Plantation Haunting Described By Many
By Gary Scheets
ST. FRANCISVILLE -- The 205-year-old Myrtles Plantation is said to host the spirits of several long-dead former inhabitants. Over the years, those spirits have been heard and seen around the grounds of the plantation.
No one really knows why there have been so many reported happenings at the plantation. The house does sit on an ancient Tunica Indian burial ground. And there have been at least 10 homicides and suicides on the property since it was settled in 1796.
Plantation owners John and Teeta Moss take advantage of the homes' spiritual past by offering a "Mystery Tour" on Friday and Saturday nights. The tour highlights some of the stories and pinpoints the history of some of the happenings over the years.
Teeta Moss said that while they certainly play up the house's supposed spiritual residents, they discourage spirit worshipers and occult or Satanist practitioners from descending upon the house. No Ouija boards, burning candles or seances are allowed at the house.
"We don't allow any occult stuff at all," Moss said. "It's simply entertaining. We're not going to deny what people have seen and heard, but we want happy spirits."
Shortly after buying and moving into the home, Moss had her own encounter with one of the disembodied sprits roaming the grounds. When they first moved into the house, her son was lying in bed one night and told her he saw a young girl on the chandelier.
Moss said her son was adamant he was seeing a young girl above him. The young boy said the apparition wore a white dress and had yellow or blonde hair.
As she talked to her son, Moss thought it might have been the imagination of a two-year-old running wild. But she later talked to a psychologist friend who told her that while children at that age can describe things they see, they cannot conjure images and describe them.
In another instance, at 10 months old, Moss' son was sleeping in a King-sized bed in an upstairs bedroom. She was taking care of some work on the computer. As she worked, a nagging feeling to check on her son came over her. As she was walking back to the house, she spotted the young boy toddling toward a pond in the back yard. He had descended the stairs and made it outside without any assistance.
As she screamed to the boy, Moss felt the feeling of a warm blanket being wrapped around her.
"It told me that we would be alright," Moss said. "As long as we were in this house, nothing would happen to my family."
The most famous are the supposed spirits of a former house servant and the wife and children of Judge Clark Woodruffe, who owned the plantation before he was murdered.
Legend has it that Judge Woodruffe took up with Chloe, who gave in to the Judge's advances to keep her position in the house rather than working out in the fields.
The judge soon tired of Chloe and began an affair with another young slave. Fearing she would be sent to the fields, Chloe began listening through doors and walls to the judge's conversations. She was caught one day endured the punishment of having an ear severed. She began wearing a turban to hide the wound inflicted by the judge.
Certain she would be sent from the house after being thrown over by her master and being caught eavesdropping on his conversations, Chloe concocted a plan she thought would be sure to get her back in the good graces of the family.
In a birthday cake made for the Woodruffe's oldest daughter, Chloe added a small amount of poison from an oleander plant, which still grows by the side of the house. The plan was to sicken the daughters and their mother to the point she could nurse them back to health and appear to be the hero.
The plan backfired. The three Woodruffe women succumbed to the poison and died. When word spread amongst the slaves of what Chloe had done, a lynch mob formed and she was hung from a tree.
Chloe's body was weighted with rocks and dropped in the nearby Mississippi River.
While some hold to the theory that Chloe was trying to get back in the good graces of the family and did not mean to poison Mrs. Woodruffe or the children, still others believe she intentionally poisoned the family out of revenge for the loss of her ear. Had the judge been there that day, she would have killed him too, this belief goes.
Moss said she is offering the house for sale. But, she stressed, the house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the grounds would have to go to that right person before they would consider handing over the keys. There have been inquiries, but nothing solid as of yet.
They are selling because Moss wants to spend more time with her two sons, now ages seven and nine.
The house itself is a stunning example of a grand old southern mansion. There is a 120-foot long veranda with ornamental ironwork. The entrance hall contains examples of art faux bois and open pierced frieze work. There is a Baccarat crystal French chandelier, weighing more than 300 pounds. The stained glass on the entranceway was hand-painted, etched and patterned after the French Cross, to ward off evil.
