Shadows of a Swinging Corpse: The Wagener Building

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

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

A Ghost Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not too bad of a ghost story, huh?

Paranormal Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing New Under the Sun by Richard Fowler

Future Use

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

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

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Stories 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?

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Hauntings at Fort Fremont Preserve

Welcome first time visitors and followers! I’m Nicholas McGirr, Author of the Afterlife and you’ve landed on another blog post of haunted stuff. This blog (and podcast) is intended to entertain you with my research on haunted locations for inspiring my fiction works. I hope you enjoy another adventure with me! Read on for this week’s post on Fort Fremont Preserve in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Finding the location

Finding another location to investigate after my time at Old Sheldon Church was a fairly easy decision. Looking through online haunting catalogs (I love shopping for new haunts!), I found little information about the Fort Fremont Preserve, even though it is listed as one of the hauntings in Beaufort, South Carolina.

With this investigation, I was accompanied by April (my wife) and a third person to help manage the use of equipment while I handled Byron, my dappled dachshund.

The beach is surreal

It was late afternoon when we arrived. Our GPS didn’t take us to the front gates of the Preserve and we had to walk around the gated area through a beach to find a way in. There was a much easier way to enter the preserve, but we found it even more interesting to have to pass through a very small segregated beach area. There was no one on the beach, but the waves crashing in were calming. The beach made the entire area feel surreal and the eerie factor crept up on us as we kept exploring.

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Using a Spirit Box app

Like our visit to Old Sheldon Church, I wanted to explore the possibilities of a Spirit Box App. A spirit box uses radio frequencies or white noise (static) to allow spirits to communicate. If you’ve watched ghost hunting television shows, it’s the static box that spits out words.

The app we chose is called “Ghost Detector”, and it was chosen for the cheesey name. My thought behind the app is that it is intended for party games or hoaxes on friends. Nonetheless, it provides white noise and will keep a tally of words it thinks come through with the abled frequency settings.

Without having a psychic with me, or Psychic himself from my previous investigations, I found that I needed words or phrases to investigate through research. The “Ghost Detector” app was readily available, fun, and well, free.

I wasn’t sure what was going to come out of using the app, but I did notice that in both locations, Old Sheldon Church and Fort Fremont Preserve, that the words came through much quicker than when I tested the app in my home.

A brief history of Fort Fremont

This fort was one of six forts intended for the Spanish-American War. It was built in 1889 and then abandoned by 1910. It housed three disappearing canons, two of which were given to France during WWI and the other sent to New Jersey. To date, it is known that all three canons were scrapped.

This fort was never under attack nor was it used in the Spanish-American War. It housed approximately 110 soldiers which took care of the facilities that included a commissary, a bakery, a hospital and many other buildings. Overall, the entire fort area covered more than seventy acres of land. All to protect Beaufort from threats of the Spanish-American War.

The Haunted Claims

There are many haunting claims of this area including those of Land’s End which sits where the original fort would have extended.

It is said that there was a fight on the Fort Fremont grounds between soldiers and local African-Americans over moonshine. All survived but one: Pvt. Frank J. Quigley. It is also said that this soldier had intimate relations with a local’s wife and that’s how he died. Who’s to say? None of us were there.

This leads to the haunting of Land’s End Light, where it is said that if you drive to the end of the road near the beach that you will see a lantern swinging. Locals claim it is Pvt. Quigley.

Other claims on the Fort Fremont Preserve are of EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon) or of smoky images that seem like spirits.

One YouTube video shows a couple investigating with a Spirit Box app similar to the one I used. The words that came through their app were much different than that of what came through my phone. They had words like “chemical”, “No one”, “Spirit”, “Charles” and “This is one”. Towards the end of the video the woman claims that the spirit box answered her questions by using her name.

All of these stories were just creepy enough for me to want to visit for myself.

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Headaches

Upon the arrival while my team and I walking through the beach area, I began to get a migraine. I’ve had a history of migraines, but hadn’t had one in quite some time, I pushed on so I could discover the grounds.

As I did, the headache grew stronger as I got closer to the fort until finally I had to come to a stop once we reached the front of the fort with the cavernous openings. I had to sit down, my eye was watering to the point I couldn’t see and I had sweat pouring down my brow and neck.

My team checked on me as I sat down. Byron stayed with me as April took a few photos and the Spirit Box app was running picking up a few words before I decided I couldn’t handle the headache any longer.

April had to help me to the car since the migraine behind my eye was causing it to strain and water profusely. Once we reached the car, the headache eased slowly, my eye stopped watering and the sweating seemed to come to an end. After 20 minutes, I was able to drive us home.

