Ghosts of Charleston, South Carolina is the perfect topic with Halloween a mere 14 days away. This week, we continue our ghost hunt into the supernatural, where the living and the dead co-mingle, sometimes happily, other times less than happily. Equally as frightening as the giant asteroid that brushed dangerously close to our planet, these otherworldly visitors leave us questioning what’s going on around us … things that aren’t always visible to the naked eye. And of all the haunted cities we could visit, Charleston is ripe for the picking. While our Halloween tromp won’t be re-visiting any macabre murders (MacNeill murder, anyone?), we’ll take a close look at a couple of Charleston’s most famous residents.
Charleston has long been known as the Holy City. The number of visible steeples along the skyline has given this veritable old town its own unique identity. And her age and place in history have made it a must visit location for the living and … the not so living. Join us on this brief escape to Charleston as we introduce you to a few of our favorite characters who don’t seem to have made the transition to the next “plane” yet.
Our first stop brings us to St. Philip’s Church in downtown Charleston. St. Philip’s, established in 1680, is considered the mother church of Anglicanism in the Carolinas, and is the oldest Anglican congregation south of Virginia. Residents of her cemetery are upwards of 300 years old and apparently still members to this day.
In 1888, Sue and Gaston Hardy were young parishioners expecting a baby in the summer of that year. Tragically, the child was stillborn and Sue’s death followed six days later, presumably from childbirth complications. Both mother and child were buried in the churchyard. But the real story began to unfold 99 years later.
Fast forward to June 10, 1987. Local amateur photographer, and native Charlestonian Harry Reynolds, was snapping pictures around the cemetery at St. Philip’s Church. With a few photographs remaining on the roll of film, Reynolds reached his arm through the bars of the cemetery gate to snap a few more pictures and finish the roll of film. The developed photos from St. Philip’s revealed an interesting apparition…something not previously visible to the human eye.
A woman tightly wrapped in a shawl can be seen kneeling in mourning beside a grave. After sending the photo to a lab, and finding nothing amiss with the photograph or the negative, Reynolds set out to investigate the cemetery, and in particular, the grave on which the image was photographed. It was only after examining the names engraved on the headstone, that Reynolds realized what he had stumbled upon. The grave marker indicated that Sue Howard had given birth to a stillborn baby 99 years ago to the day that the photo was taken. Coincidence? You be the judge.
On to Poogan’s Porch! Located at 72 Queen Street in downtown Charleston, Poogan’s Porch is owned by the Ball family, who knew nothing of the building’s history when they purchased it, but they know now … and they now know their good friend is in no hurry to leave! And no “governmentesque” shutdown for these owners … Zoe is helping keep this restaurant in business and on the map!
Zoe St. Amand, a spinster schoolteacher lived in the house with her sister. One of the most frequently seen Charleston ghosts, Zoe is a relative newcomer to the spirit world, having fairly recently passed away in the 1950s.
It isn’t unheard of to have a Zoe experience while eating at Poogan’s in the middle of the day. Diners will report feeling as if someone brushed up against them, or even that an unseen diner has seated themselves at the table. On the extreme side of things, there have been reports of place settings rotating on tables and customers feeling a sensation that someone uninvited has joined them for dinner. Some have even seen Zoe herself. Employees aren’t immune either, especially chefs who come in early to find themselves alone in the building. You’ll hear about pots and pans banging, faucets turning on, the usual stuff.
Several years ago, the owner had her own paranormal experience when Poogan’s was temporarily closed to replace the kitchen floor. While on the phone, a bar stool came flying across the room, knocking over the other stools. Then the kitchen door flew open, as if someone had kicked it open and had gone into the kitchen. But the owner saw no one there. Despite it all, the owner feels Zoe means no harm and is actually quite friendly, and maybe even has a good sense of humor. One day not long ago, the kitchen was getting tickets from a waiter who wasn’t in the restaurant!
Been to Charleston and had an eerie encounter? Share it with us!