Legare

South Carolina ghosts story taken directly from The Historic Haunted America by Michael Norman and Beth Scott (p.308-309).

“James Heyward’s two loves were books and hunting. He spent long hours in the library of his mother’s city home, then rode into the country to go bird hunting in favorable weather. Mrs. Heyward was accepting of her son’s routine even though in one way she was disappointed. Her husband, William, had been killed in the American Revolution, and she hoped that James, her favorite child, would assume responsibility for the family’s rice plantation. James, however, had no interest in planting.

At the end of the war, the widow Heyward built herself a comfortable two-story house at 31 Legare Street. She had many friends in Charleston and she loved entertaining and being entertained. Although her social calendar was always filled, she welcomed visits from her children and, of course, saw James regularly.

On the morning of January 14, 1805, Mrs. Heyward went into the library as usual. She saw her son seated at his desk in the alcove. He held his head in his hands. She wondered why he was still there since he’d told her that he and a friend were going out to the plantation early to hunt quail.

“James,” she said, walking over to him. “I thought you’d gone to the plantation. Are you ill?”

Young James did not answer.

Furthermore, when his mother reached out to him he vanished. The chair was empty!

Mrs. Heyward screamed, then fainted. The servants called a doctor, but by the time he arrived the woman was sitting up in a chair. Yet Mrs. Heyward knew that something had happened to James. The vision she had of him in the library was a warning of danger. She begged the doctor to ride out to the plantation to check on the boy’s well-being.

At that moment, footsteps pounded across the front porch. The door swung open and the body of James Heyward was borne into the front parlor by plantation workers. The young man’s grieving friend trailed behind.

As the men had galloped across a field that morning, he told Mrs. Heyward, James’ horse had shied at a cow that appeared suddenly in front of the riders. James was thrown from the horse and killed instantly.

Mrs. Heyward found that she had “seen” and spoken to her son that morning at the precise time of the accident.

Now, two hundred years later, James Heyward still returns to his beloved books. His ghost in the library of the house at 31 Legare Street appears comfortably situated while he reads, or sometimes gazes absently in the distance toward the plantation and hunting trails that vanished long ago.”

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