The Tragedy of Alice Flagg

A plain marble slab marks the final resting place in a historical cemetery in Georgetown County, South Carolina. The inscription on the marble top simply reads, “Alice.”

Born to a prominent  family, Alice Flagg grew up along the shores of the South. When their father died, her brother, Doctor Allard Flagg took his father’s role as patriarch of the family. It was the mid 1800’s when the doctor brought his widowed mother and his 16 year old sibling to move into the plantation with him at Murrell’s Inlet where he could properly assume the responsibility of his younger sister. 

“Every woman must leave her mark on the earth.” Her mother told her. And oh, how Alice would indeed leave her mark. Meeting the handsome, highly skilled lumber man, the young woman’s life would never be the same.

Alice had a strong rebellious streak, and loved to ride fast, ignoring her family’s warnings. Horseback riding gave her a sense of freedom she could not enjoy at home, where there were so many expectations of her as a young Southern belle. On horseback she could be free, and could be the Alice Flagg she wanted to be.

As she rode onto the main path that day, she suddenly spotted some men clearing the road of a fallen tree. One of the lumber men caught her eye. His name was John Braddock, and before they knew it the two were instantly drawn to one another. Their tragic courtship was about to begin. 

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 John did the proper thing, calling on Alice’s brother. Allard refused to condone any intentions of the suitor. The lumberman knew nothing of plantation society, and the doctor demanded his sister terminate the relationship and never see Braddock again. But Alice had fallen deeply in love. Ignoring her brother’s wishes, Alice continued to secretly court her beau. And when John asked her hand in marriage, Alice eagerly accepted, but instead of wearing his ring on her finger, she slipped it on a ribbon, securing it around her neck, and wore the token of engagement next to her heart.

Allard learned of the courtship, and of course, it did not go over well. Fumes flared. To put a distance between her and the lumberman, Alice was sent away to boarding school.

Time did nothing to mend the young woman’s broken heart. Alice longed for her lost love. Lamenting for him day and night. Grief-stricken, Alice grew desperately frail. She became ill. Fever overtook her with what some say might have been malaria. 

Flagg was summoned and traveled to collect his sister. It was a four-hour journey, by carriage, from home to Charleston where the doctor’s sister lay worsening. On the return, Alice suffered greatly from the treacherous commute. As frail as she was, the lengthy journey was too much for the feeble woman. 

Placing her in her own bed at home again, and tending her, Allard discovered the ring around his sister’s neck. Furious, the doctor blamed the lumberman for his sister’s serious illness, ripped it from her neck, and threw it in the marsh to never be found again.

Alice awoke, realized the missing ring. Delirious, she began scratching at her chest, pleading anyone that came to her bed for her ring. It was gone. She’d lost her love, now her ring. It was more than the poor soul could endure. Alice soon slipped into a coma and died.

Being laid to rest in her favorite dress, it is said that in her coffin, Alice’s face appeared pain stricken and even older than the years she was. 

Legend has it, that for disgracing them, Allard refused to allow any inscription other than her name be placed on Alice’s gravestone. The brother grieved and seemed to fade away after his sister’s death.

Reports have been made of Alice, late at night, aimlessly wandering about the graveyard, wearing the same long white dress she was buried in, distraught, searching for her ring. It has also been said that Alice can be seen at the front door of her home and inside, silently taking the stairs to her room.

Today, visitors come to the cemetery at All Saints Episcopal Church, leaving flowers and tokens, in hopes to appease the troubled soul.

If you’d like to learn more about Alice Flagg, be sure to check out themoonlitroad.com and atlasobscura.com.

I’d also like to invite you to join our mailing list at the bottom of the page. Everyone who subscribes before August 1st will be entered for a chance to win Gloria Glasgow’s newly released To Blossom Out From Hiding. Later this month we’ll be interviewing Gloria. I had the privilege of meeting Gloria some years ago at a writing group I attended while visiting South Carolina. Gloria is a fabulous writer, and I am looking forward to visiting with her again. It will be an interview you do not want to miss! 

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