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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tour Haunted Charleston, South Carolina, with me.


    Charleston, South Carolina is a historic city that preserves remnants of the past, in such a way, that it seems almost normal or natural for it's former inhabitants to still lurk about.  In Charleston, you'll find that spirits are just as much of a part of the city as the living are.  How intriguing!! In Charleston, hordes of tourists abundantly explore the downtown streets, year after year, to see the sights.  It is a seaside city with a lot of history that is traced way back to pre-Columbus days.  Charleston has always played a major role in the history of America.

      There are several different tour options for our trip to Charleston, SC.  There are different tour companies, and different types of ghost tours.  Bulldog tours is Charleston's premier tour company.  They offer an exclusive access to many of Charleston's most infamous and haunted sites.  Bulldog Tours offers a Charleston Ghost&Dungeon Tour, The Dark Side Tour, Charleston Ghost&Graveyard tour or the Haunted Jail Tour. Decisions Decisions! Lets do them all!!!  Bulldog tours has actually been featured on the Travel Channel, A&E, in Southern Living, Bon Appetite, NY Times and USA Today. With great feedback.  Space is limited so call today and reserve your tour today!!! I hope to be doing that soon myself! 

     Ghost Hunters who have visited say that it's a paranormal hot spot of activity and there are an abundance of restless spirits.  The old city jail appears to be one of the most haunted places in Charleston and people visiting the old city jail are always getting photos of orbs and ghosts in the jail.  It housed some of Charleston's most infamous criminals, 19th century pirates and Civil War prisoners.  The Old City Jail was in operation 1802-1939.  Most of the buildings' original structures remain intact. It's one of the most popular ghost tours.  It was intended to hold 128 prisoners, over 300 were frequently kept there.  In some rooms, prisoners were locked in cages, barely the size of the person's body.  They were all packed in together like sardines. There were awful conditions, disease was rampant and tortures continued.  So it sucked all around, for lack of a better term.

door to old jail
      They would chain prisoners, burn them, brand them, starve them, and even had a contraption called the Crane of Pain.  It is a torture apparatus consisting of ropes.  They have a reproduction of it on display now. I'll let you use your imagination on that one. Creepy!  And horrible! Why do they always hire the most sadistic people possible to run these places?  During it's operation until 1939, over 10,000 people died on the property.  So yes, I'd say there are probably quite a few pissed off spirits still there.  Still serving time.  There were numerous pirates, civil war soldiers,and  serial killers John and Lavinia Fisher.  The Fisher's ran a boarding house and murdered many patrons, motivated by robbery.  Lavinia is widely considered the first known female serial killer in the United States.  The Fishers were kept in jail until their hangings on February 18, 1820.

a ghost?
        On tours, people have seen ghosts, photographed orbs, had glasses knocked off, jewelry has been "taken", felt "a presence", had cell phone disruptions and doors were found open after closed.  The reproduction of the "Crane of Pain" was found with it's ropes all wound about and twisted.  There have also been many EVPs.
the old city jail
     One of the other most haunted places in Charleston, South Carolina is known as the Dock Street Theater.  It was demolished and replaced several times, then was built to be the Planter's Hotel by the Caldar family of Charleston.  It was again remodeled in 1835.  The Planters hotel was one of the largest and luxurious hotels in Charleston.  In the mid 1930s the Works Progress Administration restored the hotel structure to it's original appearance and converted it in to a theater again.
Dock St. Theater

     There are two entities that continuously haunt the theater.  One was famous actor named Junius Brutus Booth.  He was most famously known as the father of the man who killed President Abraham Lincoln.  He must have been so proud.... Ironically, Junius Brutus Booth was named after Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the murderers of Julius Caesar.  He was one of the best actors of his time. He was obsessed with the theater.

Junius Brutus Booth

     Junius also became obsessed with alcohol, which made him unreliable. Another odd thing he did, was to write President Andrew Jackson, demanding he pardon 2 pirates, and in the same letter he threatened President Andrew Jackson's life.  It was thought to be a hoax until there was a handwriting analysis a few days later, that confirmed the letter was written by Booth.  He apologized to the president and all was well. Decades later, his son, John Wilkes Booth assassinated the "then" president Lincoln.
 "New on- Before they were famous...John Wilkes Booth..the actor?"
 The irony of this picture is insanely ridiculous. First of all, from left to right, these are Junius's sons: John, Edwin and Junius Jr.  They are acting out the play Julius Caesar.  What is funny is that Junius Sr. and Junius Jr. were both named after Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the lead murderers of Julius Caesar.  I mean really?

