One of the Most Haunted Homes in America
It’s easy to see why The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, attracts some 60,000 visitors each year. Not only are people keen to soak up the house’s history – and enjoy a meal in its fine restaurant while they’re there. But maybe – just maybe – they might get to experience a whiff of the paranormal as well.
The History of Myrtles Plantation
Originally named Laurel Grove, the house itself was built around 1796 by General David Bradford, a lawyer and Deputy Attorney General for Washington County, Pennsylvania.
General Bradford was famous for his role in the Whiskey Rebellion, a mass protest against taxation on whiskey, imposed by the newly formed federal government of the day. He fled the country, but was later pardoned, and lived at Myrtles Plantation with his wife and five children until his death in 1808.
At the time, the Antebellum South – also known as the Plantation Era – was in full swing. This period from the late eighteenth century until the start of the American Civil War in 1861, was a time of growth and prosperity in the South – made possible through heavy reliance on slavery.
Located on the site of a reputed Indian burial ground, this hilltop house was built in the classic Creole cottage style typical of this era of Louisiana plantation houses. It was substantially re-modelled and nearly doubled in size by Ruffin Gray Stirling, who bought it in 1834 and re-named it The Myrtles.
These days, the mansion stands proudly, its impressive 125 foot long ornamental iron veranda running the length of the house before wrapping around its southern end.
Over generations, The Myrtles was passed on or sold, and the land around it eventually divided. Then the owner of the house in the 1950s, Marjorie Munson, began noticing strange happenings. This was when the ghostly rumours began in earnest.
The Most Haunted House in America
James and Frances Kermeen Myers bought the house in the 1970s and began running a bed and breakfast. Frances Keerman wrote a book about The Myrtles Plantation and its ghost stories, naming it the ‘most haunted house in America’.
Allegedly, ten or more spirits regularly haunt this spooky haunted house. The most popular ghost story surrounds Chloe, a former house slave for the Woodruff family.
The story claims that Chloe put poison into a cake as an act of revenge, but she used too much and caused the death of two of the children. She confessed and was hanged, then her body was reputedly thrown into the Mississippi River.
According to historical records, two of the three Woodruff children did indeed die – but the recorded cause was in fact yellow fever.
Many claim that Chloe never existed at all. Others claim that her ghost is the most frequent apparition at The Myrtles. But she certainly isn’t the only one.
In 1992, a photo taken by the proprietor appears to show the image of a slave girl, standing between two buildings on the plantation site. Further investigation later confirmed that the physical dimensions of the ghostly image are indeed consistent with a human form.
Another photo taken at the plantation shows in the background the clear form of a young girl, dressed in antebellum clothing. The figure is standing in the window next to a rocking chair, apparently peering out of the large window – but looking directly into the camera.
Investigations revealed nothing unusual about this photo or the way in which it was developed. No-one can say who the figure might be, but she is generally referred to as the ‘Ghost Girl’ of The Myrtles Plantation.
Murders At Myrtles Plantation
Some allege as many as ten murders having occurred at The Myrtles; others even more than that. But according to historical records, there is actual evidence of only one.
An attorney named William Drew Winter, married to the daughter of Ruffin Gray Stirling, was shot outside on the porch in 1871, seemingly by a complete stranger. Although some have suggested political motivation.
The dying man was said to have staggered inside as far as the seventeenth step before collapsing. There is scant evidence of this, but rumours of ghostly footsteps going up and down the stairs keep the story alive for visitors.
Recent Ghost Stories
Current owner Morgan Moss has reported a more recent spooky story. Two bed and breakfast guests returned to their room one evening to find the bed sheets pulled back, and the pillows moved from the bed.
When they complained that someone had entered their room without permission, they were told that this was impossible as a turn down service was not offered – a fact duly confirmed by security camera footage.
Daily tours of The Myrtles Plantation offer visitors a glimpse of what the house has to offer. This is more than just a real haunted house – although that is undoubtedly part of its allure. So much of Louisiana’s long history – racial, agricultural, social – can be seen here too.