Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter—North Rampart Street

N.B. This article was originally published 16 June 2016 with Basin and Burgundy Streets. 

The French Quarter has been lived in and died in; human energy has been manifested continuously and freely for 250 years. Where we find presently a sedate restaurant, we would have found—20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago or more—a dry goods store, a grocery, a saloon, a coffeehouse, a patisserie, an apothecary, a gambling joint, a silversmith, a printer, a jeweler, a letter-writer, a whorehouse, a bank. They may have disappeared along with their proprietors, but they’ve left behind an aura that infuses the atmosphere.

–Andy Peter Antippas, A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). 2013.

New Orleans’ French Quarter—the Vieux Carré to locals—is among a handful of locales in the South that possesses a high concentration of haunted places. Encompassing nearly two-thirds of a square mile (.66 to be exact), the French Quarter has been said to have spirits in nearly every building and site. Even looking at the documented hauntings here, the number is quite impressive.

The French Quarter is generally defined as the section stretching from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and from the Mississippi River northwest to North Rampart Street. This section of the city is where the city was originally founded by the French in 1718. With buildings and sites spanning three centuries, the French Quarter is easily the most paranormally active neighborhood in the entire city.

This series of articles is meant to act as a street by street guide to those hauntings. While some of these stories have gained quite a bit of notoriety in the literature, like Royal Street’s LaLaurie Mansion, and Bourbon Street’s Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, some stories have only been explored in the literature once or twice. This is an attempt to synthesize information from the many sources that exist on the French Quarter into a succinct guide.

For more haunted places in the French Quarter visit the main page for my series, “Phantoms of the French Quarter.”

Sources

  • Antippas, Andy Peter. A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). Charleston SC, Arcadia Publishing, 2013. Kindle Edition.

North Rampart Street

Tile North Rampart Street marker New Orleans
Tile North Rampart Street marker, by Infrogmation, 2007, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Rampart Street is named for the old city wall, or ramparts, that once stretched along this street from Fort St. Jean at the intersection of North Rampart and Barracks Streets to Fort Bourgogne at the intersection of North Rampart and Iberville Streets. Throughout the early and mid-20th century, Rampart Street was the center of an important African-American commercial and entertainment district. Notably, many of the clubs along this street were influential in the evolution of jazz music.

Sources

  • Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration. New Orleans City Guide, 1938. Reprint by Garrett County Press, 2009.
  • Rampart Street. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 30 July 2019.

Haunted Museum & Spirit Shop
826 North Rampart Street

In 2006, tragedy was visited on this typical Creole-style cottage. Death visited the young couple living in the upstairs apartment with the young man strangling his girlfriend and eventually dismembering her body. After he committed suicide some days later by jumping off the top of the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel on St. Louis Street, the mutilated remains were found by police in the kitchen of the apartment, some of them cooking on the stove while other parts were stored in the refrigerator. Locals began to refer to the cottage as the “Rampart Street Murder House.”

North Rampart Street Murder House New Orleans
The infamous Rampart Street Murder House (on the right), 2015. Photo by Roman Eugeniusz, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Recently, Bloody Mary; a local Voodoo priestess, psychic, and tour guide; has opened a haunted museum with patrons touring the upstairs apartment. However, this museum has been the focus of criticism from friends and associates of the young couple who accuse Bloody Mary of exploiting the heinous events.

Through the aftermath of the murder-suicide, some have been left wondering if the young man’s actions may have been influenced by supernatural elements around him. Apparently, the building was known to be haunted prior to the tragedy, and part of the downstairs storefront housed, and continues to house, a Voodoo temple. Dana Matthews writes in a Week in Weird article detailing the building that the priestess who operates the temple is well-respected and blameless in what unfolded in the upstairs apartment.

According to Matthews, a “dark, oppressive force…seems to emanate from the very building itself.” In addition, locals have had a sense of being watched and heard disembodied voices both within and without the home. The house was featured on a 2017 episode of Paranormal Lockdown, where investigators Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman experienced uneasy feelings and strange noises while locked into the apartment over the course of 72 hours.

Sources

Olde Victorian Inn
914 North Rampart Street

According to Terry Smith and Mark Jean’s detailed history of this property, this house was constructed in 1852 for wealthy sugarcane plantation owner Lucien Mansion. In 1883, the property was deeded to a woman who was reportedly his mistress. After that time, it may have been operated as a brothel.

The home was purchased in 1940 by Leo Marchand and his wife who occupied the house for many years. Mr. Marchand, or “Uncle Leo” as he was affectionately known, passed away in the dining room in 1977, and Smith and Jean attribute the hauntings to his spirit. Several guests have reported encounters with the spirit of an elderly man. One guest awoke to find a man sitting motionless in his room. When he alerted the innkeeper of the mysterious man’s presence, he pointed to a picture of Uncle Leo saying, “that’s him.”

Rampart Street protest 2017 New Orleans
A protest on North Rampart Street, 2017. The Olde Victorian Inn can be seen on the far left with the rust red wall behind the palm tree. Photo by Infrogmation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

A maid cleaning another room was startled when the door slammed shut. After the door refused to open, the innkeeper had to summon a contractor to remove the door from its hinges to release the frightened maid. No explanation was ever discovered.

According to Yelp, the inn has since closed.

Sources

  • Smith, Terry L. and Mark Jean. Haunted Inns of America. Crane Hill Publishers, 2003.

1870 Banana Courtyard Bed & Breakfast
1422 North Rampart Street

A video on YouTube produced by Haunted History Tours covers their investigation of this bed & breakfast. The video includes interviews with the owners, Mary and Hugh Ramsey, recounting that they have had “numerous comments from guests about ghosts.” Mary continued, “We’ve had too many responsible people who have visited us numerous times say that they felt a presence, so I’ve got to believe now that there’s something going on.”

One of the more interesting reports came from a male guest who was napping in his room while his wife was out. He was awakened by the feeling of a warm breath on the back of his neck and a woman whispering in his ear. When he realized it was not his wife, he jolted awake to find himself alone in his room.

The home was built in the 1870s and during its history reportedly served as an upscale brothel and a funeral home. Perhaps lingering spirits from these uses remain.

Sources

Haunted History Tours. “Haunted News Orleans! Haunted B&B – Banana Courtyard.” YouTube. 8 March 2010.

Doing the Charleston: A Ghostly Tour—North of Broad

N.B. This article was originally published 13 May 2015 as a single, massive article. It’s now broken up into three sections, South of Broad, North of Broad, and Charleston Environs, which have all been rearranged and revised for ease of use.

Known as the “Holy City” for the number of churches and raise their steeples above the city, Charleston, South Carolina is also known for its architecture, colonial and antebellum opulence, as well as its haunted places. This tour looks at the highlights among Charleston’s legends and ghostlore.

Broad Street cuts across the Charleston peninsula creating a dividing line between the most historic, moneyed, aristocratic portion of the city—located south of Broad—and everything else. For convenience, this tour is now divided into separate articles covering the area South of Broad, North of Broad, and the Environs. Locales in this article include places open to the public as well as private homes. For these private homes, please respect the privacy of the occupants, and simply view them from the street.

The tour is arranged alphabetically by street, with the sites in order by street address south to north and east to west.

Archdale Street

Unitarian Church and Churchyard
4 Archdale Street

A lady in white walks through the garden-like churchyard here. Over the years, a story has arisen identifying this woman as Annabel Lee, one of the loves of the great American horror writer Edgar Allen Poe. Poe did spend time in the Charleston area, and some believe that his poem, “Annabel Lee” may be based on an actual person. There is no historical connection that can be made with anyone buried in the churchyard.

This historic churchyard is one of the most magnificent places to sit and contemplate in the city of Charleston. Be sure to also see the interior of the church; the fan vaulted ceiling is magnificent.

interior of the Unitarian Church Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Interior of the Unitarian Church, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Workers of the Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration. South Carolina: A Guide to the Palmetto State. NYC: Oxford University Press, 1941.

East Bay Street

Southend Brewery
161 East Bay Street

As you pass the Southend Brewery, look towards the third-floor windows. Ill-fated businessman, George Poirer was looking through these windows as he took his life in 1885. His body was discovered hanging from the rafters here after being seen by a passerby the following morning. Poirer was upset over losing his fortune when a ship he had invested in burned on its way out of Charleston Harbor.

Southend Brewery Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Southend Brewery, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

This building was built in 1880 for F. W. Wagner & Company. Paranormal activity has been reported throughout the building after its conversion to a brewery and restaurant. In addition to the occasional vision of someone hanging on the upper floors, restaurant staff and patrons have heard spectral voices and experienced odd breezes.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. The Ghosts of Charleston. NYC: Beaufort Books, 2001.
  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Pitzer, Sara. Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters and Tall Tales. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2013.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Broad Street

Blind Tiger Pub
36-38 Broad Street

The Bling Tiger Pub occupies a pair of old commercial buildings which have served a variety of uses over the years. Number 38 served as home to the State Bank of South Carolina for many years, but the story of Number 36 is more interesting and has provided the strange name for the pub.

