Charleston is one of the oldest settlements in America. It was settled in colonial times by English colonists who came from Bermuda to create a “great port.” The city flourished though it was attacked numerous times, both by the French and the Spanish, who contested English dominance, and by pirates, notably the notorious Blackbeard.
Charleston’s rich history has provided local storytellers with numerous legends that continue to reverberate till today. There are probably more tales of ghosts and other paranormal experiences in Charleston than in any other area of the United States.
So all you online casino player, put aside your playing now for a few minutes, and get ready to be spooked:
The Tale of the Berry Residence Hall
The College of Charleston opened the Berry Residence hall in 1991. Some students refuse to stay there while others won’t live anywhere else.
The Berry Residence Hall was built on the grounds where the Charleston Orphanage House once stood. The orphanage, the first publicly funded orphanage in the United States, housed orphans from many backgrounds including children who had fallen sick with the flu during the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. The sick children were kept indoors while children who were not sick or who had recovered were sent outside play in the yard. One day some children who had been sent outside set fire to some oily rags. The fire spread around the playground and the entire orphanage was evacuated. Four of the orphans died of smoke inhalation.
The College of Charleston built the Berry Residence Hall on the grounds where the orphanage house had stood. Almost immediately the hall began to be plagued by a rash of false fire alarms and students reported hearing children’s laughter, rolling marbles and distant voices that kept them up late into the night. Students also reported hearing that, in the early morning hours, they could hear children singing “Ring Around the Rosie.”
Students describe hearing the voices as “scary but celebratory”.
History records Blackbeard the Pirate’s audacious activities off the coast of the Carolinas including raids, plunder of ships and the capture of hostages which he ransomed for a trunk of medical supplies.
Stories of possible pirate treasure that Blackbeard buried have circulated for hundreds of years. During the Civil War a Union soldier named Yokum heard about six treasure chests that pirates had supposedly buried on Morris Island. According to the legend two of the chests were buried between two old oak trees in the woman’s yard. The chests were cursed, the woman said, and anyone who touched them would be cursed.
Yokum and a friend decided to dig up the treasure. They started to dig and in the midst of their efforts a storm started to rage. Suddenly the two men saw the spirit of a pirate who was guarding the treasure and they raced away. Yokum didn’t tell anyone else about this story until he was an old man.
Charleston County Jail
The Charleston County Jail housed Lavinia Fisher, said to be America’s first female serial killer. Accounts differ about how many people she killed but the number was significant and after being caught she was sentenced to be hanged, together with her co-conspirators – including her husband.
Lavinia went to the gallows shouting and fighting. After her death her spirit started to haunt the Old Jail Building and, as time went by, other neighborhoods in Charleston, and the Unitarian Cemetery. Since many other people suffered and died in the jail, some people think that there could be other ghosts that join Lavinia in haunting the locales in and around the jailhouse.
Underneath the University of South Carolina in Charleston there’s a network of steam tunnels. Over the years there have been numerous sightings of a three-eyed phantom, dressed in silver.
The sightings started in 1949. A student reported that he saw a strange man, covered in silver, scuttle into a sewer entrance that was located near the Logstreet Theatre. Soon thereafter a policeman claimed that he saw a man with a third eye in the middle of his forehead crouching over a mutilated chicken. The man disappeared into the sewer when the officer approached.
Over the years he has been seen over and over again though no one has ever found any physical evidence of his existence.
In 1966 the Charleston College bought a house at 12 Glebe Street. When workers entered the house they found a confusing labyrinth of mazes spreading around the property. The 15 rooms of the house were all interconnected , creating one long room train. The workers restored the house and the College began to use it as a guesthouse.
One night, two guests were reading in bed. They heard a noise at the foot of the bed and saw a ghost that they described as ”6-feet-tall, well-dressed wearing a fluffy tie.” The ghost moved his mouth as though he was trying to speak but no sound came out. The ghost looked frustrated and left the room, walking through a solid plaster wall. Some people theorize that the previous owners built the maze in order to keep the ghost from finding them.
Another pirate-related tale concerns a house in downtown Charleston. Residents of this house have been reporting seeing images of a pirate in this Georgian mansion since the 18th century. The sightings involve blurred visions of a man who stands in the house with his hands crossed over his chest.
The house was once located on the banks of a creek that is not Meeting Street. There have been many tales told of buried treasure located on this property, though nothing has ever been found in the yard or under the house. Sightings have persisted until modern times and many people think that the pirate is trying to protect his treasure.
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