The Haunted Pillar
Have you ever heard of the Haunted Pillar of Augusta? That’s right, the Haunted Pillar? It’s been there for years, but before I tell you the story, let me tell you where it’s located. It’s at the corner of Center Street, now called Fifth Street, and Broad. You’ll see it standing there, all alone. It’s right in front of the Water Source Store. That’s it, a lone pillar. Well, let me tell you the story.
The pillar was part of the Lower Market, built in 1837. It was right in the middle of Broad Street. As you looked at the building, at first glance, it looked like it could have been a church, with a big bell tower and pillars on each side of the porch. But it was billed, as the Lower Market, or what we call today a farmer’s market. They sold things like peaches, corn, black eyed peas, and every once in a while, an animal. Now, there’s been a lot of talk here in Augusta, about slaves being sold there. Some say you can still see the bloody hand prints on the pillar. The truth is, very few slaves were sold there. If a slave owner were to die, they might auction his slaves there, but that didn’t happen very often. It was mostly farm produce for sale. But how did it become cursed, and why are we still watching out for it today. Well now, accounts going back as far as 1878 talk about it, and it might still be true. Boy, it gives me chills just thinking about it. If you grew up in Augusta, you’ve probably heard the story, but if you didn’t, I’ll tell you.
Well, it was either December of 1877, or January of 1878. A visiting preacher was in Augusta for meetings. One day he happened to be downtown at the Lower Market. He started talking to people inside, and handing out tracts. The management quickly came up to him and pulled him aside. “You can’t do that here,” they said. The preacher replied that he was being polite and was interested in the people. Again he was told he couldn’t do it in the Lower Market. By this time the preacher was getting a little irritated. He said, let me tell you something, “if this business finds itself torn apart and destroyed, you remember how you wouldn’t let a preacher talk to the people here.” A few weeks later it happened. On the night of February 07, 1878, Augusta had a rare cyclone. It came down and hit the Lower Market. The cyclone demolished the building. Nothing was left standing, except one 10 ft. high pillar. Folks remembered what the preacher had said, and the word spread quickly. Don’t move the pillar, or you’ll die! Since 1878, there have been several cases. One was a man who went to get his bulldozer and knock it down. While he was loading the bulldozer on his trailer, he got too close to the edge. The bulldozer came off the trailer, rolling over and crushing the man. He died instantly. In another case, a gentleman in a pickup truck, picked up a chain from his house, and was coming downtown to pull the pillar over. He was involved in a fatal car accident. That’s right he died. Now the Augusta City Fathers aren’t sure if this curse is true or not, but they’re not going to find out. That’s why the Haunted Pillar has not been moved, and is still standing at the corner of Fifth and Broad Street.
Written by Mark Woodard
- The Story of Augusta. Cashin, Edward J. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Company Publishing. (1996)
- Augusta, A Pictorial History. Callahan, Helen. Richmond County Historical Society Publisher. (1980)
- From City to Countryside. Haltermann, Bryan M. (1997)
- Haunted Augusta And Local Legends. Joiner, Sean. (2002)
- The Place We Call Home, A Collection of Articles About Local History. The Augusta Chronicle.