Pinckney Mansion Site

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

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

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Original photo of Pinckney Mansion ruins by George N. Barnard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

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

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

 

Philadelphia Alley

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

History

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

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

Handprints in the Bricks

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

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

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

Entry to St.Philip’s Church Graveyard

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

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Photo taken by Nicholas McGirr

The Whistler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

59 Church St.

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

 

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59 Church Street, home of Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd

The Readings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stories in the Cemetery Interactive Ghost Hunting Tour in Downtown Charleston

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

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

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