Soul searching travel into Fort Moultrie mysteries and Sullivan’s Island sorrows

Would I know where to kneel and dig?
Who first covered the fort’s walls with molasses and lime?
What treasures still lie beneath my feet?
– from “Molasses” by Ed Madden

A trip to Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s Island is filled with emotions, mysteries and soul searching questions. The fort is most famous for the Patriots bravery and ingenuity during the Revolutionary War that lead to a historic victory, the state flag and its marquee Palmetto symbol.

But there is more behind the old stucco fortifications. If only the walls could talk…

Inside Fort Moultrie

Inside Fort Moultrie

There are closed tunnels, locked gates and hidden passages that lead nowhere. Who built them and why?

What about the unusual colors “the color of onion and okra”, “the chalk wash”. Apparently the interior brick walls and buildings were painted yellow to protect the soft brick from the elements. The sulfur on the inside walls comes from molasses, used to thicken the mix of water and lime!

The Middle Passage and the houses of pain and sorrow
The pest houses are gone now, but the fact remains: 40% of all Africans brought to North America from 1700 to 1775 first arrived on Sullivan’s Island.

Few historical monuments and markers pay (and are planned to pay) tribute to the millions of enslaved Africans:

Bench by the Road 2008 Ceremony - Photo by Tony Morrison Society

Bench by the Road Ceremony - Photo by Tony Morrison Society http://www.tonimorrisonsociety.org

Bench by The Road – a 6-foot-long structure with a small bronze plaque mounted on its back. The bench was revealed last summer during the Fifth Biennial on Sullivan’s Island in a ceremony lead by Toni Morrison, the 1st African American Nobel Prize for Literature winner and main catalyst of the project.

• A marker erected in 1999 that says tens of thousands of African captives arrived on Sullivan’s Island’s shores between 1700 and 1775.

• Future planned exhibit “Passages” connects the West Coast of Africa with Lowcountry Gullah-Geechee culture.

• Future commemorative markers of the four Pest Houses where slaves were quarantined and kept in abominable conditions. The houses were demolished at the end of the 18th century so residents could better enjoy their island.

Fort Moultrie Park Entrance

Fort Moultrie Park Entrance

Admission to Fort Moultrie is FREE. The fort is open 9AM – 5PM year around except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Check out these awesome photos that several visitors posted on Flickr.

More area attractions

Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor where the Civil War started. Free admission, must pay for ferry to get there

• USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier in Mount Pleasant. “The Fighting Lady” is home to dozens incredible war jets, a submarine, a flight simulator and more.

• Charles Towne Landing, the birthplace of Charleston and South Carolina, is an incredible park featuring a historic trail, Horry plantation ruins and the Animal Forest Zoo.

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Brookgreen Gardens’ Bloodstain Barn and Atalaya Castle’s Gold-Watcher – mystery tales at Huntington Beach Park

Art lovers, sculpture aficionados and nature enthusiasts watch out! As you stroll Brookgreen Gardens’ peaceful trails showered by a rainbow of extravagant floral arrangements, as you admire one of the most magnificent outdoor sculptures collection in the country, it’s hard to imagine the pain and suffering soaked in these grounds.

“Bloodstains of the dead…Tread them down; walk them out; cover them up. All in vain!”

Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens

Yes, is slavery blood and all the misery that came along with it. During the Civil War this land was part of the Brookgreen Plantation.
Most of the time the owners were out traveling, leaving the business operations to Fraser the overseer. And Fraser “never failed to draw blood”.

“When someone is in the bull pen they have to take a ride on the pony…The overseer gave my mama forty lashes with the strap…A pool of mama’s blood was on the barn floor.”

Once freedom came to Waccamaw River the people tried hunting Fraser down for payback. He was never found. Yet the blood stains in the barn were still there, a painful reminder of their ordeal.
“We didn’t want to pass through the barn…We tried to get rid of them. Tried to wash them off. Wash! Scrub! Stains came back. We walked back and forth…Stomp! Stomp! Stains came back.

Brookgreen Gardens Yellow Sea

Brookgreen Gardens Yellow Sea


We wondered for Christ’s sake why the bloodstains didn’t leave…years passed and still the blood remained”

More than 50 years later, in 1930, Archer Huntington came in, bought the plantation and transformed it into Brookgreen Gardens. “He saw the bloodstains and he tore down the barn. Yep. That was the first thing Huntington did when he bought the plantation…Until he did that, the bloodstains stayed right there.”

Joe, the gold-watcher at Atalaya

Here’s another story that sheds light into Mr. and Mrs. Huntington character and the incredible Atalaya Castle. As a young boy “Archer’s energy seemed unlimited, and his quick mind grasped everything he saw and read…He intended to spend his live giving his father fortune away.”

People in the area were enthuziastic about the jobs prospects from the start of the outdoor museum (Brookgreen Gardens) and a future house (Atalaya). It was Depression time after all. “When they earned a few dollars, they looked at them and counted them, and figure out how far they would go. They didn’t go very far.”

Joe was one of them. He got a job as loading and removing sand but he failed miserably…wrecking the truck on the first day right in front of Mr. Huntington. He was fired on the spot.

Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach

Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach

Joe persisted and few weeks later got a second chance. He split logs, stacked the wood and kept the fire burning at the more than 30 fireplaces inside Atalaya. There were rumors the Huntington hoarded large quantities of money at Atalaya, but Joe saw none of it, for a while at least…

Few weeks later Anna Huntington needed a “scrawny horse” to carve the statue of Don Quixote. Joe found a “nag with bones showing through its rough coat and a head hung nearly to its knees”. Mrs. Huntington was delighted and she pledged to nurse the horse back to health. Joe volunteered for the task. Things looked much rosier with his employers.

Indeed, at Christmas night his trustworthiness was put to the test. Archer Huntington asked Joe to help him move a heavy oak table into the master bathroom. “As the glowing fire reflected on the table, the table itself seemed about to burst into flame. For there, on the table, were stacks of gold, real gold, coins…varying in size from a watermelon seed to a silver dollar”

“Joe, I want you to remain here in the bathroom and keep an eye on it. I will come for it in the morning”. And so he did. To this day, Joe doesn’t know where the gold came from or where it went. He only knows that Huntington trusted him with his fortune that night. “A job that started out so badly ended with each man respecting, and even liking, each other.”

Come to Brookgreen Gardens and Atalaya at Huntington Beach State Park for a once in a lifetime inspirational vacation!

Disclaimer: All the quotes in this post are from Nancy Rhine’s riveting book “Tales of the South Carolina Lowcountry”, an engaging collection of folklore, ghost haunts, and real stories from remote Lowcountry lanes old-timers.

Gentleman and Headless Torso ghosts, the Carriage Inn spooky residents (Charleston free and scary things to do)

The Carriage House Inn, located on South Battery Street right across from the Battery Park, has been a Charleston darling for more than a century. Some of its guests are so enchanted they don’t want to ever leave. As people say, in Charleston “you are almost always in spitting distance of a ghost”

Front of the Carriage House Inn There are two spirits haunting this intimate yet mysterious hotel. The Gentleman Ghost, sometimes referred to as the Gentleman Caller, usually visits room 10. “Well-dressed and groomed…he likes to lie down beside female guests. He never disturbs them knowingly.” If you scream or cry he will exit quickly through the nearest wall.

View of Room 10 through spooky wall figureCheck out this spooky lion-figure on the wall outside room 10, it’s just asking for specter trouble.

A lady recalls her experience “…I was restless and couldn’t fall asleep…I noticed a wispy gray apparition to be floating through the close door, and through the air, entering the room…he lay down beside me on the bed. He placed his right arm around my shoulders. I didn’t feel any pressure from his arm touching me…I wasn’t frightened because he didn’t seem threatening”.

Room 8 Sight of the Headless Torso Ghost The Torso Ghost is not as docile; he hasn’t harmed anyone yet is a far scarier sight to see. Clothed in wool gray Confederate uniform, it is believed this is the ghost of a soldier who lost his limbs and head during an accidental munitions explosion.

One of the less fortunate people to have seen the Headless Ghost remembers “…what I could see on my side…was this torso of a person from the waist to the neck…It was big, not necessarily tall but broad. A strong, barrel-chested man…I reached out and touched it – his overcoat was very coarse material like burlap…the breath changed into the guttural growl of an animal. He moaned, or uttered some angry sound that made it clear he didn’t want me to do what I was doing…I felt like he wanted to chase me out of there”.

If you would like to read more about these Front Gate
phantoms and many other specters haunting the ever mysterious South Carolina grab Terrance Zepke’s exhilarating book “Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina“.

Take a virtual tour of Charleston’s mystery, murder and romance tales and other famous ghosts sightings.

Eager for more Lowcountry folklore? Visit Huntington Beach State Park to learn about Brookgreen Plantation’s bloodstains of the dead and Atalaya Castle’s gold-watcher.

Happy Ghost Hunting in Haunted South Carolina!

Mysterious Charleston: Ghost Sightings, Dark Stories, Famous Houses and Just for Fun

If you don’t have time to walk the streets of mysterious Charleston (yes there is a dark side to the Holy City), here is an easy shortcut. Watch the slideshow to spot few of the places where specters still appear, unsolved murders and bloody duels took place, get a peak at some famous houses and just have a laugh at some funny pictures.

To learn more about Charleston’s ghosts and murder stories read Cathy Pickens’ very engaging book (and my inspiration for this post) “Charleston Mysteries Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City”.

Now that you’re ready to get a thrill in the Olde Towne make sure to also visit Charles Towne Landing historic state park, the birthplace of the city, South Carolina and America. Believe me it’s the best $5 you’ll ever spend.

Enjoy and keep visiting Charleston “a city filled with ghosts”!

Check this nice post for a detailed list of activities (grouped by price) you can do with the kids in and around Charleston.

Eager for more Lowcountry folklore? Learn about the Brookgreen Plantation’s bloodstains of the death and the Atalaya Castle’s gold-watcher. Even better go visit them in person they’re right around Georgetown (at Huntington Beach State Park to be exact).

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Think you can really “dig” Charlestonians? How many times you told yourself “what in the world are they saying!”…Well here’s your chance to find out. Take the http://shoutaboutcarolina.com/index.php/category/attractions-by-city/charleston-fun-things-to-do-attractions-by-city/charleston-quiz/”>Charlostenese Challenge (a list of fun short questions to test your Lowcountry talk)

Good Luck!