The Fall brings cooler temperatures, pumpkin spice everything and ghost stories. I love a good ghost story and tell quite a few on my ghost and history tour on the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk. But there is something to be said about telling spooky tales around a crackling warm fire late at night while listening to barred owls hoot and leaves rustling in the wind.
A favorite story of mine is the tale of Alice Flagg. I live just around the corner from what locals say is our most haunted home in the Murrells Inlet area, The Hermitage. And I love to regale the story of the beautiful young girl who supposedly still haunts her bedroom of the old plantation home.
Back in 1849, a small, plantation home was built by the marsh near what is now the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk. It was called the Hermitage and was built by Dr. Allard Flagg and Reverend James Belin. Dr. Flagg decided to invite his widowed mother and his 15 year old sister Alice to come live with him. The legend says that Alice started a romance with a young man in the turpentine industry. Dr. Flagg was not happy about their union. He was a wealthy rice plantation owner and felt the young man wasn’t good enough to marry his sister. So, he sent poor Alice to Charleston to boarding school. While Alice was at school, she became ill. The school contacted Dr. Flagg to fetch her and take her home. It normally takes 2 hours to drive to Charleston today, but in those times it could take 2 or 3 days by horse and carriage. When Dr. Allard picked up Alice, she had a terrible fever. By the time they reached the Hermitage, she was unconscious. He quickly took her to bed and noticed something upon her neck. There was a ribbon. And upon the ribbon was a ring. And not just any ring. She got secretly engaged to the turpentine man. Dr. Allard was quite upset by this betrayal. So, while Alice was asleep, he took the ring off her neck and threw it into the marsh. When he went back upstairs, Allard could hear his sister crying. She begged everyone in the household to help find her ring. But the family knew it was gone forever. And Alice Flagg died a few nights later in her bedroom.
Alice’s mother was out of town when her daughter passed away, so Dr. Flagg buried Alice in the backyard until their mother arrived to make proper arrangements. When her mother returned to the Hermitage she had Alice exhumed and took her (according to legend) to All Saint’s Cemetery in Pawley’s Island. If you go to All Saint’s you will see a huge, marble slab on the ground with one name on it…Alice. But, Alice isn’t buried there. It’s actually a memorial stone for her. Alice is actually buried in Belin (pronounced- Blaine) Cemetery in Murrells Inlet. However, she is in an unmarked grave. Maybe her gravestone was washed away in a great storm? So, unfortunately, we may never know where she is buried. But we do know where Alice haunts!
Some say she haunts the marsh reeds still searching desperately for her ring. Others have seen a young girl dressed in white walking the halls of the Hermitage, the old plantation home. The home still exists and has been moved from it’s original location by the marsh to a nearby neighborhood. But, some say she haunts, of all places, All Saint’s Cemetery. Even though she is not buried beneath the stone, people by the hundreds go to her memorial and leave her rings, trinkets and gifts. Maybe people feel so bad that Alice could not find her real ring in her life, they leave her rings in death.