The story of Alice Flagg can be found in countless books about ghosts or hauntings in Horry County. If you’re unfamiliar with where this is, just know that on your next vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you’re right dab in the middle of Horry County. And by the way, don’t pronounce it “Whorey” county either, the “H” is silent. The locals will correct you for sure.
In 2013, I had this idea for a book about ghosts and hauntings along the Grand Strand (ahem, apologies, that’s the beaches along the South Carolina border). I wanted to make the book different than all the other standard “Ghosts of Horry County” books I was reading. As someone who is always interested in a great ghost encounter, I began thinking about what I would want to read, what I would want out of a book about ghostly encounters. The answer came to me like a freight train hit me in the head. I would want PROOF!
So, the idea was born that I would prove the stories around these local tall tales, urban legends and ghost stories around my new home. The idea behind the book was that I would ask a friend of mine, (who will remain unnamed for this blog), who just happened to be psychic. I am a true believer in his abilities and I wanted to use those abilities to prove the stories. We met up, talked about the idea and the premise behind the hook of the book and I began researching.
The agreement/conditions we came to were as follows:
- He would not be given the location and/or the backstory of the location once we arrived.
- I was allowed to record audio but only for use in research.
- His automatic writing could and would be published in the book.
Seems pretty simple terms, right? Even if a reader wouldn’t believe the stories and the proof to follow, I would have the evidence for myself and well, that was enough for this writer to drive it forward.
We investigated several locations before doors were slammed in my face. Not literally, more like blocked emails and disrespectful messages that said location didn’t “want that kind of publicity”. Meh, needless to say, after a few locations and months gone by of no location giving us permission to investigate, the research stayed stagnant on my hard drive.
For the story of Alice Flagg, you can find in many books about urban legends, but the gist of the story goes like this:
Alice, daughter of prominent family fell in love with a turpentine salesman. Her family disapproving of the relationship, sent Alice away to college further inland of South Carolina. Before she left, her love gave her an engagement ring which she wore around her neck as a necklace.
While away at college, Alice fell ill and was brought back home. As she fell further ill, her father found the necklace with the ring and flung it into the ocean. Alice died before she could marry her beloved turpentine salesman. It is said that Alice haunts the Grand Strand looking for her necklace.
This is my short synopsis of the story. After talking with several locals and reading the story a hundred different ways, these are the plot points that stuck out for me and well, helped escalate my investigation.
Before I post my notes and the “manuscript” I was to publish based on the findings, I should also note that the burial of Alice Flagg is questionable. The most well-known burial is in All Saint’s Cemetery in Pawley’s Island, SC. The urban legend around this says if you circle the flat gravestone a number of times and leave a ring or coin, then Alice will come over the brick wall that surrounds the cemetery.
Here is the picture I took during that investigation:
You can see the offerings and the wore down dirt from so many people trying the circle three times bit. I was there, so I also tried it and left a shiny quarter on the “Alice” grave. Nothing happened.
Also notice that the stone simply reads “Alice”. Alice who? As you continue reading my notes below, you’ll notice that this has the possibility of being a different Alice, or no one at all.
Here are my notes after we did our investigation:
- GPS initially took us to Mansfield Plantation when typing in “Old Gun”.
- At Mansfield, psychic wrote “Always on Guard” the minute headlights revealed themselves in the distance.
- I heard metal on metal sound, a bell, hammer on anvil? While driving on the dirt road leading to the brick gated entrance.
- Use psychic’s automatic writing to find more clues on what is truly happening at Mansfield.
- From psychic’s arrival into the car, he felt obligated to find Alice’s original gravesite. I gave the option of going to the Prince Frederick chapel versus the traditional grave at All Saints. He chose Prince Frederick.
- At Prince Frederick, Psychic hears a whisper “he watches from the tower”.
- Stories claim that Prince Frederick holds Civil War graves only. No mentioning of Alice.
- Could not find Alice’s gravesite, yet most tombstones are turned toward the wooded area.
- At All Saints: Too many things didn’t make sense:
- Alice and Anne the only slab stones that reveal only a name. Do more research based on the year that Alice died.
- The Ward family awfully close to the Flagg family. Why?
- Allston was a constant name that popped up during our trip.
- The smell of a flammable liquid from psychic, yet I smelled flowers. No flowers could be found. Website verifies this. We, however, did not know of these facts. Apparently, Alice’s fiancée was a turpentine salesman.
- Lots of children headstones in All Saints. Relevance?
- I performed the ritual of walking around Alice’s grave 8x and then dropped a quarter on the slab. Nothing happened, although psychic claimed to hear laughing from more than one person.
- Still need to find Alice’s house. Pictures needed.
- We did this trip on October 14, 2013. Alice’s parents died October 13, 1893. 120 year anniversary.
