Saturday, July 12, 2014

South Carolina's Forgotten Ghost Photo

The information for today's post comes from an excellent little book called The Ghosts of Charleston by Edward B. Macy and Julian T. Buxton III. While fairly short, its packed with stories from Charleston, South Carolina's many, many haunted hot spots, including a whole chapter dedicated to today's photograph:

The photograph above was taken about 11 pm on June 10, 1987 at the St. Philip's Church Graveyard.  Local resident, Harry Reynolds, had been out all day testing his new Kodak ASA-200 film camera, when he decided to end the day with a couple of shots at the nearby cemetery.  Unfortunately, the gates were already locked for the Harry cut through a nearby playground that adjoined the cemetery property, and took his photos through the wrought iron gate.

Most of the cemetery shots turned out rather dark, but the image above, which was the last on the roll, came out showing what appears to be a clear image of a shrouded woman kneeling over a grave!  Thinking it was a simple double exposure, Harry sent the photo and the negatives off to the Kodak lab, where experts ruled out that possibility, as well as the possibility of tampering.

Convinced he had caught a real ghost on film, Harry then set out with the help of his wife and a friend to discover who the ghost could be.  They learned that the grave belonged to Sue (Susan) Howard Hardy, wife of Gaston Hardy, who was the Secretary of the Treasury for the South Carolina Railroad.   She had died on June 16, 1888 at only 29 years old.  As their research would show, Sue passed away from complications due to labor.  Her stillborn baby had died six days earlier...on June 10th.

Harry had taken a photograph of what appears to be a woman in mourning, 99 years to the day, after Sue Hardy's child had died.  Is this a photograph of a mother mourning the loss of her child from beyond the grave or simply a camera malfunction?  If you're in the area, you can find out for yourself! Today, the cemetery is a favorite stop on the different Charleston ghost tours and it is reported that the mournful cries of a woman can be heard at certain times in the evening.  Some of the tours also offer a warning:  When copies of the photograph by Harry Reynolds are passed out to guests, pregnant women are warned not to touch them after several incidents have arisen where pregnant women DID handle the photographs and consequently felt as if they were being choked, felt nauseous, etc. The church, however, doesn't put much stock into these reports, and has gone as far as to issue the following signage:

Further Reading:
St. Philip's Church website
Scares and Haunts of Charleston
Find-a-Grave: Sue Howard Hardy


  1. Being somewhat of an adventure of cemeteries, I can safely say that I have never seen a sign like the one that St. Philips had posted. I wonder if the church has had trouble with the curious ghost seekers, and this is their way to deter visitors from wondering the grounds, because the photo that is posted proves this sign wrong. Love the photo.


    1. I know that ghost tours stop at the cemetery, but I don't think they actually enter the graveyard...but I'm sure that doesn't stop the curious from seeking out Sue's grave at other times. I've never seen a sign like that either, but I'll admit...its kind of a clever way to make a stance and advertise their services, lol.