Friday, October 17, 2008
Southern Ghosts Part Seven - St. Simons Lighthouse, Georgia
One of the most beautiful lighthouses to be found anywhere, the St. Simons Lighthouse towers over the Atlantic Coast of Georgia.
Located on St. Simons Island, the old tower stands on the site of earlier British and Confederate forts and has served as an important landmark for ships sailing into the harbor for more than a century.
St. Simons Light is also haunted by stories of a restless spirit. Most story tellers agree that the ghost is that of Frederick Osborne, onetime keeper of the light.
The ghost legend has its origin in 1880, when Osborne and his assistant, John Stephens, became embroiled in an argument. The following brief account appeared in the Georgia Weekly Telegraph newspaper on March 12, 1880:
Mr. Osburn, keeper of the lighthouse on St. Simons' Island, was seriously shot by Mr. John Stephens, his assistant, for talking in a disrespectful manner to his wife.
Osborne died from his wounds and Stephens was arrested and charged with murder, but was acquitted following a trial.
Reports of a ghost at the lighthouse originated almost immediately. By 1907, the story of the haunted lighthouse and its ghostly keeper was being printed in newspapers across the country.
An eyewitness that year described one of the spirit's appearances. Apparently, prior to his death, Osborne had indicated that if he was ever needed to assist with the works of the lighthouse, all his assistants had to do was call. One of them jokingly asked, "What if you are dead?" to which he responded, "Well, call anyway!"
According to the newspaper accounts, the new keeper of the lighthouse had gone to shore and his wife began having difficulty with the mechanism and, remembering Osborne's words, said "Well, come and fix it now!" To the surprise of the woman, the spirit of the old keeper appeared:
There was a clink and rattle, and looking up Mrs. C---- saw the distinct figure of the French Canadian bending over the works. Overcome by the reaction, she fainted, and when she regained consciousness the steady "click, click," of the works assured her all was well with the light. The man had disappeared.... (From the Idaho Statesman, September 8, 1907)
In the years since, many people have reported seeing the ghostly figure of Osborne in and around the lighthouse. Strange sounds of footsteps going up and down the spiral staircase have also been reported.
The lighthouse today is beautiful restored and can be visited during regular hours. If you would like to read more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/gastsimons.