettie used to work at St. Philips Church just down the road from the hotel. At the age of 25, she was not at an ideal age for marriage. Watching the men enter the hotel for their nightly pleasures, Nettie wondered if she, at the age of 25 was still desirable. She was said to pretty, just not at marrying age. She had passed her prime.

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Nettie’s dream was to become part of Charleston’s high society. Descending from a poor upbringing, this made things difficult to become part of the desire, not to mention, at the age of 25, she was well past marrying age.

Soon, after watching all the prominent people of Charleston enter the Planters Hotel, she sought employment as a prostitute at the hotel. After appearing in a red dress, Nettie was one of the most desired women of the hotel. Although still unhappy she often stared at St. Philips Church, longing to go back from the second-floor wrought-iron balcony.

It is said that during one of these daydreams on the balcony, that lightning struck the wrought iron Nettie was leaning on and it killed her instantly. It is also said that Nettie died during an abortion. Urban legends can be tricky that way.

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The funny thing about this story is that Nettie is said to be seen wearing her red dress on the second floor in an almost full apparition. Notice the “almost”. She is seen from the knees up. Why? During the reconstruction of the hotel back into a theater, the second floor was raised one foot and therefore it is said that Nettie’s spirit is walking on the original flooring of the Planters Hotel. Interesting, right?

What’s with the Booths and Theaters?

The other said spirit to be haunting Dock Street Theatre is that of Junius Booth, the father of John Wilkes Booth. Little history lesson: John Wilkes Booth was the assassin of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. The irony here is that Lincoln was shot in a theater.

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Back to Junius…

Junius didn’t die in the theater which is what makes this story so interesting. He was one of the most famous actors that came out of Dock Street Theater and his apparition is seen wearing period garb from the early 1800s.

My Self-Guided Tour

Although there is no physical proof of these two apparitions, I can see where odd feelings and the eerie nature of the facade of the building can give these tales some merit.

I’ve received EMF readings (or electromagnetic field) when around this building, but have yet to capture any apparitions or spirits in my pictures. Who knows, maybe you can analyze the photos in this post and tell me if you see anything?

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While taking a self-guided tour of the theater, I found myself tip-toeing around while snapping photos and letting my EMF detector tell me which direction to take. The EMF detector spiked from time to time, but I was unable to recreate any specific incident of spikes which tells me something (or someone!) was with me. The theater is beautiful and hopefully soon, I’ll have an opportunity to see a show and catch a few spirits along the way.

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I found my way to the courtyard which is an excellent relaxing garden area with a fountain. The internal waiting area also contains a bar, where I could feel the nostalgia just pouring off the furniture and paintings on the walls. If you get the chance during your stay in Charleston, be sure to check out this self-guided tour. It’s completely at your own pace and well, you could search for spirit activity!

With the open self-guided tours of Dock Street Theatre, I plan on visiting as often as I can with different pieces of equipment from my ghost hunting tours. Hopefully, one day, I will catch evidence myself either through the spirit box, photographs or some cold spots. If you happen to capture any evidence before I do, please feel free to leave in the comments below. I would love to hear your story.

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Pirate Booty Legend

It is said that the Pirate House, located just one block away from the Dock Street Theater used to house pirates, yes, including Blackbeard himself when pirates were in town. Hence, the title of Pirate House.

Allegedly, there was an underground tunnel leading from the Pirate House into Dock Street Theater for pirates to do dealings and enjoy a show. There are stories that say that Blackbeard hid his treasure in that tunnel before it was filled in after the last renovation of the theater. Now, I’m sure that this is a grapevine urban legend simply because other stories will claim that Blackbeard never set foot on Charleston soil, merely stayed upon his ship in one of our harbors. Who’s to say which is true, but who doesn’t love a good pirate treasure story?

Join Me on a Ghost Hunt!

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If you’d love to hear this story and more about haunted Charleston locations, join me for my Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience with the same name, Stories in the Cemetery. It’s October and well, you should be doing something a bit Halloween-ish, shouldn’t you? I’ll see you soon on one of my tours around this amazing city! Click below to check the dates and times of your tickets.

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More than just a Blog

This is episode 13 of the Stories in the Cemetery podcast.

E38: The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, PA Stories in the Cemetery

Head over to http://www.nicholasmcgirr.com to view the blog post with bonus sections. References used for this podcast episode: Find A Grave. (n.d.). Jennie Wade. Retrieved  from Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1064/jennie-wade Joe’s Ghost. (2011). Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1-3govRv8nE Serfass, D. R. (2014, June 27). Remembering  Gettysburg. Retrieved from Time News Online:  https://www.tnonline.com/20140627/remembering-gettysburg/ Small, C. L. (2018). Jennie Wade of Gettysburg. Gettysburg: Gettysburg Publishing. Svehla, J. (2010, September 17). Ghost Adventures.  (Z. Bagan, Interviewer) Retrieved from https://youtu.be/vq3R_x_moCs The Jennie Wade House Museum. (n.d.). The Jennie Wade  House Self-Guided Tour Pamphlet. The Jennie Wade House. Women Behind These Walls. (n.d.). Women Behind  These Walls Pamphlet. Retrieved from YWCA Gettysburg:  https://www.ywcagettysburg.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/WBTW-brochure-2015.pdf — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/support
  1. E38: The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, PA
  2. E37: The Flight 93 National Memorial
  3. E36: The SBox Ghost Scanner by Ghost Stop
  4. E35: Homage to Vincent Price
  5. E34: Three books to study Cartomancy

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!

Halloween Costumes

Philadelphia Alley

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!

More than just a Blog

This is episode 12 of the Stories in the Cemetery podcast.

E38: The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, PA Stories in the Cemetery

Head over to http://www.nicholasmcgirr.com to view the blog post with bonus sections. References used for this podcast episode: Find A Grave. (n.d.). Jennie Wade. Retrieved  from Find a Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1064/jennie-wade Joe’s Ghost. (2011). Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1-3govRv8nE Serfass, D. R. (2014, June 27). Remembering  Gettysburg. Retrieved from Time News Online:  https://www.tnonline.com/20140627/remembering-gettysburg/ Small, C. L. (2018). Jennie Wade of Gettysburg. Gettysburg: Gettysburg Publishing. Svehla, J. (2010, September 17). Ghost Adventures.  (Z. Bagan, Interviewer) Retrieved from https://youtu.be/vq3R_x_moCs The Jennie Wade House Museum. (n.d.). The Jennie Wade  House Self-Guided Tour Pamphlet. The Jennie Wade House. Women Behind These Walls. (n.d.). Women Behind  These Walls Pamphlet. Retrieved from YWCA Gettysburg:  https://www.ywcagettysburg.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/WBTW-brochure-2015.pdf — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/support
  1. E38: The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg, PA
  2. E37: The Flight 93 National Memorial
  3. E36: The SBox Ghost Scanner by Ghost Stop
  4. E35: Homage to Vincent Price
  5. E34: Three books to study Cartomancy

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