The great thing about hunting for haunted houses or other places phantoms might stroll, in Georgetown, as compared to towns like Charleston or Savannah, is its compactness. Except for an island's beach and a lighthouse, that proved to be the case for this article.
Although the following tales don't contain all the many stories of ghosts and mysterious happenings in Georgetown and its county, which is also named Georgetown, they are the ones this writer was able to visit and take pictures of on a trip to this historical town. They're also more about the benevolent...or friendlier specters...in this place that's often called the Ghost Capital of the South.
Georgetown is a rather unique spot, sort of in-between the 55-mile long vacation wonderland known as the Grand Strand to its north, and Charleston, S.C. to its south. It is the third oldest town in the state and there are historians who think it was founded as early as 1526 by Spanish colonizers and their African slaves, which is mighty old for a North American settlement if factual.
In any case, a perfect place for things that go bump in the night--or better yet, calls from another realm.
The other had some good reviews but apparently the gentleman tour guide had had a poor night with a couple of reviews complaining he wasn't in period dress and they smelled liquor on his breath. Maybe that's the reason he was no longer in town, having relocated to Florida. Too bad about having an off-day spoil a good thing if true.
So, I decided to just do this spooky exploring trip on my own. That same day, on a trip to the local Walmart, while walking down the parking to the entrance, an attractive older lady was just getting out of an SUV and said something to me. This started a conversation, which included a wonderful chat with her daughter named Rita, who had driven her parents to the store. After mentioning I was interested in the town's ghosts, she kindly told me about the Alice Flagg story and where to find her grave. People can be awesome and she also informed me about an artist who gave permission to include the Gray Man of Pawley's Island at the end of the article.
Now, to Alice's intriguing and rather sad story.
The story goes that in the 19th century Alice met and fell in love with a gentleman that her family did not approve of. He was a lumberman and her family thought he was beneath their social status. Although Alice was deeply in love with him, her family forbade her to see him. When this love of her life gave her an engagement ring her family would not let her wear it on her finger. Therefore, Alice decided she would wear it on a ribbon around her neck, underneath her clothes, out-of-sight.
Her father, Dr. Flagg, decided to send her from her home at the Hermitage to school in Charleston hoping she would forget about the young man. However, she could not adjust to Charleston and the difference in the bustling environment there and the bucolic Hermitage. Alice fell ill, her father and brother then went to Charleston to bring her home. Unfortunately, Alice did not live. When preparing her for her funeral, her ring was found and thrown away, so she was not buried with the ring her beloved had given her.
After the burial, and the many intervening years between then and now, it is said that Alice has been seen looking for her ring and can not rest in peace without it. It has also been said that once a group of young people was visiting her grave when one girl had the terrifying experience of having her ring fly off her finger!
While talking with Rita she told us of an experience she had had herself. Rita went on one of the ghost hunt tours that take place each year around October. When the group arrived at the Hermitage, Alice's home place, they all sat on the porch in chairs and on the porch-swing while the owner told them more stories about Alice and her family.
During one of the stories, a young lady that was on the swing had her ring come off, and, on its own at that! It then fell through the cracks of the porch. The porch was off the ground, as most of the homes were that were built during that period and, it had a space where folks could go underneath. Everyone in the group went below the porch and helped thoroughly search for her ring, but it was never found.
The consensus was that Alice had been out and about - and no one was laughing in jest.
As can be seen from Alice's, um, un-resting place here, many to this day still leave tokens of affection on her unique memorial stone.
The Strand is a former movie theater at 710 Front St. The spot was first used as a cinema in 1914, almost from the start of these kind of entertainment venues.
Nowadays the old Strand is used by the Swamp Fox Players as a community theater for their performances.
With a place like the Strand's kind of history ( this writer knows of no other such ancient picture-show building still being used for anything in the Carolina's, although there certainly may be) it isn't too surprising that icy spots, strange footsteps and phantom murmurings, have been reported there since the movies stopped running on its silver screen over forty years ago.
Ten miles down Georgetown's Sampit River, heading out to the open sea, is the North Island Lighthouse. Eighty-seven feet tall, six feet thick at the base, the old lighthouse's construction began in 1799. The structure was roughed-up good right after the War Between the States by Federal warships using it as a target practice. The present one was re-built, or perhaps the term should be added-to, the original tower in 1876.
The most intriguing ghost story told about this venerable landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, concerns a light housekeeper and his little daughter Annie. He had no wife, so he was the sole caregiver of the lighthouse and his child. It was very hard work because normally the keeper would have had an assistant or a spouse who could aid him.
