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Investigating Lost Things: Midway Church and Cemetery – Midway, GA

On our way home from St. Simons Island yesterday, we took a detour through Midway, Georgia. The first time I had ever heard of this place was from Chris Wangler’s 2006 book, Ghost Stories of Georgia. By complete happenstance, we met the last tour group of the day at the Midway Museum and were able to join in.

I loved the original civil war-era clothes that were on display upstairs.

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Also, check out the original key to the 1792 Midway Church:

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You can’t tell by looking at this photo, but the key is huge! The tour guide used one that was very similar to let us in the church later.

Midway Church

According to the museum’s brochure, the exterior of the church was painted red in 1792, and the floors were painted in black and white diamond patterns. The present day appearance of the church dates to 1849. For six weeks during the Civil War, General Judson Kilpatrick used the church as a slaughterhouse and the church was abandoned after this.

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The pews have their own little swinging doors for entry, and we were told that they used to be sectioned off for subscribers.

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View from balcony of pulpit:

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Upstairs view of right side of balcony area:

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I expected the church to have some sort of feeling or smell to it, but instead the place just felt empty. Not cheerful or peaceful or even sad, or anything whatsoever. Completely devoid of emotion.

Midway Cemetery

Mr. Wangler recounts two haunting tales about the Midway Cemetery in his book. The first story involves two young people who allegedly involved themselves in an illicit affair and had a habit of meeting in secret in the cemetery. Sylvia Brown was a blond seventeen year old, and Anthony was one of her father’s slaves. When Sylvia’s father got news of the affair, he had Anthony murdered. The story is that Sylvia found his body hanging from the tree in the cemetery where they used to rendezvous and slit her own throat right there at the scene.  Visitors report shadow figures underneath the tree.

View of the church from inside the cemetery:

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The second legend is that of the crack in the north wall of the cemetery. The wall was built in 1813 by slave labor. Two of the men had been arguing all day and had fallen behind with the day’s construction. The master made the two stay late and finish the job and one wound up murdering the other and hiding him beneath the wall. The next day he claimed his partner had run away. The wall that remained covering his crime was reported to crumble at an unexplainably fast pace. One day, the master ordered the wall torn down so it could be rebuilt from scratch. The remains were discovered, and the wall was rebuilt. But the crack continues to this day even though the wall was rebuilt.

Info display inside the cemetery:

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My photo of the wall:

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The cemetery felt to me exactly as the church felt – empty. It could be that the harsh south Georgia heat is stifling my radar. But, Bonaventure in Savannah has always felt very peaceful and serene to me, and I have made plenty of summer visits inside the walls of Bonaventure (I don’t mean to imply that Bonaventure is haunted, just that it does make me feel a positive energy at least).

I look forward to a visit in October, to hear some legends on the Halloween tour. The story about the crack in the brick wall is well-embraced in Midway.

Be sure to keep an analog version of your travel adventures logged and indexed inside your very own “Play” Journal, by Stealth Journals. “Play” is an indexed book journal that should be used to record all of your good times!

Further reading:
http://coastalcourier.com/archives/61008/

http://coastalcourier.com/archives/37420/

http://coastalcourier.com/archives/3526/

http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/midwaycemetery.html

http://www.themidwaymuseum.org/index.html

A Stop at Darien, GA

Another one of my goals as a newly transplanted wannabe Savannahian is to explore the Georgia coast. Darien was the closest city, and it appealed to me because they have an old jail that they’ve turned into an art center, a fort, and the legend of Altie (a Sea Monster, what else could it be?).

The Old Jail Art Center

Old Jail Art Center - Darien, GA
Old Jail Art Center – Darien, GA

The Old Jail Art Center is located at 404 North Way just before historic downtown Darien. The McDonald Brothers Jail Building Company constructed the jail in 1888. Today, it is part local gallery (5 rooms solely dedicated to art exhibits) and part museum. The cells are still intact, and there are plenty of exhibits on display inside them! The museum is free, but donations are accepted. There is even a gift shop downstairs. The McIntosh Art Association offers painting, pottery, and even creative writing classes here. This is a charming and oh so worthwhile venue.

Old Jail Art Center - Darien, GA
Old Jail Art Center – Darien, GA

Fort King George

The fort was constructed in 1721 and was abandoned in 1732. What you see here today is a replication from maps and drawings. It’s funny because I called that from the parking lot. I looked at Bob and said:  “This is what Disney World thinks a fort is.” It is nicely done, and an enjoyable stop, but just know that you are not walking through buildings from the 1700s. When you go in the visitor center to pay, you need to make a left and walk through the museum. Then, make like you are back in elementary school and watch the film. You’ll actually get a kick out of it. It will give you the cliff’s notes version of the history of Darien becoming a seaport, the Guale Indians, and the Santo Domingo de Talaje mission.

Once inside the block house, climb to the top and look through the window out into the Altamaha River. This is actually one of the most popular spots to try and find Altie.

The buildings may not be authentic, but the grounds are beautiful, and this is where you hear the history if you are listening. Ruins of the sawmill and some tabby ruins are still on the grounds. When you leave the blockhouse, take the nature trail back to your car.

Fort King George - Darien, GA
Fort King George – Darien, GA

I can’t guarantee this for future guests, but there was a very brazen raccoon out there who really amused me. He trotted out of nowhere and made a direct play for the trashcan right outside the visitor’s center. I was rooting for him, but I guess it was a slow day and he left empty-handed. He was a fast little sucker too. I couldn’t even get a photo.

Fort King George - Darien, GA
Fort King George – Darien, GA
Fort King George - Darien, GA
Fort King George – Darien, GA

Altie - Darien, GA

Altie – Darien, GA

The aquatic cryptid (sea monster) is very serious business. There is an entire pamphlet devoted to Altie that can be picked up from the very sad and empty outlet mall directly off the interstate (Exit 49). The first Altie sightings date back to the 17th century with the Yamasee Indians. The most recent reporting is from a fisherman in 2002. I would love to take a boat down the Altamaha River in search of Altie.

Further reading:

Welcome to the McIntosh Art Association

http://visitdarien.com

http://www.gastateparks.org/fortkinggeorge/

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