Tag Archives: South Carolina

Black Mariah


B: The only real thing that I really have was, uh, the story of Black Mariah that my mother used to tell and I had kind of forgotten a lot of the details. So I did reach out to, to uh, K, uh, my aunt who, uh, obviously was more familiar with it and remembered it because what it was was Black Mariah was supposedly a witch that lived under the steps of their house, the steps going up to the second floor.

Me: Where was this house?

B: In? Uh, Liberty. South Carolina.

Me: Okay. So it lived under the stairs to the second floor?

B: Yeah, the house still stands, but uh, and apparently, uh, she, she was used to, uh, threaten the kids by my grandmother. And after, after K told me this, uh, yesterday I remembered my mother telling me this, but it was used, uh, if you don’t behave, we’re gonna put you underneath the steps with Black Mariah. And so K said she wouldn’t even go upstairs because she didn’t wanna be around those steps. Now, when I came along, none of that was ever really still, uh, in play. I’d go to my grandparents’ house. And I went upstairs all the time and was never even, you know, it was never even talked about too much then, but Mom brought it up to me. Uh, and years later she’s, she’s brought, brought it up several times. And uh, one of the reasons that she brought it up was because one of my early bands, uh, before I ever moved away from home, we had called Mariah. And so she then brought up, uh, the Black Mariah story and was convinced years later in her old age. That is what we called the band black Mariah, but it was just Mariah, but it triggered that memory in her. And so she, she kind of associated it and uh, but that was the, that’s the story. And they, you know, apparently used it to keep their kids in line, I guess.

Background: B was born in Batesburg, South Carolina in 1960. This story comes from his mother and aunt, both of whom were born in Liberty, South Carolina in the 1930s. 

Context: This story was told to me over a phone call. 

Analysis: After hearing this story, I attempted to track down the origin of Black Mariah. The only thing that I could find that would’ve been around while the story was happening was the police vans that were sometimes called Black Mariahs in the south. Tom Waits acknowledged this naming of police vans in his 1985 song “Big Black Mariah.” I also tracked the name Black Mariah back to a move in poker, but it’s unclear when the poker term came to be. Later, Black Mariah would become a Marvel comic character, but only decades after the story takes place. 

Blackbeard’s Treasure

Main Piece:

So, Sullivan’s Island, where I’m from, is supposedly the home of Blackbeard’s treasures. It’s like an actual written document, Blackbeard at one point visited Charleston and held the city hostage for a few days in exchange of medical support on his crew. Charleston also was like a famous port hub for a whole lotta pirates, privateers, and whatnot during the Golden Age of Piracy, all this is factual. But supposedly, Blackbeard, before he died, he buried a good amount of his gold somewhere around the island during his visit to Charleston. The legend is that him seeking medical attention was just a distraction, and he just needed to securely hide his treasures in a remote enough location where no one else could find it. There have been actual treasure hunters who tried to find this, but I don’t think anyone has actually been able to. What’s crazy is that once in a while they fish up old Spanish gold or wreckage or something from that era neat Charleston in the ocean, because there have been a lot of ships that sunk near the city I guess. So these things keep adding validity to the supposed hidden treasure, it’s like teasing everyone for the actual, unbelievable fortune that’s hidden.


My informant is a 21 year old student, currently going to Duke University in North Carolina. She was born and raised in South Carolina, and is well versed with the local history of the city. Charleston is famously known for being a hub of trade during the Age of Discovery, and there have been famous pirates who made appearance at the city regularly, including Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach. My informant has stated that she learned about this legend through her friends when she was 10 years old.


The conversation took place over the phone, 3:30 pm for myself (PST) and 3:30pm for my informant (EST). My informant was alone in her room during the conversation.

My thoughts:

The myth behind pirate’s gold is so common and often seen as a complete hoax. Realistically, hiding one’s treasures underground doesn’t sound like the safest or smartest way to keep your valuables for anyone. But the reason why I think this story is so commonly told because of people’s built fantasy around pirates as story archetypes. Pirates have been romanticized through popular culture for decades, and I think by trying to find the hidden treasures people are actively trying to insert themselves into this mythos, becoming part of the fantasy pirates by obtaining what was left behind by them.