His little daughter was by his side all day. His chores would take twice as long because Annie was with him. Every couple of weeks, they would get in the rowboat to go to Georgetown for supplies. They would leave very early in the morning, when the current would help carry the rowboat into the harbor, then return in the evening when the tide washed back out to sea.
Early one morning, they made their trip to town. While shopping the little girl helped check off the supply list, which included buying herself a doll. Around noon a stiff wind caught the keepers attention, so he told Annie to come along ,they must leave at once. The water was still calm when they left, so without waiting for the ebb tide, he began rowing. The wind picked-up and a hard rain began, kicking up the water and rocking the boat.
Annie was wet and cold and afraid. She began to cry as the water filled the rowboat. Soon the keeper realized he would not be able to save the boat and supplies. He then took a rope and tied Annie, who was clutching her doll, to his back. Annie held on tightly to her father's neck as he fell out of the boat and began swimming for their very lives. He didn't know which way to swim as the foaming white seawater and driving rain blinded him. The keeper was determined, though, calling on everything within himself to save his beloved charge.
The man reached the shore, crawling to safety with Annie still tied to his back - and then fell into a deep sleep, not rousing till dawn.. After calling Annie's name several times to wake her, he untied her from his back, and then discovered she had drowned. Afterwards he became despondent - unable to do his duty at the lighthouse. In his grief he would wander into town, searching all about for his precious little girl. According to some fisherman and mariners, Annie, to this day, comes aboard their vessels warning them of hurricanes and nasty weather. Those in-the-know definitely heed this petite specter's benevolent appearances, so it is said.
The DuPre House at 921 Prince St. is by far the most fetching place for a haunting this writer saw while riding along the streets behind Front St. There are maybe five or six well-known haunted houses in this small area but this was the only one I was able to get out and walk around a bit because of its large front-yard. Indeed, all but one of the property's were up for sale.
Probably because of the down-turned economy, but, one can't help but wonder if at least some could be up for purchase because of any frightening goings-on. In any case, the ghostly tales told throughout the centuries about all these homes and buildings are legendary.
The haunted happenings at the DuPre House - formally a bed and breakfast- concerns the spirits of a lady and her daughter from the 19th century. The two supposedly died in a fire at the home before the Civil War. Since that time, folks have reported childish giggling from closets and rooms, female-sounding arias wafting about, and mysterious footprints appearing in carpets. These are just several of many paranormal things this earth-bound pair seem to produce at times.
Below are three pictures from the porch and front-yard of the empty of residents and for sale place. It's a charming house, but I can tell the reader this after peeking into two open-blind windows, half-expecting to be confronted by a startling sight, it's the perfect setting for ghostly frights or delights, take your pick.
The legend of this benevolent specter is one of the most well-known and written about on the East Coast of America. Books, articles, videos and TV shows have all covered his appearances over the many years pretty well. So, with that in mind, only a short part or recounting of this most unusual ghost's history will be told here. As a matter of fact, the main reason the story is included on this article, instead of another one, is because of the great painting below, kindly contributed to us by Ms. Cathy Turner. The link to her worthy site is below the painting.
There are some who believe the founder of Pawley's Island, just north of Georgetown, is the Gray Man. However, the far more likely apparition is of a young man thrown from his horse and drowned in quicksand during the year 1800. The unfortunate fella was soon to be married which made the accident all the more tragic and sad.
Since then, an entity has appeared to warn folks of approaching danger, specifically hurricanes. Many, many people over the centuries who have sighted him on the island prior to this terrible force of nature, later found out that their homes, property, and other things remained untouched, while all else around their possessions were badly damaged or devastated.
In the year 1954, one of the most horrific hurricanes to ever hit eastern North America, did just that. At the time my father and several fishing buddies were fast asleep in a rented bungalow at either south Myrtle Beach or Pawley's Isle, when my dad heard a loud knock on the door. He arose and answered, only to find no one there. He then turned on the radio and heard the frightening news that Hazel was bearing down fast. He and the fishing buds skedaddled quickly and later learned the building they'd just left in a flash was flattened within 30 minutes of their departing it.
This story is not told to suggest it was the Gray Man who did the knocking, but shows the suddenness and awful power Hurricane Hazel wrought in those pre-Doppler radar days. It is intriguing, though, to recount that at least one person who had seen the Gray Man on the beach a day or two before, found that his family's beach home was completely undamaged -- including clothes still hanging on a wash line -- while all the other homes next door and roundabout were obliterated. This is not an isolated case throughout time by any means, either.
Whatever, or whomever, this entity is, it's a very caring and concerned one and that's a very good thing.