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.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

St. John's Lutheran Churchyard Charleston, SC

     The most compelling spirit message we received during our recent trip came from another cemetery, one which we have visited often.  Whenever in Charleston we always make our way over to the Unitarian Churchyard on Archdale Street.  If you recall, this is the same graveyard where we ran into what I believe to be a ghost several years ago pushing an outdated lawnmower.  You can read about that encounter in an earlier post.  However, this time, the “Lawnmower Man” did not manifest, and in fact nothing out of the ordinary appeared to happen while at the Unitarian Church. 
     However, St. John’s Lutheran Church is right next door and we always cross over the heavy iron chain that separates to two churchyards and walk among the gravestones there as well whenever we visit.  It was here where we encountered someone or something that spoke to us through the digital voice recorder.  The message, though short, was fairly clear and we both heard it upon conducting a quick review just moments after capturing it.  We had hoped to be able to attach the recording to this post, however, Blogger does not permit the attachment of audio files.  We will seek a solution so that we can post it at later time, but for now it will have to suffice for us to tell you about it.
     We’d come upon a gravestone that had fallen, leaving a gaping hole where the stone once stood.  The ground all around the grave itself was spongy and it felt like we were sinking into the earth with every step.  The name on the stone was that of James Howard, an 18 year old who died August 6, 1807.* (See note below)  Now those of you familiar with Charleston ghost lore will recognize the surname of Howard being associated with Sue Hardy Howard.  Perhaps you’ve seen the famous photo of a shrouded, misty figure bending over a grave in the St. Philip’s Episcopal churchyard.  That figure is purported to be the ghost of Sue Howard leaning over the grave of her baby, which is next to her own grave.  Now I can’t make any connection between Sue and young James here.  In fact, James died 30 years before Sue was even born.  I’m certain it’s just coincidental that they shared the same surname, but the fact that it was the same did not escape us.  It’s eerie sometimes when coincidences are just too coincidental, if you know what I mean.

     While observing the condition of James’s grave and feeling how loose the earth beneath us felt, Mary Ann decided to conduct an EVP session.  She greeted James then stated, “Looks like something’s going on here where you’re laying.”  She paused slightly then continued by asking, “Are you trying to get out?”  It was during that pause and before she asked if he was trying to get out that she captured a whisper on the digital recorder that very clearly says, “Out.” When we conducted the review immediately afterward, we both heard the response.  After a second review we both determined that the word spoken was indeed “Out.”  We were delighted and amazed because it appears to be an intelligent response to Mary Ann’s comment.  You can listen to it here.  If you hear something different, please leave a comment for us to read.

We have conducted EVP sessions in the past and this was the first time that we ever captured a voice on the recording.  The fact that it seems to appropriately respond to a statement is powerful and leads me to believe that we spoke to and heard from the spirit of James Howard.  I’m not sure why he wants out, and to be honest, it’s a bit unnerving to think about a dead person wanting out of his grave, but there did not seem to be anything sinister in the voice or in the feelings we had while in the churchyard.  Perhaps James just wants out so that he can be moved to a more suitable spot where the ground is firmer and his gravestone can be repaired and put back in an upright position.  That doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable desire, does it?

*I obtained the dates of James’s birth and death from the website  The gravestone itself was so badly deteriorated that we had difficulty deciphering the dates. 

Magnolia Cemetery Charleston, SC

On our recent trip to Charleston, SC we visited a number of cemeteries and graveyards as is our custom.  We reacquainted ourselves with all of the old familiar “haunts” and also discovered another cemetery several miles north of the historic district.  Magnolia Cemetery’s sprawling grounds are home to the remains of many famous Charlestonians as well as more than 3000 Civil War soldiers and sailors, including the crew of The Hunley, who perished when the confederate submarine sank in 1864 after successfully attacking a Union warship on blockade duty just outside Charleston Harbor.  The sprawling grounds of Magnolia Cemetery, dedicated in 1850, are nestled among Spanish Moss-draped Live Oaks and is host to various water fowl and other creatures that make the lagoon their home.  Tip:  If you plan to visit don’t forget the bug spray.  Among the gravestones you’ll find ornate iron works and family crypts that just lend themselves to the classic southern cemetery style.

