Thursday, February 21, 2013

William’s Ghost Walks of Georgetown—Review


I missed out on having dinner last night. But William Goins tour was so enthralling that I didn’t mind so much. It was a long tour, but the time passed quickly entrenched in stories of love, war, heartbreak, death and madness. Time only nagged in my sore feet and as the messenger bag on my shoulder grew heavier.

Georgetown, South Carolina is a timeless city lost in a haze of its own glorious history. While it’s still quite a small town, it has been at the heart of national struggles. It ranks among the oldest cities in America having been the site of a Spanish mission in the 16th century and the scene of Native American activities for centuries before that. As a notable seaport, the town attracted wealthy planters who constructed town houses here. After seeing action during the Civil War, the town returned to the timeless dream it still remains lost in. But the characters in that dream still walk its streets reliving their own glory days and that’s what brings me here.

William Goins is a genial bear of a man. Like Georgetown, there’s an air of the timeless about him with his long hair and beard. It’s not hard to imagine him cutting a dashing figure in a butternut grey uniform or the scarlet and blue of a Continental Army frock coat. In fact, Mr. Goins does participate in historic reenactments in his spare time.

Looking down Front Street towards the bell tower of the old
Georgetown market building, now the Rice Museum. Photo,
2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
His knowledge is extensive. He’s conversant in Low Country plantation life and lore, the genealogies of the myriad families in the region, the natural history of the marshes and scrub forests, and this tangled thicket of history of which Georgetown sits at the heart. Most of all, that knowledge encompasses, sometimes on a first hand level, the ghostlore of the region. He’s an investigator and has personally looked into many of the stories he relates on the tour. He incorporates the experiences of friends, family and many of the residents whose homes are located along the tour route.

His presentation is simple and unencumbered by the tricks that so many ghost tour guides utilize. There are no costumes, creepy voices or props used just Mr. Goins’ commanding presence, the smell of kerosene smoke from his lantern and Low Country drawl. The stories are simply presented as any good Southern storyteller would present them and they are most effective that way. Even coming on this tour with a knowledge of some of these stories, I found chills creeping up my back on more than one occasion.

Georgetown possesses a wealth of stories that would turn Charleston green with envy. What makes the stories so compelling is not only the hometown knowledge that Mr. Goins imparts, but the tales of recent activity. It’s the reminder that these spirits are still walking amongst us and are perhaps even listening in as the guide relates their own stories that really sends a cold tingle up my spine.

Among the plethora of stories from larger and more important cities, the stories of Georgetown have been somewhat overlooked by the paranormal community. If you’re looking for a diamond in the rough, a city whose paranormal side is only now being revealed, consider Georgetown and William Goins’ marvelous tour. Just keep in mind to have dinner first.

To book a tour, please see his website.

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