During the administration of Governor “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman (1895-1918), the state of South Carolina attempted to control the sale of alcohol. Throughout Charleston small establishments sprung up where the citizenry could, for a small admission fee, see a blind tiger, with drinks provided as compliments of the house. Number 36 housed one of these establishments; then during national prohibition, this building housed a speakeasy.

The pub is known to be inhabited by happy spirits according to a former employee. Patrons and staff have seen figures in the building while odd sounds have been heard. Staff closing the back porch have had the motion-activated light come on without anyone being present.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Charleston City Hall
80 Broad Street

Charleston City Hall ghosts haunted
Charleston City Hall, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Charleston’s marvelous city hall was originally constructed as a branch of the first Bank of the United States in 1800. In 1818, it was transformed into city hall. Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a native of Louisiana, was in charge of the city’s defenses during the attack on Fort Sumter, the battle that started the Civil War. He returned later in the war to command the coastal defenses for the Deep South. According to Tally Johnson, his spirit has been seen prowling the halls of this magnificent building. One of Beauregard’s homes, now called the Beauregard-Keyes House, in New Orleans is also the home to spirits.

Sources

  • Johnson, Tally. Civil War Ghosts of South Carolina. Cincinnati, OH. Post Mortem Paranormal, 2013.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997. 

Calhoun Street

Joe E. Berry Hall – College of Charleston
162 Calhoun Street

This modern building stands on the site of the Charleston Orphan House, which was built in 1790. A story is commonly related that the orphanage was the scene of a fire in 1918 that killed four orphans, though there is no documentary evidence of this. The orphanage was torn down in 1951 and a commercial building erected on the site. After the construction of Berry Hall, the building has been plagued with fire alarm problems. Even after replacing the system, the problems persist. Additionally, there are spectral sounds heard within the building, including voices.

Joe Berry Hall College of Charleston ghosts haunted
Joe E. Berry Hall, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. Haunted Charleston. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2004.
  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Pitzer, Sara. Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters and Tall Tales. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2013.

Chalmers Street

Old Slave Mart
6 Chalmers Street

Old Slave Mart Museum Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Old Slave Mart Museum, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Now a museum devoted to the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, this building was originally constructed in 1859 to house Ryan’s Mart, a slave market. The last slave sales occurred here in 1863, but the misery induced by those few years of sales remains. According to Denise Roffe, museum employees have had run-ins with shadowy figures throughout this building.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.

Pink House
17 Chalmers Street

Pink House Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Pink House, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

This quaint house is among the oldest buildings in the city, having been constructed around 1712. It is believed to have housed that was owned and operated by female pirate Anne Bonny. Geordie Buxton suggests that the feminine spirit here may be her shade.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie. “You are here.” Charleston Magazine. October 2013.
  • Pitzer, Sara. Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters and Tall Tales. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2013.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Church Street

Dock Street Theatre
135 Church Street

The spirited and storied Dock Street Theatre is covered in depth in my article, “Phantoms of the Opera, Y’all—13 Haunted Southern Theatres.”

St. Philips Episcopal Church
146 Church Street

With a commanding view of Church Street, it’s hard to miss St. Philips. The building’s massive portico protrudes into the street and the steeple acts as a stern finger warning the city of the wages of sin. The clean and stringent Classical lines of the church seem to set the tone for the remainder of the city. The first structure on this site was a cypress building constructed in 1682. It was replaced in the early 18th century with an English Baroque church. After the Baroque church’s destruction by fire in 1835 the current building was built. Because of its architectural and historical importance, St. Philips is now a National Historic Landmark.

St Phlips's Church Charleston SC ghosts haunted
St. Philip’s Church, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Around this church lies an ancient churchyard that serves as the final resting place for many prominent Charlestonians and a stopping point for numerous ghost tours. To address the ghost tours, just inside the gate to the left of the church building is a small sign stating, “The only ghost at the church is the Holy Ghost.” One of the more recent paranormal events took place in 1987 when a photographer snapped a few pictures just inside the gate. When the pictures were developed, he was shocked to see the image of a woman kneeling on a grave. Further research has indicated that the grave is that of a socialite who had passed nearly a century before. The photograph was taken on the anniversary of her death. 

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted South Carolina. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
  • Pitzer, Sara. Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters and Tall Tales. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2013.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Our History.” St. Philip’s Church. Accessed 22 February 2011.

Bocci’s Italian Restaurant
158 Church Street

One evening as staff members were cleaning up in the second-floor dining room. One of them saw someone who they thought was the kitchen manager crouched by one of the walls. He called the manager’s name and got no response. As he approached the figure, the staff member realized that it was someone else and the figure was transparent. Perhaps the figure may be one of people killed in this building during a fire in the 19th century.

Bocci's Italian Restaurant Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Bocci’s, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.

This building was constructed in 1868 by the Molony family who operated an Irish pub on the ground floor. When Governor Tilman attempted to control alcohol sales in the state (see the entry for The Blind Tiger Pub on Broad Street), the family converted the pub into a grocery with a small room in the back for illegal alcohol sales.

Reports of paranormal activity in the building mostly come from the second and third floors where doors open and close by themselves, voices are heard and there is mysterious rapping on doors.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.

Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub
160 Church Street

Tommy Condon's Irish Pub Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

On the floor around the bar of this Irish pub, a metal track still runs reminding visitors of this building’s original use: as a candy factory. According to Denise Roffe, this building is apparently a warehouse for ghosts. She notes that a certain section of the restaurant feels very uneasy to guests and staff alike, while the women’s restroom and the kitchen also play host to spirits. 

Sources

  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010. 

Old Charleston Ghost Shop
168 Church Street

Sadly, this store is now closed, but it was a great place for all things creepy in Charleston. Of course, the shop also had some mischievous spirits that are reported to pull pictures from the walls, rummage through the cash drawers left over night, and cause the occasional spectral racket.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.

Cunnington Street

Magnolia Cemetery
70 Cunnington Street

In the mid-19th century, this cemetery, located outside the bulk of the city of Charleston, became the primary burying ground for the best of Charleston’s citizens. Denise Roffe reports that there are some wandering spirits among the magnificent funerary art here. See my post, “Locked In,” for further information.

Grave of Rosalie Raymond White in Magnolia Cemetery Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Grave of Rosalie Raymond White in Magnolia Cemetery. Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Elizabeth Street

Aiken-Rhett House
48 Elizabeth Street

According to Jonathan Poston’s The Buildings of Charleston, this estate is considered “the best-preserved complex of antebellum domestic structures” left in Charleston. The house remained in the family as a residence until it was donated to the Charleston Museum in the 1970s. Since its opening as a museum, the house has been left as is with conservation work done only to prevent deterioration.

This house was constructed in 1817 for merchant John Robinson; but following a financial reversal the house was purchased by William Aiken, Sr., founder and president of the South Carolina Railroad. Aiken’s son renovated the house and added a series of outbuildings including slave quarters to accommodate his many slaves. It is noted that by the eve of the Civil War, Governor William Aiken, Jr. was the largest slave owner in the state.

Aiken-Rhett House Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Aiken-Rhett House, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Within the slave quarters, two visitors encountered an African-American woman who disappeared in the warren of rooms on the second floor. A pair of architects within the house in the late 1980s saw the image of a woman in a mirror sobbing and silently screaming in the ballroom of the house. Others within the house have taken photographs with possible paranormal anomalies. 

Sources

  • Aiken-Rhett House Museum.” Historic Charleston Foundation. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. The Ghosts of Charleston. NYC: Beaufort Books, 2001.
  • Pitzer, Sara. Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters and Tall Tales. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2013.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Hassell Street

Jasmine House Inn
64 Hassell Street

The only documented paranormal incident to take place in this 1843 house is rather humorous, though I’m sure the businessman involved did not see it that way. A gentleman staying in the Chrysanthemum Room some years ago awakened to find the apparition of a woman within his room. When he tried to leave the room, she blocked his way and shredded his newspaper. The guest was able to get to the phone and call the front desk to summon the manager. When the manager arrived, the shaken guest was alone in the room, but his mail had been tossed about and his newspaper lay in pieces on the floor.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Ward, Kevin Thomas. South Carolina Haunts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2014.