I tell you about my migraine due to a connection in my research. Keep reading…

Spirit Box Findings

Now we come to the cheesey Spirit Box, “Ghost Detector” and the words it gave me for research. I was able to connect the history of the Fort Fremont area with six out of the nine words it recorded. Not too shabby for a free app.

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The only three words not connected to this area: “January”, “Warrior” and “Tea”.  But let’s work backwards on this list to see the connections.

Three: I connected this term to the three canons that were stationed at the fort.

Friends: There is an organization called “Friends of Fort Fremont” that preserves the land and educates on the history of Fort Fremont. Also, notice there are “three” F’s in their title.

Soldiers: This one is pretty obvious as there were over 100 soldiers stationed at Fort Fremont.

Now, I’m going to tie a story together for the words, “Raid”, “Weak” and “Rocks”.

Going further into the history of this land, it is known that Harriet Tubman led a raid of Col. Montgomery’s men to the Combahee River (just across from Rock Creek) to weaken the  rebel’s Army camp and freed over 700 slaves in June of 1863.

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Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, pgs 85-6

The area that Harriet Tubman started this raid was near the grounds where Fort Fremont currently stands. I looked into the maps of these areas to show where the Combahee River and Rock Creek are in relation to Fort Fremont. You can see Fort Fremont on the bottom left of the map, Combahee River with the Red pin and Rock Creek in the very top right corner.

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Google Map of Fort Fremont, Combahee River and Rock Creek

Dear Reader, I would love to be convinced that the legendary Harriet Tubman came through on a free app used for a game. But I needed more clues.

I found that Tubman suffered from migraines and seizures throughout her life due to a riot that happened when she was just a girl. These migraines and seizures were spiritual for her as she grew closer to her religious values.

Final Conclusion

My overall conclusion is that similar to Litchfield Plantation. I went in expecting one haunting, but through research was able to dig up a whole other history. This experience for me went further than just a history lesson, it became personal. The migraine I felt during this investigation was intense and I felt that it had something to do with the property at Fort Fremont.

I want to know your thoughts on the matter:

Do you feel that deeper histories arise when researching a haunted location?

Have you had an experience at Fort Fremont?

Tell me your ghost story and we’ll compare notes. Be sure to leave your comments below.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get wind of when my blog posts and podcast episodes are published and you’ll get a FREE audio book of my novelette, The Life Tree.

I’m a writer, and now you know another story that inspires my fiction. Thanks for reading,

Nick.

To Listen to the “Stories in the Cemetery” Podcast episode:

https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/episodes/E10-USS-Yorktown-Tour-e492bb

 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!

Who is haunting Litchfield Plantation?

Listen to the Podcast Episode from Stories in the Cemetery Right Here!

https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/episodes/E7-Who-is-Haunting-Litchfield-Plantation-e3qtng

Litchfield Plantation has a history of being haunted throughout several books, websites as well as paranormal investigation groups. The legend is pretty simple, it goes a little like this:

From http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com, it reads:

  • Litchfield Plantation – Some believe Dr. Henry Tucker, the plantation’s owner in the late 1800s, still remains. People have reported seeing him in the Blue Room. It is said he used to ring the bell at the entrance gate in the middle of the night, until the bell was removed several years ago.
Pretty simple, right? Only my investigation with Psychic proved another spirit is also watching the grounds at Litchfield.
If you haven’t been following my Show Notes blog or my podcast, the investigations I did with Psychic were basic. The principle was to prove a psychic’s ability by visiting and researching haunted locations. The psychic, whom I call “Psychic” had no idea where we were going with each trip. I simply warned him of what type of attire he should wear. Other than that, we showed up, he gets his vibes and I research his intuitive findings.
Now that the explanation is out of the way. I should note that Litchfield Plantation’s chapter in the book was never written. I had to jog my own memory from my visit in 2014 by going through all the data collected. The material you are reading is fresh and new, but from an old visit.
At the time of my visit in 2014, the Paranormal group, Lost Souls Paranormal had a few overnight stays and investigations in Litchfield. To date, I believe they are up to seven overnight stays. I mention this because I met with the LSP Team to swap research and findings. I also showed them parts of the grounds that I found later with Psychic.
Let’s get into the story…

The Litchfield Plantation Grounds

Upon arriving at Litchfield, Psychic of course, started his automatic writing. He continued this automatic writing throughout our tour.
We were lead by John Miller, the current owner of Litchfield. He’s a pure skeptic of the hauntings and the reason he allowed Psychic and I to tour the grounds was to fulfill his own curiosities.
The main house and grounds are beautiful and John tells us how the plantation is often used for weddings. And reasonably so.
The grounds hold the main house, the cook’s house, the caretaker’s home, and the old carriage house which is now being used as a church. Also, on the grounds is an old casing that was used to harvest rice; it is made of old shells and is stunning to study the architecture.
Psychic feels a female presence as we enter the main house and has claims of conversational phrases throughout the tour. His automatic writing shows things like “shells” “L/F”, “Child Not His Wife”, “Mint/Tea” and other key phrases that we’ll dive into individually.

auto writing 2 litchfield

auto writing 1 litchfield

Shells

In Psychic’s automatic writing, he mentioned shells, which was alarming at first since we weren’t going to be near the beach. What we found after we toured the main house was a giant casing that was used to harvest rice, a major crop throughout the Grand Strand in the 1800’s.  This was my first clue that psychic was on the right track.

