When the golden beams of the suns light shine through the Spanish moss draped trees at the Edisto Island Presbyterian Church, South Carolina, its easy to think that a slow-moving shadow is just that: a shadow. But maybe, it is something else.
In fact, the locals tell a strange ghost story down on the island and, probably, It is one of the most horrifying and heartbreaking tales you will ever hear.
The Legare family owned a plantation here, in the time before the Civil War and their family mausoleum is located on the grounds of the Island Presbyterian Church, built in 1831. The Church is active still today, and the mausoleum still attracts visitors to this day, over 150 years since the night that poor Julia Legare was laid to rest.
Or, so they thought she was laid to rest…
In those days it was common for families to lose children to illnesses that today are easily cured. And the medicine of that time also left a lot to be desired, such as the ability to tell whether or not a person was dead or just in a deep coma. And that is why they were introduced coffin technologies that protect you from being buried alive. In any case, turned out it was just apparent death for little Julia.
A victim of Diphtheria, she was pronounced dead by the physician brought in by her family.
In fact, no heartbeat or breathing could be detected and due to the primitive level of mortuary science practiced during that era, with no embalming or other form of preservation possible, her thought-to-be dead body was rushed to interment in the family mausoleum. The child was lovingly dressed for her funeral where loved ones would pay her one last goodbye. Or so they thought. Thus her family paid their respects and with heavy hearts sealed and locked the door. Julia’s family went on with their lives as best as they could after suffering the loss of a child so young, and in time the pain of her death was replaced with happy memories from her life.
About 15 years later, when Julia’s older brother was killed in the Civil War, the family once again had to open the mausoleum, and what they found literally horrified them.
Lying on the floor, just inside the door were the crumpled remains of Julia, with only bones and tattered clothing. Claw marks could be seen on the inside of the door and on the walls and floor where Julia had tried in vain to escape after coming out of her Diphtheria-induced coma.
The family, now more consumed with grief than ever, placed her brother in the mausoleum, gathered up her remains, reinterred them side by side and then resealed the mausoleum.
And then the hauntings began.
When the family returned shortly after resealing the mausoleum, they found the door had been reopened. So, they closed and locked the door only to return several days later to find that it had once again been reopened. A few weeks later, a clergyman at the church saw that the door was open again and ordered it to be closed. This happened again and again and again throughout the decades. Chains and unbreakable locks were used to keep it sealed tight, but they would always break and the door would open.
Distraught and confused, the family then had the door removed and replaced with a heavy stone slab. But that too was found pushed to the side several days later. After a few more attempts, they gave up and left the door to the mausoleum open.
And that is how it remains today.
In any case, since the discovery of poor little Julia’s fate, no attempt to keep the mausoleum door sealed shut has been successful.
So if you’re ever down on Edisto Island just south of Charleston, you can stop by the cemetery at the Edisto Island Presbyterian Church.
There you will find the Legare family mausoleum.
And just inside the open door you will see the claw marks left by the hands of a little girl unwittingly entombed long before her time, whose ghost apparently still stands to ensure that the door to her family’s mausoleum remains open so that no one will suffer the same fate as she did over more than 150 years ago….
Images from web – Google Research