An Area Historian, A Trolley, and Some Local Lore
by Melissa LaScaleia
Kathryn Hedgepath has always loved local history.
“As a kid growing up here in the ’70s, I used to read a monthly publication for tourists. It always included a ghost story— the same ones, again and again— and I would read them, again and again, I loved them so much,” she says with a laugh.
“Growing up in a small community, you start to hear the local lore. Over time, you’d also hear the adaptations— there would be a theatrical production, a rewrite of some sort, and eventually the stories just became a part of me. I didn’t think about them anymore, I just knew them.”
Kathryn is the creator and narrator of the Myrtle Beach History Tours, a career path and her personal company which was birthed purely by accident.
“In the spring of 2017, I was working for the Market Common marketing office,” she says. “The Chamber of Commerce had incorrect information, and started telling visitors to the area that the Market Common was hosting military history tours when we weren’t. But we got so many requests, that I began to organize and run tours for three seasons.”
Kathryn ultimately decided to branch out on her own— partnering with Joe Reinhardt of Carolina Limousine and using his trolley to run a regular Market Common Military History Tour.
Since January, she’s added additional tours: Local Folklore & Family Fortunes Near Myrtle Beach; Myrtle Beach History, Movies & Music; and Early Myrtle Beach & The War Years.
The Local Folklore & Family Fortunes Near Myrtle Beach tour takes you just south of Myrtle Beach to the fishing community of Murrells Inlet. Along the way, stories are shared of our local ghosts, pirates, and the wealthy families who once had homes in the area who helped shape our nation’s history.
The Myrtle Beach History, Movies & Music tour tells of our city’s coming of age, the movies that were made here, and the part that music played in our local history.
The Early Myrtle Beach & The War Years tour is where you’ll hear our origin story and what it was like to live here during WWII with U-boat threats off the coast and the arrival of German POWs.
“I always wanted to be a tour guide,” Kathryn says. “I’ve traveled the world; I take tours everywhere I go. And I’m determined to make these fascinating, informative, fun tours.”
There are two famous haunted stories about our area that Kathryn covers on her tours.
“The story of the Grey Man is the most famous of the two,” Kathryn says. “This is the ghost you most want to see if there’s a storm brewing, regardless of your fear of ghosts. The legend is, that if you see him before a hurricane, you and your property and family will be spared death and destruction. People who have seen him return to their homes to see the surrounding homes are devastated and their’s is fine.”
The story originates from 1822, the year the Grey Man purportedly died and was first seen. He was last seen during Hurricane Hugo in 1989. But the Grey Man won’t show up for any hurricane; he only comes at the worst storms.
“The story of Alice Belin Flagg is my favorite,” Kathryn says. “She died at 16, technically of a fever, but people say it was really of a broken heart because she wasn’t allowed to marry her lover. Her family forbade the match as he was of a lower class in life than she was. The engagement ring she wore around her neck was lost and people say she haunts the shores of Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island to try to find it. Seeing her doesn’t portend anything, but I have heard many stories of people trying to conjure her spirit.”
There are so many great tales that Kathryn isn’t able to cover all of them in her tours. One popular story combines some interesting history as well as a more unusual ghost story. It involves Hagley Plantation, a large estate which was a wedding gift for Theodosia, daughter of Aaron Burr.
Burr was vice president of the U.S. at the time she was married to Joseph Alston. The couple lived at the plantation briefly before moving. Fast forward a century and the year was 1918. In Georgetown County, few people had cars at that time. And there was no bridge between Pawley’s Island and Georgetown— to get to the island, you had to take a ferry.
There was a gentleman in town who owned a car; he would often pick his friends up and drive them home once they departed the ferry.
One night, while waiting, he fell asleep by the dock at Hagley Plantation and had a vibrant dream. The setting for it was the Civil War. He saw people celebrating a wedding, a bride and groom, and then a man rode up on a grey horse in a grey uniform. The bride screamed and ran to the man, embraced him, and the groom followed too. Nobody could hear what they were saying, but after some time, the soldier got back on his horse and rode off.
Then the groom ran to the water and jumped in to drown himself, and the bride followed suit. Despite the wedding guests trying to save them, both drowned.
The man awoke from his dream, and sensed someone watching him. He turned around and saw the same bride and groom from his dream.
Not believing in ghosts, he thought that his friends were playing a trick on him and had dressed up somehow. After a moment, the vision passed. Turning, he saw the ferry just pulling up to shore.
Shaken, the man didn’t speak of the incident. But on the dark, sandy drive home, the same wedding couple appeared in the middle of the road. The man slammed on the brakes. While the couple in the back were busy talking and didn’t say anything, the girl in the front saw the same thing he did.
The next day, the two visited some community members who knew all the local lore to get some answers. And as the man began to tell his adventures from the previous evening, he was cut off.
The man to whom he was telling the story was quite familiar with the tale, having had the same dream himself. He was able to finish it for him, with exacting detail… Spooky.
Myrtle Beach Trolley Tours