Julius Brutus Booth  died on a steamboat ride from New Orleans, from drinking bad water it appeared.  There was no doctor on board. Of course. Because that would be logical.  Well, technically they were right, it was drinking that ultimately killed him. Who would have known it'd be from drinking water?

      The other ghost that haunts the famous Dock Street Theater, is known to many as a nameless prostitute that locals call "Nettie," who is believed to have frequented the area in the 1800s.  She worked at the hotel.  There is more to that story. Nettie Dickerson was 25 years old when she came to Charleston from the up north a bit, around 1840.  She was drawn to the excitement and sophistication of the city, and was determined to find love and happiness.  Back then the prime age for marriage (for females) was 17 .  At 25, Nettie was considered a spinster.  She was pretty and smart, and there were plenty of men willing to take her as a mistress, but not a wife. Penniless with hopes and dreams of the city seemingly shattered, she found work at St. Philip’s Church as a clerk.  She received room and board, and a small clothing stipend, but had little else.  Despite having a good relationship with the priest, Nettie was never accepted among Charleston’s elite high society.  During thunderstorms, she would climb to the top of the church’s bell tower and watch the thunderheads roll in from the sea.  She felt comfort there.  Everyone bustling along Charleston’s streets appeared equal from her perch.  Down the street, she could see the renowned Planters’ Hotel.  Charleston’s aristocratic men enjoyed drinking and prostitutes on weeknights, never missing a Sunday at St. Philip’s with their perfectly proper and upscale wives.  She was incredulous that they were more highly regarded than she’d ever be…and she began to resent it.  She quit her job at the church, though the priest tried to discourage her.  Soon after, she got dressed up in a stunning red gown, and entered the Planters’ Hotel to begin her life of prostitution. 

St. Philips Church

     Beautiful and charming, she did well in her new trade.  She still attended services every Sunday at St. Philips, much to the dismay of the elite upper class, especially the wives of her clients.  When she’d catch a sneer, she’d walk right up to the woman and gregariously say hello, often complimenting the woman on her choice of husband. After she had reached this point, men began to turn her away.  Surprise Surprise.  When the money started to run low, Nettie again sought refuge and comfort in the humid coastal storms.  She’d stand on the second floor balcony of the Planters’ Hotel, letting the fierce gusts of wind sweep her flowing hair and whip her dress.  She was angry and depressed, and she started to use her balcony as a soapbox from which she ranted, raved, and antagonized those below.   She stopped going to church, so the priest came to visit during a storm, knowing she’d be on the balcony.  As she screamed and wailed, he pleaded with her to come down and let him help.  Glaring at him, holding the balcony railing, she screamed, “You can’t help me!” As if on cue, a lightning bolt hit the railing, electrocuting Nettie, and bringing her desperate sorrow to a tragic and horrific end. 

     The next place on this virtual tour is the beautiful Boone Hall Plantation.  It is a favorite among many visitors.  Many people have seen the spirit of a soldier, who appears to be trying to remove a bullet from an injured comrade.  He may have died trying to save someone.  Very noble, but very sad.

Boone Hall Ave of Oaks

      The Plantation is an extremely historical site that has remained a working plantation since late 1600s, which is very unique.  A heart breaking story is told by the locals called "The 13th Step."  In the 1700's, a young girl Ammie Jenkins grew up in the plantation and played along side her childhood friend Concha, who was an Indian boy.  Supposedly on her 18th birthday, he told her he loved her and she denied him.  Ammie shortly found a suitor and the night before she was supposed to marry him, an arrow entered her chest from the bedroom window.  Was it Cupid's revenge for breaking poor Concha's heart?  The irony.  She was able to stumble down to the porch, with the arrow in her chest, where her future husband waited for her.  Bleeding, and gasping her last breaths, she made it to her fiance's arms, where she died, on the 13th step.  Years passed before anyone would walk on the step because the bloodstain never seemed to go away.  No one seems to know what happened, where the arrow came from or what happened to Concha.  These are all questions I have.  Perhaps a hurt and angry Concha shot the arrow himself, taking revenge for his broken heart.  If he couldn't have her, then no one could.

