Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Southern Ghosts Part Ten - The Edgefield Ghost, South Carolina

One of the most fascinating ghost stories in American history developed in Edgefield, South Carolina, in 1829 and was widely reported in U.S. newspapers of that year.

The following is the initial report from the Edgefield Courier newspaper of July 11, 1829:

A public curiosity has been greatly excited, and many tales more or less true, have gone out, concerning the mysterious and invisible being, that has been heard at Mr. Isaac Burnett's, in this District, for some time, it seems proper that the Public should be in possession of the facts relative to this extraordinary circumstance. The voice was first heard in October last, imitating various noises, such as that of th espinning wheel, reel ducks, hens, & c. It was first heard by Mr. Burnett, about twenty yards from the house, which led him to suppose it was some of the neighbor's children, hiding in the weeds and trying to frighten his children. It was afterwards heard in the loft of the house and Mr. B. supposing it to be a bird, sent a boy up to drive it out, but nothing could be seen. It thus continued to perplex the minds of the family for some time, until, at length, one of the children said he believed that thing could talk, and commenced asking questions, which it answered by whistling, pretty much like a Parrot. This circumstance getting out, many persons came to hear it. Mr. John Shepherd, a...worthy citizen, who lives in the neighborhood, conversed with it in presence of a nuber of witnesses. To ascertain the extent of its knowledge, he asked it various questions about most persons in the neighborhood and their circumstances which it answered correctly. It told his name and the number of children he had; also, the names of most of the persons present. He asked what it came there for. It replied, "Because it had no other place to go." It was asked if it came to do the family harm, it said no - it loved the family. It was asked finally if it loved Jesus Christ, to which it made no reply, nor answered any more question, which Mr. Shepherd asked. The evening after, it answered others, but would not answer him. For the first three months it was heard only once a month....

The Edgefield ghost continued to draw considerable attention in newspapers through 1829 and 1830, but coverage of the strange spirit finally diminished. Accounts indicate, however, that numerous people heard and conversed with it in 1829 and that it was sometimes heard whistling "Yankee Doodle."

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