Friday, August 7

Ghost Tour

No matter what you think about ghosts, this tour was very interesting for all of the history that you were told. This was our tour guide, John Gordon Polk. He grew up in the Charleston area and seemed to know the history very well. He, and the ghost tours, had been featured on the Discovery channel's "Ghosts of Charleston". He had a very pronounced "low country" accent (think Alfred Willis), that added to the ambiance.

The tour started at the Circular Congretational Church. Our guide told us that the church was built circular in 1861 because it was the belief that the devil liked to hide in the corners.

These are some of the graves in the churchyard. Because Charleston had burnt so many times, and the ground moved around, and the fact that the peninsula Charleston sits on is mostly manmade, the graves in this graveyard are stacked upon each other. With some, they may be as many as 15 graves stacked on top of each other. They are not sure if the markers actually mark the grave of the person supposedly buried there.

Because the graves are stacked on top of each other, some are actually above the ground.

Do you know the difference between a graveyard and a cemetary? A grave yard is on "hallowed" or church grounds, a cemetary is not. This is St. Philips Epicopal Church. It is said that a photographer caught the image of a woman bending over a grave in this cemetary in the 1980's. Supposedly, her child died shortly after birth and then she died from complications from the birth. The baby was dug up and the two were buried in the same grave. The image was supposedly caught on film of the anniversary of the baby's birth. This is Chalmer's Street. One of the cobblestone streets in Charleston, that was paved with ballast stones from ships that sailed into Charleston. Slaves were bought and sold on this street. Our guide told us that the slaves brought different practices from the places they came from along the way from Africa. He said that they would conjure up "boohags". He went on to describe what the boohags would do to a person. Misty and I just looked at each other as he described to a t an experience that at least two people we know have had. Kind of made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. This is the Mills House Hotel. Although the original hotel had burnt and this one was built in the 60's, it is believed that Robert E. Lee haunts the second floor. General Lee had stayed in a room on the second floor of the original building. They say that he never does anything mean, just moves things around and messes with the lights. This is a room in the hotel that is directly below where the second floor room was. It is a very beautiful hotel, with many antique furnishings.
This is St. Michael's Church (God's Law)
The County Courthouse
The pictures above are from what is called the 4 Corner's of Law. (I only got pictures of 3 of the 4 corners. Missing is the picture of Federal Court, built on the site of the old Town Guardhouse) As we stood outside of the building above, the Old City Hall, our guide told us the story of the first serial killer in Charleston, and actually, the first known serial killer in this country.
As the story goes, Lavinia Fisher and her husband John, ran a boarding house. A man came to the boarding house and fell asleep sitting in a chair. He awoke to Lavinia choking him. He managed to get away and run to the law. When they returned, they found two bodies on the premises. The Fisher's were arrested for murder. It is said that Lavinia had killed and robbed over 40 people. At the time, it was illegal to hang a married woman. So, John was tried first and hanged. Lavinia, who was said to be a very beautiful woman, asked to go to her trial dressed in her wedding dress, hoping someone would marry her. She was allowed to do so, but they placed a cloth bag over her head so no one would be tempted. Right before she was hanged, she asked if anyone had a message for the devil, because she would soon be meeting him. It is said that she haunts the streets of Charleston and often attacks people in the wee hours of the morning. These people reported that they were attacked by a woman in a wedding dress.
These are just a few of the places and stories we were told on the tour. So, whether you believe in ghosts or not, it was a very interesting way to spend the evening.


mom and dad francis said...

Sounds very interesting! I love tours with like that!

Anonymous said...

John Polks accent made me melt like butter, worth the tour alone.