Saturday, July 1, 2017

Poogan's Porch - Charleston, SC

My wife and I made our first trip together to Charleston in February 2009, and took our first ghost tour on a Saturday evening.  I don’t recall which company it was, but we left from a location on Market Street and started with the regular places, St, Philips, the Circular Church, and of course, Poogan’s Porch.  Being our first tour and not having heard these tales before, it was very exciting to say the least, and actually quite eventful.  While in the graveyard at the Circular Church, during our tour guide’s discourse on tombstone symbolism and the etymology of certain phrases associated with graveyards and death, the tour came to a screeching halt – literally.  Just as our tour guide paused, we heard the most dreadful piercing sound that I have ever heard.  What we later determined must have been two cats fighting just beyond the graveyard fence, gave us all quite a start.  In the still and darkness of the night, standing amongst centuries-old tombstones with winged skulls etched into the marble and concrete, we all thought it was more than just coincidence that such a thing could occur at just that moment.  The guide could not have set it up any better herself, if she had tried.

The startling effect of the cats had already made this a tour to remember, but there was more to come.  When we made the obligatory stop at Poogan’s Porch on Queen Street, we stopped in the small parking lot adjacent to the two-story house that once was the residence of Zoe St. Armand and her sister.   Of course, the restaurant is now reported to be haunted by Zoe’s ghost who is said to move things around, break china, and other mischievous pranks.  (Check out our website, ghostlycharleston.com, in the near future for more details about Zoe and others.)  And of course the restaurant is also supposedly haunted by Poogan, a scruffy little dog that was left behind by the owners who lived in the house prior to it becoming a restaurant.  Well, before the guide got to the story about Poogan, I happened to catch movement out of the corner of my eye, skittering across the parking lot and behind a parked car.  At first, I thought very little of it, but at the same time, out of curiosity about what it was, I continued looking, so that I could determine what it was when it came out on the other side of the car.  It never emerged, and when we proceeded through the lot and past the house, I saw that there was literally nowhere for the small animal to go without being seen, or without still being in front of the cars, which it clearly was not upon our departure.  This something, just disappeared.  It was about a minute or so after first seeing it, that our guide told us about Poogan and how guests at the restaurant have reported the sensation of a small dog brushing by their legs beneath the table while dining.  Poogan looking for table scraps perhaps?

I didn’t say anything at the time, but my wife and I began talking about the tour when we got back to our hotel room, and much like our potential ghost sighting of the man with the lawnmower in the Unitarian Church graveyard, we came to a sudden realization.  What I didn’t know at the time was that my wife had seen the small animal as well, and she too kept an eye out for it to reemerge from behind the car, and given that it didn’t, she – much like me – assumed that she had imagined it.  But once we began talking about it and describing what we saw, it was clear we both saw the exact same thing, but there was no plausible explanation for it. 

We have been back through the lot on several occasions since, both day and night, but have not seen anything like it since.  We’ve also eaten at the restaurant, a fine choice I might add, and were not lucky enough to encounter Zoe or Poogan.  But to this day, I am convinced, that we saw Poogan that night in the parking lot and I hope to one day encounter him once more.

Dickens

Charleston, SC - Carriage Ride


We've taken several carriage rides in Charleston but this one (so far) has been the very best.  We were treated to an hour of history, jokes and good fun while being led by Todd and Butch - the fattest, slowest horse in Charleston.  Luckily, we landed the best route (you get one of four by luck of the draw from the city) and ended up going down Meeting Street to the Battery, up East Bay and even down Church Street.  Highly recommend this tour from Classic Carriages.

Circular Church graveyard - Charleston, SC

The process and steps to acknowledge what is unexplained has been a thought provoking process since the beginnning of mankind.   Our minds wrestle with proving fact from fiction and above all our faith makes us question it all.
As a woman of faith, I have been raised to throw aside anything that seems unworldly or supernatural.  But in Charleston, there have been several unexplained and yes, unnatural occurrences that have led me to believe that spirits do exist.   The following picture was taken one evening as we walked through the Circular Church graveyard.  Definitely unexplained lights and activity.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Bethabara God's Acre


Moravian Cemetery in Winston-Salem, NC

     This post is a long time coming.  For some reason we kept forgetting to write it up, perhaps due to our excitement over catching an unexplained digital image in the Moravian Cemetery called Bathabara God’s Acre, in Winston-Salem, NC.  This particular cemetery has come to be an annual retreat every Halloween for the past several years.  The cemetery itself is nestled atop a hill over a sprawling tract of land that was a Moravian settlement established in 1753.  Each time we visit this cemetery we get unexplained EMF spikes, experience eerie feelings, see extraordinary sights, and record sudden changes in temperature.  This is one of the most active sites that we have visited.  Although we have never received any intelligent communication from any unknown entities, we did capture a compelling photographic image this past October on our annual visit. 

