083117 Litchfield Plantation: Searching for spirits in broad daylight
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Johnson photographs the live oaks in her search for spirits.

Litchfield Plantation: Searching for spirits in broad daylight

By Nikki Best
Coastal Observer

Behind the old house at Litchfield Plantation, the view goes on forever.

Serenity bows around ancient oaks lined with moss waving in the breeze. The marsh is sometimes populated by alligators, or so the signs say. Dragonflies bring good luck buzzing around a porch that once overlooked endless rice fields. For some, it’s spiritual sojourn through time.

For others, the old house is merely spirit filled. It’s a well known legend that Dr. Henry Tucker, a past owner, haunts his former home and the grounds. Don’t worry though, he’s friendly.

Ghost hunters, spirit speakers and paranormal investigators of all kinds have descended on the historic property in the past to search for Dr. Tucker and his counterparts. Last week, Mary Lawton Johnson and Lisa Albert of Otherside Paranormal visited the plantation to reconnoiter and free spirits that were trapped.

Johnson is a spiritual physical medium. “I’m a portal, which is rare in the paranormal world,” she said. The Cameron native connects with spirits who died and now exist on another plane. She has an exceptional connection to the other side, she said. She captures images of souls during daylight hours and feels them draw on her energy. “Sometimes I have to ask them to leave me alone,” she said.

Contrary to most spiritual communicators, she and Albert aren’t out to prove the existence of the paranormal. As far as they are concerned, it’s been proven. In addition, there is no fear-based sensationalism here. They aren’t ghost hunters as seen on TV, Johnson said. “America tends to believe you should be afraid of ghosts and, I’m sorry, you shouldn’t,” she said. “They were living, just like you and I are.”

They spent the week of the solar eclipse at the house, observing the transcendental activity and helping lost souls find their way. “My goal in life is to only help spirits and to bring closure to humans living and dead,” Johnson said.

Some prominent spirits on the property include Dr. Tucker, two unnamed women who live on separate floors, a male house servant and two little girls.

Albert is a sensitive psychic. She can sense and feel spirits rather than see them. She works as a historian for the group wherever they travel. This was her third trip to Litchfield Plantation. “I love history,” she said. Albert researches each location thoroughly so that Otherside Paranormal knows what it’s dealing with. “You want to look up major documents. Wills, deeds, if there’s a lien on the property.” It was in a will that she first came across a list of bequeathed slave names and she realized how many wayward spirits may actually be on the plantation.

Albert is from the Treasure Coast in Florida. Like Johnson, she realized her gifts at a young age. They met through Albert’s uncle, who is Johnson’s life partner. “I consider her like an aunt and like a best friend. I look up to her very much,” Albert said. The pair realized that maybe together, they could do something good in a world fixated on living in only black and white. “I’ve always seen the in between,” Albert said. “There’s got to be some gray.”

Gray is nothing new on Pawleys Island. Situated between the white capped waves and the black river, Litchfield Plantation is one of the oldest structures on one of the oldest pieces of property on the Waccamaw Neck. The plantation house was built in 1740, centered on nearly 1,500 acres of property granted from King George III. Naturally, ownership has changed throughout the centuries. From King George to Peter Simon to Dr. Tucker to Louise Price Parsons to present day John Miller of the Litchfield Plantation Co. The house is a popular wedding venue.

As with most places that have an extensive history, it feels a little other worldly. Two wars, unfit working conditions and seemingly endless litigation contributed to physical and emotional violence that pervades the boundaries. Johnson and Albert visit annually to keep stakeholders informed of what’s going on with the property. “It’s been an active week,” Johnson said.

At one point Johnson saw a dark cloud of smoke billow up the drive, inside it a light. Out of the light climbed a large man. “It looked like Dr. Tucker,” Johnson said. But it wasn’t him. She suspects it may have been his father. During an on-camera interview for a trailer for a prospective TV show, Johnson kept glancing outside. “When I was looking out there, it looked like one was just out there floating in the walkway. They tend to use their surroundings to help them hide,” she said.

This was Johnson’s fourth and longest trip to the plantation. Her most memorable was her first. That was when she first saw the spirits in the windows. “Young kids, who, somehow, their life ended early, and they were floating in the windows and they were smiling at me,” she said. “And they weren’t the only ones. Every window was filled with slaves and spirits that lived and worked at the plantation.” They’re part of why she keeps returning. Each visit allows a better understanding of the spirits and lets her help them if they want it.

Spiritually the plantation is in good shape. “There were definitely a lot [of spirits] down there near the pond yesterday,” she said. While Johnson reports there are definitely some restless, unhappy spirits around they mostly keep to themselves. It bothers her, that some of the spirits are unhappy. “I need to step up and do my part to help them,” she said.

Johnson and Albert both say they like to leave a place better than when they arrived. Before they finished their trip, Otherside Paranormal held a prayer circle to help restless spirits move on. Albert said there’s a thrill and satisfaction that comes from knowing they’ve helped someone.

“The most exciting part is helping people cross over,” she said.

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