Travel

A Ghostly Greeting in Charleston

The story I’m about to tell you is an experience I had with my two oldest kids (14 & 12) on a ghost tour in Charleston, South Carolina. Some people will come up with logical reasons why we experienced what we did. Some will believe we had a paranormal experience. And some might think I’m lying. But what I’m about to tell you is true. True in that its what we experienced. You can decide for yourself if there is an explanation to what occurred.

Last photo I took before the camera quit working

It was late in the evening when we met outside Buxton Books in Charleston for the ghost tour. The tour was led by a guide from Tour Charleston, LLC. My family loves going on ghost tours. In fact, my wife and I had a date night the previous night on a ghost tour with Bulldog Tours. Our guide from Bulldog tours was pretty much what most of our ghost tours are like. A lot of history and tales of ghostly hauntings. One reason I love ghost tours is to get a different perspective on a location’s history with a spooky backdrop.

For the record, I don’t believe in ghosts. I like to be frightened and suspend my disbelief for moments so I can enjoy ghostly outings. Even though I am not a believer, I believe there are things that science or rationalization cannot define. This I suppose leaves me open to the possibility of the paranormal. My oldest son does not believe in the possibility of ghosts. My daughter however is a firm believer that ghosts are everywhere and is always on the alert to catch a ghostly sighting.

Like most ghost tours, our guide greeted us and asked where we were from.  After a short introduction, we were off strolling down dark alleys with tales of murder, betrayal, and paranormal activity. While walking, my daughter bombarded the tour guide with questions about sightings and opinions on ghostly matters.

At the end of the tour, we stepped into the Unitarian Graveyard. The graveyard looks straight out of a horror movie. Grass, weeds, and trees have reclaimed the yard while gravestones and pathways appear within the brush. When we walked through the gate, I took out my camera to take photos, but it quit working after one snap. No matter what setting I placed it on, it would not work. I charged the camera and I was able to take photos outside the graveyard. My daughter was using my phone to take pictures and I asked her to let me use it because there were some interesting shots I wanted. Suddenly, my phone quit working. I could not take a picture or change settings.

The tour stopped in front of a gravestone where the guide told a story about a lady in white that appears in the graveyard who hates when people smoke. Apparently, the woman buried in the lot where we stood scolded her husband every time he smoked a cigarette and the man got cancer. On his way to a hospital in Baltimore, he had a heart attack on a boat. That same day, the wife died in Charleston. The man’s body was never returned because nobody claimed the body. Nobody claimed the body because the wife couldn’t answer the letters telling her to do so. The man’s body was buried in a pauper’s grave while the wife has a lovely tombstone. While this story was being told, I walked a bit away from the group so I could try to figure out what was wrong with my camera and didn’t want to bother the group. While checking my settings, something pulled my bag off my shoulder. It didn’t feel like the weight had shifted or a slip. It felt like someone grabbed it and pulled it off. I looked expecting to see my kids nearby, but nobody was next to me.

The group moved on to another part of the graveyard and everyone moved around to the front of the tour guide. My family stayed on the side because my son felt like someone was following him down the path and wanted to keep his eye on the pathway. The tour guide mentioned in passing that occasionally, a boy is seen to his left, where a set of tombstones are located. The guide said the boy waves at people suggesting they follow him. The tour guide then shared a story about Edgar Allan Poe and a former lover of his buried in the graveyard. Because the father of the deceased girl did not approve of Poe, he never let him visit her grave or attend the funeral. Poe would later write the poem, Annabel Lee in honor of her.

While the guide was discussing the story, I looked to his left and saw a small glowing arm with 5 little fingers wave at me. I squinted to make sure my eyes were not playing tricks on me. The wave happened again. The wave wasn’t like what the guide described. It wasn’t a “come here” wave, it was more of an “over here,” wave. And then, the wave stopped. I stared at the location to make sense of what I saw. Then, it happened again. Side to side the hand went. My daughter, who was standing in front of me tensed up and she looked back at me, “Did you see that?” “Yes,” I answered. “What is that?” We both stared. We were no longer listening to the guide and were focusing all our attention on the corner where the gravestones stood. I leaned over to my son and said, “look over there.” He responded, “You saw it too? I asked him what he saw, and he described exactly what we saw. The guide continued to talk about Poe’s girlfriend and read his poem while we stared into the corner. My arms were around both of my children as we directed our attention to the tombstones. And then we saw it again, a wave. We saw no face and no body. Just a glowing arm waving at us.  My daughter claims she saw a dark outline of a boy. I lifted my hand and waved back and the waving ceased. The tour guide finished up and beckoned us all to follow him out the gate. My kids and I stopped by where we saw the waving arm and my son shined a light on the area. We looked to see if a tree limb, flower, or weed could have replicated the wave, but at the height of the wave, there didn’t seem to be anything in the area. I looked behind a tombstone to see if there was a type of contraption or footprints left behind by someone trying to spook us, but I could find nothing.

I will not admit that we saw a ghost. My daughter will do that for me. My son and I are in the same boat. We witnessed something we can’t explain, that doesn’t me it can’t be explained. There are many odd occurrences that happened that night, but I’m still not ready to share a belief in the paranormal. A bag falling off my shoulder, my camera not working inside the graveyard, and even what appeared to be someone waving at us could all be explained I’m sure. For the three of us, it was an entertaining night with our senses heightened and we’re looking forward to our next ghost adventure.

Also, my camera worked fine when we left the graveyard. Believe what you will.

Disclaimer: I received complimentary passes from the Charleston Visitors Bureau. The opinions and story are my own. 

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4 comments

  1. I’ve never done a ghost tour but my son has always wanted to do one. He’s 18 now so who knows when we’d get back to a vacation destination like that as a family. But maybe we’ll get it in the books in the near future.

  2. My husband and daughter went on a Charleston ghost tour. They loved it! The next time we head to SC they want to tour the old jailhouse. The story about the first female mass murderer is creepy.

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