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stories

South Carolina Ghost stories

Theodosia Burr
The Whistling Ghost
The grey man
The Landís End Light
The Ghost of Wigg-Barnwell House
The swamp girl
The ghost of Alice Flag
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The ghost of Alice Flagg

Alice Belin Flagg was the teenage sister of the wealthy owner of the Hermitage, a successful rice plantation located in the midst of a Murrells Inlet marsh. Alice had fallen in love with a young merchant, but in those times, a wealthy heiress would never be allowed to marry so far below her social standing. Nevertheless, the two lovers secretly promised to marry when Alice came of age. She hid her engagement ring by stringing it on a chain under the collar of her blouse, near to her heart. While away at school in Charleston, Alice suddenly became seriously ill. She was sent home to be cared for by her brother, who was a physician. Alice clung desperately, but vainly, to life-passing fitfully in and out of delirium and dreaming of her young lover. One night Alice's brother found her clutching the cherished ring. Lost in her fever and unaware of disapproving family members, she spoke out loud about her betrothed. Her brother tore the ring from her necklace and threw it out the window into the dark, muddy marshland. Alice died heartbroken, never receiving her brother's acceptance of her one true love. Soon after her death, Alice appeared to several visitors to the Hermitage dressed in her beautiful white burial gown. Even today her spirit wanders the saltmarshes hoping to recover the lost golden ring. Visitors to her gravesite at All Saints Church in Pawleys Island have worn a path around her grave, believing that by circling it backwards 13 times, they can summon her ghost.
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The swamp girl


The tale of the swamp girl is a tragic story of a young woman trying to make her way to Columbia, South Carolina. A well dressed women was seen walking down a dark highway in the middle of dense swampland. A couple, seeing the girl, stopped to offer her a ride. The young girl accepted the ride explaining that she was on her way to Columbia to visit her sick mother. The couple resumed driving and talking. The wife asked the young girl a question and when she received no response she turned around and discovered the young girl had vanished. In hysterics, the couple drove the rest of the way to Columbia. The wife was so upset that her husband had to take her to the hospital. Remembering the address of the young girl's destination, the husband made his way to Pickens Street. The woman who answered the door knew immediately why he was there. He was one of three people to have picked up the woman in the swamp only to have her disappear. As it turns out, the girl from the swamp and the woman on Pickens Street were sisters. The disappearing girl was killed in an auto accident. On the anniversary of her death, she appears on the swamp road where she lost her life.
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The Ghost of Wigg-Barnwell House


A woman murdered in an apartment of the house took ghostly residence there for years after the crime. The house was later moved from the corner of Prince and Scott Streets to a new site on the Point. Mr. Spieler wonders, "Did the ghost also move or did it remain at the old location?"
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The Landís End Light

Some people will tell you that it appears only on moonlit nights.

Others insist that it happens only on the darkest of moonless nights. Many claim that it can be seen almost any night. Whatever the best time, there are not a few people in Beaufort who will swear to having seen the famous Landís End Light. Dave Hendricks (in the Beaufort Gazette), called Land's End "South Carolina's own Sleepy Hollow". These eyewitnesses have driven over to St. Helena Island on U. S. Highway 21. At the intersection in Frogmore, they have turned down Landís End Road in the direction of Penn Center. They have passed the tabby ruins of the Chapel of Ease and driven a few miles more until they come upon a long, straight stretch of highway. Then they park their cars, turn off the engine and wait. About thirty years ago, sheriffís deputies could count as many as one hundred cars parked along the road on a single night. How many drivers were parked there just to be with their dates is unclear. When first seen down the road, the Light looks like a single beam of an automobile headlight. The impression is of a car with one lamp burned out, but as it comes closer, it is clearly bigger but dimmer than any headlight. The Light has an oval shape and a hue between yellow and pale orange. It travels at a height of 10 to 12 feet above the road. The glow may move straight toward a parked car and suddenly disappear. Or it may hover right next to a parked car and remain visible when passengers turn on the interior lights of the vehicle. Some drivers have reported that the light has zoomed past their own speeding vehicles along the highway. At least two drivers have died (including, by some reports, a deputy sheriff) chasing the light in their automobiles.
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The grey man

