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Greetings from Zombieland

Greetings from Zombieland

The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.
—William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Hardly anyone remains here today.  And the few roads that snake through here are narrow and winding and sprinkled mainly with hunting shacks and singlewides.  Here in Zombieland one gets the feeling folks simply want to be left alone to their business.  

     It is a mystery how the place got its somewhat epithetic nickname. Maybe no one knows for sure.  No living soul, anyway.  

     But after the sun goes down it does get dark out here, dark like it can only get beyond the light-polluted world of modern society. Other than a few tiny yard lights that dot the area like massive fireflies, this place goes black. Here, it’s country dark. 

     One is led to believe Zombieland got its moniker back in the 1970s, when monster movies dominated the drive-ins. Long-legged country boys in faded Levi’s and flannel shirts would drive their girlfriends through these parts with only an Igloo cooler of Miller Ponies or maybe a bottle of Tickle Pink to keep the them company, defending them from the chill of the night and any other spirits that were on the loose.


The Graveyard

     As with any story of zombies or other haunts it is only natural to begin in a cemetery, this one being the grounds of the former Ebenezer Methodist Church in the tiny township of Maybinton in northeastern Newberry County and the virtual epicenter of Zombieland. The former church, which was razed in 1974, was originally built in 1848 with at least two other structures predating it from 1784.  

     Located on Brazelmans Bridge Road, the church grounds are well maintained with several gnarled oaks entwined with ancient wisteria vines as thick as a grown man’s arm. Sadly, the engraved tops of a few sarcophagi and numerous obelisk tombstones, some with Masonic markings, have been toppled and broken over the years by cowardly vandals.


A Haunted Bridge

Back down the road just a bit is Brazelmans Bridge itself, a concrete structure with a small neighboring boat ramp. The road and railing atop the bridge are spray-painted with the names of souls foolish enough to visit the bridge at night, for paralleling the modern structure is the old abandoned state bridge known locally as Cry Baby Bridge, a 175-foot undecked camelback-through-truss bridge that spans the Enoree River and has its own spooky tale.

Legend has it that many years ago a woman grief-stricken from either a spurned love affair or the death of a lover threw both herself and her child from the bridge, drowning them both. It is said you can hear a baby cry or the tortured screams of a woman from the dark waters that run silently under the bridge.

There are at least two other bridges in South Carolina with the same nickname and many more throughout the country. But perhaps this one is the best of the lot, simply because it is ours.  

One Happy Dog

     Perhaps the most well known legend in these parts is of a spectral dog that haunts the area.  Legend has it that a lone peddler was coming through these parts around 1850 with his companion, a large white dog, in tow.  Some horrific crime, possibly a murder, had been committed in the area and, since the peddler was a stranger in these parts, it only made sense to believe he was guilty of the crime.  A small lynch mob assembled and hanged the man from a tree.

     Whether the man’s body was left to hang as a warning to others or whether it was taken down just after his death is up for speculation.  Regardless, his dog stayed at the site of the hanging, howling in grief for days until some the residents in the area decided to put the animal out of its misery by stoning it to death.

     The first sighting of the ghostly canine is said to have been in 1855 when a man named William Hardy sent a young slave boy to get Dr. George Douglass for medical attention.  When the child arrived at the Douglass home the boy was terrified with fright and told the doctor that a massive white ghost dog had frightened the mule the boy was riding and nearly bucked off the child.  The young man begged the doctor to stay the night at the home. 

Another story about the doctor says that he would often see the ghost dog as he made his rounds to visit the sick but that he never felt afraid of the phantom canine. One can visit the doctor’s grave today at Ebenezer Methodist Church cemetery.

     So began the legend of the Ghost Hound of Goshen Hill what has been haunting a five-mile stretch around Brazelmans Bridge Road and Maybinton Road into Union County.  Numerous sightings of the apparition have been reported and it is described as a large, white dog with red glowing eyes that will surge from the side of the road to chase and frighten the unsuspecting traveler.  Long time residents in the area have often described the hound as having a wide mouth with a toothy grin—hence the name Happy Dog.

Many thanks to the kind folks at Newberry Animal Care & Control for the use of “Butterbean” who served as the model for the Ghost Hound in these photos.  For information on Butterbean or any of the other wonderful adoptable animals please visit the shelter. 

Photographs by Ted B. Williams.