Stories of the ‘Happy Dog’
Derik Vanderford Staff Writer
MAYBINTON — The legend of the Hound of Goshen — a.k.a. “Happy Dog” — is well known to anyone who grew up in the area of Union or Newberry counties.
Tomorrow is Halloween, and this time of year tends to inspire people to share their personal ghost encounters. Perhaps the most famous tale in Union and Newberry counties is that of the Hound of Goshen — a.k.a. “Happy Dog.”
There are several stories about the legendary animal spirit. Online research — as well as interviews with those who grew up around the Maybinton area — indicates the most well-known story is one about a salesman who made his way across the area in the early 1850s. Legend has it that a murder occurred during that time, and the salesman was a scapegoat who was eventually hanged. His faithful dog stayed by his grave until he died of starvation or stones thrown by townspeople (the stories differ). To this day, people claim to have seen the “Happy Dog.”
The ghost dog is said to roam up and down what is now Brazelmans Bridge Road, near the cemetery located on the site where Ebenezer Methodist Church stood from 1784-1974. A monument beside the cemetery reads, “On this site stood the Ebenezer Methodist Church. The structure built in 1848 and two earlier structures which stood in this vicinity served the congregation of Maybinton Township, founded in 1784, the first year of organized Methodism in America. The church was one of the oldest Methodist churches in continuous operation in South Carolina.” The majority of the graves in the cemetery are from the 1800s.
An online story by Drake Taylor — on hauntedstories.net — claims the earliest sighting of the hound happened in 1855. The website states William Hardy sent a young slave to the home of Dr. George Douglass to bring the doctor back to look at a sick man (Note: Both Hardy and Douglass were buried in the Ebenezer Church cemetery). The young boy claimed he saw the biggest, whitest dog he had ever seen, and it would not leave his path as it stared at him.
The website also states Dr. Jim Coefield saw the animal years later and was never able to give a rational answer for what he had seen. Dr. Coefield had a dog of his own, and the dog would walk with him until they reached Ebenezer cemetery. Then, the dog would whine and disappear into the woods until Coefield had passed “Happy Dog” territory, and only then would the dog rejoin his master.
There are numerous local residents who have also reported “Happy Dog” sightings.
Brenda Bogan said she grew up hearing stories about the hound from her father and grandmother, both of whom lived in the area, but she never believed them — until she saw it for herself.
“It was the day after Christmas in 1967, and my daddy and mama were riding with us,” Bogan recounted. “We came around a curve, and a big dog came around the bank. Its eyes looked funny, like they were glowing or something.”
Bogan said the dog was a reddish blonde color, the same color of her daughter Kim’s hair. Bogan was pregnant with Kim at the time of the incident.
“It came trotting toward us,” she said. “We had our big German Shepherd in the car with us. Usually, our German Shepherd would look out the window when ever we would stop, and if anything was there, he would bark at it. But that night, he got in the floor and would not move.”
Bogan said their car did not phase the big dog in the road with glowing eyes.
“We had to pull off the road to keep from hitting it,” she said.
Bogan also said her then-husband and his cousins would hide in the Ebenezer Church graveyard and attempt to scare people as they left church. One night, they were about to scare the church crowd when they saw the woods light up behind them, almost as if it were daylight, and they saw the dog.
“They ran as fast as they could,” Bogan said, adding that she got goosebumps just talking about it. “The people leaving church saw it, too. They all ran down the road as fast as they could.”
Bogan said she also remembered seeing an open grave with an epitaph but no name, and she has never forgotten what the epitaph read:
“Travelers observe as you pass by;
so are you now, so once was I.
So am I now, you soon shall be;
so prepare yourself to follow me.”
Chris Wilbanks also shared a story about his encounter with the Hound of Goshen.
“About 11 years ago, a few friends and I went there looking for him,” Wilbanks said.
Wilbanks said they walked around the car, but after a few minutes of not seeing anything, they decided to leave.
“We got back into the car to leave, and it wouldn’t start,” he said. “All at once it started, and when we went to drive away, one of my friends saw this glow beside the car. We kept driving and it seemed to be chasing us. My friend stopped the car and shut off the headlights. The glow seemed to move around the car as if it was circling us.”
Wilbanks said the glow moved further away until it disappeared.
“It was creepy, but very fun,” he said.
How to find Brazelmans Bridge Road: From Union, follow Hwy. 176 toward Newberry. Stay on Hwy. 176, bearing left on Maybinton Road (a sign directs traffic toward Peak). In less than a mile, take a left on Brazelmans Bridge Road. The cemetery — and monument indicating the site of the old Ebenezer Methodist Church — will be on the right. (Note: There is not a church there now. Drivers will pass a church and cemetery on the right, but that’s not it. Keep straight.)
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