King Street

Charleston Library Society
164 King Street

Having been organized in 1748, the Charleston Library Society is the third oldest private library in the country. Built for the library in 1914, some believe that spirits that dwell among its highly regarded stacks. William Godber Hinson, whose precious collection is housed here, may still remain among his books. One librarian reported to the Charleston Mercury that she saw a bearded gentleman in period clothing near the Hinson stacks. Other librarians in the area have experienced sudden blasts of icy air and heard the sounds of books moving.

Sources

  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.
  • Salvo, Rob. “Legends and ghoulish traditions of the Library Society. Charleston Mercury. 11 April 2011.

Riviera Theatre
225 King Street

This Art Deco landmark opened in 1939 and closed as a cinema in 1977. After being saved from demolition in the 1980s, it was purchased by the Charleston Place Hotel which uses the space as a conference center and ballroom.

Riviera Theatre Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Riviera Theatre, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Denise Roffe writes that during the theatre’s renovations, a worker had tools disappear only to reappear some days later in the exact spot where he had left them. She also mentions that a young woman touring the building had an encounter with a spectral cleaning woman. She only realized the woman was a ghost when she realized the figure was transparent.

Sources

  • Riviera Theatre.” Cinema Treasures. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.

Urban Outfitters
(formerly the Garden Theatre)
371 King Street

Walk in to this store and look up at the magnificent ceiling. This building was once the Garden Theatre, a vaudeville theatre built in 1917. The theatre was restored in the 1980s as a performing space, though most of the fitting were removed when the building was converted for commercial use in recent years. The spirit of an African-American man, possibly a former usher, has been seen here.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. The Ghosts of Charleston. NYC: Beaufort Books, 2001.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.

Francis Marion Hotel
387 King Street

The most commonly told legend about this early 1920s-era hotel involves a young businessman from New York City. In 1929, after meeting and falling in love with a lovely lady from Charleston, Ned Cohen asked to be assigned to South Carolina by Florsheim Shoes. The young lady visited him at the hotel but left while he was asleep leaving a note saying that she could not carry on the relationship. In grief, he tucked the note in his suit pocket and jumped from his room to die on King Street below.

rion Hotel Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Francis Marion Hotel, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Guests in Ned Cohen’s former room have reported the window opening by itself. Cohen’s distraught form has been seen in the halls of the hotel while others have been disturbed to see someone falling past their windows. When they look out, everything is normal below. James Caskey reports that a search for documentation to back up the story has proven fruitless.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. Haunted Charleston. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2004.
  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Pitzer, Sara. Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters and Tall Tales. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2013.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997. 

Magazine Street

Old City Jail
21 Magazine Street

In recent years, this formidable building has become a mecca for ghost hunters and tours. Sadly, much of the legend surrounding the old jail is either exaggerated or total bunk. While many deaths likely occurred here, the number of 40,000 used by many guides is highly inaccurate. Also, the stories told about the crimes and execution of Lavinia Fisher are mostly fictional. Yes, Lavinia Fisher was held here, and she and her husband were executed, but her crimes and rebellious demeanor on the gallows are the product of fiction. If Lavinia Fisher does haunt this place, it is likely only in an attempt to clear her sullied name.

I have covered the jail in two articles: one looks at a televised investigation, and the second recounts my own tour of this most haunted building.

North Market Street

Mad River Bar & Grille
32 North Market Street

Mad River Grill Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Mad River Grille, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

 

The Church of the Redeemer was constructed in 1916 to replace the Mariner’s Church that was damaged in the Great Earthquake of 1886. Services in the church ceased in 1964 and the building became a restaurant. Evidently, the spirits residing here do not approve of the building’s use as a restaurant. Bottles behind the bar have been thrown off the shelf and broken and electrical problems often occur with the restaurant’s system and computer systems. 

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. Haunted Harbor: Charleston’s Maritime Ghosts and the Unexplained. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2005.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.

Meeting Street

Mills House Hotel
115 Meeting Street

The current Mills House Hotel is a reproduction of the original that was constructed on this site in 1853. By the early 1960s, the building was in such a severe state of disrepair that the original had to be torn down and replaced with a reproduction. The spirits don’t appear to really know the difference and continue their residence.

Mills House Hotel Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Mills House Hotel, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Denise Roffe reports that several children’s spirits have been reported here along with the specter of a man in a top hat. Confederate soldiers have also been seen prowling the corridors, hearkening back to the hotel’s use as a base for Confederate forces during the Civil War.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Dyas, Ford. “See the real ghosts at these haunted hotels. Charleston City Paper. 24 October 2012.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010. 

Circular Congregational Church
150 Meeting Street

The long span of Meeting Street was named for the Congregational meeting house that has been located on this site since the 1680s, shortly after Charleston’s founding. The Romanesque Revival church dates only to 1891, while the cemetery surrounding it includes some of the oldest graves in the city.

Circular Congregational Church Charleston SC ghosts haunted
The Circular Congregational Church, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Many graves are unmarked and, according to the Bulldog Ghost & Dungeon Tour, many more lie under the adjacent bank parking lot. Numerous ghost tours pass by through this ancient place. The entry on the churchyard in Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places reveals that witnesses report orbs, strange mists, apparitions ,and voices under the cemetery’s ancient oaks.

Sources

  • Bordsen, John. “Find the most haunted places in these Carolina towns. Dispatch-Argus. 10 October 2010.
  • Davis, Joanne. “Circular Church Cemetery.” in Jeff Belanger’s The Encyclopedia of Haunted Places. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page, 2005.
  • Mould, David R. and Missy Loewe. Historic Gravestone Art of Charleston, South Carolina 1695-1802. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, 2006.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.
  • Zepke, Terrence. Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2004.

Meeting Street Inn
173 Meeting Street

The Meeting Street Inn was one of the first bed and breakfasts to open in this city during the tourism boom of the 1980s. Guests staying in Room 107 have been awakened to the specter of a woman, while Room 303 has had its deadbolt lock while guests are out of the room.

Sources

  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
  • Ward, Kevin Thomas. South Carolina Haunts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2014.

Charleston Place Hotel
205 Meeting Street

When construction commenced on the Charleston Place Hotel it replaced a number of historic structures that were demolished. Denise Roffe mentions a number of odd occurrences happening to guests and staff alike throughout the hotel. These occurrences include mysterious footsteps, knocking on doors, and apparitions.

Sources

  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.

Embassy Suites—Historic Charleston Hotel
337 Meeting Street

Dominating one side of Marion Square, the Embassy Suites hardly looks like a typical chain hotel. This building was constructed as the South Carolina Arsenal in 1829 following the 1822 slave insurrection led by Denmark Vesey. The South Carolina Military Academy was founded here in 1842. Renamed The Citadel thanks to this formidable structure, the school moved to its present site on the Ashley River in 1922.

Embassy Suites Charleston SC formerly SC State Arsenal and The Citadel ghosts haunted
Entrance to the Embassy Suites, 2014. Photo by Niagara, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Guests and staff members of this hotel have encountered the spirit of a Citadel cadet who remains in this building. He appears dressed in the school’s military uniform, one that has remained unchanged from its original appearance. The only detail that indicates to the living that this is a ghost is the fact that the top of this young man’s head is missing.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. Haunted Charleston. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2004.
  • Fant, Mrs. James W. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for the Old Citadel. 16 May 1970.
  • South Carolina State Arsenal.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 12 May 2015.

Montagu Street

Benjamin Smith House
18 Montagu Street, private

This late 18th century home sustained damage during a hurricane in 1811. Legend holds that as the chimney collapsed, the enslaved woman who served as a nanny to her owner’s children shielded them from the falling bricks with her body. She was killed as the bricks pummeled her, but the children were saved. This home has since been divided into apartments and College of Charleston students living here have encountered the enslaved woman several times.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. Haunted Charleston. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2004.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Queen Street

Philadelphia Alley
Between Cumberland and Queen Streets

The name Philadelphia, meaning “brotherhood,” contradicts this space’s occasional use as a dueling site. The sounds of dueling remain here accompanied, according to some reports, by a faint, spectral whistling. It was here that the duel of Joseph Ladd and Ralph Isaacs commenced in October of 1786. The whistling has been attributed to Ladd’s sad spirit continuing to haunt the spot where he was mortally wounded. Spectral whistling is also heard in his former home, the Thomas Rose House at 59 Church Street, which is detailed in the South of Broad section.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Martin, Margaret Rhett. Charleston Ghosts. Columbia, SC University of South Carolina Press, 1963.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Poogan’s Porch
72 Queen Street

Poogan, a local canine, adopted the porch of this restaurant as his home around the time this house was converted into a restaurant. Upon his death, the restaurant owners afforded him a prime burial spot just inside the gate. One author witnessed a child playing under his parent’s table one evening. The way the child was laughing and cavorting with something unseen, the assumption was made that the child may have been playing with the spirit of Poogan.