- Psychic’s thoughts were calm at All Saints. Felt as though Alice wasn’t truly there. “Fun as a Front” was a common phrase used, and in his automatic writing.
- Psychic feels as though Alice’s body was moved in some way. Used the term “transference”. Websites confirm that Alice’s body was moved after her mother came home to find her dead. Website also mentions that Alice is said to haunt all three places: her original burial, her second and her home. No mention of where her original burial is located. Need more research.
Updated Note: 10.22.13
- Found and validated a picture of Alice’s slab stone in Old Gunn/Prince Frederick. Reference here is that I found it the day after her birthday. Just the same as psychic and I visiting her gravestones the day after her parent’s death.
Word of note on the last updated note: I was unable to relocate the picture of Alice Flagg’s headstone afterwards. The picture and article about it were taken down.
I’ve always wanted to publish the story I wrote based on the notes above and you are one of the first to read this story. Enjoy.
(Psychic’s name was replaced with the title of “Psychic”, but rest assured he is a real person and I simply did not ask his permission to publish this story in blog format).
Although this book is an attempt to find more unpopular or hidden hauntings along the Grand Strand, I, along with Psychic found it fitting to begin our research with the most popular, yet undefined, story. The story of Alice Flagg is popular in this area among all the locals and a great many books can be found about Alice’s spirit.
While discussing my new project with some newfound local friends of mine, there were several mentions of where Alice is allegedly buried. The mentioning of Old Gunn church was brought up several times in discussions with friends and my research was telling me of All Saints Church in Pawley’s Island. I decided to plug in both locations into my GPS and allow Psychic’s gut instinct to decide.
Not truly researching this story enough before my venture into the field brought about several things on this initial trip with Psychic. It would allow me to test Psychic’s abilities and allow him and me to see what we could discover together, which ideally is the sole purpose of this project: to uncover newfound truths along the Grand Strand. I picked Psychic up at his home, I gave him the scenario trying to persuade him that time was of the essence, and we needed a quick decision. My ploy had worked and he still decided to follow his instinct that lead us to typing in “old gun” into my GPS. Little did I know that “Gunn” was spelled with two “n’s” and also that Old Gunn Church was a nickname given to Prince Frederick’s Chapel.
As it turns out, the GPS did not lead us to Prince Frederick’s Chapel. Instead, it lead us straight to Mansfield Plantation, a bed and breakfast rice plantation. Neither of us knew anything of this plantation and you can find more on this location later in Chapter ? I will simply say that this slow drive up to the brick entrance was slow and Psychic felt the need to do some automatic writing along the slow drive. Again, you can find more on this location later. (We never had the opportunity to investigate this location)
Once we turned around and found some paved roads again, the sense of uneasiness left both of us and I pulled over to a local fast food restaurant to find a wi-fi signal to do some quick research on where it was truly we needed to go. As I waited for my smartphone to pick up the signal, I decided to stop a local coming out of the restaurant. I asked him if he knew anything about Mansfield Plantation and unfortunately, even though he was from the area, he could tell me nothing of importance for he could not recall any stories.
Back on the road again, Psychic and I became acclimated with each other, discussing this book, our previous work and music, something usually of common ground among perfect strangers.
Prince Frederick Chapel was about 30 minutes away and this gave us plenty of time to chat and discuss the automatic writing he did while on the grounds of the Mansfield Plantation. I recognized this as a normal practice of psychics, but had never actually witnessed it firsthand. It was more than interesting as I glanced over to it occasionally as I drove to Prince Frederick.
We found Prince Frederick with ease along a long somewhat paved road and came to the clearing of where the remains of the bell tower stood. It was marvelous! Psychic and I immediately got out of the car snapping pictures and his hand going in movements over his notebook, we separated to opposing ends of the fence.
The rumors I heard from my local friends was that Alice Flagg’s true grave is behind the bell tower. Yet, the stories I found of Old Gunn church were that of a man who hung himself. Perhaps this story will be investigated by us later, but today we were on a hunt for truth surrounding Alice Flagg.
Along with Psychic’s gut instinct of Alice’s presence at Prince Frederick, he heard a whisper: “He watches from the tower,” said the whisper and that is when I began snapping pictures of the top of the bell tower in hopes of finding an apparition. Psychic also had several phrases that he used consistently and came with his automatic writing: Psychic feels that Alice is truly buried there, somewhere around the bell tower. With as many photos I could take, I could barely make out the headstones that were facing us, most of them were not. Most of these headstones were facing the woods beyond the clearing of the bell tower and I long to know what is truly back there. The locals I’ve spoken with claim that they have been behind the barbed wire fence and have seen Alice Flagg’s headstone with her full name engraved. With the photos I took, I could not make out the name Alice on any headstone.
