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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Spooky Tale From Richard D. Laudenslager

The Legend of Julia Legare

Chances are unless you are a paranormal enthusiast, or resident of Edisto Island, South Carolina, you have never heard of Julia Legare. Hers is a tragic story, one repeated many times throughout human history while the practice of medicine was still in its infancy.

In 1852, as a young woman in her teens, Julia Legare, was visiting family on Edisto Island and became very ill, eventually slipping into a coma. After a while she was pronounced dead by the family physician. The Legare family, being wealthy plantation owners, entombed Julia in the family mausoleum at Edisto Presbyterian Church.

This being before embalming and other means of preserving dead bodies had been developed meant that most people were buried immediately after death. And so it was that Julia’s body was laid amongst the remains of several decaying relatives in the family mausoleum, and the door resealed.

It would be more than a decade before the crypt was opened once more. Some say to lay to rest Julia’s younger brother who had died in battle fighting for the Confederacy, but none the less to add another Legare to the family tomb.

As the heavy marble door was unlocked and slid open the clattering of bones could be heard tumbling behind the cold stone slab as it traveled inward. In the tomb, now filled with the light of day, the mourners were horrified to see their dead relative’s bones strewn about the mausoleum floor. Even more horrifying was the decaying remains of Julia Legare directly behind the door.

She had evidently awakened from a deep comatose state in the pitch black tomb lying atop the bones of her long dead relatives. Undoubtedly confused and disorientated she had at some point figured out what was happening and tried to escape, as was evidenced by the dried blood caked gouges her fingernails had left on the back of the cold heavy marble slab door.

The realization was that Julia Legare had fallen victim to the limits of medical science and not passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family. Instead, she had died alone, afraid, and in total darkness breathing in the stench of her long deceased relatives.

Presumably the scattered remains were gathered along with Julia and again sealed away with whomever they were laying to rest that day.

However, a short time thereafter, visiting family still reeling from the recent discovery were visiting the tomb and noticed the mausoleum door was ajar. Assuming it had not been locked properly to begin with the door was again sealed. But that door would never again remain closed for very long. Week after week, year after the year, the door would be found open without explanation. Many attempts were made to make certain the door remained shut, including chaining and pad locking, which eventually resulted in an open door with broken chains and locks scattered about.

Then, some 50 years ago, convinced there was a solution, a heavy steel door that could only be opened with use of industrial machinery was put in place. Shortly thereafter this door was not only opened, but found completely unhinged lying face down in front of the crypt.

After that, no attempts were made to close off the entrance to the crypt, and the remains inside were moved and buried elsewhere.

The original marble slab door was laid into the crypt floor with the inside of the door face up, visible to anyone who visits the crypt. And, if you look close enough, Julia’s fingernail gouges can still be seen in the slab.

Whether you believe the Legend of Julia Legare or not her plight was one that many more people than we may ever know suffered at the hands of inexperienced doctors. But if you think this is something that could never happen today … think again.

As recently as this year a young woman awoke inside a drawer at a hospital morgue having been pronounced dead just hours earlier…