When I visited All Saints Episcopal Church I was under the assumption that the plain slab below marked the grave of Alice Belin Flagg, a tragic figure in Pawleys Island folklore and the subject of an alleged haunting.
I’ve since learned that Alice is buried in an unmarked grave at Belin United Methodist Church and this monument was erected for a descendent who ended up in another graveyard, meaning that no one is actually interred here.
That doesn’t deter visitors from visiting All Saints to leave coins and rings. Many attempt invocation of her spirit by walking backwards around the slab thirteen times, but there’s no proof that anything ever manifested aside from a worn path circling the marker.
At any rate the ghost story along with the speculation of a foiled romance and family strife have kept her alive for over a century after her burial.
There are many variations of “Alice of the Hermitage” because as we all know that folklore tends to be embellished throughout history. In fact she may not have even lived at the Hermitage, the Flagg family’s rice plantation.
Alice was born November 29, 1833 in Charleston, South Carolina to Dr. Ebenezer and Margaret Belin who lived on the Wachesaw Rice Plantation. She was the youngest of eight or nine children born into a prominent family. At least one of Alice’s siblings died in infancy, as many infants did in those times.
When Ebenezer died in 1838 Alice’s older brother, Dr. Allard Belin Flagg took over as the father figure. He sent Alice to live at a boarding school in Charleston, away from their Murrell’s Inlet home when she was in her mid-teens.
She may have enrolled at a boarding school because it was common for wealthy children to receive education away from the home. That doesn’t really make for a very interesting story, though.
Others believe that this action was Allard’s effort to thwart a romance between his young sister and a man of lower social status, possibly a turpentine or lumber merchant. Determined to remain faithful to her suitor Alice wore the man’s ring in secret on a ribbon around her neck until she fell ill with “country fever” or malaria and returned to the Flagg home, where she died in 1849.
The ring is central to Alice’s legend. In the most popular accounts Dr. Flagg found it around her neck either following her death or while under his care and tossed it into a marsh or creek, enraged at her defiance.
Alice’s “ghost” reportedly roams the earthly realm in her white burial gown searching for her beloved keepsake.
As romantic as this story is a former Hermitage resident and folklorist claimed that her brother spun the supernatural story to frighten their cousins when they were children.
While Alice’s death at such a young age was lamentable, the Flagg family was no stranger to tragedy. In 1893 Alice’s brother Arthur, his wife, and five of their children were “lost in the storm” during a hurricane.