Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Summerville Ghost Stories And The Blue Bottle Tree Along with A Festival At The Ponds

blue bottle tree at W. Carolina and Tupper
In Summerville, there is an area where three roads converge unto South Main Street to make a single intersection of five points. The roads are W. Carolina Ave, E. Carolina Ave, and Tupper Lane. I have driven through this intersection many times and have often wondered about the significance of the strange potted ornament placed at the point where W. Carolina Ave and Tupper Lane come together. It was always just a brief curiosity because I never made any real effort to find out what the strange looking tree-like structure with blue bottles stuck on its branches was. Until recently, and only by accident, I stumbled upon the answer. I was researching ghost stories in the Summerville area. Not surprsing, it's called a blue bottle tree and quite common throughout the South.

Today, it is mainly nothing more than a decoration people put in their gardens and on their lawns, but in history the blue bottle tree is steeped in superstitions brought here by African slaves. The color blue was believed to ward off spirits, more specifically, the evil kind. The bottles on the bottle tree are thought to entice the evil spirits into climbing inside during the evening hours where they become trapped. Then, the morning sun comes up and the sunlight kills the spirits. Quite an ingenious idea, if you believe in such things. Also, a nifty way of making good use of empty wine bottles, if you like the idea of a blue bottle tree in your yard.
Old City Jail

Charleston is rich with a diverse collection of varying cultures each laced with their own blend of superstitions and beliefs, necessary ingredients for inventing interesting ornaments and compiling ghost stories to entertain the many tourists who come here to experience history at its best. Poogan's Porch tells stories of encounters with a ghost named Zoe St. Armand, a woman who once lived there. She is sometimes heard banging things around in the kitchen. Battery Carriage House Inn is known as “Charleston’s most haunted inn." It is home to the “gentleman ghost” and the headless torso. Want to reserve a room for the scare of it? The Dockstreet Theater has two ghosts wandering within its walls, a male ghost dressed in formal attire, thought to be Junious Brutus Booth, and an alleged prostitute. You will need tickets for this show. No tickets needed on Church Street, which is lined with plenty of graveyards, but a tour guide would be helpful. Last but not least, Lavinia Fisher awaits your presence at the Old City Jail. The stories are many and the tours are plenty. Check out Bulldog Tours.

Summerville has its share of ghost stories as well. One notable story is associated with The Ponds, a community located on Highway 17A where Dorchester Rd ends. The entrance is marked by a tower. The Ponds has a history dating back to 1682. Plenty of time for human activity and interaction needed to create stories of mystery tainted by an active imagination. The first owner of the land built a plantation called Westin Hall. His name was Andrew Percival. From 1723 to 1765, the Donning family of England had controlling interest in the plantation until they sold it.

Several families from that point in time owned it and for over a hundrerd years it was a rice plantation. John Shultz took ownership in 1818 and later his son. After returning from the Civil War, having served in the First South Carolina Mounted Militia, Frederick Schultz eventually sold it to Edward Lotz in 1881. Edward Lotz became a lumber dealer and made shingles out of the numerous cypress trees growing on the land. Edward Lotz is where the ghost story begins. Today, it seems he makes a nightly visit to the old farmhouse to make sure everything is well. Sorry, nothing ghastly or gruesome to report. It seems the lands history has been one of tranquility.

The Ponds is also a center for local area events and community activities. World-renowned arts shows, outdoor music festivals, and sporting events have unfolded on this one-time plantation. There is an outdoor amphitheater on the property located next to the lake. This Saturday, April 21st, the Southern Flame - The Southern Food Festival Under the Oaks kicks-off. The time is 11 am to 8 pm. It is $10 to park all day with food and berverage tickets available. There will be a BBQ Competition and a People’s Choice Southern Foods Competition. Live bluegrass and rock music will keep you dancing. Eddie Bush and The Mayhem are the featured group. Join the fun and stick around after dark to see if Edward Lotz likes what he sees.


Terence said...

Thanks for sharing this interesting post about the blue bottle tree.

Suzie said...

Thank you, Thank you! for the explanation of the Blue Bottle Trees. There is one at Cypress Gardens and I wondered about it - but thought it very pretty! I don't know where you got your information but I LOVE IT!!

Vacation Rick said...

You are welcome Terence and Suzie. I'm glad you liked the article.