Hosts With Ghosts:
Haunted Historical Hotels in the Southeast
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The South has long been famous for its Southern Hospitality. Hotels throughout Dixie vie with one another to offer their guests more service and more amenities. They strive to make each visitor feel like a cherished family member instead of a paying customer.
When you visit a hotel, you expect more than a temporary roof over your head while you travel. You want to immerse yourself in the flood of history that has engulfed the spot you visit. Perhaps you seek a Colonial ambience in Virginia or a touch of Civil War drama in Georgia or Alabama. Or you may want to relive the brash frontier past of Texas, Kentucky or Tennessee. Maybe you wish to experience the Creole flavor of Louisiana or Mississippi’s rural heritage. In Florida, much of its history has been influenced by its tropical and subtropical climate. Some of the states included in this book, like North and South Carolina have a culture so diverse you can expect to find a totally different experience depending on which part of these states you visit.
You want to experience this flavor when you travel. This book is set up for you as a traveler. I have offered the most interesting sights whether they are historic places, fun attractions or off the wall less known sights that might be missed in some guidebooks. In some cases, I have arranged them in chronological order to give you a better historical picture of the area. Sometimes, I placed them for convenience of driving to them. I included both haunted and non-haunted, as I know you want to see all each area has to offer. Many of the most interesting hotels in the southeast have an edge on making you feel part of their states’ heritage. They are housed in historically significant buildings. All old buildings retain a trace of the historical elements that shaped their destiny. Ah, if only their walls could talk! Of course I can’t tell you all about all the best hotels in Dixie. There are far too many. But I can let you in on the secrets hidden behind the doors of some of the ones with that little something extra, their very own historical spirits. Some are large, corporate owned resorts. Some are so tiny they are now considered bed and breakfasts or inns even though they were once hotels. Some are not what you consider a traditional hotel. They all do have one thing in common.
These are the Hosts With Ghosts!
The H.L. Hunley
One of the Civil War’s greatest mysteries has been partially solved in 1995 when Author Clive Cussler re-discovered a murky hulk in the waters off Charleston (The Hunley had been found earlier by Edward Spence but the location was not recorded.) The enigma began in Feb. 17, 1864 when a top-secret Confederate submarine, H.L. Hunley, slipped through under the waters of Charleston Harbor headed for the Union ship USS Housatonic. The cigar-shaped vessel was hand cranked by an eight-man crew. The Hunley succeeded in sinking the huge Union warship by means of a torpedo attached to a long pole. But after signaling its success, the Hunley never reached shore. Most people believed it was sunk along with its victim by the torpedo explosion. The sub had previously sunk twice, each time killing its passengers, but was recovered and put back into service. This time it remained on the bottom of the ocean until 2000 when it was raised. Its crew was buried with honor in the Magnolia Cemetery on Saturday, April 17th, 2004 after a weeklong round of ceremonies honoring the ship and its crew.
This was the last Confederate burial in history, obviously. Many of the men who took part in the burial as honor guards report paranormal occurrences surrounding the Rebel sub. Re-enactors in Confederate uniform stood at attention guarding the remains of the crew.
They heard footsteps, a voice crying" "mother" and saw the shadow of a Confederate soldier. The strangest of the Hunley ghosts was nicknamed "The Adjuster" because they watched him adjust the positions of the straps on the soldier’s uniforms to more comfortable positions. They also noted also the smell of fresh green apples. Steve Burt, the coordinator for the Honor Guard, believes the crew members may have taken apples with them as a snack. The guard members felt light touches and experienced a calm feeling of welcome from the spirits.
Randy Burbage who was involved in digging for the crew members of the earlier sinkings believed buried near Johnson Hagood Stadium, felt he was guided to dig in spots where he had been told not to because he felt “a presence” guiding him to those bodies. Each time he followed that guidance he found another member of the Hunley. Five members had been buried at Hagood
Bill Sharpe took a picture of the sub and later noted a crewman in it. He posted it on his website only to discover the next day the crewman was gone. He hurriedly took the page down.
Several months later I was at a re-enactment and met one of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who marched in the burial procession. He told me a fascinating story. After the burial, he and some friends went to a local restaurant for lunch. They were in period dress and laid their muskets down against a back wall of the restaurant. One of the group took a picture of them sitting at the table. The rifles against wall were in the background. Someone else was there. A shadowy figure of a Confederate soldier stood near the guns. It was not a re-enactor. No one had been near the spot. No one mortal anyway. He showed me the picture and, unlike some hazy “ghost pictures” this one was clear. There was no mistaking the translucent figure as anything else but a Confederate soldier returned from the grave.