This Mists and Moonlight article is a bit different than those who have come before it. All the stories contained herein don't necessarily concentrate on ghosts, hauntings, mysterious going-ons and such; but some of them do. The words Mists and Moonlight can mean many other things, too; things like peaceful feelings, busted spirit-hunting excursions, wonderful vistas, and, even kindred souls meeting through letters in a cooling ocean breeze.
In other words a story with a tongue-in-cheek theme about it here and there with a chance for we true believers to laugh at ourselves a bit. As mentioned in another piece on M&M, what good is life without at least a little humor in it sometimes?
I do hope you enjoy some of these well-known but occasionally off the beaten path discoveries, and for those already familiar with them, an enjoyable look back. This is going to be a fun write and hopefully an even more enjoyable recall for those with memories of their own concerning some of these Carolina and Georgia spooky and not so spooky wonders. And remember, many of these sites and stories do indeed report strange goings-on, including tragedy and plenty of history to ponder and wonder on.
In fact, some of the info included throughout these stories are certainly no joke, as the first one about Fort Pulaski may show. All just done in the spirit of fun is perhaps a good way to sum it up for this one.
The highly thought of but lowly-ranked U. S. officer Robert E. Lee, was given a command in 1829 by the U.S. military to continue the construction of Fort Pulaski, which was on one of the most geologically inhospitable places in the southern United States to try and construct such a place.
Dutifully, the respected and much admired engineer
lieutenant (pre-Mexican-American and Civil War fame), who graduated second in his class at West Point with an incredible no demerits, went to the task with gusto; which was t0 be a one of so many hallmark achievements made by this diligent and remarkable legendary figure in history. He was to give the project all he possessed, with many personal sacrifices, until called away to other very difficult engineering jobs on the East Coast of America.
At the time of these East Coast fort building projects the American government really only considered the British empire to be a threat. The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 were still close in memory during the 1820s, 30s and 40s. These bastions were never to be used against that potential enemy as things turned out, but against each other in the soon to come War Between the States.
The 1989 Academy-Award winning movie Glory was filmed in the area of Savannah and other places and during a morning headed to the set, a group of rebel soldier reenactors in period uniforms paid a visit to the nearby fort. While walking about there suddenly appeared a Confederate officer approaching the men who upbraided them for not giving a salute. He then commanded them to fall into a battle-line as a Yankee attack could happen at any moment. Believing this very realistic looking officer was an unknown reenactor to them, they did just that, as much for a demonstration to the other tourists about as for anything else. He then ordered them to about face, which they did; but on turning 'round a second later, the officer had completely vanished, with no place he could have run-to or hidden from sight that quickly -- from anybody!
Although the following was in the National Enquirer, the paper (with the exception of some of its exaggerated celebrity pieces), is often quite accurate in its articles. During the making of the film Gettysburg, something purportedly happened that was witnessed by hundreds of people. It seems on one of the days the Confederate reenactors were in-line ready to move across the long field of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge, a tremendous yell and cheer, which seemed like it came from thousands of full-throated voices, occurred behind them in the empty woods, as if urging them on, or even paying homage for what they were about to do. After a thorough inspection no recording devices were ever found -- not even in the trees or any other hard to find places such sound devices could have been concealed.
Spirits or no spirits, places like Fort Pulaski, the Gettysburg National Military Park, and many other Civil War battle sites are fascinating and introspective historical landmarks to gambol about. Who knows what you might see or hear or even capture with your cell phone while visiting them.
The National Park Service Site can be found here: http://www.nps.gov/fopu/planyourvisit/directions.htm
SHELDON CHURCH RUINS
Once while driving home from Beaufort, S.C. ( about 15 miles our so outside of that beautiful town) we stopped and asked a man at a country store if there were any interesting sites about. With a look of glee he mentioned an old church ruin on the Old Sheldon Church road. The directions he gave were on our route back and we decided to check it out, liking to visit out-of-the-way historic sites.
I do believe the gentlemen mentioned the back road to the church was long, largely wooded, and could be rather unsettling, especially at night. Boy, was he ever right about that as it turned out to be about seven or so miles of nothing much more than woody marsh, with over-hanging moss laden limbs on both sides of the road, that gave off a rather nice but strange vibe. ( Anyways, definitely not a stretch of road to have a flat tire on at at midnight!)
The historical plaque above tells it all pretty clearly as to the Sheldon, or Church of Prince William's Parish, unfortunate history concerning warring parties and the destruction they can bring. What has always intrigued me with houses of the holy like this is the fact of both Christian sides inflicting such things on the other. In the Revolutionary War years by the redcoats and 76 years later by the bluecoats (with the war practically over) in this instance. Whether out of spite, or fears of meeting places of sedition, it still seems ironic that opposing sides professing the same savoir and religious books would do it to each others' places of worship..
