South Carolina July 27, 2017
The Sinister Story Behind This Popular South Carolina Park Will Give You Chills
South Carolina is home to the number one city in the U.S. and Canada, ranked in the 2017
Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards — and we couldn’t be more proud of the Palmetto State’s oldest city, Charleston. Founded in 1670 as “Charles Town,” the city has grown exponentially over the centuries to become not only a favorite destination for visitors, but also the city of choice for many Americans living the dream of relocating to the Holy City. But Charleston may have a dirty little secret that’s often overlooked.
Times were very different during the Colonial Period and just beyond in Charles Town.
And this spot along South Battery now known as White Point Garden had a very different purpose than it does today.
Today, visitors and locals alike head here in droves.
Now one of the prettiest and most well known greenspaces in Downtown Charleston, White Point Garden offers shady paths covered in canopies of Spanish moss-covered old Oak trees.
It's picture perfect.
No, really. It's the perfect spot for photos. And people even get married in the bandstand located in the middle of this serene park along the Charleston Harbor.
Numerous monuments and memorials have been erected at White Point Garden over the last century and a half.
Many of the monuments are dedicated to battles fought both home and abroad. This one is for the Second South Carolina Regiment, Army of the Revolution, June 17, 1775.
It's a monument with a bronze of General Moultrie, another battle hero.
Visitors of the park love the cannons.
Many people can't resist climbing up on the old relics so they can pose for the perfect photo.
For sure, the various monuments, statues and cannons give this old park a military theme.
However there's one unassuming monument that sticks out like a sore thumb. And it's that monument that marks the sinister history of this perfectly peaceful place along Charleston's battery.
It's this one. A monument dedicated to the pirate Stede Bonnett.
The monument stands in the Northeast corner, and possibly the least traveled corner of the park. On it, is a commeration statement saying Bonnett and 29 of his men, that's 30 pirates in all, were hanged in this very park, their bodies buried in the marsh beyond the low water mark right next to this park. What?
Here's a close up of that Stede Bonnett monument.
At the beginning there's a "dance" about how it happened, stating the gang met their "just deserts." But it clearly states further on that all were hanged.
Further, if this was Charles Town's "hanging ground," then they weren't the only ones hanged here in this beautiful space (shown here more than 100 years later, in 1900 long after the last public hanging).
lists the names, offenses and dates of nearly 200 hangings that occured in what is now Charleston between 1718 and 1849. Considering the era in which these hangings occured, it stands to reason that they were likely very public displays.
In addition to the pirates, that list also details scores of slaves that were hanged in Charleston.
And a laundry list of others likely hanged in this very park for commiting offenses ranging from "housebreaking" to horse theft and even one convicted of "treason."
Two people were listed as having been gibbeted.
Gibbeting was more commonly used in England, but made its way across the Atlantic and into Charles Town.
The practice of gibbeting involved hanging the dead or dying body of a criminal in a cage-like encasement and leaving them there to decay on display for all to see in order to deter others from commiting a crime. The two "gibbetted" people listed on the website DeathPenaltyUSA.org's list of hangings in Charleston were executed for murder.
It's hard to digest that this beautiful natural landmark in Charleston was once the site of at least 30 hangings - as clearly proclaimed by the Stede Bonnett monument in the park.
But the likelihood of this spot being the site of nearly 200 public hangings and that nearly 200 souls passed here is staggering.
Take just about any tour in Charleston and you'll hear the tales of how White Point Garden along Charleston Harbor is haunted.
People report seeing everything from apparitions to orbs and have experienced cold spots. Legend has it that the pirates haunt this spot and are looking for their ship to return. But we say, there are more than just the ghosts of departed pirates in this park.
What do you think?
Did you know about the sinister past of this popular spot in Charleston? Or that evidence suggests that nearly 200 people were center stage for public hangings here?
We’d love to know about your experiences at White Point Garden. Did you get an eerie feeling if and when you visited? Let us know in the comments.
For more haunted places in the Palmetto State, take a drive down
South Carolina’s most haunted road – after dark.