Buried Alive on Edisto Island

by Marie Asbill


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As a small sea island community, Edisto is steeped with supernatural mystery. With fourteen churches, historic plantation homes, and a Gullah community, Edisto is a Petri dish for the supernatural. When delving into Edisto’s rich history, one will inevitably come across a ghost story. One of Edisto’s most popular ghost stories surrounds the Legare mausoleum at the Presbyterian Church. According to island legend, young Julia Legare (pronounced La-Gree) was accidentally buried alive! 

By most accounts, Julia was a sickly child. Her bedside was in the frequent company of a physician and around the age of twenty-two, the young girl contracted a case of malaria that eventually reduced her body to a coma-like state.  When doctors arrived they were unable to find Julia’s pulse and she was declared dead.  Her body was laid to rest inside the rusty brown mausoleum situated behind the Presbyterian Church and sealed shut with a heavy marble door. A few days after her funeral service, a graveyard worker noticed something odd. The heavy marble door that separated Julia from the living world was open.  After a closer examination it was discovered that the door had caved in and that Julia’s body lay on the floor among the pieces.  Her fingernails were broken and worn down, and scratch marks could be seen on the pieces of broken marble. Everyone soon came to believe that Julia was not actually dead when she was sealed inside the mausoleum and almost certainly experienced an agonizing death while trapped inside. The ground inside the mausoleum was opened and Julia’s remains were buried. A second marble door sealed the building shut but then was discovered mysteriously broken; leaving the building open once again. This lead to speculation that her spirit wanted the tomb to remain open!

The mausoleum no longer contains remains from earlier burials, the bodies were exhumed and relocated, and the marble door fragments were embedded into the present floor.  For years, visitors have claimed to have heard crying and seen shadows around that part of the graveyard.

This is only one of the many legendary tales from Edisto’s past. The ancient moss draped oaks, the iconic palmetto tree, and the unpredictable Atlantic all evoke stories of mystery. Whether it’s a jilted lover or a bereft bride or a desperate parent, stories that span the decades come alive on this enchanting island. One can only imagine the stories yet to unfold!

Marie Asbill is a local guide of The Pink Van Tour and can be reached at (843) 603-0967.

If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy listening to our interview with Brad Legare, one of Julia Legare's descendants....

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