The South is full of ghosts. When I booked this tour of the gracious southern states, who would have guessed I would also be venturing into a world of restless spirits who refused to leave? I guess the question is: who says they have to?
It was the end of the first day of the tour and I was tired. But, Courtney and Leeza had invited me to go with them on a Ghost Walk around the streets of Charleston later that night and I was not going to miss that! After downing my third cup of coffee, I met them in the lobby of our hotel and we set out to find Washington Square Park located in the heart of old Charleston where the tour was to begin at 9:30pm. We walked for several blocks getting turned around a couple of times making us a few minutes late for the tour. Finally after one or two calls for directions, we entered the dimly lit park and approached a small gathering huddled together intently listening to the mesmerizing voice of Michael Brown, our guide and co-owner of Old Charleston Walking Tours.
As we joined the group, we heard Michael say, “…Charleston was founded in 1670 and knew slavery, pirates, brigands and wars so you can understand that there may be many souls who died unexpectedly here over the years leaving unfinished business. As we walk, I’ll tell you some of the tales of these restless souls.”
Michael led us down the narrow old streets, through darkened alleyways, around ancient church graveyards, entertaining us along the way with story after story of the apparently very active spirit life of Charleston. The unexpected bonus is that as we slowly walked past the facades of the antebellum homes in the soft light of the street lamps, the lanes empty of bustling tourists and traffic, I realized that this was the perfect way to truly experience this fine old city. With delicious guilty pleasure we had the time to peek through iron gates into secret and tranquil gardens and appreciate what it may have felt like to live here two centuries ago.
After an hour of wandering in the southern night air that felt like silk on my skin, we stopped at St. Phillips Church graveyard where our soft spoken guide pointed out a grave. “On June 10, 1887, Sue Howard Hardy died giving birth to an infant daughter who died soon after. Exactly 99 years later to the day, a couple took this picture of the grave-site.” With that Michael unfolded a large photocopy of a photograph showing a ghostly image of a woman kneeling at the same grave he had just pointed out.
“This is grave of Sue Howard’s baby. Is this her ghost mourning the child she never got to keep? You be the judge.”
With that, we were free to walk back to our hotel through the dark and deserted streets of Charleston to contemplate the lives of ghosts and trade experiences of encounters with the spirits of our own dearly departed loved ones....
Grave-site of Sue Howard's baby and the ghost of Sue Howard...?
Next time: Beaufort, "Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands"