Georgia's Ghostly Getaways
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We have probed the vastness of outer space. Our divers have plumbed the watery depths. Yet there are still many things science cannot explain. Who is not fascinated by mysterious things that go bump in the night? Who has never wondered about that thin line that separates the living from the dead? Are there some places where departed souls still linger?
I don't propose to answer that question. However, there are too many cases of reputable people reporting strange occurrences in certain places. It is even harder to dismiss the stories as foolishness when many people who have never met relate the same experience.
The lighthouse began in the mind of a dreamer, James Gould. He came to the island in the late 1700s and in 1807 won the bid to build the lighthouse. In 1810 President Madison appointed him the first keeper. Since there was no money for an assistant, Gould trained some of his slaves for this position. One of the men was so devoted to this job his friends nicknamed him "Lamp Black" Perhaps it is Lamp Black whose ghostly footsteps still echo on the spiral stair treads around dinnertime. Many people believe he is just returning to check on "his" light."
Others believe the ghost at the St. Simons Island lighthouse is that of lighthouse keeper Fred Osborn, killed in March 1881, during an argument with his assistant, John Stevens, who had fallen in love with Osborn's wife. Another version of the story states that Osborn was a chronic faultfinder with everything Stevens did. Whichever the case, the two men fought. Osborn had a pistol, Stevens a shotgun. Stevens was later acquitted and the killing deemed self-defense but to the end of his days, Stevens claimed to hear footsteps on the stairs when no one was there. Was it Osborn come back to confront his killer or just Lamp Black trying to attend his light? Who knows, perhaps both spirits inhabit the lighthouse. On cold and windy nights, they may compare notes on the care of the light and the vagaries of life and death.
Confederate soldiers blew up the original lighthouse in 1861 to keep it from falling into Union hands. It was rebuilt in 1872 and now houses the Museum of Coastal History. By day visitors can tour it. By night it is the domain of its resident ghosts.
The island, with its moss-draped oaks is a great place for horseback riding. There is a stable located on Frederica Road just past the causeway. However, if you ride at twilight, you may come face to face with Mary the Wanderer. Mary still rides a white stallion searching for her lost lover who drowned during a storm when his boat capsized in the Frederica River more than a century ago.
The island's history goes back over two and a half centuries to the time when England and Spain were locked in a bitter struggle for dominion over these new lands. In 1736, James Oglethorpe began the construction of Fort Frederica on St. Simons to defend England's' southern colonies from Spanish invasion. The fort was the largest and most costly British fort in North America. The prosperous town of Frederica grew around it by 1743, dependent on the soldiers for their livelihood. This fort played a major part in the route of the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh, six miles to the south. The slaughter here was so devastating to the Spanish forces that they retreated back to St. Augustine, forever ending the threat to the English colonies. Designed for war, Frederica could withstand every thing except peace. As the Spanish threat faded, the soldiers withdrew leaving the village economy unable to survive. Today, you can view the site. Much of the fort and the barracks remain. Other home and business sites foundations are carefully preserved allowing you a glimpse of what this thriving military town looked like in its heyday. The Visitors Center, which has books and exhibits and an entertaining film about the founding of Frederica.
If you view the site of the Battle of Bloody Marsh, after dark you might meet the earthbound spirit of Thomas Cater. Thomas built the prosperous plantation of Kelvin Grove in the 1790s. Home was his beautiful pink tabby house set among the live oaks and magnolia with a view of the ocean from its wide balconies. Thomas also had a wife, Elizabeth, and a young son, Benjamin Franklin. There was a hidden serpent in this colonial paradise. Thomas's wife was carrying on a clandestine affair with the overseer. Her jealous lover killed Thomas. The loyal butler, Benbow, fearing for the child's life, fled to Retreat with the young Benjamin who was raised by the master of that plantation, Major William Page. Retreat today is the site of the Sea Island Golf Club. Thomas was buried standing up on his beloved plantation.
Kelvin Grove has long since been divided unto subdivisions, one of which bears the name of the old plantation. Part of the grounds included the site of Bloody Marsh. Thomas still reputedly roams after dark, perhaps seeking revenge against the overseer.
Interestingly, there may be many more spirits in the area to accompany him. When a portion of the tract was sold to the county for an airport in 1936, remains of an ancient Indian burial ground were found on the site. No institute more evil than slavery ever existed in the American South. Ironically it brought out the best in mankind as well as the worst. Examples of both exist on St. Simon. In May 1803, a group of Ebo captives were being transported to a life of slavery at St Simons. Rather than submit, the proud tribesmen revolted the only left open to them. They marched into the waters of Dunbar Creek and drowned themselves rather than live in chains. To this day, their mournful chants and clanging chains are sometimes heard, an eternal reminder of man's inhumanity to man.
