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Ghosts in Bryan County?

POSTED: October 31, 2017 10:16 a.m.
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Fort McAllister is just one place in Bryan County where ghost sightings have been reported.

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Bill Edwards, who hosts a radio talk show on WTKS in Savannah, related a story this morning about a former staffer driving through Richmond Hill one night who said he almost hit a woman standing in the street wearing a black sweater.

The man swerved and stopped his car, but when he got out of his vehicle to look, the woman was gone.

Spooky, eh?

People have claimed for years, for example, that Fort McAllister is haunted. The two most well-known stories are about Maj. John Gallie and Tom Cat.

The following information is taken from a 2012 Bryan County News story after two public ghost tours were held at the fort.

Gallie, a Confederate officer, was fatally wounded in 1863 when an artillery shell from a Union ironclad exploded near his head. Since the fort’s restoration in the 1930s, several people have claimed to have seen a headless ghost, thought to be Gallie, roaming the grounds.

The second, and far more lovable ghost said to call Fort McAllister home, is that of the Civil War-era garrison’s favorite feline: Tom Cat.

According to historical records, Tom Cat was the fort’s unofficial mascot and pet. He was well loved by the men in garrison, and his presence provided much-needed morale to war-weary soldiers.

When Union ironclads fired on the fort in 1863, Tom Cat also was a casualty. The soldiers so mourned his death that they sent word of it to one of the Confederacy’s commanding generals, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, and buried the cat’s remains at the fort.

Over the years, park visitors and employees have claimed to see Tom Cat wandering the fort. Others said they’ve felt him rub up against their legs.

But there’s also a more tangible side to Tom Cat’s story. For as long as anyone at the fort can remember, there’s always been a cat in the park, said Manager Danny Brown.

“It’s weird, but every time a cat dies or disappears, a new one just mysteriously shows up,” he said. “I don’t even know how many we’ve had now.”

And to make things even stranger, there are actually two Tom Cats buried in the fort.

“The park manager before me had a cat he named Tom Cat, and, it’s the weirdest thing, but that cat died on the anniversary of the first Tom Cat’s death,” said Brown. “The old park manager buried his body under the historical marker about Tom Cat, so he’s around here somewhere, too.”

Elsewhere in South Bryan County, an entry on the website www.ghostsofamerica.com says people have reported the feeling of “being watched” while driving on Fishermans Coop Road off of Highway 144.

While there are no ghost stories to be had, Christy Sherman of the Richmond Hill Historical Society recommends visiting Burnt Church Cemetery on Highway 144 just past Belfast River Road. Information about it and a self-guided tour can be obtained at the Richmond Hill History Museum by calling (912) 756-3697.

On the north end of the county, some 150 people showed up earlier this month for a ghost tour conducted by Alex Floyd, director of the Pembroke Downtown Development Authority. Attendees heard stories of shoot-outs, stabbings and suicides, as well as stops at the allegedly haunted J.O. Bacon house and the Old City Jail.

The above-mentioned website, www.ghostsofamerica.com, has reports of a ghostly flock of bluebirds known to haunt Ellabell on occasion, and of an abandoned church on Old Highway 204 where some claim to have seen an upside down cross. 

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