Some say that the Myrtles Plantation remains haunted to this day thanks to the gruesome murders that may have happened there more than 150 years ago.
There’s something eerie about old plantations — relics of an earlier age, portals to another century. Their stories are often full of tragedy and unspeakable suffering. So it’s not surprising that many are supposedly haunted.
But even among all the reportedly-haunted plantations, few are believed to be as full of restless spirits as the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, La.
The Myrtles Plantation has borne silent witness to more than 200 years of the history of the deepest part of the Deep South. Named after the Crepe Myrtles that seem to shadow the property in perpetual twilight, the plantation has seen its share of sorrow in that time.
The house was originally built by Revolutionary War General David Bradford in 1796. Fleeing justice for his role in the Whiskey Rebellion, Bradford built the house in what was then a Spanish colony. He lived there alone for several years until he was officially pardoned by President Adams. He then brought his family to live on his new plantation.
After Bradford’s death, the plantation passed to his daughter and her husband, Clarke Woodruff. But their life there wasn’t a happy one. Of their three children, only one survived to adulthood.
And it was during the time that the Woodruffs lived on the plantation that the most famous ghost story associated with the Myrtles Plantation was supposed to have happened.
According to the story, Clarke Woodruff was known as an honest man, but one with an active sex drive. And it wasn’t long before he focused his attention on one of the slave girls on the plantation. The young girl, Chloe, knew that if she refused Woodruff’s advances, she would be sent to work in the cotton fields. There, she would have to work long hours under the blistering sun and brutal overseers armed with whips.
Chloe, of course, really had little choice in the matter, and she and Woodruff began a sexual relationship that lasted for a few years. Chloe, who was worried that Woodruff’s wife would find out and punish her, began eavesdropping on the family’s conversations. One day, Woodruff caught her listening and ordered her ear cut off as a punishment. From then on, Chloe was forced to wear a turban to cover her disfigured ear.
Understandably, Chloe wanted revenge. One night, when the family was about to sit down to dinner and Woodruff was away, Chloe slipped a bit of poison into their food. Within days, Woodruff’s wife and two of his children were dead. The other slaves, afraid that Woodruff would find out what Chloe had done when he returned, took the matter into their own hands.
They grabbed Chloe and hung her from a nearby tree. When she finally died, they cut her body down and threw it into the river. But according to legend, her spirit lived on.
The plantation passed on after Woodruff’s death into a few different hands. Finally, in the 1970s, it was purchased by the Meyers family, who decided to open it as a bed and breakfast. But from almost the first day, strange things allegedly began happening.
Guests reported hearing strange noises. Others saw ghostly apparitions, often of a young girl wearing a turban. Many suggested that this might be the spirit of Chloe. And in 1992, the owner of the property claimed to have caught her on film.
That year, the owner took a photo of the property to help get an insurance policy for the house. The photo was quickly forgotten until three years later when a researcher asked to use it for a postcard. After blowing it up, he caught the image of what appeared to be a young girl hidden by shadows on the property.
According to the owner, there was no one in that spot that day.
This isn’t the only time that someone has claimed to catch a ghost on film at the house. Others have seen young girls in antebellum clothing in the windows. Others say that they’ve caught glimpses of the Woodruff’s children appearing in the mirror near the room where they died.
Many of the photos — which, like most photos reported to contain ghosts, are a bit grainy — are still undeniably spooky.
But there are some problems with these ghost stories. To begin with, Chloe almost certainly didn’t exist. The Woodruffs never recorded owning a slave by that name. And though Woodruff’s wife and children did die, they weren’t poisoned.
Like many people in colonial Louisiana, they succumbed to yellow fever. In fact, many of the more gruesome events that are supposed to have happened in the house, like the ten murders allegedly committed there, also seem to be made up.
Of course, anywhere with as much history as the Myrtles Plantation is probably bound to pick up a few legends over the years. And that doesn’t mean that strange things don’t happen at the Myrtles. Of course, if you’re up to it and ever find yourself in Louisiana, you could always spend the night there and find out the truth for yourself.