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SAMSUNG CSC

Oyster Shell2

Mona, Age 16

Also, on the grounds are several headstone markers randomly placed. The most significant one that has the current owner stumped was a small marker that simply read “Mona, Age 16”.

Mona Age 16 2.2

Through research, I was able to find the death certificate of a Mona Avant who died of pneumonia at the age of 16. Not much can be told by the death certificate as you can see, but the parents were both South Carolina residents. Through my research, this was the only “Mona” who died at the age of 16 that I could find in South Carolina.

death certificate for minor Avant, mona_LI

Later, Psychic confessed that he felt his breathing get very heavy while in one of the bedrooms and near Mona’s grave. I took this is him channeling the pneumonia that Mona would’ve felt while lying on her deathbed.

With the last name of Avant, I couldn’t find any owners of Litchfield Plantation with same surname. Which could lead to the “Child Not His Wife” in Psychic’s automatic writing. I can’t say anything for sure on this topic, but found it interesting nonetheless.

“L/F” and “Tea”

Here’s where things got a little out of hand for Psychic and I. And I will say that I did not truly discover this reference until I listened to the audio when recapping this investigation.

After leaving the main house and thanking John for his hospitable tour, we went off track to venture down the other roads on the plantation. What we found was a few more headstones destroyed by vandals. One of the few headstones still in tact was that of “Wm Bowens”.

Bowens 2

When researching the symbols on the headstone, I found that the three chain links and the FLT in the links stands for the mantra for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), Friendship, Love and Truth. Taking a listen to Psychic’s testimony throughout the tour, he came across an “L” at first, then an hour later, an “F” and once outside, he mentioned “Tea”. Now, I might be reaching with the tea, but it is a bit coincidental that F and L came through first, then tea.

Slave Graveyard

I mentioned earlier that I met up with the Lost Souls Paranormal team. I took them to the site where I found the Bowens headstone. They pointed out that the small patch of land where the headstone stood was a full blown graveyard. I took a step back to get the full picture and it was then obvious to see the sunken in parts of land, each about 6 feet in length. Very few headstones, even broken, remained. There’s no telling how many slaves have been buried there and forgotten.

Secret Society

During the tour with John, he took Psychic and I into the caretaker’s house. Immediately, Psychic mentioned old secrets being held and something masonic. Give a listen here:

It wasn’t until I began researching the Bowens grave markings that I discovered the secret society of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Also, with the Bowens grave being in a slave graveyard, I decided to look up his race and investigate if blacks or slaves were even allowed into this society during that time period.

SouthCarolinaDeathRecords1821-1960ForWilliamBowens_LI

As it turns out, Mr. Bowens was African American as his death certificate says “colored” in the race section. I also learned that African Americans were allowed into secret societies after the Civil War ended in 1865. It began in the northern states and slowly trickled down into the southern states. With Bowens’s death in 1916, he would’ve rightfully been allowed in the IOOF.

“L” Again

I want to revisit this “L” again since my audio with Psychic was so strong about it. With the legends of Dr. Tucker being the prominent urban legend, I dug into previous owners of the Litchfield Plantation.

I found Louis Claude Lachicotte and his wife Ella Florence Stokes Lachicotte who owned the property in 1887. There are plenty of “L’s” and even an “F” in these names. It would also match up with the time period of the graves on the grounds.

 

 

Granted, the word “medicine” came through in Psychic’s automatic writings as well, but that could also lead up to Mona’s death of needing medicine to ease her breathing.

As to exactly who is haunting these grounds, I cannot say for sure. The Lost Souls Paranormal Group have caught EVP’s of a girl laughing and a woman trying to tell them something. Could this be Mona? Or maybe even Ella? Nobody knows for sure, but all the same I was inspired by this investigation. It proved Psychic’s abilities yet again and well, I gained inspiration for my writing.

I’m Nicholas McGirr, Author of the Afterlife, and now you know another story that has inspired my fiction works. Be sure to click the book covers to the right to check them out.

Thanks, for reading,

Nick.

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