John Miller is the current owner of Litchfield Plantation in Pawleys Island.
Some who spend time on the property say a past owner still lives there: One of the first owners of the house built in the 1700's.
Miller tours his plantation grounds nearly every day, but he has yet to sleep a night in one of its beds.
“I just don't want to sleep here by myself,” said Miller.
“I'm convinced that there is, you know, a presence here,” he said. “Just the feelings that I get.”
Miller says he's never seen a ghost.
Still, he believes the plantation is haunted.
He's convinced by story from a doctor who stayed overnight in the Blue Room of the house.
“He said he woke up and it was cold, and he saw a Confederate soldier sitting in front of the fire place, and he watched it, and he knew he wasn't dreaming, and he woke his wife up, and she woke up, and looked, and it was gone,” Miller said.
Miller can recount claims of paranormal encounters by visitors and employees from before his ownership.
Some of the tails include untraceable hoof sounds coming down the Ally of Live Oaks and smells of manure seeping from the then-empty carriage house.
Many of the ghost stories go along with the plantation's history.
Its plans date back to 1710. In the mid-1700's, the plantation grew more than a million pounds of Carolina Gold rice, which required about 150 slaves.
Miller believes if the plantation is haunted, it's by Dr. Henry Tucker and his family. They owned the plantation, and the slaves, for more than a century.
“There was a bell out at the gate that he would ring on his way in to let everyone know that he was back on the plantation, and they actually removed it quite a number of years ago because it would mysteriously ring in the middle of the night,” said Miller.
A nearby cemetery holds headstones that Miller says may belong to the plantation's slaves.
On the property sits one lone headstone that reads, “Mona Age 16”.
“She was one of the caretaker's daughters. I think she drowned, or died, on the property. People have seen her in either a pink or a blue dress,” said Miller.
“We just walked into the plantation, and we just felt that there was a little something different,” said Debbie Benson, who is a wedding and event planner in Myrtle Beach.
She's hosted several events at the plantation house.
“I haven't really had anything where I would go in and it's the classic something has moved, but when you go into the gun room, we like to store stuff in there, but when you go in there, you know someone has been looking at your flowers or your cake,” Benson said.
She says the scenery, space, and rich history make Litchfield Plantation one of her favorite venues of the Grand Strand, but she warns her brides that it's haunted.
“Every time we go we introduce ourselves and ask them to share their space. I've never had a bride or someone who we were going to work with who wasn't totally intrigued with the idea that they were also going to be part of the footsteps of history,” said Benson.
Steven Hicks is the founder of Lost Souls Paranormal, or L.S.P. It's a paranormal investigation team out of Aiken, South Carolina.
Miller invited Hicks and his team to the site last year, and the team returned for a second time in May to further its investigation.
Inside the plantation house, small cameras sit in each corner.
“Maybe we can find something that the other groups might not know about,” said Hicks,
“If we can use the investigation to draw some answers to those, we can validate the history and the background to this area for them,” he said.
Hicks heads up this investigation.
L.S.P has about 30 members spread across South Carolina and Georgia.
A handful joined hicks in Litchfield.
One of the investigators is the group's rationalist. Glenn Zimmerman's day job is an electrician, and he says he's the first one to assume a bump in the night is just that.
“I'm probably the biggest skeptic,” said Zimmerman.
“One of the things I try to do when I'm on an investigation is I want to debunk something. I want to find out ok, why is this doing it or is it something that is just a normal occurrence,” he said.
All the team members go into this investigation with an open mind.
Hicks says a team member recorded the night before what he thinks is a voice speaking. It's an occurrence the investigators call an Electronic Voice Phenomenon, or E.V.P.
You might not hear it normally, but sometimes “extra” sound comes through on a recording device.
Hicks and his team think they hear a voice say,” Yeah” or, “Da Da.”
With that evidence in mind, the team splits.
Hicks stays in the ballroom for an E.V.P. session.
Hicks says spirits will use energy from electronics, lights, and humans to present themselves.
Investigators speak aloud questions, maybe prompting a response on the recorder.
“Everybody in here is not here to harm you. We're here to talk to you,” Hicks speaks aloud.
The tool, known as a K-2, has lights that flash if an energy changes them.
They use the lights to communicate with what might be the spirit.
One flash: yes, two means no.
“Do you like us being up here?” asks Hicks.
The lights flash.
“No?” he asks.
Zimmerman's group is on another floor. He isn't too quick to name anything he sees or hears as paranormal. He says he searches for the truth.
“You don't know if maybe you're not asking the right questions, or if there's just not something there,” said Zimmerman.
Though Zimmerman remains skeptical, he says, don't call him a non-believer.
He does believe another presence surround us, but “paranormal” may intersect with science.
“I try to correlate paranormal with what we look at as physics and natural sciences,” Zimmerman said.
“I believe that there's something there … I don't know if I would call them ghosts,” he said.
Hicks isn't totally sure whether there is a presence in this plantation based in his investigation.
After analyzing the video and audio from his weekend investigation, he found a recording of several consecutive knocks, and he can't name a source for the,
He says you shouldn't feel unwelcome in this house. A home's history is hard to get rid of.
“Every location has a story. every location has a soul. Whether it's there or not, we'd like to find out and help,” said Hicks.
For more information about Litchfield Plantation, visit the site's website.