According to numerous documented accounts, he appears on the beach at Pawleys Island prior to hurricanes. Everyone who has seen the Grey Man says that he warns them to leave the island. Residents who are wise enough to heed the Grey Man's warning always find their homes undamaged after the storm. Encounters with the Grey Man have taken place before every major hurricane that has struck the island for more than a hundred years. The Grey Man is unquestionably a permanent resident of Pawleys Island, but what causes this kind spirit to warn unsuspecting residents of approaching danger? The answer may lie in one of three different accounts that exist about the origin of the Grey Man. According to one legend, a young woman was walking the windswept, lonely beach not far from her parent's Pawleys Island home. She was in mourning for her childhood sweetheart who had recently died in a tragic accident on the island. Her love had returned to Georgetown by ship after an absence of several months. He was so eager to see his beloved fiancee that, rather than wasting one more precious moment away from her, he took a shortcut across previously untraveled marshland. With his faithful manservant riding a short distance behind, the eager fellow and his horse came to a sudden stop and began to sink rapidly into a patch of deadly quicksand. His manservant watched in horror, unable to help his young master, as the young man and his horse disappeared into the mire. When the young woman heard of her finance's tragic death, she was heartbroken. After the funeral, she took to walking the stretch of beach where she and her beau used to stroll in happier times. This particular day was windier than most, but it suited her recent mood. She was alone with her sadness in the whipping wind, with the ocean crashing by her side. Suddenly, a figure appeared ahead. As she walked closer, the young woman could have sworn it was her finance. With no fear, she walked toward him. "Leave the island at once," he said. "You are in danger. Leave the island!" Then he disappeared. The young lady hurried home to tell her father and mother about the strange, unsettling experience. Upon hearing their daughter's strange story, her parents immediately began making plans to leave Pawleys Island for their inland home. They did not know what danger they were fleeing, but they did know that their daughter was a sensible person and not prone to flights of fancy. The family left Pawleys Island before dawn the following morning. That night, as they lay sleeping in the safety of their inland home, a fierce hurricane ravaged Pawleys Island. The hurricane destroyed most of the homes on Pawleys Island, but the home of the young woman's family was undamaged.
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Another legend about the Grey Man claims that he is the spirit of Plowden Charles Jeannerette Weston, the original owner of the house on Pawleys Island now known as the Pelican Inn. Born in 1819, Plowden was a member of a wealthy Georgetown rice plantation dynasty. He spent his early years at Laurel Hill Plantation, where he was privately educated by a British tutor. At the age of twelve, Plowden's family temporarily moved to England so that their son could attend school there. Although the boy's father was adamantly anti-British, he wanted Plowden to have a proper, classical English education. Eventually, the Weston family returned to the Georgetown area, but Plowden stayed on to study at Cambridge. There, he fell deeply in love with Emily Frances Esdaile, the beautiful sister of one of his close friends. Emily's father was a English baronet. Plowden feared that his father would not approve of his plans to marry Emily because of his anti-British sentiments and his disdain for British aristocracy. Plowden sailed back to Georgetown to discuss his marriage plans face to face with his father. Plowden's father agreed to the wedding but trouble soon appeared on the horizon. Emily's father and Plowden's father began to compete to see who could give the young couple the finest wedding present. Emily's father opened the battle by giving them a dowry of seven thousand pounds. Plowden's father arrogantly replied that he would give the couple seventy thousand pounds, a house in London, and one in Geneva. Emily's father quickly realized that he could not compete with the astonishingly rich rice planter. Despite the animosity between their fathers, Plowden and Emily were married in August of 1847. They established their residence at Hagley Plantation, another gift from Plowden's father. Hagley was by far the finest gift of all. Its lands