Legend has it that “Saucy Jack” Stoney lost Braddock’s Point Plantation to William Eddings Baynard in a late night poker game at Hilton Head SC. It was the year 1838.
The 1000-acre plantation had been in the Stoney family since the American Revolution when Captain John Stoney, Saucy Jack’s grandfather, had purchased it. It was a fourth generation heirloom when Saucy Jack received it from his father, Dr. George Mosse Stoney.
The winner of the poker game was William Eddings Baynard. This explains the name by which it is known today: Stoney-Baynard Plantation. Some records indicate that Saucy Jack simply went bankrupt and Baynard got the property at a fire sale. But this version obviously has much less dramatic appeal. Baynard died here in the “Big House” in 1849 after he and his wife Catherine had raised four children.
During the Civil War, the Baynards and other plantation owners in Hilton Head SC were driven off the island. The Big House became the headquarters of Union officers. This made it the target of a Confederate raiding party, which burned and destroyed it.
The Baynards never returned to the island after the war, although they legally claimed the land. Thus, the property was left in its current state of disrepair, another sad monument to the devastation of the American Civil War.
The front of the house is easily located by large square holes that once housed the posts that supported an expansive porch. At the back are the remains of a fireplace and an outer wall.
In their beautiful setting at the highest point of the island, these enchanted places evoke happy family scenes of children and household servants playing together. A cloud blots out the sun and they are swept away by a violent conflagration. If you’re very still, your imagination can catch the echo of the jack-of-all-trades invader strolling the grand front porch of this haunted house.
Sometimes the haunting scenes of this idyllic setting are more apparent to the senses. In life and in death, luck deserted Baynard and the shadows of his funeral procession can still be seen passing his grave.
Legend has it that the rumor of jewels, gold and riches motivated Union soldiers to break into the family mausoleum. Since then, on gray and rainy days, Baynard’s ghost has roamed the scene of his earthly existence. This is one of the true horror stories associated with paranormal activity in Hilton Head SC.