On the other side of the coin is the reason behind the name of the popular beachfront spot, Neptune Park. It stands at the end of Mallory St, between the pier and the lighthouse. Its sculpture of a mother whale and her baby remind visitors of the Right Whales that visit this coast. These whales were named "Right" by the whalers who considered them the right whales to hunt and succeeded in driving them to the verge of extinction. If you are lucky, you may spot one of the few remanding whales that use this area for a calving ground from December to late March.
The park is named for Neptune Small. Neptune was a slave during the Civil War. According to Bunny, the tour guide on the trolley which boards nearby, he accompanied his young master, Lord King, into battle and when Lord fell on the fields of Fredricksburg, Neptune dragged his body from the battlefield and brought him back to Retreat Plantation for burial. Then the saddened Neptune returned to watch over the younger King son, Cuyler. After the war, a grateful Thomas King, gave Neptune the beachfront land to build his home. The small family remained on this land into the twentieth century. Thus a former slave became the owner of what would become one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in St. Simons,
Reviews of Georgia's Ghostly Getaways
Shades of Scarlet O’Hara!
Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways by Kathleen Walls gives the reader a most remarkable look at what has got to be one of the most beautiful of the Southern states – Georgia. Not only does Ms. Walls show us Georgia as it is today; she presents the history of the area as well -- while throwing in lots and lots of ghostly tales for good measure.
Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways takes us through Georgia from one side of the state to the other and from top to bottom. It starts off with the coastal city of Savanna, Georgia’s Hostess City, and ends with New Echota, once the Capital of the Cherokee Nation. After each location, Ms. Walls lists helpful contacts of places to see, to stay and to dine.
Even though I am from the South and have been to Georgia many times, it took reading Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways by Kathleen Walls to make me realize just how little of Georgia that I have really seen and understood -- and what I have missed by sticking to the interstates and main highways as I drove through the state.
I highly recommend this book. For those people who are planning a trip to Georgia, it is an invaluable source of information. For those people who will never have the opportunity to visit the beautiful and colorful state of Georgia, it makes an excellent armchair excursion.
Reviewed by Kristie Leigh Maguire, author of "Emails from the Edge (The Life of an Expatriate Wife) and co-author along with Mark Haesuer of "No Lady and Her Tramp"
Georgia's Ghostly Getaways offers you glimpses into the haunting history and spooky spots throughout Georgia.
These include inns, restaurants, homes, museums, and colleges from Georgia's early days to the present. Learn where sightings occur, ghosts still appear, doors open and close, lights flash without reason, and voices whisper.
Kathleen Walls provides a great ghostly guidebook as well as insight into the fascinating stories surrounding historical and modern spectral sites. Georgia's Ghostly Getaways is a "must read" for those interested in the unusual and unnatural of Georgia's past and present as they travel throughout the state or reside there.
Kathleen also includes numerous resources for additional historical and travel information when planning your visit to these haunts.
Mary Emma Allen, travel writer, columnist at www.americanroads.net, author of books for children and adults.
If you're heading to Georgia (the US state, not the country), and you happen to be interested in ghosts then this guidebook could come in handy. Walls takes the reader on a tour of the spookiest spots in the state, throwing in useful eating and accommodation recommendations as she goes. ...
The book benefits from extensive research, and joins a small group of other works on the ghosts of the thirteenth state. JT
Overall verdict: more Greek revival haunted houses than you can shake a magic wand at.
Reviewed by Jonathan Turton, Editor, Travel Insights. London, UK http://www.travelinsights.org/
Georgia's Ghostly Getaways by Kathleen Walls should be a book that every student should read. Ms. Walls definitely did her homework, as the descriptions of Savannah, Dalton, Milledgeville and Kennesaw were perfect.
While reading this book, I found myself back in Georgia and missing that wonderful Southern Hospitality. I was very surprised to see the part on Kennesaw, as I am the former Chief of Police and was the original spokesperson for the Kennesaw Gun Law. Dent Myers is an old friend and a walking history book.
The Ghosts Ms. Walls talked about are obviously still active. After reading her book, I believe they will always be present which I think is great by the way she described the encounters. I give this history of Georgia and its ghosts five Stars. A must read for all of you Civil War and Supernatural Fans.
Review by Bobby Ruble award winning author of Have No Mercy
I’ve got to see these ghosts! And if I don’t see the specters I must see Georgia through the eyes of insightful travel author Kathleen Walls. And make no bones about it – the history is captivating as well. This is a must read if you love ghosts, travel, history or any of the above.
Karen Harvey, Historian and author of Oldest Ghosts