Past owners and their slaves are said to haunt the house and grounds, where so much tragedy has taken place.
Lets Start With A Death
Nowadays those fortunate (or unfortunate enough) to be in the right place at the right time will hear, or even more rarely see, the image of William Winter staggering up those very same steps, to stop and fall on the 17th. A residual haunting, playing out the final moments.
Although this scene has been witnessed or heard by many people, it is far from being the most famous of the hauntings at Myrtle's Plantation. Legend holds that at least twelve ghosts and hauntings haunt this historic Louisiana plantation property.
Legends states that on October 25th, 1794, Bradford was at home in Pennsylvania when he was alerted that cavalry was coming to arrest him and take him in. He courageously leapt from a window onto his waiting horse, and a running gun fight ensued, that lasted all of the night. He eventually got away on a boat after another run in with soldiers (who he, and several of the crew, threw off the side), and made his way to Louisiana where he soon built Laurel Grove.
The truth of the matter was, he left Washington at a leisurely pace and pretty much ambled his way unimpeded to Louisiana. Still, the other fictional version makes for much more exciting reading!
He stayed in Louisiana alone for a while, as at one time he was wanted for arrest and execution due to his part in the rebellion, but was soon handed a pardon by President John Adams. David Bradford sent for his wife and children in 1799, and soon became a wealthy planter.
The home, plantation and slaves who worked the land stayed in the family for a time before it was sold to Ruffin Gray Stirling. The home was remodelled, almost doubling in size, and was renamed 'The Myrtles'.
As was the burden of the times, the Stirling's lost several of their children early, as did subsequent owners of the house. This was probably not in part due to sinister aspects of the land, believed to have once been an Indian burial ground, but was rather just a fact of life in those times.
In 1865, Mary Cobb, wife of Ruffin Stirling, hired William Winter to look after the running of the plantation, as Stirling had died a decade earlier, and the running of such a large tract of land was proving quite difficult. Winter ended up marrying Cobb's daughter, and into the family where he eventually became owners of the house and land himself.
In 1871, William was shot on the front porch, and subsequently died on the 17th step, on his way to the upper floor.
Now we have come full circle. The house and land subsequently changed hands several more times, the land being broken into smaller parcels, where now the house sits on a much smaller space of land then it ever has, and is now open to any wanting to stay the night for bed and breakfast.
Ghosts and Hauntings
A mirror is said to hold the spirit of Sarah Woodruff (David Bradford's Daughter), and two of her children. Tradition in the area stated that all mirrors in a house be covered by cloth and blankets after someone had died, or else their spirit may be trapped as it passes from our plane to the next. This one certain mirror is said not to have been covered when Sarah Woodruff died, and now her soul, and those of two of her children, are trapped.
One of the guest rooms is haunted by young woman who died there. She, like many of the slaves, practised voodoo, and on her death she was charmed to remain. It is said those who stay in that room may also be charmed to be stuck in our world after death finally reaches them.
The old grand piano has been known to strike up a tune, on the odd occasion, as do several ex-slaves wanting to know which chores to do next.
However, the most famous of the ghosts is that of a slave named Chloe, who was owned by Clark and Sara Woodruff (Sara was the original owner, David Bradford's daughter). Chloe had been forced into becoming Woodruff's mistress, something she did not want, but having no real rights as a slave, she had to tolerate.
All this was happening during Sara's third pregnancy, and once her child had been born, Clark came back to her and Chloe was no longer called to his room in the night. Fearing that she would be put back out in the fields (she had been moved into the house as a cook, a much more comfortable job), she took to listening at keyholes to the families conversations.
Chloe also made sure one of the mirrors would remain uncovered in the days following the deaths, in order to trap their souls, her revenge complete.
The other slaves then turned against Chloe, as Woodruff's retribution would have been swift throughout the camp. They hanged Chloe and got rid of her body. Today she is seen haunting the plantation grounds, and if you search around the web you will come across people who display the photos they say she has appeared in.
Due to the stories, the haunts and peoples experiences The Myrtles Plantation can often be found in top ten lists of America’s most haunted locations.
(As always with stories such as these details may be different in certain tellings but the core elements remain the same.)