You might not know this about me — but I love ghost stories. I listen to spooky podcasts including Lore (and one that’s literally called Spooked) and I watch ghostie shows (that drives my husband nuts). My favorite play — “Hamlet” — is even a ghost story.
For whatever reason, I’ve just always been intrigued by the idea of that world beyond the veil. Of course, my interest vastly diminishes when I have to go to sleep at night (I “ain’t afraid of no ghosts” during the day ... but in the dark, that’s an entirely different matter).
But today, on Halloween, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite stories that I’ve picked up over the years of working at the paper. While they’re set on the supernatural, there’s certainly something very human about each of these. Enjoy — and happy Halloween.
Mary the Wanderer
Most Coastal communities have a similar tale — a sailor is lost at sea and the forlorn lover forever awaits his return. On St. Simons Island, that grieving ghost has a name — Mary. The legend says she was in love with Lamont Demere, who was lost in the hurricane of 1824. She’s been looking for him ever since.
Known as Mary the Wanderer, the hooded female figure has been seen for decades, even purportedly by one of Jenny Strauss’ tour groups in 2010. She has often been described as being sparkly, holding a lantern or sometimes riding a horse down the beach. Sometimes she is crying and others she is not. Perhaps one of the most spine chilling sightings, comes from a pretty valid source — an airline.
The story goes that an airplane landing on St. Simons Island saw the iridescent figure of Mary, walking down the runway. While many were perplexed as why she would be seen there, local historians pointed out that Lamont is actually buried under the runway.
This story is absolutely heartbreaking. During the mid-1800s, a ship filled with enslaved Ibo tribesmen from Nigeria landed at Dunbar Creek, on St. Simons Island. Rather than live a life of slavery, the entire tribe followed its chief, purportedly named Oba, into the water. As they stepped into the ocean, still chained together, they chanted the words, “the water brought us, the water will take us away.” For years, it’s been reported that the same chants (as well as the rattling of chains) can be heard at the spot where the tribe drowned.
The Jekyll Island Historic District
Considering the history on the island, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are plenty of paranormal stories about the families who lived in the so-called cottages that dot the historic district.
Activity has been reported at nearly every site, including the club house itself, where it is said the ghost of J.P. Morgan still enjoys his pungent cigar.
Among all of the locations, Hollybourne Cottage stands out. Visitors might notice that it, unlike the others, has never been restored. Well, there’s a reason for that. It’s too haunted. Contractors have reported that after putting their tools inside the building, something moves them right back out again. And sometimes, unseen hands throw their materials out.
Another cottage filled with history (and haunts) is the DuBignon. Situated on the edge of the district, the location is usually closed to the public. Several photographs of an unexplained silhouette have been taken. Stories about a little ghost girl have also been shared.
The Wright Square ghosts
Like the antique homes dotting Jekyll Island, historic downtown Brunswick has plenty of spooky stories of its own. While several private homes have their own ghost stories, a public square is also reportedly to be incredibly active. Wright Square is believed to be the burial ground of Revolutionary War soldiers. In 1894, The Brunswick Times Advertiser published an article stating that human bones had been discovered in the area during construction of a sewer. Since then, there have been reports of transparent soldiers walking the grounds.
The Ritz Theatre
There are a couple of ghost stories associated with this landmark but Kate is probably the most famous.
The story goes that she was an actress there during the 1920s or 1930s (in another version she was a tenant in an apartment). Kate, allegedly, killed herself over an unrequited love. Since then, contractors who have worked on the building have reported their tools moving, odd sounds and some have claimed to see full-bodied apparitions. Another legend says that another spirit — this one a former director — haunts the space, where he died of natural causes in the heyday of the old opera house.
Perhaps downtown’s best known ghost story involves a tragic shooting of a 32-year-old police officer at Old City Hall in 1890. One thing that makes this tale different is that the murder at least is well documented. There are still displays honoring Massey in the building today.
Massey was a Brunswick Police officer was standing outside of a courtroom. A man inside refused to pay a $2 fine imposed by the court, and as he went to leave, Massey attempted to stop him. The man turned around and shot him. After being wounded in the chest, Massey stumbled before he was shot again in the back. He died the following day.
There have been dozens of sightings of Massey throughout the years. Sometimes he’s seen out of the corner of one’s eye, others he is a full-bodied figure walking up the stairs. The stories about Officer Massey’s ghost even lured the team from ScFi’s “Ghost Hunters” to Brunswick in 2014. While they didn’t find evidence of Massey per se, they did seem to find evidence of paranormal activity, claiming that it was the spectre was that of a clerk who previously worked there.