Hester Eby, curator and tour guide and the plantation for 14 years, said she has had two distinct interactions with what may be the spirit of two of the children murdered by Chloe.
Eby was standing behind a couch explaining parts of a room in the house when she felt a tug on her skirt. At first, Eby dismissed it as maybe getting her skirt caught on a piece of furniture or the edge of a windowsill.
But she could not ignore a second occurrence.
"The second time was lower on the hip," she said. "It felt like a child tugging on the skirt trying to get my attention."
Sometimes images of the children show up in a hallway mirror. People often hear their names called from different rooms only to find they are alone in the house.
Visitors and guests often photograph Mryt, the house cat. The 14-year-old black cat poses dutifully, but sometimes does not appear in the pictures. The surroundings will be there, or the person petting the cat will appear in the photo but the cat won't. There will only be a puff of smoke of a blank space. No one can seem to explain it.
That's not the only trick of the light that happens to would be shutterbugs who visit the plantation. When she first bought the plantation, Teeta Moss took several pictures at various points around the grounds. In those is a photograph of the rear of the house looking at the kitchen building.
There was no one in the shots when Moss took the photos. But when they were developed, tucked into a corner near the kitchen building the image of a woman can be seen faintly. It appears to the an African-American woman wearing a turban.
The Moss' have turned the photograph into a postcard that is available in the plantation gift shop.
Butressing the history of the house, others have had similar experiences during their attempts to take photographs at the plantation.
Donna Albey of Ormand Beach, Fla., was on her second visit to the plantation on July 14. Last year she took a picture of the rear of the house. When she had them developed, the picture shows a figure with an orange kerchief on its head.
"There wasn't anyone there when I took the picture," Albey said. "I can show the picture to other people and they'll say who is that standing there?"
Historical Tours are offered daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday the "Mystery Tour" is offered at sunset when the house is lit by candle light. Tours are $8 per person. Call for room rates. (225)-635-6277.
Significant events at Myrtles Plantation
In addition to the murders committed by Chloe, there have been at least 10 homicides and suicides on the grounds over the history of the plantation. This track record leads some to believe that the disenchanted sprits of some of the dead still inhabit the grounds.
· The spirit of Chloe has been seen, and some say photographed both inside and outside the house. One photo shows a shadowy visage of a woman in a turban near the house. The other is an outstretched hand detached from a body.
· Children's sprits have been seen playing in hallways, on the veranda, in the dinning room and on the chandelier.
· Guests have seen the spirit of a French woman searching the grounds. Also a woman in a black skirt, floating about a foot off the floor has been seen dancing to music not heard by the living.
· A former maid said could not mop over a spot near the front door the approximate size of a human body. That spot was reportedly the same spot where a soldier expired during the Civil War.
· Some have heard the sound of a staggering man making it up 17 steps between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. It is believed to be the ghost of William Winter who was shot on the front porch in 1871. Winter made it into the house and up 17 steps before collapsing in death.
· Some have seen a candle - either carried by a woman or floating on its own - going up the stairs. Once the owner tried to follow the candle. They entered the house from the porch and found the room to be ice-cold.
· The sounds of babies crying have often been heard.
· A first floor grand piano has been known to play itself. It will often play all night. But it will stop if someone walks into the room.
· The spirit of a man killed over a gambling debt is said to inhabit the grounds.
· A former overseer of the plantation was killed during a robbery in 1927. He has been seen in his work clothes and has told people to leave the plantation.
· A gateman quit when he saw a woman dressed in white walk up to the front door, then through it, without opening it
The Myrtle's Ghost
By Fritz Broom
We had planned a family vacation with some friends and their children in Houston Texas in the summer of 1989. We were to spend a couple of days at Astro-World and Water World. But because of a hurricane that suddenly moved form out of the Gulf of Mexico to directly over Houston, we ended up spending only one night there. Because of the severe weather conditions we decided to head back home and on the way visit my brother-in-law, Joe, in Lafayette, LA.