As for the present generation, may the heavens be thanked for having made brick possible and that refuses to be burned easily, as mentioned previously. And maybe those mosquito armies come from some hotter region of the universe known as mosquito hell. . Now, now, Alastar, you might say, all creatures have their purpose in creation and by golly on reflection I must agree with you...but, only after years of letting the haunting memory chill some.
In conclusion there are of course ghost tales told about this lonely structure and even eerie ones about the creepy back road it's on, too, so, at least in this story's case, Mists and Moonlight experiences can occur to the visitor's perspective, be it ghostly-minded, undecided or skeptical, and day or night at that.
For more info on this Old Sheldon church ruin here is more on wiki; with GPS it should be no trouble to find: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Sheldon_Church_Ruins
CHIMNEY ROCK LITTLE FOLK?
In all fairness, though, folks can have different interpretations of phenomena of this kind, and it could certainly have been some kind of gnome or fairy dispute up there in the skies, but the Chimney Rock case was certainly not "hot off the press" as the saying used to go..
The Chimney Rock State Park is located about 25 miles SE of the New-Age city of Asheville, N.C.; yes, Asheville is a progressive city and is starting to be called the Sedona, Ariz. of the East, the Paris of the South. Perhaps one reason is the beautiful mountains surrounding the town are largely made up of granite with lots of embedded piezo- crystals. The pic to the left is the easier way up to the outcropping as there is a more natural and harder way up, too. The photo to the right is referred to as the Devil's Head and is at Hickory Nut Gorge in the park.
The true story of these strange aerial sightings goes like this, and is much farther back in time than the 21st century; now, perhaps, the author got the gist of the story correct later on in the piece, which had a first page Google ranking, but here is the true tale of the Chimney Rock State Park encounters, or ghostly sightings, way back when almost 210 years ago now.
West-central North Carolina was still somewhat frontier country in that year of 1806: horses or mules carried folks and wagons around, and what passed for doctors and other professionals were few and far between. Many cabins were quite a few miles apart in most sections of the area too..In a sense, Chimney Rock could, and can, be considered the gateway to North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains.
Today it's a tourist area attraction with the beautiful Lake Lure (home to many NASCAR drivers), the climbing up to the outcropping itself (there's an elevator for the disabled), a moonshiner's old cave to explore, plus a magnificent gorge and waterfall to see in the area as well; there's also camping, cabin rentals, hiking, bicycle endurance racing, and, of course, souvenir shopping to name just several other activities available at the park.
The ghost story begins in June of 1806 when hundreds (some said thousands) of apparitions were seen by many people floating about the air surrounding the mountain and its chasms. To be frank about it, and without meaning to offend anyone, Chimney Rock looks as if it could be some kind of giant phallic symbol, protruding as a granite outcropping in honor of, or even protecting, some local Cherokee mountain god or something.
The settlers of the early 19th century were down-to-earth folk. Although superstitious in certain ways, they knew their mundane day-to-day world from the highly unusual better than most of us do today.
And what happened in that summer of 1806 was anything but the usual. On that day a girl told her brother she'd seen a small man on the dome which was highly irregular as no one at the time did such a thing as climb the outcropping.
What soon unfolded had many people of the area experiencing multitudes of human appearing figures clothed in white gamboling about, some even said battling each other, below the clouds. Eventually three of these, apparitions, rose above the other specters and led them all high into the sky, out-of-site of the folks gathered below observing the strange, extraordinary action.
Now, of course, this is a condensed re-telling of possible and incredible mysterious happenings at Chimney Rock way back when, but hardly seems a recent occurrence, wouldn't you agree folks?
HIGHLY UNUSUAL: GHOST PHOTOGRAPHED AT HISTORIC WILLIAMSBURG PLEADING TO BE SET FREE
Multiple strange-looking pictures and other anomalies have been taken and sighted there over the years by so many folks that who knows for sure what's really going on. And this is just one place of a very many where paranormal reports come in from Historic Williamsburg.
Heaven as most of us imagine it is certainly incomparably beautiful, but this church would be a very nice place to re-visit on occasion from the heavenly realms, especially on a lovely mist-filled and moonlit night, just maybe that is, if such visits are allowed to happen from that hallowed place to beat all hallowed places in the first place, that is.
Historic Williamsburg is a wonderful walk back through this very old Virginia colonial capital - until the somewhat overpriced commercial upper part of the street is reached. Any vacationing spirits would be advised to avoid this part of King William's Street that we currently earthbound folk seem to need for the present time, at least, to make the world go round and round and wonderfully delightful for us.
Mists and moonlight or sunshine and cool ocean breezes, make this a very special spot in the world. On the landward side of the walk, one has sand dunes, birds, sometimes sea turtles laying eggs, and, nothing much
more than some flora in this protected shoreline. For those of an especial freewill, there are, or rather were,
some reported nude tanning parts on Bird Island, too; but please don't tell anyone you read that here. Many sincere thanks to the dedicated grassroots initiators and state of North Carolina for this beautiful shoreline and its wonder stop of Kindred Spirits.
