Haunted Myrtles Plantation
Built in 1796, The Myrtles Plantation is located near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the 1970’s, the mansion was converted into a Bed & Breakfast. Those who visit are treated to the splendor of 1790’s southern architecture, with the grandeur of a traditional plantation-style home. In addition to opulent chandeliers, a vast veranda, and ornamental furnishings, the Bed & Breakfast also offers a ghastly history full of violence and scandal. Visitors experience the mystery firsthand via daily guided tours… and firsthand while they sleep.
History of the Myrtles Plantation AKA Laurel House
Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville Louisiana certainly has one of the most intricate histories dating back to the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790’s. The house was built by General David Bradford in 1796; it was originally called “Laurel house” and lies on 600 acres. The plantation was passed down to General David’s son-in-law, and eventually came to be owned by Ruffin Gray Stirling and his family, who changed the name; it is now casually referred to as “The Myrtles.”
When Ruffin Gray Stirling died in 1854, his wife Mary Cobb Sterling was left to manage the property. She enlisted the help of attorney William Drew Winter, who would later marry her daughter Sarah; they had several children, one of whom died at the age of 3 of typhoid fever. In 1871, William Drew Winter was shot while standing on the front porch of the Myrtles home. He is said to have stumbled inside the home and climbed the staircase, making it only to the 17th step before succumbing to his wounds. His murder has never been solved.
The Hauntings Begins
Over the following decades, the Myrtles Plantation changed hands several times. Eventually the house and property were purchased by Marjorie Munson, who reported “odd happenings” within the home. Her accounts were just the beginning of a long list of reports of paranormal activity taking place on the plantation over the following century. These stories have been given new life in the form of the Bed & Breakfast’s “Mystery Tour,” and by numerous accounts of guests brave enough to spend the night within its haunted walls.
Guests who stay in the mansion have reported paranormal activity happening in the night: While some have had their bedsheets mysteriously removed while they slept, others have been violently pushed from their beds! And in the notoriously creepy “Fannie Williams Room” also known as the “Doll Room,” visitors have awoken to finding ceramic dolls inexplicable tossed across the room!
Ghost Story: A Slave to Vengeance
The most infamous report of paranormal activity involves a young slave who was said to have been owned by previous plantation owners, Clark and Sara Woodruff. The slave girl, who was named Chloe, was taken as a mistress by Woodruff. The affair went on for some time, but eventually ended and when it did, Chloe began to spy on the family; driven by her fear of being banished to working the fields. One day Woodruff discovered the young slave lurking outside his study and cut off her ear as punishment. Chloe became known for wearing a green turban to hide her unsightly scars.
In a quest for vengeance, Chloe is said to have poisoned the family with a cake containing boiled oleander leaves. While Clark failed to consume the poisonous pastry, Sara and two of her young daughters who ate the cake were sickened and died within hours. Chloe was consequently hanged by fellow slaves who feared the ripple effect of her treachery. To this day, visitors report ghost sightings of the “girl in the green turban” hiding in shadows throughout the plantation.
Clark Woodruff’s revenge did not go unpunished. Residents and visitors alike have long reported sightings of his wife Sara and their children trapped within a 200-year-old parlor mirror in the mansion. Hand prints and drip marks are visible and appear to be inside the mirror, as no amount of cleaning has been able to remove them.
As many as 10 murders have been reported to have occurred in the Myrtles Plantation home, but the most famous is that of William Drew Winter in 1871, who you’ll remember was shot while standing on the front porch of the Myrtles mansion. Over the last hundred years, residents and visitors have reported hearing his ghostly footsteps ascending the staircase in the night, always climbing no further than the 17th step.
In the 1970’s the plantation’s owner Frances Kermeen published a book about the mansion, calling it “the most haunted house in America.” The plantation has more recently gained notoriety through several television features including Unsolved Mysteries (2002), Ghost Hunters (2005), Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, and even an episode Oprah.
The Myrtles was recently mentioned as a “bucklet list must,” for those interested in historical and paranormal mysteries. The author encourages visitors to take the guided tour, but aptly advises against eating the cake…
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