     While walking among the graves in Magnolia we had occasion to receive what we believe to be a message from a female spirit.  Mary Ann took out her smartphone to send a text message.  She began typing the name of the intended recipient when I heard her comment, “That was weird.”  When I inquired, she told me that she began typing a name to send a text and after the first two letters, M and A, the phone auto-completed the name.  So what, you say.  That’s why they call it a smartphone, right?  What was “weird” was that the name that appeared was not that of the person she intended, rather the name Maggie.  Further, Mary Ann does not have a Maggie stored in her address book, has never texted or called a person named Maggie…doesn’t even know anyone named Maggie.  So why Maggie?  You guessed it yet? 

     I looked down at the gravestone in front of us and pointed it out.  No the name was not Maggie, but it was Margaret, a name for which Maggie is a common nickname. A strange sensation coursed through me at the moment that I made the connection.  I wish that I had made a note of the details on the stone, such as last name and dates of birth and death, but I was too taken aback to recall those details at the time.  Mary Ann then quickly conducted a short EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) session.  Margaret, or as she apparently prefers, Maggie did not wish to speak to us through the digital voice recorder, but it seems clear that she was communicating with us.  Perhaps she doesn’t want to be forgotten.  I’d say she accomplished her aim because I’m not likely to forget her for a long time, if ever.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ansonborough Inn - Charleston, SC

     We recently stayed at the Ansonborough Inn in the historic district of Charleston, SC.  The inn was originally a three-story warehouse built around the turn of the century (circa 1901) near the port.  While I’ve not come across any tales of this particular location being haunted, we did experience some curious circumstances during our brief stay.  First, Mary Ann was unpacking soon after arrival to find that the socks that she knows she packed were nowhere to be found.  While she was adamant that she packed them, it occurred to me that perhaps, just maybe she may have left them sitting on the bed at home and I didn’t pay much heed beyond that, until…

     The morning after our first night staying at the inn I went to put my contacts in only to discover that they were missing from the case in which I know I placed them the night before and have been doing since I began wearing contacts over 20 years ago.  It’s a routine I can do literally with my eyes closed – at least once I take the contacts out! So I have no reason or evidence to suspect that I did anything different this time.  At first I thought maybe I had made a mistake and opened the wrong storage case so I checked Mary Ann’s and as she had already put hers in, that case was empty as well.  I went back to my case and what was really odd is that the wells contained the saline I had put in them the night before when I deposited the lenses, but the lenses themselves were gone.  I triple and quadrupled checked even checking the lids to ensure they had not gotten stuck to the inside of the lids somehow, but no contact lenses.  Luckily I had a spare pair, but the disappearance was troublesome and the disappearance of the socks carried more weight.

     Now we have missing socks and missing contact lenses.  But wait, there’s more.  That evening Mary Ann went to retrieve a nail file from her bag and…you guessed it, it was gone.  Once again she is certain that she packed it with her toiletries and given the other disappearances, I believe her. 

     I am not saying that these missing items had anything to do with paranormal activity, but I can’t help but wonder what happened to these items.  Also note that there were three instances of missing items– three being the key number that tends to be prominent when paranormal activity occurs.  But if this wasn’t enough I have one more oddity to cap it all off.

     On our final night as we were preparing to go out to dinner I took out the digital recorder to see if perhaps we could capture any electronic voice phenomena.  I turned on the recorder and asked whomever had taken our personal items to please return them to the room while we were gone.  At the time of the brief recording, there was no ambient noise and both of us were standing completely still.  When we reviewed the recording, just after I voiced my request, there is a shuffling sound heard on the recorder that lasts for a couple of seconds.  It sounded as if someone was walking across the carpet perhaps.  Again, I will reiterate that both of us were standing completely still and I was holding the recorder completely still at the time.  There were no other sounds and no discernable voice that responded to my plea, just the unexplained shuffling noise that neither of us heard in real time, but could clearly hear on the recording. 