While Poogan remains a playful resident, it is the spirit of Zoe St. Armand who dominates this restaurant. St. Armand was one of a pair of spinster sisters who lived here for many years. The wraith of Zoe has been spotted in the women’s restroom and lingering at the top of the stairs by patrons and staff alike.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Pitzer, Sara. Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters and Tall Tales. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2013.
  • Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.

Husk
76 Queen Street

Now housing Husk, one of the more exclusive restaurants in the city, this Queen Anne styled house was built in the late 19th century. James Caskey published the account of a couple who saw a small, fleeting black shadow while dining here. Husk has recently opened a location in Savannah in a haunted building.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

82 Queen
82 Queen Street

For 33 years, 82 Queen has been serving some of Charleston’s finest meals in its 11 dining rooms. The restaurant utilizes a building built in 1865 where diners and staff have reported fleeting glimpses of apparitions. James Caskey in his Charleston’s Ghosts interviewed a former server who reported that she “once walked through a shadow which dissipated around me like smoke.” 

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014. 

Pinckney Street

Andrew Pinckney Inn
40 Pinckney Street

Occupying a pair of historic structures at the corner of Pinckney and Church Streets, the Andrew Pinckney Inn has been described as “mind bending” after dark; with a plethora of odd noises and movements. However, the spirits are known to be friendly.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Wentworth Street

1837 Bed & Breakfast
126 Wentworth Street

A specter recalling Charleston’s infamous, slave-holding past is said to haunt the rooms of this bed and breakfast. Legend holds that the spirit, affectionately named George, was enslaved by the family that originally constructed this house. After his parents were sold to a Virginia planter, the young George remained here. In an attempt to reach his parents, George stole a rowboat but drowned in Charleston Harbor.

The story cannot be corroborated, though the spirit’s antics continue. Patrons have reported feeling small feet walking on their beds sometimes accompanied by the sound of a whip cracking. One couple had the doors to their armoire open and close on their own accord throughout the night.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted South Carolina. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. Haunted Charleston. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2004.
  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.

A houseguest evermore—Mississippi

Dunleith
84 Homochitto Street
Natchez, Mississippi

Benjamin Franklin proclaimed that both fish and visitors smell after three days. So, what if the guest has yet to vacate the house after more than 150 years? The answer at Dunleith is that the guest enters legend and remains to occasionally disturb visitors, guests, and staff members.

Crowning a low hill rising above Homochitto Street, Dunleith takes the form of an ancient Greek temple with columns completely surrounding the main house and providing an exquisite view from any direction. The current house was built after the original house—a late-18th century structure—burned in 1855 after being struck by lightning.

Job Routh built the first home and named the estate Routhlands. After his death, the estate passed to Routh’s daughter, Mary, who married a wealthy, local banker, Charles G. Dahlgren, before they moved into the house. Dahlgren had the current structure built to replace the original house. In 1858, three months after the couple moved into the new home, Mary passed away and, in accordance with his wife’s wishes, Dahlgren sold the house dividing the proceeds among their children. After the 1859 purchase, the new owner renamed the estate Dunleith.

The exact identity of the spectral houseguest is unknown, and she is only known as Miss Percy. Folklorist Kathryn Tucker Windham included Miss Percy’s legend in her 1974 book, 13 Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffrey, and suggests that she was a relative of Mary Routh Dahlgren. This is a possibility. Mary Malvina Routh was born in 1813 and married Thomas Percy Ellis at the age of 15. She had two children by the handsome and educated Mr. Ellis, but he passed ten years after their marriage.

Dunleith, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Among the graves in the Routh family cemetery near the Dunleith property—where Thomas Percy Ellis rests—and within the Natchez City Cemetery—where Mary Dahlgren and her second husband rest—there are no graves bearing the surname Percy, though there are a few that use the name Percy. Therefore, it is possible Miss Percy may have been related to Mrs. Dahlgren from her first marriage, though her exact identity remains unknown.

The legend, as it is commonly recounted, describes Miss Percy as a young woman who ran afoul of the social mores of the time by falling in love. In a time of strict marital customs, Miss Percy began an affair with a dashing Frenchman. Some suggest he was an aristocrat who was part of the entourage of Louis Philippe, the French king who spent time in Natchez on his grand tour of the South before attaining the throne. After saying farewell to her lover, Miss Percy traveled to France, unaccompanied, to be reunited with him. She spent time as a member of the French court and lived a life of luxury, though the man eventually declined to marry the young woman from Mississippi. Socially ruined, she returned to Natchez as a lonely spinster to live out her days with relatives at Dunleith, where she would play her harp for hours each day still dreaming of her lover in France.

While some legends of this type tend to enjoy vague descriptions of activity that “is said” to occur, this activity has witnesses. An article in a 1983 edition of the Hattiesburg American records the stories from a cook, Ella Mae Green, who worked in the house. In fact, Ms. Green states that she almost did not take the job because of the ghost, but Dunleith’s owner convinced her to stay.

Ms. Green provides a visual description of Miss Percy, “she usually came in bones [I presume this means she had a skeletal appearance], but the third time she was wearing a long white gown.” She continued, “you can’t see her face—like smoke around it. She doesn’t talk, just watches, but you can tell she’s unhappy. She died with an unhappy heart.” The cook emphasizes later that the spirit’s face is obscured, saying, “You can’t see her face, but it looks like she has eyes.” According to Ms. Green, the wraith usually stays on the third floor where she can remain undisturbed, but she makes occasional appearances throughout the house including playing her harp in the parlor and making the sound of breaking glass.

While Dunleith’s most famous houseguest continues to roam the main house, she is not the only spectral guest on the estate. Since the mid-1970s, the estate has opened its doors to guests as an inn and the Gothic Revival carriage house has been transformed into a fine dining establishment, The Castle Restaurant and Pub. Staff of the restaurant have had encounters with three spirits in this building including a shadowy man, a woman, and an African-American laborer. While stories of these three spectral guests may be more modern, their stories have been lost in the shroud of time and legend, and none will ever outshine the everlasting, harp-playing, spectral houseguest reigning over the main house evermore.

Sources

  • Brooking, Ann. “Ghost of Dunleith died of an unhappy heart.” Hattiesburg American. 19 October 1983.
  • Dunleith. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 18 March 2018.
  • Goeldner, Paul. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Dunleith. Listed 14 September 1972.
  • Kane, Harnett Thomas. Natchez on the Mississippi. Originally published in 1947. Republished as an eBook by Pickle Partners Publishing, 2016.
  • Pascoe, Jill. Mississippi’s Haunted Mansions. Gilbert, AZ: Irongate Press, 2012.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker. 13 Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffrey. Tuscaloosa, AL: U. of Alabama Press, 1974.

Alabama Hauntings—County by County Part IV

One of my goals with this blog is to provide coverage of ghost stories and haunted places in a comprehensive manner. Perhaps one of the best ways to accomplish this is to examine ghost stories county by county, though so far, researching in this manner has been difficult. In my 2015 book, Southern Spirit Guide’s Haunted Alabama, I wanted to include at least one location for every county, though a lack of adequate information and valid sources prevented me from reaching that goal. In the end, my book was published covering only 58 out of 67 counties.

Further research has uncovered information for a few more counties and on Halloween of 2017, Kelly Kazek published an article on AL.com covering the best-known ghost story for every county. Thanks to her excellent research, I’ve almost been able to achieve my goal for the state.

For a further look at Alabama ghosts, please see my Alabama Directory.

See part I (Autauga-Cherokee Counties) here.
See part II (Chilton-Covington Counties) here.
See part III (Crenshaw-Franklin Counties) here.
See part IV (Geneva-Lawrence Counties) here.
See part V (Lee-Monroe Counties) here.
See part VI (Montgomery-Sumter Counties) here.
See part VII (Talladega-Winston Counties) here.

Geneva County

“Big Oak”
Robert Fowler Memorial Park
South River Street
Geneva

Big Oak, 2006, by AlabamaGuy2007. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Before the establishment of Geneva County, early settlers gathered under the massive, leafy branches of what is now known as the Big Oak or Constitution Oak. This live oak’s age and size have led to its inclusion in the list of Alabama Famous and Historic Trees. Supposedly the huge branches of the tree have been used for hangings and the spirits of those who died here may continue to haunt this location.

Sources

Greene County

Oakmont Bed & Breakfast
107 Pickens Street
Eutaw

As workers were working on the restoration of Oakmont, a spirit in the house wanted more heat. After continuing to find a heater on in the home, construction workers taped the control knob so that the heat could not be turned on. However, the spirit thought otherwise and turned the heat on again.

