In honor of the publication of my friend Melissa Bowersock's new novel, Stone's Ghost, my blog this week is dedicated to sharing ghost stories I have uncovered in my own work. I'll have a different story each day through Thursday. Then we'll join Melissa's "Friendly Ghost Party." on Friday, July 26, 2013. Here at "Roundheads and Ramblings" I'll be hosting part of her moveable ghost buffet. My blog will present a delectable buffet of ghost-related main dishes, complete with recipes. So be sure to join us then.
Late Addition to the fun: anyone who visits all the participating blogs on Friday and leaves a comment on each will be eligible to win ghost candy. I'll bet it's hauntingly yummy!
In the meantime, here's another South Carolina ghost story:
When a small slave child burned to death in a cooking accident, Laura Towne and her friends were invited to attend the funeral. They found it mysterious and full of references to the spirit world. Here's the description as it appears in The Road to Frogmore:
Once the grave was filled, another ritual began. Now women approached the mound and laid upon it all sorts of objects—a bowl, a broken pitcher, a bottle, a spoon, a makeshift doll, and a variety of shells soon decorated the place of burial.
Again, a song began with a single voice and then became a chant. This time Laura could make out the words:
The ritual was finished, and the mourners disappeared into the darkness.. . .
“Why so many conch shells?” Ellen asked.
Lottie knew that answer. “The conch shell is a symbol for water in their folklore,” she explained. “And water is very important. Even if their families have been here for generations, they remember that they came to South Carolina from across the sea, and there’s an almost inborn desire to return to some ancestral homeland on the other side of the water.”
The tradition of leaving conch shells on graves is still common. I found several examples on recent graves in the Union Cemetery on Hilton Head Island just last year. I wish I could come up with a picture of a little ghost riding a conch shell across the water, but this image of a decorated grave will have to do.