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 If you recall, this is the same graveyard where we ran into what I believe to be a ghost several years ago pushing an outdated lawnmower.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.