Built in 1908 as a wedding gift for Mary Elizabeth and Charles Alexander Webb, it was not until Oakmont began the transformation into a bed & breakfast that the owners discovered that they might have to share the house with spirits. After the restoration, numerous spectral sounds began to be heard including tremendous crashes and disembodied footsteps. It doesn’t appear that this bed and breakfast is open any longer.

Sources

  • Smith, Terry L. and Mark Jean. Haunted Inns of America. Crane Hill Publishers, 2003.

Hale County

Moundville Archaeological Park
634 Mound State Parkway
Moundville

Between approximately 1120 C.E. and 1450 C.E., Moundville was the site of a large city inhabited by the Mississippian people, predecessors to the tribes that the Europeans would encounter when they began exploring the South about a century later. At its height, this town was probably home to nearly 1,000 inhabitants. Stretching to 185 acres, the town had 29 mounds of various sizes and uses: some were ceremonial while others were topped with the homes of the elite.

Visitors and staff have often mentioned a certain energy emanating from this site. A Cherokee friend of mine visited and while atop one of the mounds let out a traditional Cherokee war cry. Afterward, he noted that there was a palpable change in the energy. Dennis William Hauck speaks of the “powerful spirit of an ancient race” that “permeates this 317-acre site” in his Haunted Places: The National Directory. Southern Paranormal Researchers notes that park staff has witnessed shadow figures, odd noises, and doors opening and closing by themselves in the buildings on the site. Higdon and Talley add orbs and cold spots found throughout the location to the list of paranormal activity here.

Sources

  • Blitz, John H. “Moundville Archaeological Park.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 26 February 2007.
  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
  • Southern Paranormal Researchers. Paranormal Investigation Report for Moundville Archaeological Park. 10 February 2007.

Henry County

Legend of Huggin’ Molly
Abbeville

For over a century, a legend has dwelled in the dark streets of Abbeville: the legend of Huggin’ Molly. This specter is thought to target children on the streets after dark. Most versions describe Molly as a large woman who prowls the dark streets in search of children walking alone. After pursuing a child, she would embrace them and scream in their ear. Most sources agree that this tale was perhaps created to frighten small children and keep them from staying out too late, though the story has remained. In fact, a restaurant named after the legendary figure has recently opened.

Sources

  • Legend of Huggin’ Molly.” Huggin’ Molly’s Restaurant. Accessed 13 July 2015.
  • Smith, Michelle. Legends, Lore and True Tales of the Chattahoochee. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

Houston County

Columbia Manor
306 South Main Street
Columbia

During the Halloween season, this unassuming white frame house is home to nightmares of the fictional kind. However, this house is home to real nightmares as well. Built in 1864, this home has served several uses including serving as a hospital and later a sanitarium for those suffering from pellagra, a severe vitamin deficiency.

Following renovations to transform the house into a haunted attraction, the spirits have begun to act out. The owner of the house told the producers of the BIO Channel show, My Ghost Story, about tools that would go missing only to be found in their original location a short time later, mysterious footsteps, and the shade of an older gentleman that the owner and another volunteer saw standing in the house. He also mentioned the swinging of a chandelier in the foyer which a paranormal investigator has linked to the suicide by hanging of a nurse there.

Sources

  • “Enter at your own risk; they dare you.” Dothan Eagle. 18 August 2014.
  • “Haunting Columbia Manor.” Dothan Eagle. 19 October 2013.
  • My Ghost Story, Episode 3.3. Biography Channel. 29 October 2011. 

Jackson County

Russell Cave National Monument
3728 CR-98
Bridgeport

One of the most significant archaeological sites in the state, Russell Cave has revealed evidence that this site has been in use by humans for at least 8,000 years. That evidence includes human remains, pottery shards, spear points, arrowheads, and charcoal from ancient fires. The remains of various animals, including some prehistoric species, have also been unearthed here.

Entrance to Russell Cave, 2014, by Fredlyfish4. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Within the cave, some visitors have experienced an uneasy feeling, sometimes even sensing ghostly presences while others have heard spectral sounds and seen apparitions. With thousands of years of human occupation, it’s no surprise that spirits remain here.

Sources

  • Kidd, Jessica Fordham. “Russell Cave.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 22 September 2010.
  • Penot, Jessica. Haunted North Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.

Jefferson County

Bessemer Hall of History Museum
1905 Alabama Avenue
Bessemer

While the Bessemer Hall of History Museum displays an eclectic mix of items from Bessemer’s past, including a cell door from the local jail where Martin Luther King, Jr. was brie y incarcerated, it appears that a former exhibit may still be haunting this building. For many years, the museum displayed the mummy of a local woman who had taken her life in 1906. Hazel Farris had shot and killed her husband during a domestic incident at their home in Louisville, Kentucky. After neighbors had summoned the police, Farris shot and killed three of them and fled the state.

Beautiful Hazel settled in Bessemer and confessed her crimes to a man with whom she had fallen in love. He betrayed her to the police, and Hazel ingested arsenic, ending her life. Her corpse was sent to a local funeral home which only put the unclaimed body in storage where it mummified. The funeral home began to charge admission to view the grisly final remains of Miss Farris, and over the course of many years; the mummy was loaned to various exhibitors. In 1974, the museum borrowed the mummy as part of a fundraiser, and the museum displayed it for quite some time.

Southern Railway Depot (now home to the Bessemer Hall of History Museum), 1992, by Jet Lowe. Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

After the mummy’s exhibition in 1981, the museum placed it in permanent storage. National Geographic produced a documentary about Hazel’s corpse in 2002 with various scientists examining it before it was eventually cremated. The old train depot that has housed the museum since 1994 has had some paranormal activity through the years, some of which has been attributed to Hazel. Lights turn off and on within the old building, and other odd sounds have been heard.

Sources

Lamar County

Old Stage Coach Inn
Jackson Military Road
Moscow

Also known as the Moore-Hill House, this circa 1834 stagecoach stop was the scene of a murder in 1881. A Mrs. Armstrong was killed by an African-American man with a grappling hook on a chain. After the gruesome killing, the cook ran out the back door and alerted the men working in the nearby fields. The supposed murderer was hunted down and lynched in the front yard. This event is believed to be the cause of paranormal activity in and around the house. Tradition speaks of a glowing orb that is seen in the front yard and the spirit of Mrs. Armstrong clanking down the stairs with the hook and chain that killed her.

When I initially wrote the above entry for my book way back in 2015, I struggled with how little information existed about this house and the grim murder that took place here. As I was visiting the library yesterday, I decided to take a second look at the research for this particular location. Evidently, I didn’t look hard enough the first time.

Situated on Andrew Jackson’s Military Road, a route constructed after the War of 1812 connecting Nashville, Tennessee with New Orleans, the Moore-Hill House was built for James Moore, an early politician in the state. For many years the house served as a stagecoach inn, but it was an incident in 1881 that gave the house a bit of a notorious reputation. According to family legend, a Mrs. Armstrong was killed by an African-American man with a grappling hook on a chain. After the gruesome killing, the cook ran out the back door and alerted the men working in the nearby fields. The supposed murderer was hunted down and lynched in the front yard. After consulting newspapers of the period, the events did not take place exactly as family memory recalls.

Two brief reports appearing in area newspapers in December of 1881 attest that the murder was bloodier that family legend recounts. An African-American man (described in one newspaper as a “crazy negro”) attempted to seize one of the Armstrong children. The child’s mother, Mrs. Winchester Armstrong,” and her mother tried to wrestle the child away and both were killed. The newspaper reports that the child’s mother was struck in the head with an ax. Moments later, Mr. Armstrong approached and shot and killed the assailant.

Sources

  • “A heart-rending murder…” Pickens County Herald and West Alabamian (Carrollton, AL). 7 December 1881.
  • Hill, Beulah and Pat Buckley. “History.” Accessed 6 June 2015.
  • “Horrible murder of two women by a crazy negro.” The Marion Times-Standard. 14 December 1881.
  • Kazek, Kelly. “Few historic stagecoach inns and taverns survive across Alabama, take a tour.” com. 14 August 2014.
  • Lamar County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Lamar County, Alabama. Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.

Lauderdale County

Forks of Cypress
Jackson Road
Florence

Crowning a hill above Jackson Road are the skeletal remains of the graceful Forks of Cypress, built in the latter half of the 1820s. Until it burned in June 1966, the house was known as one of the grandest homes in the area. James Jackson, an Irish-born venture capitalist who moved to the area in 1818 and is considered the founder of the city of Florence constructed the home.

Ruins of Forks of Cypress, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of the George S, Landreggar Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Even before a conflagration destroyed the house, it was known to be haunted, and spirits may continue to roam the picturesque ruins. The Jackson family cemetery not far from the house has also seen some paranormal activity. Debra Johnston records an incident whereby a visitor to the cemetery one afternoon encountered a young man on horseback. As he talked with the strange young man, he realized the young man was one of the sons of James Jackson. The visitor was astonished when he shook hands with the man and watched him vanish before his eyes.