While at Joe's house we decided to visit some of the Plantations in St. Francisville on our way back to Chalmette. It was something we had always wanted to do and everyone agreed.
We visited Greenwood Plantation first which was used in the mini-series "North and South." This is a Greek revival style plantation with large columns all around. This is the type of plantation that most people picture in their minds when they think of a plantation. After leaving Greenwood we headed for the Myrtles Plantation.
Before arriving at the Myrtles we didn't know much about it or how it looked. We thought all plantations had the large columns and porch all around. We hadn't heard any ghost stories about it except that it's a bed and breakfast place with reenactments of some murder mysteries that had happened in the house.
When we turned off the highway onto the driveway leading to the Myrtles we all commented on how eerie and dark it looked. We guessed that is why it has the nickname "The Dark Lady." I parked the van at the side of the house and we walked under the oaks leading to the front of the house. My daughter Jennifer took a couple of pictures of the front of the house, one as my son Jason, and Linda and Jackie Taylor were going up the front steps. We also took several other pictures inside the home. Jason and Jackie were the first on the front porch and pressed the doorbell.
The tour guide opened the door about on minute later and invited us in. After we were all in the central hall we could see into most of the large rooms in the front of the house and we were the only visitors there at that time.
The tour guide started her tour with the statement that she would not tell any ghost stories, because the owner did not want visitors coming to the Myrtles for ghost, but for its historical value. She had really gotten our curiosity up. We all began asking abut the house and its history. She finally gave in and quietly told us some of the stories. The original owner built the first part of the house in the 1700's and subsequent owners added the rest on. She also told us that the Smithsonian Institution spent several days in the house researching the haunting of the house and declared it the most haunted house in the United States. The guide said she had heard several things in the house: voices, piano playing and a baby crying. Once when in the house alone she heard someone calling her name yet she knew for sure she was alone. She immediately ran from the house to a neighboring house and called someone to stay with her.
Another story she told us was about one of the plantation owners during slavery times whom had a black mistress who was allowed to work in the house. He caught her eavesdropping on a conversation he was having with some gentleman and as a punishment for this he cut one of her ears off and put her out of the house into the kitchen. Later she baked a cake with Oleander leaves as an ingredient. Pretending to make up with him she put it on the dinner table. But the master had left the plantation that day and after dinner his wife and two daughters ate some of the cake and died. One of the firs was named Sara.
At another time a young girl named "Sara" was very sick with yellow fever and the doctor had given up. The father of the girl, not wanting to give up on her, sent for a Voodoo woman to save her. The Voodoo woman said she could save her and stayed at he girl's bedside all night working her magic, but Sara died. Her father, being out of his mind, hung the Voodoo woman there in Sara's room. The Voodoo woman is one of the ghosts people claim to have seen in a bedroom upstairs.
We believe that the figure in our picture is one of the girls named Sara, and we call her "Sara." The four of our group who saw her: Jason, Jackie, Linda and Jack, said she waved to them as they climbed the front steps. Discussing what they had seen they agreed she had on an old-style dress with large puffy sleeves. We all agree this is an incident we will never forget.
I loaned the negative of the picture to a friend Mr. Remy Bosio whom is an Registered Radiology Technologist, amateur scientist of astronomy, and photography. He stated that he examined the negative using different methods and concluded that the figure was that of a girl and the closer it was examined the more he was convinced it was an authentic photo of a ghostly figure and not a defect in the film or reflection.
We returned to the Myrtles the following year with several other couples to spend the night. While we were there we experienced several other unexplained happenings. Some of the things that happened to us were, cameras not working, doors jammed but not locked, lights blinking on and off, the front dinning room windows and walls vibrating, the feeling of a ghostly presence sitting on the edge of our bed and feeling a very cold sensation on her leg. (My wife experienced this, right after settling down to go to sleep.)
There were a couple of other pictures that show some unexplained figures in them. After this we all had a sleepless night at the Myrtles plantation.
(Edited by harrysfan at 12:35 pm on July 11, 2002)
(Edited by harrysfan at 12:37 pm on July 11, 2002)