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.

 

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

Quest for 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.

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.

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

Dock Street Theatre

To listen to the Stories in the Cemetery podcast episode click 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.

20191004_091632

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.

20191004_09255520191004_092718

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.

20191004_092203

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.

20191004_091247

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?

20191004_091253

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.

20191004_091359

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.

20191004_091954

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!

20191004_091715

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.

cavalier logo 2

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

Charleston’s Old Jail

With three different trips to Charleston’s Old Jail, the evidence is substantial to say it is truly haunted.

The Old Charleston Jail is the final home to Lavinia and John Fisher. Lavinia was known as America’s first serial killer and it is questionable whether her husband, John, was involved with the murders she was charged with.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that we were using apps for smartphones to aid in our investigations. Our third and final trip to the old jail, we used a K-II EMF reader, a voice recorder as well as an actual spirit box. With my team in tow, we each had a device we were in charge of and the results almost matched what we caught with the smartphone apps.

To elaborate, an EMF reader detects an electromagnetic field near a specific area. We tested the reader around our home with a spike around surge protectors with multiple electronics plugged in. The spirit box uses radio waves to randomly spit out words as it scans through each individual radio signal. The voice recorder was so we could record any words that came out of the spirit box by saying them out loud.

The front gates of the old jail gave us plenty of words with the smartphone app along with some strong EMF signals. One of the words that came through the app was “chair” and after some research, I found that there is an old wheelchair inside the jail that is said to be haunted all on its own. Feel free to check out the “Links” section below to watch a YouTube video that discusses this chair.

20190401_113812

Also, during the first and second visits, quite a few names came through the app. It wasn’t something we were expecting, but there was a definitive pattern.

Please keep in mind that we did not take the interior tour, all three of these visits were simply by walking around the building. We did not want to be influenced by tourist attractions that speak of the legends, we wanted to remain in the dark.

With our last and final trip using everything but our smartphones, we found a few hot spots with our EMF reader where one of the team members felt dizzy and a bit disoriented. We tested this by removing ourselves from that area and then returning to the exact area. I also wanted to note that is was approximately 50 feet away from the building, in the parking area. The EMF spiked and remained there until we walked away leaving one of my team members feeling disoriented. Here’s a pic of the EMF detector:

screenshot_20190803-111533_video-player
EMF Detector spiking near the back steps of the Old Charleston Jail.

 

20190401_113742

Another hot spot with the EMF reader was at the bottom of the stairs that sits behind the building. I climbed the stairs to catch a stronger signal, but it was only at the bottom of the stairs where the meter spiked. No disorientation from any team member occurred.

As for the spirit box, over 40 phrases came through our hour-long walk around the building. Phrases like “It’s an accident”, “July 20th”, and “Free the cannon”. I was unable to find a connection to any of these phrases, but “July 20th” sticks out in my mind and I plan on investigating further in the downtown Charleston library where the records are kept from all inmates who entered and served time in the old jail. Perhaps a second post/podcast episode will be in order with my findings.

20190401_113611

One other phrase stands out; “Why John?” came through about 20 minutes into our tour. This could refer to the questionable involvement of John Fisher, (Lavinia’s husband) with the murders he was charged with. It is said that John Fisher before his death wanted to address the public and apologize for any wrongdoings he may have caused. Lavinia, on the other hand, did nothing of the sort.

Names that came through the spirit box app: “Kennedy”, “James”, and “Madison”. Notice how all could be first or last names.

20190401_113528

 

Names that came through the physical spirit box: “Why John?”, “Father Morgan” and “South Carolina”.  I mention “South Carolina” here only because that’s five syllables that were able to come through during a speedy search of radio signals by the device.

Overall, the disorientation of team members, the spikes of EMF outside the building and the terms that came through the spirit box(es), I can conclude that there is something residual staying at the Old Charleston Jail. With the other phrases that came through, I can also conclude that someone or many someones are trying to clear up any urban legends that are surrounding the mystique of the long-standing building.

There are plenty of resources I will need to investigate before making a second post about the Old Charleston Jail,. As for now, if you have any connections to the aforementioned terms, please reach out to me. I would love to hear your take on the Old Charleston Jail and its mysteries.

20190401_113555

RESOURCES and LINKS

YouTube video: Wheelchair

Listen to the Podcast episode on the Old Charleston Jail here:

https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/episodes/E11-Old-Charleston-Jail-e4r53a

You can find my podcast, “Stories in the Cemetery” on all major podcatchers. Reviews on Apple podcasts are greatly appreciated.

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!

 

 

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.

20190415_170153
img_20190415_170248

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.

20190415_163402

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.

screenshot_20190415-165319_ghost-detector

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.

2019-05-16 (2)
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.

2019-05-15 (2)
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!

Spirit Shoes at Old Sheldon Church

The Grounds

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

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

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


 

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

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

Once Loved, Twice Burned

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

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

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

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

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

My Visit

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

img_20190415_144912-1
Taken from behind the remains of Old Sheldon Church. The crypt of William Bull. Photo courtesy of April McGirr.

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

Some new testing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shoes at the Church

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

screenshot_20190415-141907_ghost-detector-1screenshot_20190415-142244_ghost-detector-1

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

2019-05-04
Jones Helsley, A. (2011). Yamassee War. In Wicked Beaufort. History Press Library Editions.

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

Arbitrary Headstones

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

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

img_20190415_141224
Randomly placed headstones at Old Sheldon Churchyard. Photo courtesy of April McGirr.

 

Conclusive Evidence

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

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

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

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

Listen to the podcast episode Right Here!

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

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

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.

SAMSUNG CSC
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!