The Haunted History of Circular Church’s Graveyard

The oldest cemetery in a city peppered with sanctified burial sites, The Circular Church’s Graveyard, sits adjacent to the Circular Congregational Church, the oldest congregation in The Holy City. Huguenots, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians from various creeds found refuge along the peninsula of the walled city. Each of them is a justified believer in their version of Christianity. 

To escape the religious oppression of their mother countries, they founded Charles Town with these ideals in tow. The markers lining the old cemetery etch out the lives of these early Americans. 


What is the Circular Church Graveyard’s Haunted Story?


Dating back to 1694, they play out the city’s history to visitors like the pages of a book. Yet some pages of this book refused to be finished. Revolutionary War soldiers frequent the graveyard at night. They appear in pictures and have been noted to follow tour groups. Many going into the cemetery come out full believers of the other side. 

Keep reading to learn more about the haunted history of the Circular Church’s old cemetery. If you’re in Charleston, come along for a tour with US Ghost Adventures.

The Walled City

Founded in 1680 by refugees of the religious schism the Great Awakening was causing across Europe, Charles Townes became a center of religious freedom early on. The Circular Congregational Church was a meeting place for all the dissenters inhabiting the Walled City. In the early 1690s, a wall was erected to stave off attacks, making it the first in the British colonies. 

Death came swiftly to many in the early colonial days, and by 1695, the first gravestone appeared in the Circular Church Cemetery. A small arched vault covers the bodies of the Symond Family. Henry Symonds and his family donated the plot of land Circular Church now stands on in the early 1690s. They likely perished from smallpox or other common diseases at the time. 

Early Huguenots, French Protestants who followed the theologian John Calvin, also flocked to the New World during the early days of the colonies. While their numbers were smaller than English and German, 2,000 settled in Charleston, Boston, New York, and other colonial cities. Their influence can be seen all over Charleston. Arthur Peronneau, the first mayor of Charleston, came from these origins. His father, Henry Peronneau, and his family are buried in the cemetery. 

A broken tombstone, cut in half to designate a life cut short. It is one of the many colonial tombs decorated with the physical and religious symbolism of the times. This is the tomb of David Ramsay, a revolutionary war hero captured by the British during the siege of Charleston in 1780. While imprisoned in the Old Exchange and Provost dungeon, he wrote History of the Revolution in South Carolina. This piece was published in 1785 and is considered the earliest written history of the Revolutionary War. 

Ramsay was a student of medicine and held a successful career until his untimely murder in 1815. He assessed the mental state of a criminal, William Linnen. Linnen was declared mentally ill and later murdered Ramsay after being released on good behavior.

The War Hero of The Circular Graveyard

On more than one occasion, apparitions have been seen late at night in the Circular Church’s Cemetery. Many assumptions can be drawn from these sightings. It is easy enough to wonder if the strange man wandering behind the tombs is David Ramsay, marching through the cemetery in agonizing pain over his eternal sacrifice to modern science. Various photographs have been taken of the area around his tomb and others. 

Three to four silver buttons often appear in these subsequent pictures, resembling the shape of a Revolutionary War soldier’s coat. Those brave enough to take more photos report seeing the figure floating in the distance. One tour guide famously reported seeing a strange figure behind the tombstones. She said it looked extremely pale. As she approached, it started to move off into the distance, further between the sprawling gravestones. 

It appeared to be a man dressed in Revolutionary War-era clothing. The strangest part of this incident is that after it disappeared into the darkness, she and her group reported seeing the figure four more times. Could it have been the spirit of David Ramsay? Perhaps it is the ghost of patriot Anthony Toomer. Who fought alongside David Ramsay and lay in the same cemetery. 

Charleston acted as a major turning point in the Revolutionary War, but not in the way one might think. The British captured them in 1780 during the Siege of Charleston, and over 2,500 soldiers were taken prisoner. One of these men was Issac Haynes, who was forced and deceived into joining the British Crown. 

He was later accused of treason against England and executed. Word of his demise at the hands of British treachery reached thousands of British Loyalists. Convincing many of them to take up arms with the Colonial Army.

The Circular Church's Graveyard

Quite a few visitors have seen floating orbs and other spiritual apparitions walking about the Circular Church’s Graveyard late at night. Cold spots and the feeling of being touched on the neck and other various body parts are common. Heroes from a pastime mingle amongst the living inside the oldest cemetery in Charleston. Revolutionary War heroes still linger, defending their posts from the oncoming British threat. 

The ideals and beliefs of the Continental Army truly live on in this cemetery. Next time you visit Charleston, remember the American ideals that built it. The familiar sound of freedom rings true throughout its old cemeteries and churches, and there are quite a few more. Continue reading our blog to learn about the Holy City and its many phantoms! And next time you visit, take a ghost tour with Charleston Terrors!