Now a quaint Bed and Breakfast, the old Myrtles plantation manor houses more ghosts than living guests.
The old splendor of a plantation in Louisiana, not so far from Baton Rouge, is still quite clear when looking at the Myrtles Plantation. The antebellum mansion was first built in 1796 and is decorated with hand-painted stained glass featuring a French cross to allegedly ward off evil, the walls filled with Aubusson tapestry and from the ceiling, Baccarat crystal chandeliers hang.
But among the Carrara marble mantels and French furnishing there is something more sinister, more primitive than any riches, gold and luxury can cover over — The blood stained history and the legend of ghosts still haunting the place.
The old plantation was handed down from many people and in 1950, the house was sold to Marjorie Munson. It was she who started noticing strange things happening around the Myrtles Plantation and started talking about ghosts, that we still talk about today.
And the tales that are told are many — supposedly, the old plantation is one of the more haunted places in America with reports of at least 12 ghosts inside this Creole cottage style manos sitting on a hill. Although it is only historical records about the murder of William Winter, the number of murders in the house is allegedly 10.
The Legend of Chloe
The most famous ghost on Myrtles Plantation is without a doubt Chloe, or in some records, Cloe. She was supposedly a slave owned by Clark and Sara Woodruff, who took over the plantationin 1817 after Saras father, General David Bradford, who first built the plantation.
In 1992 a picture surfaced after the plantation took some photos of the property to send to the insurance company. When looking closer at the picture, something that looks like a girl can be seen. This is believed to be the ghost of Chloe, who still haunts the Myrtles Plantation with her green turban.
According to the stories, Chloe was one of the slaves that worked in the house rather than out in the field, which was a much more straining work than inside doing the cleaning and cooking. But perhaps it came with other dangers than grueling labor. According to the stories, she was forced by Clark Woodruff to become his mistress.
In some accounts though, Woodruff started having an affair with another girl and Chloe feared she would have to start working in the fields instead of in the house. And she started listening in on conversations to find out her faith or pick up on something that she could use against them.
In any case she was caught listening by the doors and punished by her slave owners. One of her ears was cut off and she wore a green turban to conceal it.
But it wasn’t the end at all, as Chloe planned her revenge on her slave masters. She baked a cake that she had poisoned with oleander leaves, which is extremely poisonous. Even the question of why she poisoned the cake is up for discussion.
Most accounts claim she did it for revenge after cutting off her ear. Another variant saying she was trying to gain favor with the family again as she was planning to cure the family for the poison and come out as a hero instead.
But according to the story, the plan backfired and only Sara Woodruff and the two daughters ate the cake and died from the poison. Chloe was then hanged by the other slaves and thrown in the Mississippi river, as a sort of final punishment for her or to not be punished themselves by Clark Woodruff for harbouring her.
A mirror in the house is supposedly holding the spirit of Sara Woodruff and her children. According to custom at that time, the mirrors were covered by a cloth so the spirit would not disappear into them. But after the poisoning, this particular mirror was forgotten and the ghosts of the victims can be seen in the mirrors and there are reports of handprints being left in the mirror, as their spirits are now trapped in the mirror.
The story about Chloe as a ghost is also told by the previous owner, Frances Kermeen, who also wrote a book on all the strange hauntings that she herself reported about experiencing on her second night in the house:
“I looked up and standing over me was a black lady. Her head was wrapped in a green turban,” I could see her [holding an] old-fashioned tin with the loop in it [through] the candlelight and I lost it. I started screaming…I reached my hand out to touch her, I could tell she was a ghost because she was see-through, but as my hand passed through her, she faded away.”Frances Kermeen told the podcast Mysterious Universe in 2015.
The Uneven Facts
Do historical records support this though? There is currently not found any records of the Woodruffs owning a slave named either Chloe or Cloe. The legends say that Chloe killed both the wife and the daughters, but one of the daughters, Mary Octavia, survived and grew up to become an adult. And it is said that Sara and the other daughter, Cornelia, were not killed by poison, but by yellow fever in 1823 and 1824.
Either way, despite the historical records refuting the story, the legend about a woman wearing a green turban haunts Myrtles Plantation. Perhaps trying to tell a story that no historical records can?
The Other Ghosts
There are several pictures you can find on the postcards found in the souvenir shop at the plantation, the Chloe postcard being one of them. Another picture that stirred up quite some stories was the picture of a young girl dressed up in classic antebellum clothing that seems to look out from a window. She is now referred to as “The Ghost Girl” on the plantation.
But the legend of Chloe is not the only claim of ghost sightings at the plantation among the Spanish Moss hanging from the giant oak trees. There is the classic tale that the house itself is built on an Native American burial ground, a trope of American ghost story tales that rarely can be substantiated. But even so, the ghost of a young Natice American woman has been reported.
In this case, the burial ground would be of Tunican tribes in the Mississippi River Valley, and the truth is that the land the manor now stands on used to belong to the Natives before being seized by the Spanish.
Civil War Soldiers
Another legend is about the Civil War and about how the houses were ransacked by union soldiers, and three people were killed. But exactly who was killed? The soldiers or the people living in the mansion? At the time, it was then Ruffin Gray Stirling and his wife Catherine Cobb that lived on the plantation with their slaves. It is true that they were robbed of their fine furniture and luxury items.
According to some of the variations of the legend though, it was the Union soldiers that were shot dead on the premises by the Confederates.
But something that is more up for debate is the supposed blood stain in the doorway, around the size of a human body remains that never will be completley clean after the supposed murders that happened then, no matter how well you scrub it.
The Voodoo Practitioner
The plantation is also the home of the ghost of a young girl that died in 1868, sometimes thought to be the girl in antebellum clothes from the picture. She was treated by a local voodoo practitioner in one of the 22 rooms in the manor, but died. She appears now in the room she died in and has been reported to practice voodoo on people sleeping in the room.
William Drew Winter
One of the other ghosts haunting this place is someone that either staggers or crawls up the stairs. He always stops on the 17th step. This is rumoured to be the ghost of William Drew Winter, the verified murder victim in the house. He was shot on the front porch of the house by a stranger. To get away, he crawled up the stairs but only reached the 17th step before he collapsed and died.
Several guests staying at the now B&B have claimed to hear the crawling coming from the stairs, and believing it could be other guests have gone to check. But when reaching the stairs, they find that no one is there, or worse, the apparition of his ghost, begging for help.
Although here, we have discrepancies in the story as a local newspaper reported that Winter died of a single shot that killed him instantly, and he had no possible way of crawling the stairs after the shot. But did he manage to in his afterlife?
No matter the fact we can now verify, the stories found of plantations from way back cast long shadows. All from the first contact between the natives and Spanish, throughout slavery and a bloody war. The darkest chapters of this plantation, is most likely the stories that we don’t know about.
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Featured image: Bogdan Oporowski