GEORGETOWN, S.C. — The spirits are all around in Georgetown County, especially during the dark days of October.
Georgetown County has many haunted locations, including Old Gunn Church in Plantersville and Alice’s grave in Pawleys Island.
Elizabeth Huntsinger Wolf, who has written many books about local ghosts, said one of the reasons Georgetown is haunted is because of its proximity to water.
“It is believed that a place that is very damp is more susceptible to haunting,’’ Wolf said. “Miss Jane Ware believes that a damp place is more susceptible because the energy released when a person passes away is electrically charged. A water-bound place is more given to this. It makes so much sense. More inland sights don’t usually have as many ghosts.”
Local ghost hunters agree, however, that most of the spirits of Georgetown are friendly.
Many are actually helpful to their human counterparts.
These are some of the local ghost stories that have been passed down through many different generations.
Alice Flagg spends her days beneath a large, solid, slab marker at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island.
Or does she?
It has been said that Alice, a lovesick teen, still haunts the historic graveyard.
Alice, it is said, was once engaged to a man her aristocratic family didn’t like.
Her secret was discovered after she was sent to boarding school in Charleston and became seriously ill.
Her brother soon found Alice’s engagement ring, which she had hidden on a necklace.
He became angry and threw the ring away, and Alice soon died.
Since then, residents have reportedly seen the teenager looking for her ring.
Her grave at All Saints is littered with small plastic trinkets and seashells. The gifts are left by people who visit her grave.
It is said that if you walk around the grave seven times, backwards, Alice will appear and tug on your ring.
Old Gunn Church
What was once Prince Frederick Parish, an Episcopal church, is now just an empty shell aptly named for the ghost who reportedly haunts it.
According to historians, Pee Dee plantation owners began building Prince Frederick Parish in 1859. Construction stopped in 1860, when Mr. Gunn, the church’s architect, slipped from the tower and fell screaming to his death.
After the War Between the States, planters received enough donations to complete the church’s construction, and a flourishing Prince Frederick became known for its choir.
The good times lasted for a short while before the planters could no longer afford to live in the area.
Services at Prince Frederick slowed and later stopped altogether.
Now, only vacant ruins remain where the original building stood, and some people say they can still hear Mr. Gunn’s screams or the choir’s songs.
During a recent visit to Old Gunn Church, as it is now known, the faint sound of humming could be heard from the old building. There were no signs of any humans nearby and only an occasional passing car on the distant road.
According to Elizabeth Huntsinger Wolf, three ghosts haunt Hagley Landing, just off U.S. 17 in Pawleys Island.
As a woman waited for her fiancé to return from the War Between the States, she became friends with his best friend.
While the woman and man waited and reminisced for the Confederate soldier to return, they noticed a mutual affection for each other, Wolf writes. After three years, they assumed the soldier had died.
The friends married in the slave chapel on Hagley Plantation - or so the story goes.
When the ceremony ended, the soldier arrived on horseback wearing a tattered uniform. With a broken heart, he leapt into the Waccamaw River and disappeared.
The bride and groom followed him into the river and to their deaths.
A bride, groom and confederate soldier can sometimes be seen walking together at the Hagley Landing, according to legend.
Georgetown County Courthouse
The old Georgetown County Courthouse, located on the corner of Prince and Screven streets, is reportedly haunted.
A recent report from a local resident said that footsteps can be heard at night when the courthouse is already closed.
At least one employee locked the door to the judge’s chambers when the footsteps were heard. She reportedly saw no one on the corridor surveillance cameras . The woman was so startled, she hurriedly left the building.
According to legends, the Gray Man walks the beaches of Pawleys Island before major storms and warns people of danger.
Because tales of his identity differ, Huntsinger Wolf offers three possible answers in her book, “Ghosts of Georgetown.”
The Gray Man may be the ghost of a loving young man who died while en route to visit his fiancé, she writes.
The man and his horse sunk in the marsh’s quicksand between Georgetown and Pawleys Island, according to this story.
Perhaps the Gray Man is the spirit of Plowden Charles Jeannerette Weston, the original owner of the Pelican Inn on Pawleys Island.
Weston protected the Confederate cause during the War Between the States by commanding a rifle guard and serving as lieutenant governor.
After he died of tuberculosis, he began to protect the people of Pawleys Island as the Gray Man, Wolf wrote. The Pelican Inn is still located on Pawleys Island, but is no longer used as a bed and breakfast.