Southwest of the ruins, a bridge spanned Cypress Creek until its recent demolition. Known as “Ghost Bridge,” the bridge was associated with a typical crybaby bridge story. The woods near the bridge, tradition holds, are supposed to be haunted by a spirit carrying a lantern, a possible holdover from a skirmish fought here during the Civil War.

Sources

  • Farris, Johnathan A. & Trina Brinkley. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Forks of Cypress. 2 May 1997.
  • Johnston, Debra. Skeletons in the Closet: True Ghost Stories of the Shoals Area. Debra Johnston, 2002.

Lawrence County

Henry Hill
CR-25
Mount Hope

Almost as common as Cry Baby Bridges throughout the South are “Gravity Hills;” roads or hills where a car put in neutral will seemingly be pushed up an incline. Along County Road 25, just outside of the community of Mount Hope, is a dip in the road where legend has it a man named Henry was killed. Most legends have Henry’s car breaking down along this road and him trying to push it out of the way when he was struck and killed by another vehicle. When a car is stopped here, Henry still dutifully pushes the car to safety to prevent another driver from having to endure a similar end.

Sources

Silver Spirits–Charlottesville, Virginia

Silver Thatch Inn
3001 Hollymead Drive
Charlottesville, Virginia

It’s always exciting to find a new haunted location, especially one with a haunted history that has not been well documented. Set among the pastoral landscape in the Virginia countryside just north of the bustle Charlottesville, the Silver Thatch Inn resembles many other historic Virginia homes with an original house and a series of additions extending from it.  Guests of the seven-room bed and breakfast have been reporting possible paranormal activity in their rooms for years, though the owner has never had an experience herself. The dearth of stories recently spurred the owner to invite members of the Twisted Paranormal Society to investigate.

The home’s history certainly qualifies it to be haunted. A two-story log cabin was constructed here—supposedly the site of a Native American village—by Hessian prisoners of war in 1780 during the dark days of the American Revolution. In the early 19th century, an addition was added and the house was converted for use as a boys’ school. After the Civil War, the house returned to use as a farmhouse, becoming the main house for the 300-acre Hollymead Farm. For nearly 30 years, the house was the home of the Dean of Men at the nearby University of Virginia before the farmland was sold for development in the 1960s. The home became a bed and breakfast in the latter part of the 20th century.

In a 1983 article for the Baltimore Sun, Geoffrey Fielding reported on a former Baltimore couple who purchased the Hollymead Inn, as it was then called. Interestingly, the article refers to the spirit of a Hessian soldier that guests had encountered while staying the night. The reporter even blamed the spirit for a missing wallet. Apparently, the ghost has not been reported on until now.

Hessian soldiers
Hessian soldiers as rendered by Charles M. Lefferts, before 1923. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During recent investigations of the inn, investigators encountered a large, looming shadow figure in the attic. The first group of investigators encountered a figure described as being about “seven feet tall, just standing behind [one of the other investigators]”. Assuming that the entity did not want the investigators there, the group exited the space. A second group also encountered the shadowy form. The inn’s owner remarked that after the investigators left, “we did see a shadow figure appearing to crawl across the floor at the top of the stairs.” Perhaps this is the spirit of Hessian soldier?

Investigators from Twisted Paranormal are convinced that the inn is haunted and the owner is preparing to host more paranormal events in the coming months.

Sources

Spectral Selfies in the News

In the past few weeks, several people visiting haunted places here in the South have been photobombed in a spectral fashion. Visitors to St. Francisville, Louisiana’s The Myrtles Plantation and Homestead, Florida’s Hotel Redland have captured images of someone in their photographs, someone who wasn’t physically present when the photos were taken.

Six friends visiting The Myrtles decided to take a group selfie just outside of the house. Upon closer inspection, the photographer noticed the face of a seventh woman peering from behind a window pane behind the group. While all the women in the group are smiling, the women in the window pane appears to be scowling. Photographs of the this nature are easy to fake, so I cannot say this photograph is authentic. Surely, this is not the first photograph taken at The Myrtles to possibly show something spectral. In 2015, I published a photograph taken by an acquaintance that appears to show someone sitting on the staircase.

The Myrtles, 2005, by Bnet504. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Perhaps the most famous haunted places in the country, The Myrtles (7747 US-61, St. Francisville, Louisiana) is a late 18th-century plantation with a tragic history. Of course, much of that tragic history has literally come back to haunt the home. The house is preserved as a museum, bed & breakfast, and haunted attraction. In my opinion, at least some of that tragic history has been created to make the haunting more interesting. I looked into these stories in a blog entry several years ago.

It’s interesting that the other selfie that has been published in the news is from a place that also has a doubtful history. The history of the Hotel Redland (5 South Flagler Avenue, Homestead, Florida) is not as long or as varied as The Myrtles, though it has also left spectral impressions. Those spectral impressions led a friend of a hotel staff member to investigate the hotel recently. During the investigation, the visitor snapped a selfie standing in the lobby. In the selfie, a face appears which the British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, described as resembling the horror movie villain, Michael Myers, from John Carpernter’s movie franchise, Halloween.

My opinion on the photograph is that this is a case of pareidolia, when the brain tries to make sense of something chaotic by finding patterns in it. In this case, light reflected in the window pane creates a “face,” within the reflection.

The first building on this site was constructed in 1904 as a boarding house for railroad employees called the Homestead Inn. This building’s history was rather quiet until the fateful day of November 10, 1913. I’ll allow the Miami Metropolis to take over the story from here:

A few minutes before 2 o’clock in the afternoon the large steam roller, being used in rolling the streets, puffed down in front of the Homestead Inn, and it was only a few seconds later that the roof of the hotel was discovered on fire, having caught from a flying spark from the engine. Soon the entire fire-fighting population of the town was on the scene, and all efforts were brought to bear to save the burning building, but to no avail. However, the furnishings were carried to safety and the loss of the building is just about covered by insurance.

Flames spread to five adjoining buildings destroying several other businesses. The paper ends the article by mentioning that a fire caused by sparks from the same steamroller had damaged the city’s other hotel across the street that morning. “It is likely that some action will be taken to curb the chances of another such conflagration starting from the same cause.”

Hotel Redland, 2011, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

While the damage to the structure led to much of it being rebuilt, the story of this dramatic fire continued to be told and expanded. The story of the fire as told now sets the scene late at night where the fire takes the lives of a number of guests soundly asleep in their rooms. These same guests now haunt the hotel.

An article in the August 16th Miami New Times detailed a paranormal investigation of the hotel by the South Florida team of PRISM Miami, lead by investigator David Rodriguez. That article hints at the hotel actually being haunted, though the details are somewhat vague.

Sources

A Southern Feast of All Souls—‘A genteel visit’

In recent years, the sightings of the supernatural have spread by word of mouth among those seeking a genteel visit with those who have crossed over.

— Steve Wong

The Oaks Bed & Breakfast
339 Greenville Street
Saluda, North Carolina

Steve Wong’s delightful article in the October 5th, 2015 Tryon Daily Bulletin, “Hoping for ghosts in an old Saluda B&B,” is a charming description of one reporter’s search for the supernatural at The Oaks Bed & Breakfast. Admitting that he really wants to believe, Wong spends a night prowling the halls of this late 19th century inn in search of some of the genteel specters that remain here.

Saluda was built by the railroad that arrived in 1878. The town is located at the top of the Saluda Grade, the steepest mainline railway grade east of the Rockies. Nearly ten years after the railroad’s construction, almost 3,000 visitors per year were arriving in this tourist town. Many private homes, including this 1895 house, were transformed into inns to host the visitors. This turreted home, originally built for a physician, became an inn in 1906.

Wong’s marvelous article provides some of the first documentation of the inn’s spectral activity that had previously only been spread by word of mouth. While the article doesn’t hint at a possible identity for the spirits, but it seems that it may be a past innkeeper. A woman has been seen ascending the staircase apparently checking to make sure that guests are well taken care of. One of the innkeepers admitted that some guests have been overcome with “a strange feeling about the house that compelled them to tidy up their rooms.” Overall, this inn and its spirits seem to be the epitome of Southern hospitality.

Sources

  • Historic Victorian Home.” The Oaks Bed & Breakfast. Accessed 6 October 2015.
  • Saluda Grade. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 October 2015.
  • Saluda, North Carolina. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 October 2015.
  • Wong, Steve. “Hoping for ghosts in an old Saluda B&B.” Tryon Daily Bulletin. 5 October 2015.