     Before getting to that, let me tell you about some past experiences in this delightful little burial ground.  We stumbled across it quite unexpectedly one day while visiting Bathabara Park several years ago.  We followed a trail up a hill, and to our delight, we stumbled across God’s Acre.  We spent some time exploring the cemetery and both of us sensed an odd feeling at one section of the cemetery just near the path from where we entered.  Since then, we have had that same feeling, a feeling that something is about to happen, whenever we stop near that same path.  We have also recorded numerous EMF spikes in this area of the cemetery.  We decided to return on Halloween night and have done so every Halloween since.

     On our first Halloween visit we encountered a group of cloaked individuals, all in black, who appeared to be conducting some ceremony of sorts in the cemetery.  We walked around and never interacted with them, but the feeling was something I cannot describe beyond saying it was one of unease and discomfort.  As we exited the cemetery on that first Halloween visit, two of the individuals from the group were walking ahead of us on the tree lined path to the parking lot.  I snapped a quick photo of them as they walked ahead of us about 30 yards or so. Later that evening we reviewed the photos we took and nothing stood out except for one photo which was eerily out of focus – the one I took of the two individuals on our way back to the car.  Perhaps it was user error, but it was strange to find that all the photos I took that evening were crystal clear, except for that one. 

    On other trips we have detected EMF spikes around a certain grave, that of a teenager named Charles.  We would call Charles by name and conduct EVP sessions, and while we never received any vocal responses, we do always get unexplained EMF spikes near that particular gravesite.  As always, we look for any source for the EMF readings, and have found nothing to explain the readings on the meter.

     Now to the good part!  Finally, this past Halloween (2016) we made our annual visit and as we approached the archway to the cemetery I began snapping photos.  At that time, we were the only persons in this small cemetery.  While taking these photographs, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary either through the view finder or with the naked eye, but when we got home and checked our photos, we were stunned at what we captured. See the image below: 



     Look behind the bush located in the centermost of the photo.  There appears to be a person, perhaps two, standing a bit in the distance behind that bush.  The one to the right looks to have a yellowish looking hat upon its head.  I can truly and without hesitation testify that there were no other living souls in that cemetery when I snapped this photograph. Regretfully, I did not snap two consecutive photos – I have learned my lesson and now whenever I take a photo like this, I take two consecutive shots so that I can compare them.  I also did not review my photos before leaving so that I could try and replicate the scene, rather it was only after we had returned home and began reviewing the photos on the computer that we found the anomaly.  Had it not been so late at that point, I would returned to the cemetery to take another photo.  We did go back a couple of weeks later and I took multiple shots from that same vantage point, but could not replicate the image.   We also explored the area where the figure or figures appear to be standing and could not find anything that would explain the image.  Once again, I cannot say for certain that this was a spirit, however, I have no valid explanation for what it was if not a paranormal entity.  Once again, we leave it to you to decide for yourself.  Faithfully and truthfully, I am,

                                                                                                                                                Dickens


Fascination with the Paranormal


Why the Paranormal?

     I made a recent trip to Southport, NC, mainly to go fishing, but I took one afternoon to do a little “ghost hunting” in the old Southport Burial Grounds and around the grounds of Fort Johnston, now a visitor center on the Cape Fear River.  The fort was originally built in the mid-18th century to protect the coastal town from attack by the Spanish and French.

