South Carolina is rich in history with many interesting places to see, which I have only just begun to explore. The beauty of the low country is as captivating as it is mysterious, and a bit dark at times. Much this areas history is rooted in plantations and slave trade, and few places I visited I could only stay for a few minutes because the energy of the sites were so dark. One such place is the Chapel of Ease, Saint Helena Island, SC. The building of the chapel commenced in about 1740 using Tabby construction. Tabby is a form of concrete made from lime, sand and oyster shells. The area was once heavily populated by Native Americans, who ate oysters by the boatload it leaving their shells heaped in great piles around the island. Oyster shells don’t decompose rapidly making them an abundant it was resource for this type of building material.
The chapel served the plantation population well until they received news of a union soldiers invasion in 1861, the church never regained its stature. Some stories relate that union soldiers used it for services during the war, as well as northerners who came to the area after the war to educate and train the former slave population. The chapel was destroyed by a fire in 1886. The shell of the chapel still stands today, and walking around the property is a bit creepy . I had a huge knot in my stomach the whole time I was there. It is said to be one of the most haunted sites in South Carolina. Stories range from sightings, to hearing names beings called out in the woods. Another story surrounds the vault, built as the resting place for Edgar Fripp and his wife Eliza, prominent island residents.
The vault, which is still in pretty good condition and standing on the property today . Apparently it was opened by union solders hoping to find treasures during The Civil War, and left open for many years. At some point it was decided to brick up the entrance. According to the story, workmen did a journeyman’s job of sealing the vault, only to return the following day to find the bricks removed and neatly stacked beside the vault . Convinced that the supernatural was afoot, in part aided by police assurances that no one had been in the area the previous night long enough to complete such a task, the job remained unfinished. Today the vault is empty, the door half-sealed by bricks, and one finds the experience of looking into its vacant is more than a bit unsettling to say the least.
Apparently, there is another spot just up the street which is quite haunted called the hanging tree. It is at this sight where where runaway slaves were hung, while other slaves were forced to watch as a warning. I didn’t feel the need to visit the sight. This is such a sad part of American History. According to the story if you find yourself here after dark, and park beneath its branches, turn off your headlamps and wait for the Land’s End light. It begins in the distance like a single headlight coming down the road towards you, but as it grows closer you realize it’s much larger and not nearly as bright. Some say as it speeds by it leaves you charged with static electricity. Proponents of the supernatural insist it is the spirits of the souls hung in the tree, others claim it is the spirit of a confederate solder. No one agrees on what the cause for the light might be, though it’s pretty much agreed upon that the light is real, and even somewhat reliable. Some even claim the light appears every night.
I want to leave you with a more positive piece of South Carolina’s history, and a sport which I really enjoyed spending some time. The Angel Oak Tree is a massive, and I mean massive Live Oak which stand 65 feet tall, and whose branches stretch out in all directions. According to my neighbor here when she was a kid you could climb on it, but sadly the tree became victim to graffiti and the bark of this beautiful tree was carved into. At some point the city took it over, gated the tree off and overtime the tree healed from the damage. To be in the presence of this tree is nothing short of amazing. You just want to run up and hug it because it gives off such an amazing energy. It is unclear exactly how old the tree is. Some sources claim it is over 1,500 years old, others say it dates back to Columbus. I read that attempts to “officially” age the tree have been unsuccessful. Regardless of the age it is really worth the visit. So …I will leave you on this note. I have more exploring to do in South Carolina, so there will likely be another post, before I head to my next destination, which it TBD
Love, Lois Buddy, and Phoenix