Are their ghosts in Charleston, South Carolina? We took a ghost tour to find out the lore behind this charming, southern city...
Charleston, South Carolina is considered by some to be the “mecca” of the haunted south, an old city full of ghosts, rivaled only by Savannah, Georgia. At last count, there are at least 27 ghost tours in Charleston, the haunted seaport of the south. So, there must be ghosts, right? (Shown here is the famous ghost picture taken at a Charleston church cemetery.)
Haunted Charleston Is an Old Town
The city's original name in 1670 was “Charles Towne.” Its name changed to "Charleston" in 1783, and is known as one of the three sister cities of the south (the others being New Orleans and Savannah). Charleston is also called the “Holy City” due to the amount of steeples (78 churches) visible among a low city skyline. The surrounding four counties around Charleston are also labeled the “lowcountry,” with the city itself sitting only eight feet above sea level. It is a place full of hospitality, charm, and folklore, to be sure.
The friendly city of Charleston is surrounded by water on three sides and is said to have 3 people buried in its earth for every living resident. So many burials had taken place in the city by 1840 that the mayor banned anymore people from being interned downtown. It is believed that the water had become contaminated from the corpses. No wonder Charleston is historically presumed haunted!
Our Charleston Ghost Tour: The Ghost Stories
We wanted to learn more about Charleston's ghosts, so we embarked on a ghost tour with Charleston's Best Tours. Our guide, George, was very well-versed with the history and haunting of the city. George had many superstitious tales native to the Charleston area. Among bicycle-powered rickshaws and horse-drawn carriage rides, we walked the streets and cobblestone paths of the oldest part of the city.
Our ghost tour began at a neat old pub frequented by the locals called “The Griffin.” Our first stop had us looking at an old cotton warehouse (see photo). We learned that within a third floor office, Captain George hung himself in 1885 after watching his cotton shipment go up in flames on a boat in the harbor. A hundred years later, the same building became a restaurant and bar called, “East Bay Trading Company.” Soon after opening, guests and workers discovered the room on the third floor was haunted. Witnesses say that cold spots, a flash of light, and chairs stacked to the ceiling gave them quite a fright!
George also told us about a house on 21 Battery Street. The antebellum home has an old kitchen, slave, and carriage house that is haunted. One of the ghosts that haunts the place is called a “haint” by the owner of the property. A haint is a mean-spirited ghost. Witnesses of the ghost have described him as having no legs or head. He is known simply as “The Torso.”
There are many other stories George shared from local folklore. He told us about beliefs in “hags,” “slipskin hags,” and “brew hags.” We also learned about a haunted alley (see photo) and the tragic story of the ghost of an old woman. She is reportedly still seen after strong thunder and lightning storms. We enjoyed hearing about Charleston's rich history. Among the setting of palm trees and Spanish moss, we learned about the city's history with pirates, and tales about graveyards and family crypts!
Near the end of our Charleston walking tour, we had the opportunity to see a famous ghost photograph taken at St. Philips Church cemetery (shown up top of the page). The photo is said to show the ghost of Sue Howard Hardy, a woman who died in 1888 from complications stemming from childbirth. Apparently, Charleston used to be an unhealthful city with a high infant mortality rate. Sue Hardy's death was preceded by her child's passing. Does her ghost still lament at the grave of her baby?
Find the Ghosts of Charleston
If you get the chance to visit Charleston, South Carolina, be sure to learn of its history. You might want take a ghost tour, too. You will find the haunted city beckons people to learn more about its darker secrets. Charleston's mystique will captivate and charm you. To find a ghost tour while in haunted Charleston, the following sites are some tour companies we found within the city: