Lives are like fingerprints, each one is unique. They are full of experiences ranging from joy to heartache. Also, like fingerprints, lives leave impressions on the people and places around them.
The longer you have life in a place, the more impressions it absorbs, which can lead to something else — ghosts.
For historical locales like the Golden Isles, which was first occupied by Europeans in 1700s and the Native Americans long before that, ghosts are just par for the course. From the spirits of Ebo Landing on St. Simons Island to spectral sightings downtown and all the places in between, the Isles are simply haunted.
Of course, there is no better time to share those stories than in October, the spookiest month of the year. And that is just what local historical sites and community organizations are doing.
First up, downtown Brunswick. Taking a drive or stroll down the streets of the city’s historic district certainly conjures up an other worldly feel. Union Street alone offers dozens of Victorian and even Antebellum era homes, their gaping windows carefully observing each passerby as the Spanish moss whispers in the trees. Each home offers its own story of families who lived within them. Some of those residents have simply never left. That’s why the Union Street Enhancement Group decided to share those stories with the public during two tour events at 6 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 26.
Guynel Johnson, an Union Street Enhancement Street member, says that almost every house on Union Street has some kind of paranormal activity.
“There was a lot of tragedy and death in 1800s due to Yellow Fever and all kinds of accidents. People for the most part died at home, in their bedroom and many spirits just stayed. — Why? I don’t know — but for those who do believe in ghosts ... you will hear about them on this tour,” she said.
Much like a traditional tour of homes, those interested can purchase a ticket, walking to each of the eight houses on the route. A storyteller will be stationed in each home to share spine-tingling stories of the supernatural as well as some that center around how death was approached in the 1800s. Other historical facts will also be shared, including stories of the mass murder that took place downtown in 1915.
“A story of one of our favorite characters from the past will be told by the owner of the Strachan Mansion. It’s called ‘Scotch on the Rocks’ and it is about Captain FDM Strachan, known as ‘the old pirate’ and he was Brunswick’s first millionaire. Some spooky things happen on the third floor and have been and still are witnessed by many guests and owners,” Johnson said.
“Also we will be telling about the civil war encampment that was here in the 1860s. There are on-going sightings and strange sounds heard in this area in the ‘witching hour’ 3 a.m. by residents and passersby. This is in 900 block of Union. This story will be told by Jim Drumm (city manager).”
Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children. They must be purchased in advance with cash or check, credit cards are not accepted. For more information or for tickets, contact Sandy Dean at 912-996-0663. Johnson adds that the proceeds raised will go back toward enhancement programs.
“Union Street needs enhancement so group of Union Street homeowners came together to do this through fundraising and grants. We are hoping to serve as an inspiration for other streets to follow suit for a ‘streetscape’ program in our historic residential areas in Old Town Brunswick,” she said.
Like the downtown area, Howfyl-Broadfield Plantation has had quite a long history. The property changed hands a number of times, making its way through the Brailford, Troup and Dent families.
Eventually, it came to rest with the State of Georgia who operates the location as a park today.
And while the guests come and go throughout the day, site manager Bill Giles lives on the property and, because of it, has seen his share of strange phenomenon. Lights turn on and off. The alarm system is often triggered by unseen sources. There have been apparition sightings too — a woman and a young boy in Antebellum period dress.
But he also shares stories that give tour- goers a better understanding of the lives of those who called the plantation home.
“We take a leisurely stroll around the grounds, telling stories about people who lived and worked here. Some stories are about experiences that may be supernatural in nature that people have experienced here,” Giles said.
He doesn’t view these reported apparitions or experiences as unwelcome. Instead, he sees them as another layer of the property’s deep history.
That’s why he enjoys sharing stories and experiences of Howfyl Broadfield through ghost tours. Held throughout the year, the strolls allow guests to get a better understanding of the location and those who loved it.
“There’s been a lot of interest in it. People want an experience ... something different and it’s a lot different than just coming out to the plantation in the daytime,” he said. “It allows them to get further in-depth into the history of the plantation than just a regular visitor during the day.”
For the Halloween season, Hofwyl is offering ghost tours at 6:30 p.m. Fridays throughout the month. The cost is $15. Tour-goers must call 912-264-7333 beforehand to reserve a spot. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/hofwyl.