The third identity Wolf offers for the Gray Man is Weston’s cousin, “Mr. Mazyck.” Eileen Weaver, a previous owner of the Pelican Inn identified Weston’s cousin from a photograph after his ghost wearing 19th century clothing appeared to her.
During a recent visit to Pawleys Island, there was no sign of the Gray Man. The last sighting of the helpful ghost was in 1989, just before Hurricane Hugo, Wolf writes in her book. The couple who saw him left the area. Their home was not damaged by the storm.
John Henry Rutledge’s ghost has haunted Hampton Plantation since March 30, 1830, according to Wolf and other historians.
Rutledge lived on a plantation that still stands near the South Santee River, and his wealthy family expected him to marry a girl with equally rich parents.
When Rutledge fell in love with a pharmacist’s daughter, his parents forbid a marriage. The pharmacist also forbade his daughter to marry into a family who thought so low of her.
Rutledge reduced himself to thinking about life without love in a rocking chair in his bedroom.
When he lost all hope, he shot himself in the head and collapsed at the base of the stairs, leading to his room.
After two days of forgiving his family and asking for their forgiveness, Rutledge died and was buried in the back garden of Hampton Plantation. His gravestone, a giant slab, is still located near a giant tree behind the plantation home.
The bloodstain on the floor still appears where Rutledge sat in his rocking chair, though it has been scrubbed countless times.
Some local ghost hunters have reported seeing Rutledge on the stairs and coming in contact with him at his former home.
Hampton Plantation, on U.S. 17 South, on the border of Georgetown and Charleston counties, is now a state park and historic area.
The story of Pauline Moses illustrates another tale of love that came to a sorrowful end.
According to Wolf’s book, Pauline Moses was a young girl who was anticipating her wedding day.
She planned the day very carefully, along with her best friend, Eliza Munnerlyn.
The two girls were set to be married on the same day, according to local legend.
The two would sit on the porch of Pauline’s home, dreaming of their dual weddings.
“The only trouble was that they could not attend each other’s weddings,’’ Huntsinger Wolf wrote in her book. “Eliza was to be married at the Episcopalian church and Pauline was set to wed in an orthodox Jewish ceremony.”
The two girls would sit on Pauline’s front porch, but could not avoid the nagging mosquitoes that often plague Georgetown County.
The two were stricken by yellow fever at the same time. Both died shortly before their wedding days.
Legend now has it that Pauline Moses, and her friend, can be heard laughing and chatting in the cemeteries where they are buried. Pauline is in the Hebrew cemetery and Eliza is reportedly buried across the street, at Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church.
“They are still heard sharing their timeless delight of planning their wedding days, their girlish laughter echoing across the graveyards,’’ Wolf said.
The Ghost of Wedgefield
A Web site about the History of Wedgefield tells the story of a headless sentry who reportedly wanders the historic area.
The story begins during the American Revolution, when the British were holding one of Francis Marion’s men at the plantation.
Word seeped out to Marion, and he made the trip to rescue the lost patriot.
The sentry, who saw Marion and his men coming, lost his head during a short encounter at the front gate.
“Just about twilight a party of Marion's Men galloped up the avenue of Wedgefield on horseback,” the Web site said. “The sentry left on duty heard the approaching animals. He thought that they were bearing more soldiers from town. He did not give the enemy a thought, for it had been reported that Marion had left the area. A saber-wielding calvaryman with one long sweep, severed the sentinel's head from his body.
The ill-fated British dragoon was buried in the garden near the old Wedgefield house.
For generations following this unhappy incident, people in the vicinity have told of having seen the ghost of the unfortunate soldier.
When the ghost appears, it is a gruesome sight to behold. He appears in the form of a headless body of an eighteenth century British Dragoon tottering about the yard with pistol in hand searching for his head.”
Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of Aaron Burr, is said to haunt a dock just off Front Street.
She reportedly spent her last night at a nearby home, waiting for a vessel to carry her out of Georgetown.
She had been in declining health, and was going to visit her father.
The Patriot, the boat that was carrying her away, reportedly vanished somewhere near the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
“On a cold stormy night in 1812, Theodosia Burr Alston vanished along with the schooner Patriot somewhere off the Outer Banks,’’ said a Web site recalling the fate of Theodosia Burr.
“To this day, her fate remains shrouded in mystery, hidden beneath the shifting sands and shoals of the barrier islands.”
Local Paranormal Investigator, Jamie Grooms, has recently captured an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recording taken from a local home in Georgetown. To read about what EVPs are, click here. To listen to the EVP, click here.
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