Spooky South Carolina: Spirits come alive this Halloween
Seekers of paranormal fun on Halloween can have a good time in South Carolina. The Palmetto State is home to a multitude of eerie ghosts and restless spirits.
Family Circle magazine recently ranked Charleston among the seven most haunted cities in this country. The others were Gettysburg, Pa.; Salem, Mass.; Portland, Ore.; Tombstone, Ariz.; New Orleans and San Francisco.
Charleston’s creepy attractions, according to Family Circle, include the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier where “unexplained mysteries abound.” Junius Brutus Booth, the father of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, supposedly hangs around the Dock Street Theatre.
At the Francis Marion Hotel, guests on the 10th floor report seeing Ned Cohen wandering halls while wearing a dinner jacket. In 1929, he was staying in a room on that floor when he fell to his death.
The Battery Carriage House Inn’s website (batterycarriagehouse.com) boasts that the hotel is known as “Charleston’s most haunted inn” and has information about the spirits there. One of the most interesting ghosts is the headless torso of a man who is believed to have lived during the Civil War era. The torso’s several layers of clothing include a rough overcoat made of coarse material. The apparition’s raspy breathing and threatening moan scare guests. Another wraith, called the “Gentleman Ghost,” seems to like checking out female guests and when they object to his presence, he leaves through a wall.
A male spirit nicknamed “Half Head” is said to haunt the Embassy Suites on Meeting Street. The people who claim to have seen him say the top part of his head above his eyebrows is missing. The hotel formerly was the South Carolina State Arsenal, also known as the Old Citadel.
Other coastal ghosts
The Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island has a graveyard with a mausoleum without a door that is the subject of a popular ghost story. In the mid-1800s, a girl named Julia Legare became ill and slipped into a coma. After a doctor declared her dead, she was interred in the mausoleum. At that time, bodies weren’t embalmed, so they were buried quickly.
Fifteen years later, another death in the family required the mausoleum to be opened. Julia’s remains were found crumpled on the building’s floor near the door, indicating she had still been alive when she was put inside.
Following that horrifying discovery, the mausoleum’s door would not stay shut even though chains and unbreakable locks were used to keep it sealed tight. Eventually, people stopped trying to close the door and it fell into disrepair.
The Hermitage, located at Murrell’s Inlet, is where Alice Flagg still roams even though she has been dead for more than 160 years. A beautiful teenager with wealthy family, Alice fell in love with a lumberman that one of her brothers, Dr. Allard Flagg, didn’t think was suitable.
When Alice got engaged, her brother ordered her to return the plain gold ring that she had received. Instead, Alice kept it and hung it on a ribbon around her neck. Her brother couldn’t see the ring because Alice made sure her clothing always covered it.
While at boarding school in Charleston, Alice became ill. Her brother brought to her back to The Hermitage, where she died. Alice’s brother found her makeshift necklace with its ring afterward and threw it into a marsh.
Since then, Alice’s ghost has been seen occasionally going in and out of The Hermitage’s front door or wandering around All Saints Cemetery near Pawley’s Island, where she is buried. The spirit wears a long white dress and clutches one hand to its chest.
Pawleys Island has a famous apparition, The Gray Man, who shows up when a hurricane is approaching. He tells the residents and visitors that see him to leave.
The website www.discoversouthcarolina.com provides information about a number of South Carolina apparitions. They include Dixie Boykin, who likes to materialize in his former home, Cool Springs, in Camden, whenever someone throws a party. He passed away after suffering a heart attack many years ago, but some people believed the circumstances were mysterious and blamed his wife for his death.
At The Inn at Merridun in Union, people know when the ghosts of former residents T.C. and Fannie Duncan are around because they find a penny in an unusual place or smell cigar smoke and old-fashioned perfume. There are about 10 spirits there in all, including a small white dog.
Just prior to World War I, people reported seeing a large ghostly figure on horseback in the trees near the South Carolina State House in Columbia. They believed it was the ghost of Wade Hampton, who was trying to warn everyone that a major conflict was imminent. A Confederate general, who also was a Palmetto State governor and senator, Hampton is buried at nearby Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013.
A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.