     I started in the old cemetery which has grave markers dating back to about the time of the construction of Fort Johnston, a couple of blocks away.  I spent time perusing the headstone and just enjoying the peaceful serenity beneath the oak tree canopy.  I snapped a number of photos but nothing out of the ordinary caught my attention.  I also conducted a couple of EVP sessions and checked for EMF activity.  I got one small unexplainable spike on the EMF meter so I quickly took out my voice recorder and began recording and asking questions.  While I did not record any voices, there was some unexplained static interference on the recording right after the EMF spike.  I checked overhead and around the immediate area for anything that may have caused the spike, but saw nothing that would explain it.  Further, I returned to that same area two more times but did not get the same spike, nor did I get any further interference on the voice recorder.  I can’t say for certain that this was due to any paranormal activity, but I did find it odd, especially since I could not replicate the spike or the static interference on the recorder.

     I then walked over the visitor center, which was closed for the day, but I could still walk around the grounds.  I snapped a number of photos and did an EMF sweep as well as an EVP session, all with negative results.  I did snap a photo of an upstairs window of the maritime museum adjacent to the visitor center, and while I’d love to say that the image I captured was paranormal, I have to tell you that it is of a ghostly looking figure purposely posed in the window looking out toward the river.  I’ve included the photograph here for your pleasure – can you make out the figure?  Looks pretty eerie, huh?

     So while my little expedition did not turn up anything, I did sit there on a swing looking out over the Cape Fear and pondered the reasons for my affinity for the paranormal.  I have been fascinated with “ghost stories” since I was a kid, but I don’t know for sure how it began.  I can recall my father and his brothers telling ghost stories around the camp fire when we would go camping, and I don’t mean traditional ghost stories, but rather odd situations they had encountered while growing up in Boone, NC.  My grandmother also told me a tale about being in the house with just my youngest uncle one afternoon when she heard a ball come bouncing down the steps.  No one was upstairs and my uncle, who was very young at the time, was in the same room with my grandmother, so there was no explanation for the bouncing ball.

     I also recall checking out library books that contained ghost stories.  My favorite was Ghosts of the Carolinas, by Nancy Roberts.  I must have checked that book out a dozen times and the stories never got old.  I also enjoyed books about pirates of the NC coast.  Perhaps it was these books that made me imagine that the church up the street from my childhood home was haunted.  It had a tall steeple with frosted windows looking out from the belfry.  I once imagined seeing a figure pass in front of one of those windows and I was ever convinced the place was haunted.  One afternoon, while playing in the church playground, a friend of mine and I came across a door that was swinging open on the side of the church building.  We didn’t know where it led, but would later find that it was a storage room.  As we approached the door, I eased it back far enough for us to peer inside and was startled to find this large white image standing before us.  I don’t have to tell you that we hightailed it away from that door as fast as we could run and hid by the swings, watching for any movement around the open door.  After what seemed like a long time, but I’m sure it was just a couple of minutes, we braved another peek to see if this ghostly figure was still present.  It was, but this time I looked a little closer and was able to discover that my ghost was merely a white canvass sheet draped over a step ladder. Apparently the maintenance man had done some painting earlier and did not secure the door to the utility room when he returned his ladder and drop cloth.  While it was both a relief and a disappointment to discover the identity of our phantom, I still can feel the sudden, frightful shock upon encountering the “ghost.”

     I would continue to be interested in ghostly stories and horror movies through my teens and into young adulthood.  Finally, when I was in college, I had what I truly believe to be my first encounter with the paranormal.  My family moved into a rental house on the eastside of Charlotte, NC.  I loved it because my room was an add-on and was the result of the owner having closed in the original carport.  It was separated from the rest of the house by a small atrium with my own entrance through a rear door.  I even had my own bathroom and shower.  I was living the high life!  But I soon began to hear strange scratching noises in my walls.  At first I thought perhaps some critter had become lodged in the wall behind the drywall – that is until I realized my room was not constructed of drywall.  The walls of my room were merely plaster over the original brick walls of the carport (later confirmed by how frigidly cold it got in there on winter evenings) and there was no way for anything to get behind or within them.  Yet, the scratching persisted, summer, autumn, winter – no matter the season, something was scratching inside the plastered brick walls of my room.

