Looking for some adventure of a different kind? One of the latest trends in travel is touring haunted estates and, yes, Hilton Head some of that too. So, if you’re looking to add a little hair-raising spooky to your vacation—or if you are simply interested in the peculiar history of this historic town, read on to see you would dare to take a tour of the Baynard Plantation.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, the beautiful Baynard Plantation that overlooks the Calibogue Sound dates all the way back to 1793 when Captain Jack Stoney added this plantation to Braddock’s Point. Captain Stoney was a merchant that fought for the colonials in the Revolutionary War as a privateer, and was considered a war hero. In the process, Stoney made a fortune and decided to settle in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
In 1793, Captain Jack, with the help of slave labor, constructed the plantation house. The plantation house was built with tabby (an mixture of crushed and whole oyster shells, lime, and water), a deviation from the other plantation homes on Hilton Head Island. Captain Stoney died an untimely death in a hunting accident near Fish Haul Creek in 1821. Stoney’s two sons, John and James, inherited the vast Stoney empire which, at the time, included Fairfield, Possum Point, Shipyard, and Honey Horn Plantations as well as Braddock Point. The sons, unfortunately, were unable to maintain the empire, and legend tells that John lost the plantation home to a wealthy cotton-planter, William E. Baynard, in a very bad round of poker. Banyard already owned two other plantations on Hilton Head: Spanish Wells and Muddy Creek.
Banyard moved his family from Edisto, South Carolina and, along with his wife, raised four daughters in the home from 1840-1849. The Baynard plantation was profitable, with crops and animals worth $12,000 (a sizable amount for that time) Baynard’s death came at the age of 49, just three years after he constructed a mausoleum (now the oldest intact structure on Hilton Head) in Zion Cemetery. The Civil War began shortly thereafter and the Union raided the plantation, using the home as temporary residency for Union soldiers. After the Union occupation of Hilton Head, the Baynards returned to find their home destroyed. Some say that Confederates were the arsonists, while some hold that the Union scorched the earth that they left behind them.
If you visit the plantation after dark, you may have the chance to experience a sighting of William Baynard’s ghost. Many have claimed that they have seen or heard the funeral procession of Baynard passing by his former home. Others have claimed to have seen his ghost lingering by the nearby Baynard Mausoleum on the estate, where his body had been laid to rest or wandering around the ruins of his former home.
A visit to the Baynard Plantation in Hilton Head is a great trip for those who are looking for an interesting informational hike. But if you want to get your heart pounding and your adrenaline pumping, try the tour after dark. Bring a flashlight and a whole lot of courage!