Ghostly Walk

Old Southport Tour Company Enchants Visitors with Historic Ghostly Walk
STORY BY AMI BROWN

If you want to learn a bit of Southport history, have fun, and maybe get a little scared, I highly recommend the Old South Tour’s Ghost Walk with Katie. Last Friday night I had the pleasure of joining in with more than twenty tourists, all from Concord, NC. More specifically, a Sunday School group from Parkwood Baptist Church, attending a conference on Oak Island. And this wasn’t their first time on the tour!
If you are a resident of Southport, then I’m sure you have seen Katie Compton-Boyd. You know the beautiful young woman that walks through town wearing a black mourning dress reminiscent of the Victorian period. Whittler’s Bench is the meeting place – 8pm is the magic witching hour to start the adventure. I showed up a few minutes early to do my interview before heading into the darkness of a haunted tour. Katie arrived in a cute little convertible, fully dressed in her evening wear – ready to go. As I watched the crowd gather, she is definitely a bit of a celebrity. Photos , selfies and lots of questions by passers-by. You can tell she completely loves what she does. And she’s been doing this for almost 15 years. She started Old South Tour Company back in 2004, and loves every minute of it. Katie said she had the idea when she needed to get a Summer job. She didn’t want just any job, but one that meant something. She loves folk-lore, history and story-telling. She’s got a knack for it too. She majored in History, Oral Interpre
tation and Southern Literature. Seems like she does have the perfect job. “I wanted to do something for the whole family, so they are not just sitting around. I also wanted to create something a grandfather could do and enjoy along side his 10 year old grandchild”, she tells me. “Story-telling is a dying art, so many stories are lost to time. There was no keeper of the flame in Southport.” Katie has created a walking tour of Southport, to include folk-lore, stories and lots of history. She really knows her stuff! She has lived here her whole life too, a true native. She brings history to life with a bit of a twist. She incorporates ghostly tales with history and makes it really entertaining. The half mile walk through Southport is fine for all ages. The tour keeps you on the flat sidewalks or grassy areas. There are no hills or steps to worry about. I would recommend bringing a flashlight (I used my phone light a couple times). But she carries a lantern for an authentic experience. I was excited to do this tour, so were the twenty – plus tourists in town. I
even had the Mayor of Trails End Kentucky – Eddie Middleton in our group. II think he may be a bit of a celebrity back at home. He was also a former member of the church that had come for the conference as well. The tour takes just over an hour or so depending on how many questions might pop up. It was a hot night, but there was a cool breeze as we got closer to the waterfront which was nice. We started out the tour heading up Howe Street and turning into Franklin Square Park. Katie is quick to tell you that “Franklin” is NOT Benjamin Franklin as most people assume. She tells the story of how the rock wall came to be and some other pretty fascinating facts about the park. The shadows of the huge Live Oak trees play with your sense of reality, and out of the corner of my eye, I kept seeing movement, imagination or was it my ghostly neighbors? There are about 7 or 8 stops on the tour and one of the most exciting one was the Old Brunswick Jail House. When we got there the spot light was on. It decided to turn off as we approached. Katie said this happens all the time. It’s not a motion sensor light, but it seemed to have a mind of it’s own. Although when we were at a distance – it was fine. Not until she started the ghostly tales, did it start to misbehave and flicker. It continued to blink randomly as she spoke. As we left the area, it stopped and was solid again. Was this a coincidence? Maybe…. but it did make the entire tour group chatter about it as we walked away. I don’t want to spoil any part of this experience so I don’t want to give you any details of the stories – that’s Katie’s job. I would definitely recommend the tour, for locals, tourists, kids of all ages and adults. The most uneasy I felt is when we went to the Old Smithville Burying Grounds. I already mentioned it was a really hot and clammy night.. that is until we stopped by the fence at the graveyard. All of a sudden it felt a bit cooler… the air was still… and a weird sense that someone might be watching us.
The Restless Spirit World of Southport seems to enjoy having a haunted tour…and let’s hope they continue to play along nicely!
The Old Brunswick Inn of course had a ghostly tale, which seems to be one of the oldest and most recognized stories on the tour.
Katie proceeded to tell of the hauntings here and how many people on tours have caught ghostly images with their cameras at the grave sides. She has seen the ghost of a women here many times. And she warned us that if she starts running – we better do the same. The uneasy feeling was just enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Katie did end the tour on a good note and story – about the River Pilots. So that should keep any bad dreams at bay for anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour and will be bringing guests back next time for sure. Thanks Katie!

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