Dueler’s Alley

Haunted Places

Date of Establishment

Francis Kinloch created this passage is 1776 known as Kinloch’s court, in 1796 and 1810 fire claimed most of the neighborhood leading to a rebuild of the area. In 1811 the court was reopened to the public and still stands today.

Name & Location

Originally known as Cow’s Alley and later renamed to Kinloch’s Court, then later changed to Philadelphia Alley after fires tore through the city. It is now known by locals of Downtown Charleston, SC as Dueler’s Alley.

Physical Description

This beautiful alley strip is canopy covered and a cobblestone walkway lined with beautiful planets and doorways. The buildings have high walls adorned with windows and flower boxes. There was even a path to a local church’s graveyard at one end.


This passageway gained the name Dueler’s Alley because gentleman settled their disputes with the traditional 21 paced pistols duels in this perfectly spaced alleyway. One of the most famous duels was between Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd and Ralph Isaacs in 1786, leading to the tale of the Whistling Doctor who died proving his love and devotion. Many other young men lost their lives here in the alley trying to prove their honor, take out a rival, or in a drunken rage. This has led to a wide range of haunting stories, though none more famous than the Whistling Doctor himself.

Mythology and Lore

In 1783 a young doctor, Joseph Ladd, and his beloved, Amanda, came to Charleston hoping to establish themselves and escape poisonous gossip surrounding their relationship. He quickly established himself in the town as the prominent new doctor that had an undying love for whistling, poetry, and his dear Amanda. As his career grew, he had less time for friends and social calls, a resentment grew between him and Ralph Isaacs, one of his first friends in Charleston. Isaac became over-whelmed with jealously toward the doctor, in 1786 things reached their boiling point after a show. Isaac accused Ladd of begin infatuated with an actress from the production and threatened to tear him from his love Amanda. In Charleston at this time dueling was the only way Ladd could reclaim his honor, integrity, and prove his undying love for Amanda; so he challenged Isaac. As the duel began the two men took their paces, Ladd missed Isaac and was shot. After ten days of suffering, Ladd finally succumbed to his injuries and pasted at the age of 22 years old. Today he is reported to come to the alley and have a stroll down while whistling his beloved’s favorite tune. It’s reported before you see his spirit an unexplained mist rolls through the alley, and sounds of gunshots ring out as he pulls you to safety. Other spirits of fallen dueler’s have been said to haunt the alley as well, some seeking harm on the travelers within its high walls. It is unknown how many ghosts roam the alley to this day, but many locals enjoy the search for any of them.

Is there anything we missed about Dueler’s Alley? Let us know in the comments section below!


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