There are few stories more horrifying than the ones where the seemingly deceased suddenly spring to life in the funeral home basement, or heaven forbid, inside a coffin. It's an age-old fear that's prompted some of the more paranoid to invent contraptions to allow for escape from their graves, should they awaken underground. Some final resting places even have windows.
In this day and age, it might seem irrational to worry so much about being mistaken for a stiff, but medical science wasn't always so advanced, and there were numerous cases where unfortunate souls flew under the radar, only to wake up entombed. One such case in the sad tale of Julia Legare and the haunted mausoleum where her claw marks can still be found on the walls.
Tucked away on Edisto Island, a beautiful plot of land on the southern coast of South Carolina, lived the Legare family, a long line of wealthy plantation owners. The family had two children, an older son and a younger daughter, and together they lived happily on their land (at least much happier than their slaves) until their daughter, Julia, began to fall ill.
In this time, just a few years before the Civil War, Diptheria was still not widely understood. Unbeknownst to the Legares, Edisto Island, with its vast quantities of stagnant water, turned out to be the perfect breeding ground for Diptheria, and Julia was stricken with the illness. Slowly, Julia began to suffocate, and her family could only watch in horror as her throat began to close shut. Eventually, she closed her eyes, seemingly for good, and the Legares mourned the loss of their daughter.
In those days, the morgues that we're familiar with today didn't exist, and the persistent high temperatures and swampy atmosphere meant that decompisition set in quickly and ferociously, leaving the dearly departed no choice but to deal with their deceased as soon as possible. As the story goes, the Legares took their daughter's body to the family crypt, remarking at how peaceful she looked, almost as if she was sleeping. Julia's father laid her on the stone slab inside, and when they had said their goodbyes, the family closed the heavy doors, sealing the crypt's keyhole with wax.
Years later, Julia's older brother was killed during the Civil War, and for the first time since Julia passed, the Legare family gathered again at the family crypt. As they turned the key and pulled open the heavy door, the entire family was horrified as Julia's bones came tumbling out of the opening, her leathery skin still hanging from her gaping jaw. Claw marks covered both the door and the floor of the mausoleum and the bones of Julia's fingertips were shattered, signs that pointed a frantic attempt to open the sealed door. Julia had not been dead, but merely in a coma.
Distraught by what they had just discovered, the Legares quickly laid their son to rest and slammed the door shut. Determined not to make the same mistake twice, the Legares again visited the crypt shortly after burying their son, only to be met by another surprise. The mausoleum door, made of solid rock, had cracked down the middle. They replaced it, only to return and again find the door broken, lying at the foot of the mausoleum. The replacements kept coming, but no matter what they attempted, the crypt's doors refused to be closed, leading the Legares to believe that Julia's spirit was attempting to keep others from suffering her fate. The family relented, and the tomb has remained unsealed ever since.
Today, you can make your way to the historical Edisto Island Presbyterian Church and pay visit Julia's doorless crypt, where the deep claw marks are still visible on the floor, a morbid reminder of a horrible mistake. They've also got some sweet camping down by the beach.