Steeped in the history of the Old South including two wars, plantations, and the atrocity of slavery, it's no surprise that South Carolina is filled with restless spirits. Whether you live there or are just visiting, there's a good chance one of the ghosts will be there to greet you, especially if you visit some of the most haunted places in South Carolina.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Located in Charleston, the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was founded by the Drayton family in 1676 and later operated as the "oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry" beginning in 1870. By the 1980s, the plantation had fallen into disrepair and in 1994, it was donated to the National Park Service. The plantation and gardens have been restored, and the site is open year round.
Ghost stories abound on the premises so it's no wonder the plantation is frequently seen as one of the most haunted sites in the US. Its history certainly lends itself to a wide array of ghosts. The plantation has been investigated by several paranormal investigators including Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures and Syfy's Ghost Hunters.
Some of the ghostly experiences reported include:
- Mysterious music
- Disembodied coughing
- Electronic voice phenomena (EVP)
- Growling from an unidentified origin
- Motion detectors reported as being activated for no identifiable reason
- Apparitions are seen moving about the main house
- Disembodied voices
The original ship called Yorktown sunk at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. The Bon Homme Richard, a newly commissioned Essex-class carrier, was renamed Yorktown in its honor, and it fought in the Pacific Offense during last 16 months of World War II. With a highly decorated crew, the Yorktown received 11 battle stars and was also the recipient of the Presidential Unit Citation. It wasn't until 1970 that the haunted ship was decommissioned and in 1975 found its final home in Charleston, SC and became the Patriots Point Museum USS Yorktown.
One-hundred-forty-one men died onboard the USS Yorktown, and activity aboard the ship suggests some of them may still be there according to museum staff. They report very distinct apparitions that they were able to identify as being ghosts of the ship's crewmen.
Syfy's Ghost Hunters conducted an investigation in February of 2012. The team documented:
- Full-bodied apparitions
- Disembodied voices caught in conversations and laughing
Old Exchange Building
A National Historic Landmark, the Old Exchange Building in Charleston was originally called the Exchange and Custom House. Construction began in 1767 and was completed in 1771. The British converted the building during the Revolutionary War to serve as barracks, and the basement became a military prison known as the Provost Dungeon. After the war, the building was reverted back to a hub for imports and exports.
The building is steeped in the history of early colonists, tales of pirates such as Blackbeard and the gentleman pirate Stede Bonnet, and the brutality of the slave trade where auctions were held on the street outside the Exchange.
The old Provost Dungeon was hidden underneath Charleston's hub of political and social life, and prisoners were chained to the walls in the dank space. The prison population was a mix of patriots, thieves, murders, and pirates waiting to be hanged.
Reports of activity include:
- Swinging chains in the dungeons
- Cold spots
- Doors that close on their own
- Disembodied voices
- Ghostly footsteps
All Saints Episcopal Church
Located on Pawley's Island, All Saints Episcopal Church has a graveyard that is the resting place of a young woman whose tombstone reads "Alice." It's the gravesite of Alice Flagg who was the sister of two very wealthy doctors in Murrells Inlet.
Poor Alice fell in love with a lumberjack, who her brother felt was much below her station. When the young man gave her an engagement ring Alice's older brother insisted she return it. Deceiving her brother, Alice wore the ring on a ribbon tied around her neck hidden beneath her clothing.
Her brother promptly shipped her off to a boarding school in Charleston, but Alice longed for her beloved. She soon succumbed to malaria. Her brother rode to Charleston and brought her back home. When he discovered the ribbon and ring, he tossed the ring into the marsh. Soon after, Alice died and was buried in a white dress in the church cemetery on Pawley's Island. Witnesses claim to see her dressed in white and wandering about the cemetery, clutching one hand to her chest as she desperately searches for her lost ring.
South Carolina Paranormal Research and Investigations (SCPRAI) recounts the local legend that claims you can summon Alice. All you have to do is walk backwards around her grave 13 times and then say her name two times. It's said that Alice will emerge from the back brick wall of the cemetery as she continues to search for her ring. Reports of this apparition include:
- Women feeling a tug on their wedding rings
- Smelling flowers when none are in bloom
Devil's Castle Old Tuberculosis Hospital
Also known as The Devil's Castle, the Old Tuberculosis Hospital in Greenville (operational in the 1930 to 1950s) later became a work release prison. It may also have served at one time as a psychiatric hospital. Vagrants took over the abandoned building, and it was accidentally burned down in 2002. Prior to its destruction, reports were rampant with ghostly figures, sounds and happenings.
According to the South Carolina Paranormal Research and Investigations (SCPRAI):
- Bloodcurdling screams came from the first floor.
- Witnesses reported hearing footfalls that suddenly broke into a run.
- People reported being pushed while investigating the third floor.
- Those pushed also heard "loud clattering" coming from the halls.
- Objects moved on their own.
- Apparitions appeared before witnesses.
- Disembodied singing voices have been heard.
St. Helena Island
St. Helena Island is one of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands along the South Carolina coast. St. Helena is located in the Port Royal Sound. The mystery of the island is the Land's End Light, which is seen when traveling along the lower tip of the island known as Land's End.