[ In July of 2016 a friend informed me there are those who are trying to build almost two dozen homes [rentals?]
on the wild shoreline marsh behind the dunes. Two lawsuits are attempting to stop this outrage of greed and/or selfishness and most of us surely hope and pray the lawsuits are successful.]
The Treaty of Calhoun ended all Cherokee rights to the Great Smokies in 1819. Before that the Cove apparently had been a rich hunting ground for otter as the natives had a small village called "Otter Place", pronounced "Tsiya'hi" in the Cherokee language. By this time many of the whites and natives had begun to intermingle some although prejudice and occasional dust-ups still existed.
What finally sealed the Cherokees fate in the ancient Appalachians was when a Cherokee lad found a huge nugget of gold in the north Georgia mountains in 1829 that started a gold rush onto Cherokee Nation land. Naturally, the more valuable acreage itself that was desired by the state of Georgia was a bigger factor overall in wanting the tribe gone, so it was the beginning of the end, with Congress passing the long debated Indian Removal Act by one vote not too many years later.
Greed will surely do it every time, and by 1839 the tribe had either been forced to relocate to Oklahoma (Indian Territory as it was called then), lay in death along the Trail of Tears, or, as a many did, held out in the deep mountains until an agreement by the nearest general- in-charge of the relocation promised, and honored, those remaining in their ancient homeland hiding out that they could stay there in perpetuity.
But only if a certain Cherokee man, having now escaped twice, gave himself up for execution by a Cherokee firing squad after helping his son's, or relatives, slay two soldiers, who during the final round-up had prodded his wife along a little too hard with their bayonets. There are conflicting stories as to what really happened but this version seems to be the correct one.
So, in summation, this is a tale of a brave Cherokee family man named Tsali, or Charlie, who's ghost is said to still be seen to this day walking the high ridges of his homeland, as if watching over the lovely mountains of his beloved Smokies - and one day his ghost or spirit story might be written about here on Mists and Moonlight.
Sadly, the attempt at re-introducing wolves was not as successful. But, in the wolves case, mother nature herself seems to have filled the void by hybridizing a highly intelligent and elusive new species in Canada called a coywolf, part coyote, part timber wolf; which is rapidly spreading across eastern North America and sooner or later will probably reach the Great Smokies.
Below are six pictures of what I believe is the first church built in the Cove and many of its early cabins. To be frank about it, what would be unusual for me were if there weren't any occasional returning or remaining
spirits in such a magnificent and beautiful place like Cades Cove.
A Haunting Tale from the Kadesh Methodist Church and Old St. Pauls Lutheran Graveyard Ghost Hunt Ends in Failure
These person-less performances continued to be heard by many folks for years to come and became part of the local legend and lore of the small community of Belwood in Cleveland County. Sometimes parishioners would sprinkle a little something on the keys after locking-up after a Sunday or Wednesday evening service, only to later find fingerprints on the organ's keys the next morning!
Some years ago a friend who grew up in the Belwood area gave a hayride at his farm for eight or nine local kids and several adult couples. After the ride, while sitting around the bonfire roasting marsh mellows and hot dogs, I got to talking to the farm-owning friend. The conversation eventually got around to the farm house which had been in the family for many generations and, with my interest in haunted houses, asked him if there were spirits or any ghost stories attached to the property and old residence.
The friend didn't have much to say about any ghosts, except for the time he and a few friends played a prank on some of his high school's overbearing school jocks. Seems he and the friends got the footballers to the nearby
Kadesh Church one night on some pretext or another and had rigged the organ to depress a few keys by itself when the bullies entered the place. He and his buds, hiding in the bushes, got great guffawing double pleasure
watching the boys skedaddle in their battered Ford, or maybe it was Chevy, pick-up trucks.
At some point in the early 19th century, an enraged slave-owner shot and killed his bondsman on the church's balcony. Even up till our own time blood is said to appear periodically on the pew in the balcony where the man was killed. Late night organ music is also reported from time to time at Old St. Pauls, just like the one at the old Kadesh Methodist Church.
In addition to the main picture that starts off the stories of these two church's, the above photo at far left shows the Old St. Paul's Church and graveyard's age to good effect. Some taken at night showed nothing but bad pictures taken by me; however, during the day shoots one really stood out. It had recently rained and as we all know sometimes after rains things can be pushed up from underground, like rocks or artifacts, for instance.
The two pieces, of something, in the far right picture, to be frank about it, reminded me of human bone shards, yellowed with age. Now, I'm no anatomist and am not saying these two objects came from that grave with the freshly sprouted pair of daisy flowers, but that was a very, very old headstone and just to be sure they were reverently placed atop the undecipherable and nearly gone stone marker. Just in case that is.
Thanks to the reader for being a good sport and hopefully sympathetic at my attempts to have some fun and a different look, kind of, at this strange world we live on and the wonders it still possesses for us to more fully discover someday. On second thought and in conclusion, leave us at least a few mysteries to always ponder on and all should be well at the young girls' slumber or stay-over parties and around the boy scout's campfires.