by Walter Bissell
The Myrtles Plantation was first constructed in 1796 by General David Bradford in St. Francisville, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge. He named this beautiful estate "Laurel Grove." Clark Woodruff married the General's daughter, Sara Mathilda, in 1817. After David Bradford died in 1808, Clark and Sara managed the plantation for Elizabeth, Bradford’s widow. They had three children: Cornelia Gale, James, and Mary Octavia.
Not so "Stirling" of a Reputation
Elizabeth eventually sold the plantation and its slaves to Ruffin Gray Stirling. Stirling and his wife Mary added rooms to the house, nearly doubling its size. They renamed the plantation “The Myrtles.” Five of the Stirling’s nine children died at young ages. Lewis Stirling, the oldest son of Ruffin G. Stirling, was reportedly stabbed to death in the house “over a gambling debt.” Ruffin Stirling died in 1854 and left the plantation to his wife.
In 1865, Mary hired William D. Winter to help manage the plantation. Winter was married to the Stirling’s daughter, Sarah. Sarah and William Winter lived at the Myrtles with their six children, one of whom died from typhoid at three years of age. In 1871, William Winter was shot by an unknown man on the porch of the house and died. Sarah remained at the Myrtles until her death in 1878 and the plantation passed to Stephen, one of her sons.
Brooks Bought a Haunted Plantation
Stephen sold Myrtles Plantation in 1886 to Oran D. Brooks. It was purchased from the Brooks family in 1891 by Harrison M. Williams who divided up the land among his heirs. In the 1950s, Marjorie Munson became the new owner of the house. Marjorie was the first to report odd things happening around the house. At some point in the 1970’s the plantation was sold to Arlin Dease and Mr. & Mrs. Robert Ward who completely restored it. James and Frances Kermeen Myers were the next owners of the Myrtles. The Myers apparently believed the house was haunted, and began to feature it in books and magazines about haunted houses. Billed as "one of America's most haunted homes,” the plantation is reported to be the home of at least twelve ghosts. The "ghost with the green bonnet” is the one seen most often.
The Ghost of Mistress Chloe
Legend claims that Clark Woodruff was quite promiscuous. He took Chloe, one of his slaves, as a mistress. Giving in to Woodruff's sexual advances kept Chloe from hard labor in the fields. Always fearing that Woodruff would send her back to the fields, she listened intently for any word of his displeasure. She would stand by the door of Woodruff’s study and listen to his private conversations through the keyhole. One day he caught her listening in. Clark ordered his servant to cut off one of Chloe’s ears to teach her a lesson. It is believed by some that she always wore a green turban around her head to “hide the ugly scar that the knife had left behind.” It is uncertain why Chloe put a handful of crushed oleander in a birthday cake that she was told to bake for Woodruff's oldest daughter. Some claim Chloe only intended to make the family sick and then by nursing them back to health she would regain favor with Woodruff. Others say she intended to kill the Woodruff family to avenge being sent back to the fields by Clark. In either case, only the two children and Sara had slices of the poisoned cake. Woodruff didn't eat any of it. Before the end of the day, all of them were very sick and some believe they all died. Others believe that only Sara and one of the children died, but Mary Octavia survived and lived to see adulthood. Legend contends, “the other slaves, perhaps afraid that their owner would punish them also, dragged Chloe from her room and hanged her from a nearby tree. Her body was later cut down, weighted with rocks and thrown into the river.” Woodruff was supposedly murdered in New Orleans in November 1851. Chloe continues to haunt the plantation where she lost her life.
More on the Winter Killing
The only verifiable murder to occur at the Myrtles was that of William Drew Winter. He was shot by an unknown assailant while he was standing on the side porch. Winter staggered back into the house onto the staircase that rises from the central hallway. He then managed to climb to the 17th step where he died in his wife’s arms. Another murder allegedly occurred in 1927, when a caretaker at the house was killed during a robbery. During the Civil War, three Union soldiers were killed when they tried to ransack the house. Supposedly, “there is a blood stain in a doorway, roughly the size of a human body.” Other legends say “that cleaners have been unable to push their mop or broom into that space.”
The Myrtles plantation house is reportedly built over an Indian burial ground and the ghost of a nude young Indian woman has been reported. Also, “a young girl, with long curly hair and wearing an ankle-length dress, has been seen floating outside the window of the game room, cupping her hands and trying to peer inside through the glass.” Perhaps the apparition is that of a “young girl who died in 1868, despite being treated by a local voodoo practitioner.” She supposedly appears in the room where she died, practicing voodoo on people as they sleep in this room.
Other strange phenomenon occurs at the Myrtles Plantation. The grand piano on the first floor is said to play by itself, usually playing the same chord repeatedly. There have been others who report hearing odd sounds while staying at the plantation. Also, a mirror located in the house supposedly holds the spirits of two children - perhaps that of two of the Stirling children who never reached adulthood.
The house at the Myrtles Plantation is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is now a bed & breakfast owned by John & Teeta Moss who offer historical and mystery tours. The Myrtles Plantation truly has become an american legend of tragedy and haunting.
Ghost Pictures Taken at the Myrtles Plantation:
Famous Myrtles Plantation Ghost Picture
Myrtles Plantation Ghost Pictures?
Myrtles Plantation British Red Coats Ghost Photo
Myrtles Plantation Apparition Ghost Picture
Myrtles Plantation Phantom?
For More About This Haunted Site, Visit:
Myrtles Plantation Official Site