     So…plausible explanation?  I don’t know.  Maybe, but I can’t think of one right now.  Just something to make us wonder even more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Key West Cemetery

Another spot that we visited while in Key West was the The Key West Cemetery, a 19 acre cemetery that is home to the graves of more than 100,000 people, including Robert Eugene Otto, owner of Robert the Doll.  There are thousands or ornate tombstones and monuments throughout, many eerily decorated with mementos left on the gravestones.  One area that we found of interest was a plot of land surrounded by an iron fence whose gates are decorated with spear points and battle axes.  This particular spot houses graves of US servicemen and a memorial to the 260 US sailors who perished on the USS Maine after it was blown up in Havana Harbor in February of 1898, an act that led to the US declaring war on Spain. 

     Walking through the iron gates, I felt a strong emotion that I can only describe as eerie.  I didn’t immediately say anything but the longer we walked and perused the monument and the graves, the stronger the feeling became, settling heavy in my chest.  Once we exited through the gates to visit other parts of the cemetery, the feeling lifted, prompting me to mention it to my wife.  Uncannily, she expressed the exact same feelings while inside the gates, and as with me, those feelings abated once we exited through the gates.  We did not see anything that appeared supernatural and none of our photos turned up any strange anomalies, but the uneasy feeling was strong and simultaneous, and what’s more, neither knew the other was experiencing anything odd until we talked about it afterward.  Were the soldiers buried there trying to get our attention or thank us for visiting them?  Who knows, but the fact that we felt the same feelings at the same time and didn’t verbalize it to one another until after the fact is strong evidence that something extraordinary occurred.

Robert the Doll - Key West, Florida

     While in Key West we took a ghost tour and one of the stops was at the Fort East Martello Museum, the home of Robert the Doll.  Robert the Doll was a gift to Robert Eugene Otto given to him by his Jamaican nurse and said to be haunted.  Whenever mischief occurred, young Eugene would always say, “Robert did it.”  Stories tell of people passing the Otto’s house and seeing the doll move through the window.  Eugene had an unnatural affinity for Robert that continued into his adult years as he seldom went anywhere without him.  Eugen Otto grew up to become an artist and lived in Key West much of his life.  Robert now splits time between the East Martello Museum and the Old Post Office and Custom House in Key West.

      The evening of our visit, we encountered Robert behind his class encasement in a dimly lit area of the museum, in an area that also held a 19th century horse drawn hearse.  The wall behind Robert is papered with letters addressed to Robert, seeking his forgiveness and asking that he lift the various curses he allegedly placed on the writers of the letters.  Our tour guide explained that before taking his picture you must seek his permission, and if you did not, then Robert was known to put a curse on you, thus all the letters seeking his forgiveness. 

     My wife and I both had cameras and she did as instructed and asked Robert’s permission before snapping photos.  I, on the other hand, either out of stupidity, or perhaps out of feeling strange for asking a doll behind a glass encasement permission to photograph it, did not ask permission.  On a side note, when we entered the museum we were given EMF meters (ghost meters) that measures Electromagnetic energy, which spirits are said to generate.  Just as I snapped one of my photos of Robert, a couple on the tour noticed that their EMF meter was going off.  In fact, if you look closely at the photo of Robert, you can see the couple on the background looking down at their meter.

     We were then escorted outside and told the story of a ghost of a soldier that was frequently seen in the courtyard emerging from behind a wall that surrounded the property.  I again snapped a few photos, and while no soldier appeared, I did pick some unusual light anomalies or orbs that were not visible to the naked eye, but only discovered later while reviewing the photos.

     The ghost tour ended and we returned back to our hotel later that night.  I didn’t give any more thought to the curse of Robert the Doll until about mid-morning the next day when I became sick with a terrible cold that made me miserable for the duration of our visit in Key West and for several days afterward.  I’d been fine the day before and had none of the tell-tale signs that normally proceeds a cold, rather it came upon me on the instant, fast and furious.  I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the doing of Robert the Doll, punishing me for taking his photo without permission.  Readers beware.  If you visit Key West and go to see Robert the Doll, do not take his photo without asking his permission first.  While I merely caught a severe cold, others have reported much worse, so much so that they have written letters to an early 20th century doll begging for his forgiveness.