When drivers go to a certain location on the island, park, and turn off their headlights, what happens next is that a single headlight appears to be traveling down the road. Eyewitnesses claim that when the light passes, it leaves a static electrical charge in its wake. Some people have reported that the light overtook them while they were speeding away from it.
The island was a hotspot in the 1970s with the Sheriff's department reporting that many nights there were at least 100 cars parked waiting to see the light. Two people died when they attempted to chase the light and crashed. Scientists have studied the light but have no explanation for the phenomenon that appears on a regular basis.
South Carolina's Information Hiway (SCIWAY) reports that the light "soft white light floating several feet above the highway." The SCIWAY also warns that is the motorist attempt to start the car, the light will vanish. The writer, Barry Gooch, recounts how one night he was parked with his girlfriend, and they witnessed the phenomenon. The couple watched as the orb of light slowed down and drifted over to their car. Terrified, they sat in trance as the orb "hovered over the right front fender." Gooch started the car and the orb vanished.
There are many stories about what the light may be:
- The ghosts of children who died in a bus crash
- Ghosts of executed slaves
- A Union officer who was beheaded during the Civil War
Town of Camden
Known as Agnes of Glasgow, the ghost of a 20-year old Scottish lass is said to haunt the town of Camden. According to Find a Grave, Agnes was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1760. Author Daniel W. Barefoot writes in his book Spirit of '76: Ghost Stories of the American Revolution that Agnes followed her British lover Lieutenant Angus McPherson who'd been sent to America during the American Revolutionary War.
In 1780, Agnes arrived by ship in Charleston only to learn that McPherson had been wounded and was at a hospital in Camden. She was befriended by the famous Native American King Haigler of the Wateree tribe, who escorted her to Camden. Barefoot recounts the reunion of the lovers as short-lived with McPherson succumbing to his wound and dying in Agnes's arms.
Barefoot writes that Agnes was "overwrought" with grief and "flung her body over that of her lover and died of a broken heart." Other accounts claim that Agnes never found her lover. Upon reaching Camden, she became ill and died. King Haigler buried her in the Old Quaker Cemetery. Her vaporish apparition has been seen in the Old Quaker Cemetery and along the streets and rural roads of the town in search of her lover.
Battery Carriage House Inn
Built in 1840, the Battery Carriage House Inn is said to be haunted by guests and often referred to as the most haunted house in Charleston. Guests staying at the inn over the years have reported numerous incidents of ghostly phenomena.
Guests have reported:
- Malfunctioning technology
- Glowing lights
- Energy masses
- A headless torso
- Other partial and full-body apparitions that move through solid objects like walls and doors and interact with the living
- Shadow figures
Numerous ghost stories surround Converse College in Spartanburg. The college opened in 1890 founded by a group of Spartanburg citizens, including cotton mill industry leader Dexter Edgar Converse.
South Carolina Paranormal Research and Investigations (SCPRAI) report the following ghost stories about the campus hauntings:
- Hazel B. Abbott Theatre: Miss Hazel's presence is felt as cold spots and unexplained noises coming from the prop room.
- Williams Dorm: The laundry room is haunted by a friendly, small boy who was from the era when the campus was a boarding school.
- Pell Hall: The ghost of a young student, who in the early 1900s jumped from her dorm window into the arms of her lover who failed to catch her, is seen "running down the hall."
- Wilson Hall: The stairway leading to the bell tower is the scene of an angry ghost. According to lore, two men argued and one fell from the tower to his death. The victim haunts the hall and has demonic red eyes.
- Pell Hall: Another girl, Betty Payne, hanged herself in the dorm. It's claimed that the door, although repeatedly painted, still reveals a rope and noose along with the outline of her body. She isn't a nice ghost and locks students out of their rooms.
- Evans Building: This structure was a high school prior to being converted for campus offices. It's said that the sound of squeaky tennis shoes and the dribbling of basketballs can be heard coming from the basketball court along the upper balcony. Disembodied footfalls have also been heard in the hall.
Greenville Embassy Suites
Is it myth or is the Greenville Embassy Suites haunted? The stories began during hotel construction, which came to an abrupt halt. The site stood in limbo for two years. The legend states the investors were staying on the grounds, but suddenly left and pulled their financial support. It's implied that some kind of haunting occurred that frightened off the investors.
When construction continued, so did the the stories of a haunting. The Greenville police received numerous reports, before the building had the electricity turned on, that lights were seen in the building and someone was living in the rooms. Even though the police investigated and discovered the building was secure, the reports continued to plague the department.
Other reports of activity:
- Lights turn off and of sporadically
- Doors fly open on their own
- There are three spots on the golf course where grass will not grow
- A wailing or moaning sound on the course is followed by creepy movement of shrubbery as though something is moving it intentionally
Explore Haunted South Carolina
These are just a few of the many ghostly places steeped in the rich history of South Carolina. From the earliest days of settlements in the mid-1600s up until present, the paranormal elements are attracted to this coastal state.