A Southern Feast of All Souls—A Soul on the Stairs

The Myrtles
7747 US Highway 61
St. Francisville, Louisiana

Despite my own misgivings (see my entry here) about the stories that have been told for years about The Mytles, which is often described as “America’s most haunted house,” I still believe there is an excess of paranormal activity here. In conversation with a friend last night, she sent me two very interesting photos that she took.

The Myrtles, June 2012, by Lyna Howells. All rights reserved.

My friend, Lyna Howells, loves visiting haunted places and took a trip in June of 2012 with friends to check out The Mytles. During their tour of the house the group saw the famous mirror in the home’s foyer. Howells took a series of pictures of the mirror. After the group returned to the hotel, she was shocked to discover that someone appeared sitting on the stairs. The first photo shows the empty stairs, while the second photo, taken from a different angle, shows a woman sitting on the stairs.

Howells stated that the stairs were roped off to keep visitors off them while none of the group members were dressed like the mysterious figure on the stairs. When asked if there was anything at the time that could have indicated the presence of a spirit, Howells replied that the lights in the foyer were flickering.

Howells’ first photograph with an empty staircase. All rights reserved.
Howells’ second photograph with the odd figure on the stairs. All rights reserved.
Closeup on the figure on the stairs. Is this
one of the host of spirits who inhabit The
Myrtles? All rights reserved.

Doing the Charleston: A Ghostly Tour—South of Broad

N.B. This article was originally published 13 May 2015 as a single, massive article. It’s now broken up into three sections, South of Broad, North of Broad, and Charleston Environs, which have all been rearranged and revised for ease of use.

Known as the “Holy City” for the number of churches and raise their steeples above the city, Charleston, South Carolina is also known for its architecture, colonial and antebellum opulence, as well as its haunted places. This tour looks at the highlights among Charleston’s legends and ghostlore.

Broad Street cuts across the Charleston peninsula creating a dividing line between the most historic, moneyed, aristocratic portion of the city—located south of Broad—and everything else. For convenience, this tour is now divided into separate articles covering the area South of Broad, North of Broad, and the Environs. Locales in this article include places open to the public as well as private homes. For these private homes, please respect the privacy of the occupants, and simply view them from the street.

The tour is arranged alphabetically by street, with the sites in order by street address south to north and east to west.

As an introduction to the more mysterious, shadowy side of Charleston, the opening lines of Pat Conroy’s 1980 novel, The Lords of Discipline, provide a lush and succinct preface. The novel examines the triumph and cruelty of Charleston, and The Citadel (disguised as the “Carolina Military Institute”), Conroy’s alma mater.

The city of Charleston, in the green feathery modesty of its palms, in the certitude of its style, in the economy and stringency of its lines, and the serenity of its mansions South of Broad Street, is a feast for the human eye. But to me, Charleston is a dark city, a melancholy city, whose severe covenants and secrets are as powerful and beguiling as its elegance, who demons dance their alley dances and compose their malign hymns to the dark side of the moon I cannot see…

Though I will always be a visitor to Charleston, I will always remain one with a passionate belief that it is the most beautiful city in America and that to walk the old section of the city at night is to step into the bloodstream of a history extravagantly lived by a people born to a fierce and unshakable advocacy of their past. To walk in the spire-proud shade of Church Street is to experience the chronicle of a mythology that is particular to this city and this city alone, a trinitarian mythology with equal parts of the sublime, the mysterious, and the grotesque. But there is nothing to warn you of Charleston’s refined cruelty…

Entering Charleston is like walking through the brilliant carbon forest of a diamond with the light dazzling you in a thousand ways, an assault of light and shadow caused by light. The sun and the city have struck up an irreversible alliance.

Charleston Battery

Charleston Battery

On the Battery near the Edmondston-Alston House at 21 East Battery, a young woman encountered the apparition of a woman dressed in period clothing. James Caskey posits that the sad-faced apparition may very well have been the spirit of Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of Vice President Aaron Burr and wife of South Carolina Governor Joseph Alston. In 1812, Theodosia Burr Alston boarded the Patriot in Georgetown, SC as she headed north. The ship was never heard from again. Her spirit has been reported up and down the South Carolina coast.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Theodosia Burr Alston.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 12 May 2015.

Battery Carriage House Inn
20 South Battery

The Battery Carriage House Inn is possibly one of the more spiritually active locations in the city. A few of the inn’s eleven sumptuous guest rooms are apparently haunted. A couple staying in room 3 were awakened by noise from a cellphone; while this may be quite common, phones are not supposed to make noise when powered off as this phone was.

Battery Carriage House Inn Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Sign for the Battery Carriage House
Inn, 2011, by Lewis Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

This activity seems minor compared to the reports from rooms 8 and 10. Guests staying in Room 8 have encountered the apparition of a man’s torso. There is no head or limbs, just a torso dressed in a few layers of clothing. One guest sensed that this figure was quite negative. The spirit in Room 10 is much more pleasant and even described as a gentleman. The innkeepers believe this may be the spirit of the son of a former owner who committed suicide.

Sources

  • Ghost Sightings.” Battery Carriage House Inn. Accessed 31 October 2010.
  • Kermeen, Francis. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of America’s Haunted Hotels and Inns. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
  • Spar, Mindy. “Local haunts among treats for Halloween.” The Post and Courier. 26 October 2002
  • Ward, Kevin Thomas. South Carolina Haunts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2014.

White Point Gardens
Charleston Battery

If you stand at the corner of East Battery and South Battery, look down South Battery for the large stone monument. This monument marks the spot where Pirate Stede Bonnet and his men were executed. These pirates may be among the multitude of spirits here. See my article for further information and sources. Another article contains photos from this lovely park.

East Bay Street

The Tavern
120 East Bay Street

There are questions as to just how old this little building is. Some sources argue that it may well be one of the oldest buildings in the city, while others argue that it only dates to the early 19th century. Regardless, this building can claim an inordinate amount of history, mostly as a tavern and coffeehouse, as well as ghosts.

One owner spotted the specter of an 18th century gentleman walking through the back door of the building. Later, his vision was confirmed by a psychic visitor who saw the same gentleman and several other spirits lingering here.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon
122 East Bay Street

One of the most important and historic buildings in the city, the Exchange Building, was constructed in the late 1760s to support the trade occurring in this, the wealthiest of colonial cities. The building was built on top of the old Half Moon Battery, a section of the original city wall. During the American Revolution, the dungeon held many of Charleston’s most prominent Patriot citizens. In 1791, this building hosted a ball for President George Washington.

It seems that the souls of some of the people imprisoned in the dungeon still stir. Ghost tours passing through the dungeon at night report that the chains used to guard exhibits swing on their own, while visitors take photographs with anomalies quite regularly. Cries and moans have been heard here and Alan Brown reports that some woman have been attacked here. One hapless female visitor was pushed up against a wall while another felt hands around her neck.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted South Carolina. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
  • Pickens, Cathy. Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Church Street

Thomas Rose House
59 Church Street, private

This circa 1735 home may have never been occupied by Thomas Rose, who built the house. However, this house did serve as the residence of Dr. Joseph Ladd, a poet and physician, who was killed in a duel in Philadelphia Alley (see that listing in the North of Broad section) with his friend, Ralph Isaacs. The argument grew out of a misunderstanding; but after playing out in the local newspapers, it ended in a duel in October of 1786. Ladd, who had the habit of whistling, continues to be heard in the house as well as in the alley where he met the grim specter of death.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted South Carolina. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
  • Pickens, Cathy. Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Legare Street

Simmons-Edwards House
14 Legare Street, private

Simmons-Edwards House Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Simmons-Edwards House, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Just outside of Francis Simmons’ old home (see the Simmons Gateposts, 131 Tradd Street for more information on this gentleman) a shadowy couple has been reported walking hand in hand on the street. Their identity is unknown.

Sources

  • Graydon, Nell S. South Carolina Ghosts. Beaufort, SC: Beaufort Book Shop. 1969.
  • Pickens, Cathy. Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Hannah Heyward House
31 Legare Street, private

Hannah Heyward House Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Hannah Heyward House, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

This simple, but elegant villa-styled house was built in 1789. After Mrs. Heyward’s son, James, left one morning for a hunting trip, she encountered him sitting quietly in the library later that afternoon. When she inquired among the servants when her son had arrived, no one seemed to have seen him. Later that evening some of James’ friends arrived with his lifeless body. Ever since, residents of the home have occasionally seen James sitting in the library.

