Yes, I am a history and horror enthusiast. Yes, I am also a Christian and believe in God, but I also like a good scare. I am 41 years old and have traveled the United States and Pueto Rico my whole life. My father was in the military and, after that, both my parents worked for the Veterans Administration. Every time my father got a promotion, we moved. I would say we moved just about every 1-2 years. We stayed in many hotels and rented many homes in my lifetime and I still love to travel to this day. In those travels, there has been a place or two we have stayed in that I could honestly say had a creep factor to them. From California to Puerto Rico, I have a story or two to tell about some creepy experience I have had. Just last year, my husband and I lived in an early 1900’s apartment building that had it’s own creepy thing going on. I believe there was a child there because I would hear pitter- patter of someone running around in bare feet and my husband and I were even “shushed” from another room when laughing at a video we were watching. We were alone.
That said, the city we live in now is 452 years old and the oldest city in America. It’s fill of rich and creepy history and last night, we decided to take a little tour of the town. We booked a cheap ghost tour walk around the town, learned some of the history of St. Augustine, listened to Ghost stories, and even played around in a haunted house with dowsing rods.
As we walked around the town, I took a lot of pictures. I was advised to take 3 of the same area to have a better chance of picking up a ghostly image. I don’t think I picked up much, even though the guide told me I had some great pictures and it seemed as though something was following me around.
- I took my case off my phone to make sure my less than 1 year old Iphone 5S could get the best low-light pictures possible.
- when starting to take a photo of some areas, the picture would come out clear and then the next same frame or area would have a misty look to it. I can’t explain why this happened. You can be the judge below.
- A few pictures captured what the guide said were ghostly figures. Not full-body, but energy. I am not sure myself what they are. One even looks like a person in a window even though nothing was there just a few pictures before and after. Again, you be the judge.
The first spot we walk to was the Huguenot Cemetery (click to see photos). Established in 1821, this ancient St. Augustine Cemetery is located just across from the City Gates. It was opened to serve as the final resting place of those in the city who were not Catholic. At the time, the only other cemetery in the city was the Tolomato, which was reserved for Catholics only. Just after this burial ground opened, an epidemic of yellow fever broke out, claiming the lives of many St. Augustine residents.
Yellow fever could cause a person to go into a coma if the fever was too high. The only way to tell if a person was dead in those days was to shake the person, feel for a pulse, look for a mirror held under the nose to fog up, or watch for the chest to rise and fall. If no signs of life were detected, the person was buried. If you had money, you could get your own grave. If not, they just threw you on top of your other family in one single grave. When re-digging a grave, some grave diggers would find scratch marks on the coffin and fingernails missing from people who were actually still alive when buried. The town tried many ways to “help” those who might find they’ve been buried alive by:
- Spring loaded caskets
- putting a pick in your coffin to dig your way out
- attaching a bell to a rope to signal you want out
- or some just had tombs above ground to make it easier to be rescued.
I put all my photos on the link above and you can read more about the grave here.
The second and third place we walked to was the Le Pavillon Restaurant and the Miss Caroline’s Inn (now a spa). Le Pavillon was first owned by Mr. Green and Mrs. Roe. The story we were told was of a boy that is sometimes seen in the upstairs window. I took a few photos of the place and the house next door which was owned by a Lucy Abbott. She was the cities first female real estate owner. Her lover lived in the home next to the Les Pavillon and is said to haunt it. You can click on the link above to see my pictures, but here are a few I think you may like. Do you see anything in the upstairs window of the restaurant? How about up in the tree near the house? The tour guide and my husband see it and pointed it out to me.
Next was the Lucy Abbott Mansion. Nothing spooky here, but very pretty. The story goes that she haunts the home, is jealous of other women living there, but may be fond of your guy so watch out. You can read more about her home and the haunt Here and see my photos here
Near the Castello de San Marcos is the Old City Gates, part of the original fortifications of St. Augustine. Legend has it that a young girl named Elizabeth died near the gates of yellow fever, and her spirit can still be seen near the gates at night, dancing and playing. Castillo de San Marcos has a lovely history of a murderous love triangle between Colonel Garcia Marti, Captain Abela, and his pretty young wife, Dolores. When the Colonel learned of the affair, he walled them up in the fort. You can read all about the history of the Castello de San Marcos here and my photos of both here.
The last part of the tour took us to another old graveyard called the Tolomato Cemetery and a home built over an Indian burial ground. The two stories that stood out to me was one of a Bishop’s coffin and his body blowing up. It sometimes took families days to get to the viewing of the body and burial. It was summer and the Bishop was decaying pretty fast. The town tried putting the Bishop on ice, but that failed. So they put him a sealed mettle coffin with glass for the lid. The heat was so great that his rotting gasses built up inside the coffin and blew up all over everyone and the walls. He had to be scraped up and off everything just to be buried properly. They say you can still smell his rotting body in the tomb.
The second story involved a little boy that died falling out of a tree. He likes to play with children (living). I took pictures of the tomb, the tree, and the boys grave here. You can see where my phone did the fog issue again in some of them. Was it the ghost of the boy? I wonder. You tell me. You can read more detail about the cemetery here.
The night ended in the home where we started the tour. We all got to go in and hear the story of a family that used to live in the home, the children who like to play, and about the shadow figure that can be seen at times. When I walked in, I was a bit freaked out by the door to the kitchen. I’m not sure why, it just gave me the creeps. I also felt like someone was standing behind me. After the lights came on, I got to mess with the dowsing rod. The rest of the group had left, which was great because I got a little personal time with the house. I asked a few questions and really never got an answer other than this: when I asked if someone was here, the rods crossed. I got nothing when asking if they were male or female or children. I then asked if they wanted to come closer to me and the robs crossed all the way. I felt a tingly sensation in my upper body and pressure on my arms like someone was giving me a hug. The guide said the children like to give hugs and I was not the first to have this happen to them. After that, I stopped the dowsing rod fun. I just didn’t feel right there, even with the lights on.
I got a few pictures of the house but, unfortunately, my husband did not video or take photos of the dowsing rod encounter as I wanted. If you ever come to St. Augustine, FL and want a ghost tour, check these guys out. They won’t disappoint and are so much fun for the small price they charge.