Spirit Humming: A Ghost Story of Belin Memorial
Methodist Church from Murrells Inlet in the South Carolina Lowcountry
Both Cousin Corrie and Miss Genevieve,
Hostesses at Brookgreen Gardens, the popular South Carolina tourist attraction, were members of Belin Memorial Methodist Church at Murrells Inlet in the
South Carolina Lowcountry. One day in the 1950s as they talked about reports of strange visions
of ghost ships seen out in the Inlet from the church steps, Cousin Corrie
explained to visitors that some people said the ghost wrecks
were connected to people who used the church building in times past
. . . but in a different location. She described the origin of the
building and then Miss Genevieve finished with the story of the ghostly
spirit humming that appeared when it was moved.
Parson Belin's Church
Parson Belin, a Murrells Inlet Methodist minister in the 1800’s, became
known for his missionary work to the slaves on the Waccamaw Neck,
planters began to support his efforts. The Pyatt family of Turkey
Hill Plantation, just south of Brookgreen Gardens, built a church
for Parson Belin’s congregation of worshipers in their area. The
church was a simple rectangular building made of hand hewn timbers,
set on a foundation of brick pillars that elevated it several feet
above the sandy ground. Four wooden columns held up the front porch
Parson Belin often preached in the Turkey Hill Church (sometimes
called the Oatland Church) to slaves as
well as to the few white Methodist families on that part of the Waccamaw Neck. These white Methodists would have been the families
of plantation overseers, seafaring men, or other workingmen. (The
planters themselves all attended All Saints Episcopal Church close
to Pawley’s Island.) Were some of these Turkey Hill Methodists
linked to the ill-fated ghost ships in Murrells Inlet?
After Parson Belin’s death, circuit riding Methodist preachers
continued to serve the Turkey Hill Church, but when the slaves were
freed, they established their own churches, leaving only the white
members attending Turkey Hill. Over the years, membership at Turkey
Hill Church dwindled.
A Proposed Move to Murrells Inlet
By 1925 there were only two families left
attending the infrequent services. That year Mrs. Oliver, whose
family owned a restaurant and fishing retreat called Oliver’s Lodge
on Parsonage Point in Murrells Inlet, convinced the two remaining
families to donate the Turkey Hill Church building to be moved to
the land on Parsonage Point that Parson Belin had bequeathed to the
Mrs. Oliver enlisted Captain Boo Lachicotte, who ran a caviar and
smoked sturgeon operation near Litchfield Plantation (and was a
grandson of the first rice mill engineer at Brookgreen Plantation,
but that’s another story), to take the church apart into movable
sections and transport it to Parsonage Point in his wagons. It must
have been quite a sight as large pieces of the church building
traveled slowly up the sandy King’s Highway pulled by strong mules!
In sections, Parson Belin’s church passed from Turkey Hill through
The Oaks, Brookgreen, Springfield, then Laurel Hill, all the
plantations that later became Brookgreen Gardens, and finally
arrived at the building’s new resting place on what had been
Wachesaw Plantation! The brick foundation pillars were so solid that
Captain Boo transported them intact and used them as foundations
again in the new location.
Miss Genevieve finished the story:
The Turkey Hill Church had withstood hurricanes and war for over a
century. What lives had passed through its doors? What dramas had
its members and visitors, both black and white, played out over the
years? What spirits were disturbed as Captain Boo began to dismantle
the ancient church building?
Stories of those uneasy spirits, similar to the stories about
Wachesaw ghosts, began to circulate among the local
people as Captain Boo began his work. Perhaps these stories were on
the minds of those helping dismantle the church as work proceeded
one dark and stormy morning. Suddenly a strange noise became
noticeable. A faint humming seemed to come from the very air around
the front of the church!
My husband, Tom Chandler, was one of those helping move the
building. He had always been sensitive to the spirit world (he was
one of those has seen seen
Alice's ghost at the Hermitage) and he said
he began to have a shivery feeling between his shoulder blades as
the hum grew louder and louder. Several workers glanced sideways at
each other and at the partially dismantled building as they made
excuses to leave. Was this a warning from Beyond?
The braver, or more foolish, workers, including Tom, gradually began
to investigate. They finally discovered the earthly cause of the
unearthly hum. Their work had disturbed a colony of honeybees long
resident inside one of the front porch columns. Closer examination
showed that each of the four columns was packed with honeycomb and
The workers decided that it would be easier to build new columns for
the porch once it was in place at Parsonage Point than to transport
the old ones, so they left that part of the church building at
Turkey Hill. They did manage to harvest much of the delicious honey
and comb, taking the unexpected treat home to their families, along
with the story of the spirit humming.
To read other stories of the ghost ships seen from Belin Memorial
Methodist Church at Murrells Inlet
. . .
Buy the complete
(single copies or in bulk) of Lynn Michelsohn's
Tales from Brookgreen
Gardens, Folklore, Ghost Stories, and Gullah
Folktales in the South Carolina Lowcountry
also $9.99 on
(readable on iPad, iPhone, PC,
Mac, Blackberry, Android, etc.)
and available from other online booksellers, your local bookstore,
These charming stories interweave ghostly legends, local reminiscences, and
Gullah folktales with factual information about the history, geography, and
people of the South Carolina Lowcountry around Brookgreen Gardens, near Myrtle
Beach . . . an entertaining and informative addition to your visit to this unique area.
Shorter selections from Tales from Brookgreen are also available
as ebooks . . .
Crab Boy's Ghost and Other Gullah Folktales.
Stories of Alice Flagg, Confederate Blockade Runners, and Haunted Beads
Stories and Folktales from Brookgreen Gardens in the South Carolina Lowcountry
with Notes on Gullah Culture and History
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