included vast acres of fertile rice fields which extended from the black, cypress-lined Waccamaw River to the Atlantic Ocean. Just off the shore of Hagley Plantation was Pawleys Island, the golden gem of the Waccamaw Neck. Soon after the wedding, Plowden and Emily made plans to build a summer home there. For years, low country planters made their summer homes on the sea islands to escape the malaria-carrying mosquitoes that plagued the plantations. Plowden and Emily were acclimated to England's cooler weather and were especially anxious to escape the subtropical humidity and intense heat of the plantation summers. They also sought a home where they could take refuge from the social and work-related demands of Hagley Plantation. The house they built is now known as Pelican Inn. Renty Tucker, Hagley's master carpenter, was in charge of construction for the Pelican Inn. Every piece of lumber for the island home was hand-hewn and numbered at Hagley before it was taken by boat to Pawleys. One of the few homes on Pawleys at that time, Pelican Inn was lovingly planned. Its elevated, strong-timbered foundation and the lower floor were nestled behind the dunes in a tangle of sea oats, cedars, and myrtles. The upper portion of the house rose high above the trees and sheltering dunes. Handmade arches and columns adorned the wide porch that surrounded the lower floor. The second-floor piazza faced the Atlantic. This porch was accessible from the bedrooms on the upper floor. Plowden and Emily spent many peaceful hours on this high and secluded piazza, gazing at the night sky and the Atlantic Ocean. Splitting their time between Hagley and their beloved island retreat, the young Westons led a happy, productive, and sometimes secluded, existence. Plowden and Emily had an exquisite chapel built on Hagley Plantation. The chapel could seat up to two hundred slaves at a time. One of thirteen slave chapels on the Waccamaw Neck, Saint Mary's of Hagley was by far the most lovely. The chapel was adorned with stained-glass windows handcrafted in England, hand-carved oak choir stalls, and a granite baptismal font. Plowden and Emily spent the first decade of their married lives absorbed in each other, the intricate workings of their plantation, and their scholarly pursuits. By the late 1850s, however, Plowden began to feel that their productive paradise would not last forever. In the years before the war, Plowden, a published South Carolina historian, turned his literary and oratory skills toward the dissension that was growing between the North and South. He gave many fiery and prophetic speeches warning of the impending confrontation. Yet, his support always lay with the Southern cause. When the Civil War began, Plowden turned his attention away from oration and towards battle, He became company commander of the Georgetown Rifle Guard, Company A of the Tenth Regiment. He personally armed, uniformed and supplied gear to the 150 men that were in his charge. During the early part of the war, when the future of the Confederacy was more that a hopeful dream, he and Emily entertained many of the regiment's men and their ladies at the Pelican Inn. Later in the war, an alarm arose for the Rifle Guard to gather within a few miles of Hagley Plantation. When the threat turned into a false alarm, Plowden came up with a wonderful idea. He sent word to Hagley that his entire company would be arriving that night for dinner. Soon the weary group was enjoying a luxurious three-course dinner, served with family silver, crystal and fine chine for all. Each course arrived with a different vintage of wine from the Hagley cellar. Near the end of the war, Plowden contracted tuberculosis. Eventually, it worsened to the point that his life was in danger. Fearing that they would lose him, Plowden's friends in the state legislature intervened. They knew Plowden would not leave his command, so these concerned lawmakers elected their old friend to the office of lieutenant governor. Plowden gave up his command to accept this office, but he was unable to serve for long. By the end of January 1864, the tuberculosis he contracted during his service to the Confederate army worsened, and it became evident that he would die. At Plowden's request, each of the Hagley servants traveled to Conway, South Carolina, where he lay dying. There they received from him, one at a time, a small personal gift of remembrance. His last moments were spent with the love of his life, his adoring Emily. He asked her to arrange for two of their devoted servants to transport his body by canoe down the Waccamaw River to Hagley. He also asked her to see that he was buried next to his father in the churchyard of All Saints' Waccamaw Episcopal Church, the place where he and Emily were married. It is because of Plowden's faithful service to his beloved home, and those who live on it, that many believe that he is the Grey Man. The same Plowden Charles Jeannerette Weston who warned his neighbors of the risks of war and later fought for his cherished homeland, now roams the beach near his beloved island home warning residents of impending danger.
