South Carolina has its share of ghost stories
and this is a good time of year to tell one of them.
The tale begins in 1838 with a sweet and comely Southern belle from a wealthy planter family, Miss Alice Flagg, her mother, and her brother charged with her care when their father died. There are several versions, but they all agree on a few basic facts. Young Alice fell in love with a lumberman -- a LUMBERman-- much beneath her station in life according to her mother and brother. The more they expressed their disapproval, the more fond young Alice became of her young man.
Eventually they agreed secretly to marry and to plight his troth, the lumberman gave Alice a gold ring.
As one would imagine, big brother and mother were not happy when they found out and forbade Alice to wear the ring, insisting she return it. Alice dutifully removed it from her finger but wore it secretly on a ribbon next to her heart.
Mother and brother concurred that drastic measures were necessary to keep the lumberman out of the Flagg family and hustled 15-year old Alice (with her beloved's ring next to her heart) off to boarding school in Charleston.
Alice was bereft without her beau and did not take to life in Charleston, as gay and fashionable as it was. In fact, in just months she withered away to nearly nothing and died of a broken heart (though her doctor-brother diagnosed it as plain old malaria, which was quite likely as living on a South Carolina plantation practically guaranteed a malaria mosquito would bite you sooner or later).
When brother Dr. Allard Flagg discovered the ring on his dead sister's body he ripped it off in a rage and flung it into the creek at their Murrells Inlet home. Alice was buried nearby in a Methodist church graveyard in an unmarked grave.
Enter the ghost, the ghost of Alice Flagg.
Who walks near her home at night, moaning and keening and searching the creek for her ring.
For some reason the rest of Alice's family is buried elsewhere, in All Saints Epicopal churchyard with all the other worthy Flagg ancestors. Amongst their graves is a plain stone set flat into the ground with the single word "Alice" on it.
By church records, no one is buried there but some say
another Alice Flagg lies under the stone,
the Alice mentioned on the stone to the right, who, with her family, was swept away by a wave Magnolia Beach in the hurricane of 1893.
Our Alice Flagg's people are buried just a few feet away, under the old oaks draped elegantly with Spanish moss. For some reason, perhaps to torment them through eternity, our Alice's ghost has followed them from her resting place and makes regular appearances (although ghosts are firmly deterred by a sign outside the wall). People, also discouraged from entering at night by a sign and locked gate, make their way in as well. They leave plastic rings, shells, flowers, coins and bills, circle the stone a prescribed number of times on the well-worn path around it, and encourage Alice's ghost to appear. Some are successful and see a wispy figure in white passing here and there among the trees.