Sources

  • Graydon, Nell S. South Carolina Ghosts. Beaufort, SC: Beaufort Book Shop. 1969.
  • Martin, Margaret Rhett. Charleston Ghosts. Columbia, SC University of South Carolina Press, 1963.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Sword Gate House
32 Legare Street, private

Gates of the Sword Gates House Charleston SC ghosts haunted
The titular gates of the Sword Gate House, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

In the dark of night, a spirit still prowls the halls of the magnificent house that stands beyond these iron gates wrought with swords. The gates were originally created to be used outside the city’s guardhouse; but were purchased by Madame Talvande to guard her students after the city rejected the gates as too expensive. Even after the closure of the elite boarding school, legend speaks of Madame Talvande remaining here in spirit to see that her students remain moral and chaste.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted South Carolina. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
  • Martin, Margaret Rhett. Charleston Ghosts. Columbia, SC University of South Carolina Press, 1963.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Meeting Street

Daniel Huger House
34 Meeting Street, private

While this mid-18th century home sustained little damage during the Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886, a young, English visitor to the home was killed on the front steps. This area is prone to earthquakes and the quake that struck the city in 1886 caused massive damage throughout the city. The young man visiting the Huger (pronounced HEW-jee) family here fled the house when the shaking began. As he stood on the front steps a piece of molding from the roof struck him on the head, killing him. He may be the cause of mysterious rapping on the front door prior to earthquakes.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. Haunted Harbor: Charleston’s Maritime Ghosts and the Unexplained. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2005.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

James Simmons House
37 Meeting Street, private

This house has been named “The Bosoms” because of its bowed front and you may giggle at the silliness of that. The house was built, without bosoms, in the mid-18th century and alterations in the 1840s added the namesake bays. Legend holds that a pirate buried treasure near this house and shot one of his men at the site. The “white, blurry silhouette” of that man has been seen near the house.

Sources

  • Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. Haunted Harbor: Charleston’s Maritime Ghosts and the Unexplained. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2005.
  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Pickens, Cathy. Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

St. Michael’s Rectory
76 Meeting Street, private

St. Michael’s Alley, running alongside St. Michael’s Church’s churchyard to Church Street, was the scene of a duel in 1786 that left one young man with mortal wounds. Aroused by the commotion outside his house, Judge Elihu Hall Bay, a noted Charleston jurist, ordered the man’s companions to bring him into the house. Fearing that they could face consequences for their involvement with the dual, the young men fled after seeing their wounded friend into the house. The young man passed away in the house.

It was reported that the commotion of the men bringing their wounded friend inside and then hurriedly fleeing was heard in the house on a regular basis. It has been noted, however, that since the home was converted to use as a church rectory in 1942, the sounds have ceased.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Pickens, Cathy. Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church
80 Meeting Street

St Michael's Episcopal Church Charleston SC ghosts haunted
St. Michael’s, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Step inside the cool sanctuary of this mid-18th century church and be on the lookout for a spectral bride. Legend speaks of Harriet Mackie who was supposedly poisoned on her wedding day and remains here in her wedding dress.

Sources

  • Pickens, Cathy. Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Tradd Street

Simmons Gateposts
131 Tradd Street

Simmons Gateposts Tradd Street Charleston SC ghosts haunted
Simmons Gateposts, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

These gateposts, marking where Ruth Lowndes Simmons’ home once stood, serve as sentinels to remind us of a tragic love story. While Ruth Lowndes was from a noble Charleston family, she was almost a spinster when she married Francis Simmons, a wealthy planter. Simmons provided his wife with a fine house here, though he had his own home on nearby Legare Street. When their separate carriages would pass, the couple would rise and bow to the other. An old Charleston legend says that the sounds of a horse and carriage are heard here. James Caskey reports that he felt the rush of air and smelled the odor of sweaty horses as he visited these gateposts at night.

Sources

  • Caskey, James. Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books, 2014.
  • Graydon, Nell S. South Carolina Ghosts. Beaufort, SC: Beaufort Book Shop. 1969.
  • Pickens, Cathy. Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

The rigors of (in)fame(y)—Myrtles Plantation

This article was originally published on 18 December 2012. This is a rewrite and edit.

Myrtles Plantation
7747 US Highway 61
St. Francisville, Louisiana

I’ve tried to avoid writing about The Myrtles for some time. Certainly of famous haunted properties in the United States—if not the world—The Myrtles ranks very high, if not at the top. There is plenty written about this location, almost to the detriment of other hauntings nearby. As it is now the Halloween season, The Myrtles has been popping up frequently in articles recounting various authors’ versions of the top hauntings in the country.

It seems that every book about American ghosts includes this haunting while it has become a mecca for ghost hunting organizations. Nearly every paranormal reality show has also featured the location. The Myrtles may very well be one of the best-documented hauntings of our time. So why avoid it?

Interestingly, one of the pieces that got me into writing about ghosts is an article about The Myrtles. It appears in Troy Taylor’s 2001 book, The Haunting of America. When I first encountered Taylor’s piece on The Myrtles, I presumed it to be a straightforward exploration of this most famous of hauntings. It’s not a straightforward profile of hauntings and it’s not exactly the haunting that he’s concerned with; it’s the history. Taylor’s piece reads like a newspaper expose as he uncovers the reality behind The Myrtles.

The Myrtles, 2005, by Bnet504. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Southerners are natural storytellers, but they enjoy hearing a good story just as much. One only has to witness the long line of Southern storytellers and writers to see this fact: from Joel Chandler Harris to Tennessee Williams, and Eudora Welty to dear Kathryn Tucker Windham, the South has had more than its fair share of gifted storytellers. But, as Taylor (a Yankee from Illinois, bless his heart) states early in the piece, “some of the people who have owned the house have never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.” This is certainly a sentiment found throughout the South.

The stories that are told about The Myrtles are fraught with tragedy. According to guides, some ten murders have taken place within the confines of the home. The most famous of these is the tale of a slave, Chloe. Amongst the enslaved people on plantations there was a hierarchy; with the house servants—those that worked directly with the family—being the most important but also the longer lived slaves than those toiling in the heat of the fields. Chloe was one of the more fortunate slaves, working in the house and helping care for the children of Clark Woodruff, the owner of Laurel Grove (as The Myrtles was called at that time). According to legend, she was also on intimate terms with Mr. Woodruff and possibly a guest of his bed.

Continuing the legend, Mr. Woodruff began to make advances towards another slave, and Chloe feared that she would be banished to the fields (and certain death). Soon, she was listening at the doors hoping to learn of her fate. It was there that she was caught by Mr. Woodruff and as punishment, one of her ears was cut off. Afterwards, she began wrapping a long green cloth around her head like a turban to cover her shame.

Chloe then devised a plan to endear herself to the Master and his family. She would poison the master and his family, and then miraculously cure them. She baked a cake containing the poison of oleander leaves, but the master did not eat it. However, his pregnant wife and two young daughters did, and all three died. For her misdeeds, Chloe was hung in one of the ancient oaks on the property by an angry mob. Along with the spirits of her victims, Chloe’s green-turbaned spirit still supposedly walks the property.

This story is marvelous and operatic in proportions. But, sadly, it is just that, an antebellum soap opera. Troy Taylor dug into the records of the families who owned The Myrtles and found no record of a slave with that name. The victims in the story: Clark Woodruff’s pregnant wife and her two children: a boy and a girl, not two daughters as the tale recounts, did not die from poisoning and lived long, fruitful lives. Most likely they did eventually pass in the home, though, which might easily add their spirits to the spiritual jambalaya that may exist at this property.

More digging by Taylor produced the facts that most of the other tales of murder are also the product of great Southern storytellers, with the exception of the murder of William Winter who was shot and killed at the home in 1871.

In cases where the history is debunked, that often debunks the haunting as well. In the case of The Myrtles, however, I don’t believe that is so. It appears there may be quite a bit of activity within this home. Another piece of which may have been captured recently.

While taping a story for WGNO, the ABC affiliate serving the New Orleans area, something appears on tape  behind reporter Vanessa Bolano. The video segment is a “stand up” filmed in the French Room of the house. As Ms. Bolano is speaking, something whizzes by behind her. The reporter slowed down the footage to reveal the misty object moving at very high speed.

The video has begun making news both here and in Britain where it has been a headline in both The Daily Mail and The Sun. The latter even taking a single frame of the video and reporting that it resembles a face. While yes, it does resemble a face in that particular frame, it’s also in motion and only resembles the face for a brief moment. It appears to me to be a case of pareidolia—that is simply the brain trying to make sense of something random like someone seeing the face of Christ in a bit of burned toast. The New York Daily News article linked below features the video.

Again, it should be said that regardless of my misgivings about the home’s history, it does appear that The Myrtles has a great deal of activity, some of which may have been captured by this hapless reporter. If you love great Southern ghost stories or want to experience great Southern ghost stories, by all means, book a stay at The Myrtles, just don’t believe all the storytellers’ words.

Sources