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Still another version of the legend of the Grey Man exists. Mrs. Eileen Weaver, who owned Pelican Inn for many years, has seen the Grey Man many times, but she believes he is someone else --someone she identified from a nineteenth century photograph. The first time Mrs. Weaver saw a spirit at Pelican Inn she was in the kitchen with her cook, preparing homemade bread. The two women were absorbed in kneading the heavy dough when Mrs. Weaver turned to see a lady standing behind her, arms akimbo and eyes fixed sternly on the breadmaking process. Her features, Mrs. Weaver said, were French and she wore a disapproving expression. She seemed to be scrutinizing the making of the bread as if to say, "You better do it right." The woman's dress was made of a material like gingham, patterned in a little grey-and-white check. Her bodice was fronted with tiny pearl buttons, and a long apron was tied at her waist. Despite the woman's clarity of appearance, Mrs. Weaver could tell the figure standing before her was not a living human. "You knew the features were not earthly, but they were clear," Weaver explained. This was only the first of many appearances by the spirit of the woman. She became a somewhat familiar and anticipated sight at Pelican Inn. Mrs. Weaver recalls that some of her guests would wait on the sofa in the spacious sitting room on balmy summer evenings and watch for the woman to walk up the stairs. Many guests did not realize she was a spirit the first time they saw her. Mrs. Weaver's first encounter with the spirit she believes to be the Grey Man was as abrupt as her first encounter with the woman. One day, he suddenly appeared in front of her, wearing clothes from the nineteenth century. The male figure also began to appear regularly, and Mrs. Weaver and her family grew used to the two spirits that shared their home. Mrs. Weaver's daughter relates this occurrence: During spring cleaning one year, my sister-in-law, Gayle, was helping my mother get the inn in shape for the summer guests. Her job involved cleaning the upstairs bedroom and hallway. Mother always had magazines and books on a long reading table in the hallway for the enjoyment of the guests. Usually, at the end of the season, all of the magazines would be discarded, but some comic books remained this time from the previous year. Gayle reached to thumb through one. Finding it interesting, she leaned back against the table. This apparently did not set well with the ghosts of the house because after a few moments, Gayle felt a tug at her shirt tail. Thinking it was one of us teasing her, she ignored the tug and continued to read. Again there was a tug at her shirt tail, ant this time she turned around to see who was there. She realized that the wood floors made it impossible for anyone so sneak up on her without being heard. Whoever it was got the message across, because Gayle quickly laid the comic book down and went back to work. It took Gayle some time to tell us this story, but we never doubted that it happened. This type of thing happened on regular basis around the house. Mrs. Weaver told her experiences at Pelican Inn to the late chronicler of Georgetown's history, Julian Stevenson Bolick. He brought her an assortment of nineteenth-century photographs and asked her to look through them. From the many photographs, Mrs. Weaver identified a picture of a woman and another picture of a man who looked unmistakably like the spirits in her home. The pictures she had chosen were photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Mazyck, cousins of Plowden and Emily Weston. The Westons did not have any children, and when Emily Weston died, the Mazycks inherited the Pelican Inn. The Mazycks lovingly operated the home as a bed-and-breakfast inn for many years. Mrs. Weaver believes the spirit of Mr. Mazyck is the Grey Man. Whoever the Grey Man is, he continues to patrol the beach of windswept Pawleys Island, appearing prior to deadly hurricanes to warn those who live on the island of impending danger.
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The Whistling Ghost

