Oct 9, 2015
Louisiana ghost story about the well documented hauntings at Myrtles Plantation. Collected and adapted by Craig Dominey. Told by Veronica Byrd.
When folks think about the American South, one image that always comes to mind is the old plantation house. Before the Civil War devastated the South, the plantation homes were about the closest thing America had to magical European palaces.
But what some folks don't know - or maybe don't care to think about - is that many of these plantations were built upon the backs of slaves. These slaves toiled under the whip of the white plantation owners, harvesting cotton and sugarcane for days, weeks and months on end. Some were literally worked to death, only to be replaced like an old shoe when the next boatload of captured slaves came into port.
So while the plantations may have been wealthy palaces to some, they were places of misery and death to others. So it should come as no surprise that many of the plantation homes remaining in the South are rumored to be haunted. This is the story of one of those houses:
Back in the 1800s, many plantations were located north of New Orleans along the banks of the Mississippi River. These plantations fueled the national economy with cotton and sugar cane, and their owners were some of the richest men in America.
Myrtles Plantation, located a few miles outside of St. Francisville, Louisiana, was one of these homes. It was a beautiful example of Old South Antebellum architecture. Upon arrival, a visitor would be greeted with the magical sight of Spanish moss swaying in the breeze, sweeping wide verandas with ornamental ironwork, and the sweet smells of pink-blossomed myrtle trees. Inside, one would find a lavishly decorated home in the Gothic style, with ornate plasterwork, European antiques, winding staircases and sparkling, crystal chandeliers.
But all this beauty hid a very sinister history - which many believe started with a slave girl named Chloe...
At that time, Myrtles Plantation was owned and operated by Judge Clark Woodruffe and his wife, Sara Matilda. The Woodruffes had two young daughters, with a third child on the way. The judge was well respected in the community as a man of integrity, and a staunch upholder of the law. But he also held a dirty secret - he was a compulsive womanizer.
Whenever he had the opportunity, the judge would sneak around and have relations with his female slaves. Chloe, a slave of mixed blood who served as governess to the Woodruffe children, eventually became the target of his advances. Chloe was disgusted with the thought of the judge having his way with her, but knew if she didn't follow through she would probably be sent back out to toil in the fields with the other slaves. Working in the "big house" was as close to freedom as a slave could expect at that time, so Chloe did what she had to do.
But after awhile, Chloe began to suspect that the judge was getting tired of her, and would soon be looking for a new lover. Terrified of being sent back to the fields, Chloe began eavesdropping on the family's conversations to find out if her fears were true. One day, the judge caught her and was so enraged that he grabbed her and sliced off one of her ears. From that day forward, Chloe wore a green turban around her head to hide her shameful wound.
With the judge now furious at her, Chloe knew she had to do something fast to prove her worth to the family - but what? Her opportunity came one day when she was directed to help set up a birthday party for the Woodruffes' eldest daughter. The judge was away, and his wife and daughters planned on celebrating the birthday by eating cake in the dining room.
Chloe came up with a plan. She crept outside and picked one of the oleander plants growing beside the house. She knew that the leaves of this plant contained a small amount of poison, which she secretly added to the birthday cake. She figured if she made the family sick, she could nurse them back to health and prove herself invaluable to the family. She cared for the children, and was careful to only add enough poison to make them slightly ill.
As the family ate the tainted birthday cake, Chloe soon found out she had made a terrible mistake. One by one, they dropped their utensils and began writhing and moaning in agony. Chloe helped them to their beds and tried desperately to save them, but it was too late. Soon the young girls, their mother and her unborn child were all dead.
As word spread throughout the plantation, the other slaves were terrified that the judge would take his anger at Chloe out on them. To save their own hides, they knew that they had to do something to prove their loyalty to their master. So one night, a lynch mob grabbed Chloe while she slept and hanged her from one of the oak trees. After she died, they cut her down, weighted her body with rocks and tossed her into the Mississippi River.
The judge promptly sealed off the dining room and never used it again. In later years, the plantation house was turned into a bed and breakfast, with many visitors attracted to its beauty and Old South charm. But visitors and future owners alike would soon discover that they were not alone in the house.
One day, one of the new owners of Myrtles Plantation snapped a photo of the front of the house. When the picture was developed, she could see a shadowy figure standing near the veranda; her head wrapped in what appeared to be a turban. At night, some of the guests reported hearing restless footsteps wandering the hallways of the house. Others said they were jolted from their sleep by a black woman in a green turban, who lifted up the mosquito netting around their beds, as if looking for someone.
Soon other strange incidents were reported in the house. Some guests claimed to have seen the images of small children in the hallway mirrors. Others heard their names called out from distant rooms, only to find they were alone in the house. And others spotted two playful little girls in white dresses playing in the hallways, peeking through the windows, bouncing on the beds - even swinging from the chandeliers!
Is the mysterious woman in the green turban the ghost of Chloe, searching for the judge who caused her such grief? Are the mysterious little girls the ghosts of the Woodruffe children, forever trapped in the home where they died? We'll leave that up to you to decide. Or, better yet - next time you're in Louisiana, spend a night in Myrtles Plantation near St. Francisville, and find out for yourself!
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