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January 05, 2011

The Lively Ghosts Who Haunt St. Augustine

Shrine-la-leche It is not surprising that St. Augustine, The Oldest City in America would be haunted by ghosts from its colorful past, beginning with The Spanish Colonial period.  Ghostly apparitions appear throughout St. Augustine and it is not just the cemeteries where sightings occur, although the cemeteries have their share.  During numerous St Augustine ghost tours the Chapel of Our Lady of Le Leche Church is said to have had a nun, in habit, who kneels in prayer at the chapel. She appears as alive as anyone; however, if you speak to her or approach her, she disappears into thin air.

The Military Hospital Museum is another place that one may encounter a ghostly apparition or two.  This building is a replica of the old hospital in which many of the soldiers who were stricken with yellow fever were treated and where many were given last rites.  In the Old City, ghostly sounds and shadows can be seen at the Old Pharmacy, a building that was built on the grounds where the hospital once stood that housed the wounded and dying.

Perhaps the most sensational ghostly pair are the lovers who were forever bound to their untimely death and haunting by the revenge of a jealous husband.  The harsh Spanish Commandant discovered that his young wife and the dashing captain had become lovers and lured them deep into the Fort’s depths where he had prepared a permanent punishment for the pair—shackles imbedded in the wall.  First the captain was shackled and then his unfaithful wife.  No one could hear their pleas for mercy or their screams as the commandant walled up the opening to leave the pair in this place of darkness for all eternity.  No one can plot revenge better than a Spanish military officer.  For approximately two hundred years, individuals have reported hearing crying and mournful sounds from deep within the fort. The scent of Orange Blossoms, the fragrance the unfaithful Delores was known to wear is often caught, seeming to float in the air, with no explanation of the source.  These unnatural occurrences were unexplainable until the 21st day of July in the year of 1833, when cannon cracked a floor. The depths of the fort were exposed to reveal the room in which the lovers had been placed and the skeletons were found, holding each other.  It was said that a rush of air came from the room, as well as the scent of Orange Blossoms. It is believed that Dolores and her lover still roam the fort, enjoying their love now in the spiritual world forever.

St. Augustine forts were the stages for many sad endings.  In the 1870s, brave Indians from the Great Plains, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Commanche, and Arapaho were imprisoned in Ft. Marion for three years in very dismal conditions.  Later, the Apache were imprisoned.  This time, instead of the braves, the Apache women and children were sent to Ft. Marion.  Over the years, the ghosts of Indians have been seen both in the Fort and the ghost of one brave who escaped is seen jumping to his death.  He jumps over and over.

The dungeons of Ft. Marion held over 200 court-martialed deserters from the American Army during the The Spanish American War.  Many of these men were put before a firing squad or hung or worse during their imprisonment.

The ghost of a woman in white wanders around in various places in and outside the fort, and then vanishes. Spanish soldiers also appear real—so real that visitors have talked to them.  Sometimes sounds of commands and war can be heard coming from the wall of the Castillo de San Marcos.

Judge John B. Stickney is the most celebrated resident ghost of The Huguenot Cemetery, although the spirits of children can be seen moving about and even sitting on the tombstones.  Elizabeth, a teenager who died of yellow fever, is said to love to dance at night along with other spirit pranksters.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is another haunted place in this ancient city.  Are always shrouded in mystery and legend and The St. Augustine Lighthouse is no exception.  There is no question that the spirits of individuals who have died at sea follow the path of the light to shore and the lighthouse.   A man is seen from time to time shrouded in a grey mist walking about the grounds.  Children have been seen and it is documented that a work cart carrying supplies to the lighthouse during its construction, broke and five children, one a young black serving girl, all fell into the water and drowned.  Young female spirits seem to linger here.

The Lady with the Lantern is the ghostly apparition that inhabits the Casablanca Inn.  This apparition is said to be the widow who owned the Inn during the prohibition era.  She made much money from the bootleggers with her boarding house, sometimes boarding Federal agents as well.  It was said that she would stand watch on the balcony and swing a lantern back and forth to warn smugglers when the agents were in town so that the smugglers could pass by safely.  One night she waved off her lover’s boat; helping him to escape capture by the agents but he was sadly caught up and swept into the coming waves of a hurricane and lost at sea.  The widow still mourns for her lover and can be seen swinging a lantern back and forth to warn him of danger.

Posted by Jo Wilson on January 5, 2011 at 02:54 PM in Travel | Permalink

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