The exquisite Perdita, a beautiful and talented European actress, made her debut in Charleston and became the darling of all. At one time, she was the mistress of George IV. Dr. Joseph Ladd who lived on Church Street was completely taken by Perdita -- she had won the heart of most of the men in Charleston. Ladd was an affable young man, well liked in Charleston. He always walked down the streets of the city whistling on his way to tend his patients. One night a young man from Rhode Island, Mr. Delancy, made crude remarks about the actress at a tavern. Ladd overheard the remarks and demanded a retraction. They argued and Delancy slapped Ladd in the face with his gloves -- the challenge of a duel. The two young men met at dawn the next morning in the mist, squared off and shot. Ladd was shot and died several days later. They say you can still hear him whistling as he goes along the streets of Charleston.
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Theodosia Burr, by Nancy Rhyne

The Waccamaw Neck was a lonely place for the 17-year-old bride. Her father, Aaron Bun, hadn't encouraged Theodosia's marriage to Joseph Alston of South Carolina. But Joseph, who had finished college before he was 17 years old and had finished the training for the practice of law, had convinced Thee that he was a man of considerable courage, refinement and training: he would some day bring notice to himself. Although Thee was not in love with Joseph, and her friends discouraged her move to the swamps of the Waccamaw region of South Carolina, she gave him her hand in marriage. The coast of South Carolina was like a foreign country to her. Girls there didn't walk hours on end while balancing books on their heads in order to learn to walk as straight as a rod. Nor did they bury their heads in language books in order to speak fluent French and other tongues. Instead, they wore frilly dresses, fretted over who swung down the Virginia reel line with whom, and never went out without at least two body servants accompanying them. It was so wasteless, so desolate. It all made Thee sick. Really sick. She took to her bed more and more in order to blot out the useless goings-on in the mosquito-infested, Godforsaken land in which she had chosen to live with her new husband. Joseph did everything in his power to make Thee comfortable and happy. He encouraged her to continue the studies of the subjects she enjoyed, inspired her to write long accounts of her new life to her father, and consoled her when she was pale and her strength waned. And he never failed to remind her that for one so young, he had inherited an extraordinary plantation from his grandfather. The grandfather's name was also Allston, but he spelled it with two Is. Joseph Allston's will provided: July 1784 I Give and Devise to my Grandson Joseph Allston (son of William Allston) when he arrives to ye age of Twenty four years old that plantation or Tract of Land Will'd to me by my Father with all ye Island of Swamp Lands over against ye same. Also one other Tract of Land joining ye same which I purchased of my brother John Allston making in the whole about One Thousand Three Hundred acres more or less. The plantation was named The Oaks. and a new house was constructed there for Joseph and Theodosia after their marriage in 1801. But as far as Thee was concerned, all of the plantation was an "island of swamp lands." The mosquitoes brought blood when they punctured your skin. Thee's health further deteriorated with each year and her only happiness came as she wrote long letters to her father and doted on her only child, a boy named Aaron Burr Alston. When Thee's father challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel, he didn't know if he would survive the contest, and he wrote Thee a heart-tearing letter: I am indebted to you, my dearest Theodosia, for a very great portion of the happiness which I have enjoyed in this life. You have completely satisfied all that my heart and affections had hoped or even wished. With a little more perseverance, determination, and industry, you will obtain all that my ambition or vanity had fondly imagined. Let your son have occasion to be proud that he had a mother. Adieu. Adieu. The day after this letter was written, Burr and Alexander Hamilton met on a grassy, wooded knoll in Weehawken Heights. New Jersey. It was July 11, 1804. The men refused last minute reconciliation. They walked off ten paces. Each took his position. They turned and fired. Hamilton fell, mortally wounded. Burr fled to Pennsylvania and again wrote to his daughter, but Theo could not be consoled. Why had life failed her, she wondered. Nothing could be straightened out. In the years that followed, Theo's health went from bad to worse, in mind as well as body. She spent most of her time lying on a long cushioned seat, without back or arms, and placed against a wall. Her body servants waited on her constantly, holding damp cloths to her forehead, and speaking soothing words. On Jan. 11, 1811, she wrote to her father: Imagine yourself the feelings of a woman whose naturally irritable nerves were disordered by severe illness, and who, during weeks of solitude, and pain, and inoccupation, lay pondering incessantly, amid doubt and impatience, and hope and fear, on the subject which mingled through the whole extent of her soul. Eighteen months later, when the weather was humid, the Alstons left for a holiday at their cottage at the seashore. While there, Thee's son took a head cold, Joseph sent for several physicians but they were unable to save his life. He died on June 30, 1812. Both Thee's husband and father insisted that she visit her father who was now back in New York, A friend wrote to Thee's father saying that Thee was bent on making the trip, as she was low, feeble and emaciated. Her complaint was an almost incessant nervous fever. She set sail from Georgetown on The Patriot on Dec. 30, 1812. The Patriot, after it disappeared over the horizon, was never heard from again. On foggy nights, if you stand on the beach at Huntington Beach State Park, you may see the slender figure of Theodosia Burr Alston suspended above the water. With her declining health after her marriage and the birth of her son, and the death of her cherished son, it is no wonder that the spirit of Theodosia comes back to the sea near her home.
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