Boone Hall Plantation
     Okay, so everyone knows that Blackbeard's Ghost is said to haunt Charleston, South Carolina.  Over the years, ghosts of Pirates have been sighted quite often under the oaks along the area of Charleston, known as the Battery.  Many Pirates were hung from the oak trees on the battery. A lot of people have seen  the pirates that were hung there, walking around, or should I say "hanging" around? Too soon? Sometimes people claim to hear the pirates screaming at them under the same old oaks.  With as much regard as one gives a stained, ratty towel, hung outside to dry, during a hurricane, "Screw it." you think. "It's not worth getting wet."  Apparently no one had a problem with hanging pirates, often just based on random accusations.  You would be hung if you were even accused of associating with pirates.  Yes, many real pirates were hung. But I'm sure innocent people were too, simply accused by ignorant people, who were greedy for attention, as in the Salem Witch Trials.

hanging of Pirate Stede Bonnet 1718

     The Ghost of Blackbeard the Pirate is seen often out at Folly Island, only a few miles from Charleston.  Blackbeard and his cut-throat, murderous, unruly, socially completely unacceptable-  pirates, once blockaded Charleston and threatened to burn the city. Okay.. so they weren't very nice... gentlemen? Thugs? What a lot of people don't know is that Folly Island was one of Blackbeard's hide outs and he had a house built there that has since blown away in a hurricane.  Karma let nature do her thing on that one I suppose. A memorial is located at the Battery in Charleston, SC. It is the location of where almost 50 pirates were hung in the late 1600's and early 1700's. They were hung here and then placed over the battery into the water so any pirate entering will see the others and know not to enter Charleston.

Flag of Blackbeard
Battery Area

      Now lets visit the Battery Carriage House Inn, which offers simple pleasures, complete relaxation, and ghosts.  Can those co- exist? Can you relax with ghosts around?  It promises to be intimate and elegant, with cozy, romantic rooms.  Yeah, until you see a ghost!  That would definitely be a mood killer!  The Inn has 10 rooms and 1 suite, a retreat from the modern world. It is home to several ghosts.  Many guests and employees have had odd encounters with a ghosts.  But I suppose any encounter with a ghost would be a tad odd.  There is a "gentleman ghost" and there is the headless torso.  Tour guides often mention these ghost legends in their stories.  The gentleman ghost could have been a young man who's family owned the house earlier in the century.  He had some sort of mental problems, which weren't understood at all back then.  He was quiet and sensitive, with no warning at all, one day he threw himself off the roof.  I myself would have looked for a way taller building just to make sure. But what do I know?  The headless torso is likely a man from the Civil War era.  The Battery was an active artillery installation during the siege of Charleston, and all the houses in this area were damaged and abandoned during the the 4 year bombardment.  People have often felt a presence or the sensation of being watched here.  

Battery Carriage House Inn
     Take a night time tour of the Charleston Graveyard.  It is one of Charleston's oldest graveyards.  The walking tour takes you inside the wrought iron fence.  You can't do that alone at night.  On the tour you get inside the gate of the Graveyard and you can explore every dark corner, inspect the old tombstones, and walk across graves if you are brave.  See if you can have a ghost experience.

Charleston Graveyard
     A random factoid: the technical difference between a graveyard and a cemetery is consecrated ground.  Often it is interpreted as a graveyard being attached to a church building. I didn't know that.  You learn something new every day! Unless you don't, then you are dumb. Or a rock.  It goes without saying, that there are ghosts in this graveyard.  There is the ghost of Sue Howard Hardy, a grieving mother who prays at the grave of her dead child. Born in 1858, she was the wife of Gaston Hardy. They lived in Charleston and were happily married.  Alas, Sue would never live to an old age or get to have children and watch them grow up. Sue became pregnant, but her baby was never to take a breath of air. The child was stillborn on June 10, 1888. Only six days later, on June 16, 1888, Mrs. Hardy took her last breath and rejoined her child. We don’t know why she died, perhaps complications from childbirth combined with the sadness over the loss of her child.  Did heartbreak help cause Mrs. Hardy's death?

The ghost of Sue Hardy, kneeling at her baby's grave
     There are copious amounts of ghosts haunting the graveyard. A multitude of poor souls died in horrific ways.  Doctors in Charleston, South Carolina didn't take chances when it came to contagious diseases.  They didn't know much about making them better and damn sure knew how many lives the contagious diseases and plagues had taken over the years.   The doctors would do whatever was possible to eliminate contamination.  The dead got buried, quickly.  Unfortunately, the dead weren't always dead.  In the worst way to die, many people were buried alive. Fall unconscious in a hospital, wake up in a grave.  How horrible.  I'm sure that leaves us all feeling a little short breathed. Imagine being sick and passing out at the doctors office, being pronounced dead by an idiot, then buried.  They'd wake up panicked I'm sure, gasping for oxygen in the little box they were buried in.  They probably screamed and cried and scratched at the top of the box until their nails came off. Maybe a lucky one or 2 escaped?  Maybe not. Just imagine, you wake up in a box, with little to no oxygen, you claw and beat the top and sides until your hands are broken and bleeding.  Even if you were lucky enough to be able to tear open the coffin through the top, dirt would come pouring in.  Dirt, worms, bugs.  There would be a race with time, trying to dig yourself out 6 feet, before you suffocated in the dirt.  No one would ever know you had been buried alive.