     This was not the only thing that raised the hair on my neck.  My parents still went camping often and being too “cool” for that, I often stayed home while they went away.  One night while sitting in the living room alone watching TV, I heard the very distinct sound of the attic stairs being unfolded and let down in the hallway.  I was frozen with fear, knowing, or at least thinking, that I was the only person in the house.  I got up the nerve to ease into the hallway, fully expecting to see the attic agape, only to find that it was shut up tight as ever.  Relieved, and puzzled, I returned to the living room only to hear it again an hour or so later.  This would not be the last time I would hear this very distinct sound.  For fear of my parents thinking me crazy, I never talked about it or the scratching sounds in my wall.  I kept it to myself until one day several years after we had moved out of the house my grandmother was visiting. She expressed her pleasure with never having to visit us again at the old house because it was haunted - her words nor mine.  She too had heard the attic stairs come down on multiple occasions.  I confessed my experiences and my brother opened up ab out having experienced some of the same things as well as having heard noises issuing from the basement.  None of us had ever mentioned it while living in the house, but now it is a source of much amusement whenever we get together.  I wish I had known then what I know now with regard to EMF detectors, EVPs, etc.  That would have been a fun place to conduct an investigation.  I often wonder if the current owners / tenants experience some of the same phenomena that we did.

     So, I’m still not certain when my fascination with the paranormal began, but it’s clear that I have had an interest from a very young age.  I do have a colorful imagination, but I am not making up anything that I write in this blog.  And while I cannot explain these occurrences, I can say with full honesty that they have happened just as we have written about them.  Paranormal?  I think so, but I’ll let you, the readers, draw your own conclusions.  Until our next adventure, I am your faithful servant,

                                                                                                                                                Dickens


                                               Southport Burial Ground


                                          Too bad this isn't real, huh?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ansonborough Inn Ghost Returns

A Charleston dream? Or was it real?

I recently experienced a jolt in my sweet slumber that left me shaken and completely unsure of what had just happened.  This occurred a few weeks after I had watched a video about a terrifying paranormal event someone had experienced at the Ansonborough Inn in Charleston, SC several years ago.

I was fascinated by that video as I too had spent several nights at that particular Inn not long ago. The person in this video had experienced a harsh awakening in the middle of the night by an unknown presence and had been visibly shaken by the intense feeling of fear that had engulfed him.  He was convinced it was a supernatural being that had visited him.  The story continued that he had possibly been visited by a Confederate soldier after a trip to one of the downtown graveyards he had taken earlier that day.

I decided to delve a little deeper into the history of Charleston and the Ansonborough Inn.  I spent several hours perusing websites and looking through several books I had on hand to see if I could find anything out.  Finally my sleepiness overtook me and I went to bed.

About 5 am, I awoke to a terrible feeling of being watched.  I got up, went into the bathroom and returned to my bed sure that it was just a dream.  I drifted back into sleep.  In my dreams there were the usual family and work related themes that we all seem to dream of.  But all of a sudden there was a woman who turned toward me then came rushing towards me.  I was grabbed and literally felt shaken and tossed around.  It was violent and unexpected. I had never experienced anything like this before. I awoke trembling and scared.  I knew in my head it was just a dream but it seemed different and there was visible evidence that something had happened.  The next day I had several bruises I had not been aware of.

Again - I know it was just a dream and possibly those bruises had occurred after working out or cleaning the house but it was unsettling and gave me pause.  Had I disturbed some presence looking deeper into the history of the Ansonborough Inn?


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gullah Lore - Plat-Eyes

While visiting Charleston, we were introduced to one very interesting and unusual culture found within the boundaries of the Lowcountry called Gullah.   Gullah is a language as well as religious ideas and superstition similar to voodoo for many descendants of the African slaves.  (As a background note, the Gullah culture came to be as a result of many tribes coming together as they made their way across the Atlantic in their efforts to combine languages and beliefs.)
Once they arrived, some of these folk traditions were carried over to the other Charleston inhabitants and even included in the architecture.  On our walks through Charleston, we noticed that even some doorknockers reflect Gullah roots.  Plat-eyes are mysterious creatures that most often resemble a familiar animal - usually a dog or a cat with glowing eyes.  If you have committed a crime or even an unjust deed against another person, you can expect a visit from a plat-eye who will chase you and torment you until the evil deed has been rectified.  They are scary creatures that you most want to avoid in the dark.  The doorknocker seen here in this photo is from the front door of a very nice home around Church Street.  Placing the Plat-Eye on your front door is sure to dissuade any other plat-eyes from bothering you I'm sure.