Saturday, August 20, 2011

Haunted Charleston

My sister loves all things spooky. Her favorite TV show is Ghost Hunters and she loves walking through cemeteries ( I know, creepy.) So while she was here in Charleston, we did just the kind of spooky stuff she would love. Charleston is actually a perfect town for it. Because it's such an old city, there's a lot of old cemeteries and old ghost stories. A perfect combination for Sarah.

First up, we spent some time exploring some of the older cemeteries. Mom wanted to see the Circular Congregational Church (the building is circular, true to its name), but the sanctuary was closed so we just wandered through the cemetery instead. We found out later it's one of the oldest cemeteries in town as it was established in 1681.

Circular Congregational Church cemetery.

Mom and Sarah checking out the gravestones. Many of the markers were so old, the letters were faded making them hard to read.

Next we ducked down a side ally off of King Street that lead us to the the graveyard of the Unitarian Church. On our carriage tour, our tour guide told us the Unitarians let a garden grow up and around the gravestones in the cemetery to simulate the Garden of Eden. This overgrowth makes this graveyard even more spooky.

Mom, Larry and Sarah exploring the graveyard/garden.

Me trying not to freak out. Why am I here again?

Taking a breather and getting eaten alive by the vampires in the graveyard (aka hundreds of mosquitos).

The other thing Sarah really wanted to do while she was in town was go on a ghost tour of downtown Charleston. There are a lot of tour companies that offer such tours, but we went with Charleston's Original Ghost Hunt Walking Tour, who was mentioned in one of our tour books and it was great!

We met the tour in front of the custom house downtown. Spooky in its own right huh?

Our first stop was in "Bloody Alley," an old cobblestone alleyway that is rumored to have been the sight of many old time duels. Our tour guide told us that it was illegal to duel inside city limits, but if a confrontation broke out in the passion of the moment, the alley was the perfect spot for some illegal in-town dueling. Our guide said the alley is now known to be haunted by the men who died here, often tugging at the legs of the living who pass through on dark nights.

Sarah scared in bloody alley.

One of the other places we stopped was the cemetery at St. Phillip's Church, which is the home of one of Charleston's most famous ghosts, Sue Howard Hardy. Sue died in 1888 during childbirth and her baby died also.

Both Sue and the baby are buried in a grave together in St. Phillip's cemetery. This ghost became famous in 1987 when an amateur photographer happened to capture her image in a picture, coincidentally on the 99 year anniversary of her baby's death. And here's the famous picture!

Do you see the cloaked figure kneeling at the grave? It's said that is Sue, crying over her baby's grave.

This picture was taken in 1987. That's before the invention of Photoshop right?

Here's Mom's picture of inside the St. Phillip's graveyard. What is the strange orange light in the corner?!? (Cue "Twilight Zone" music.)

My favorite part of this story is that St. Phillip's Church got so fed up with all the ghost hunters drawn to their cemetery that they put up this sign...


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