“Fun as a front” was used several times and Psychic seemed to focus on it. He felt that there was something more to Alice’s story of losing her engagement ring. He felt as though this prominent family had more secrets and that social activities and the family name were always at risk. The “fun” were those associations the Flaggs made while alive, yet it was all a “front” to save face of the family name.
Psychic also used the term “transference” several times. As he told me how strong he felt about this word, I recalled reading that Alice’s body was moved after her mother came home to find her dead. Psychic feels that there is more to this rumor and though it feels to be true, there were more family secrets behind this. Something as shameful (during the time the Flaggs lived) as a lesbian love affair or cheating of some sort. Psychic couldn’t place his psychic finger on it, but felt as though Alice was shunned from the family in some way. More on this later as Psychic and I moved on to the ritualistic Alice slab stone in All Saints Cemetery in Pawley’s Island.
Finding All Saints Cemetery was fairly easy and it sits in a small neighborhood just a few blocks from Highway 17. We parked across the street to find the small gate open to the grounds for all to tour. Again, it seemed all too easy gain access to such a famous story around town. Fun as a front.
Even upon entering the grounds, the gravesite was easy to spot with the worn path that wrapped around the famous “Alice” slab stone. Psychic felt peaceful and informed me that he remembered visiting the graveyard years prior but had no idea he couldn’t remember. He claimed that he was there at night and felt plenty of children spirits playing in the yard and upon entering I could see why. There were numerous small headstones, which indicated the death of children scattered throughout the graveyard.
We stood at the foot of the Alice slab stone and Psychic immediately responded with “She’s not here,” meaning not buried here. We separated again exploring the grounds putting clues together on our own to collaborate about 30 minutes later back near the Alice slab. Quite a few things came of this meeting. We both recognized that the graveyard was setup backwards when comparing to other cemeteries. The history or older headstones started at the front and worked their way back towards the brick wall. Something odd indeed.
The name Allston or Alston came up several times on this trip and we have yet to define its significance.
The Ward family is buried next to the Flagg family, a relevance we did not know at the time, but more research afterwards shows that Alice’s two brothers were set to marry each a Ward sister. Two prominent families joining was acceptable perhaps.
Standing in front of Allard’s (Alice’s brother) headstone, I smelled a light flowery scent and searched for blossoms anywhere, I couldn’t find any. When I mentioned this, Psychic turned his nose at me and said he didn’t smell a fragrance but a putrid smell, of a liquid that can be burned. I later found through research that the nameless lover of Alice was said to be a turpentine salesman. One piece of validation of Psychic’s abilities. I also was unaware of the rumored smell of flowers, but found it later in the same research.
With the countless stories of Alice and her heartbroken death, there is said to be a different number of steps to take around her slab stone for her to appear. Some stories said six, seven, eight, and thirteen while others claimed to do it backwards or counter-clockwise. All legends said to leave a token for Alice whether a coin, a ribbon, or a ring, I decided to leave a coin after walking around the slab 8 times in a counter-clockwise motion. I got dizzy if nothing else. However, Psychic said as I was circling the stone that he could hear laughter as if the ritual was the “fun” of the front story that held the secrets of Alice. I believe him.
Other things to note about All Saints Cemetery are the headstones themselves. Only one other slab stone held the single engraving of a first name only: Anne.
The memorial stone to Alice’s parents claims that they passed away on October 13, 1893. The irony here is that this venture with Psychic was supposed to happen on October 13, 2013 and I moved the date to the 14th of October due to other family plans. The day prior would have been the 120 year anniversary of their death caused by a tidal wave.
The actual headstone of Alice’s brother looks fairly new with grapes engraved into it. More research into headstones later may reveal more about the circa date of this stone. I felt as though the “front” could have been the swapping of stones somehow. But then again, I’ve asked a psychic to have gut instincts on this project.
To end this post, I’d love to hear your thoughts on both the story and whatever encounters you have had with Alice Flagg. Hell, tell me about urban legends in your hometown, I’d love to hear them!
As for Alice, I know for certain that I have seen a headstone online with her full name, Alice Flagg. I can also say for certain that I believe Psychic’s ability and that what we experienced in both locations was noteworthy and I believe every word Psychic had to say about the legend of Alice. I believe she is buried behind Old Gunn Church. I believe that her family wanted to hide something. But knowing that this family had secrets, secrets they will stay, at least from me. I respect the family’s wishes of keeping Alice’s story alive, but also with wanting to keep her grave site a secret as well.
I am Nicholas McGirr, Author of the Afterlife. You can now see where I get ideas for my novels.
More than just a Blog
To hear more about Alice Flagg, check out episode 1 and episode 33 of the Stories in the Cemetery podcast.