Chilling Churchyard

One of the favorite things to do in the Summer for tourists with families in #Charleston is one of the many ghost tours. There are many tours and many creepy stories about ghostly activities in the city’s history, and much of what is told takes some willingness to believe what others have never seen. Yet one of the most chilling tales of the past is based largely on factual evidence and in the case of the notorious Lavinia Fisher, the real person was as haunting as any ghost. Lavinia was arrested in 1820, along with her husband and several accomplices, charged with the disappearance and robbery of patrons at the tavern the Fishers owned. Murdered bodies were never found, presumably buried by the Fisher gang, but stolen horses and goods of transient persons were, and in the 1820’s, this was “highway robbery”, punishable by death. For two years, lawyers argued over the case until Lavinia and her husband were taken to public gallows, where she shrieked and went into convulsions, terrifying onlookers before she was hanged. Before her death, the alluring Lavinia had used seductive powers to convince certain clergymen of her innocence, and at the Unitarian Church, where the tenets of the religion emphasize the value of every life, a gravesite was made available so that she did have to be cast into the pauper’s cemetery. Because of her reputation, which only grew more after her violent death, she was buried in an unmarked grave. Somewhere in this churchyard this murderous woman lies, adding a haunted aspect to the old stones of the Unitarian Churchyard.

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