Ghostly Image

     Poogan's Porch is one of Charleston's oldest independent culinary establishments, with a fresh approach to Lowe Country cuisine.  It has been recognized by Martha Stewart Living, Wine Spectator and the Travel Channel.  The Travel Channel named it one of the most haunted restaurants in the world. We definitely know where to go to eat now!  It was built as a spacious and grand Victorian home in 1888, the structure and it's neighborhood had by 1976 changed suitable to allow for the conversion of the house into a restaurant.  The owners of the home sold it and moved away.  A little dog named Poogan, stayed behind.  As far as he was concerned, the porch was his.  After all, he'd been a neighborhood fixture for years, wondering from porch to porch, in search of back-scratches and table scraps. Everyone loved him.

Poogan's Porch
     From his proud perch on the porch, he served as the official greeter.  It seemed only right to name the restaurant after him.  He died in 1979 and is buried in the front yard of Poogan's Porch. There is a little memorial for him.

Poogan's grave

     On Poogan's Restaurant website they say " We believe in conversations on porches, Sunday brunch, and old Southern dogs, ghosts, seersucker, biscuits, homemade and handmade, sweet tea, handwritten recipes, friends old and new, great stories, gracious hospitality and our moms. Not necessarily in that order!"  Wow, that's the longest run on sentence ever!  What a philosophy. Diners and employees have looked out windows and seen the ghost of Poogan, on the porch, still greeting people.  There is also the ghost of an older woman, dressed in black, and has not only been seen by employees and customers, but also by people staying in the hotel across the street!  They think the ghost's name is Zoe St. Armand.  She lived in the home with her sister Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth died in 1945, Zoe became very lonely and depressed.  She died in St. Francis Hospital, where family took her to live out her final years.  How nice of them.

Zoe(on rt) and her sister Elizabeth
      The owner of Poogan's Porch had a run in with Zoe one night while trying to close up for the evening.  While trying to set the alarm, she was disturbed by heavy wooden stools being flipped over and large doors being slammed.  On another occasion, the daytime chef opened up, made coffee, and left his cup sitting on the stairs while he went to open the back door for the grocers.  When he returned, his coffee cup was gone.  He was confused, and tired, as it was early in the morning and the poor man couldn't even find his coffee!  That would put anyone in a grouchy mood. Unsure he really did pour himself a cup or not, he decided to go pour another.  When he returned, he found the mug sitting right where he'd left it, but with a faint lipstick stain around the rim.  A woman once saw Zoe banging on the inside of the window of the restaurant, as if she were locked in.  She is known to be a pretty benign spirit but has reportedly sent at least one person to run screaming from the restaurant. Wouldn't that be a sight to see? Why would you run screaming in public from a ghost? To see how insane you can make yourself look or to see how much you can embarrass yourself?  They definitely weren't the "thrill seeker" type.  Why would you go somewhere haunted, because it's haunted, and haul ass when you see a ghost?  It's like one of those Ghost Hunting shows. I'm always sitting on my couch yelling at Zach from "Ghost Adventures" to stop running and film a damn supernatural occurrence. But still I watch it. I'm sure a ghost would scare me too. But I would be more intrigued, not run away. I should go on "Ghost Adventures!"  That'd be awesome. Maybe one day.

Poogan's- present day
     Charleston has not had an easy history. Turbulent from the beginning, and the site of many battles, it is inevitable that some of the souls still wander the streets, living someplace in the middle, no longer alive but without the peace that comes from crossing over to the other side. Besides massive amounts of supernatural haunted activity in Charleston, the city is full of culture, history and is a must see beauty on the east coast.  Tourists can take in the historical buildings with outstanding displays of architecture, visit museums, or take countless tours of the city, relax at one of the numerous parks. You can go shopping and take carriage rides on the waterfront.  There are over 20 haunted places in Charleston, South Carolina, so that's what I would be doing the whole time; seeing as many as possible of the haunted places.  I'm going to dedicate a mini vacation to trying to see if I can go to all 20 places in Charleston. Ghosts beware! Here I come!!!!


random orbs

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