Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, La., is
known as one of the most haunted places in America.
everyone who rents a room at the Myrtles Plantation in St.
Francisville, La., stays the night.
once a month, someone leaves," says John Moss, owner
of the Spanish-moss-draped antebellum home that’s billed
as one of the most haunted places in America. "People
absolutely get freaked out."
staffers hear footsteps quickly retreating down the stairs
and gravel slinging in the driveway as overnight guests
beat a hasty escape. Other times, they find rooms empty,
the beds disheveled and the room key tossed to the floor.
hauntings can be good for business, especially when you
run an old plantation as a tourist destination and bed and
breakfast. "You have a lot more people come on
account of the hauntings than leave on account of
them," Moss says.
visited the plantation recently, when the Myrtles hosted a
special evening mystery tour. I also booked a room in the
main house for the night. Then I did a quick online
search, which turned up all kinds of spooky reports about
the Myrtles, including the alarming news that 10 murders
had occurred there since it was built in 1796.
first, some history.
plantation was originally built by Gen. David Bradford,
aka Whiskey Dave from the Whiskey Rebellion, who obtained
a 650-acre land grant near Bayou Sarah and built his home
on the property. In 1820, the home was sold to Bradford’s
son-in-law; it changed hands several times after that.
of the hauntings date to the time that an attorney named
William Winter lived at the plantation. When his
3-year-old daughter became ill, he called in a slave named
Chloe from a neighboring plantation who was reputedly a
voodoo princess to try to heal her. As the story goes, the
little girl died anyway, and in retaliation Winter had
Chloe hanged from a tree.
himself died a few years later, when a rider approached
the house and called out his name. When Winter stepped
outside, he was shot in what is the only officially
corroborated murder on the grounds. He staggered back
indoors, where he crawled to the 17th step of the main
staircase, then died in his wife’s arms.
say they still hear his footsteps.
says when he and his wife purchased the home in 1992, they
figured the tales of hauntings were simply that —
stories. He chuckled at the comments of an old woman who’d
grown up in the area and told him that the old houses
around St. Francisville all have spirits.
let you know in the first 90 days if you can stay,"
Moss says the woman told him. "If it’s OK, things
will settle down. If not, you’ll move on."
didn’t take long before Moss changed his mind. He heard
voices calling his wife’s name and became convinced that
spirits visited his son, who was a toddler at the time. He
believes in the home’s haunting, but says there’s
nothing vile, evil or sinister about it.
tell people we don’t have ghosts — we have guardian
angels," he says.
gray-green moss that drips from tree branches out front
sets a slightly creepy mood as you roll up the driveway. A
125-foot porch with ornate wrought iron railings stretches
across the front of the house. Magnolias, crepe myrtles
and live oaks grow alongside a 100-foot well dug by slaves
and a cistern where plantation occupants reportedly
stashed valuables during the Civil War.
are quick to show off photos taken on the grounds that
purportedly show ghosts — usually Chloe or two little
Victorian girls — peering out of windows or lingering in
the background. Guests say they’ve felt something
tugging on their legs when they sleep in a room where a
soldier had his foot amputated. Some say a little girl
snuggles next to them in another. Dolls move around one
room, and guests’ luggage gets rearranged. More than one
visitor has reported that ghost-like shadows have appeared
in photographs — weeks after the pictures were snapped.
kinds of things are odd and different," Moss says.
producers of the television programs "Ghost
Adventures" and "Ghost Hunters" have had
some pretty weird experiences here, too: creepy noises,
voices, a moving lamp and a ball that inexplicably rolled
down the staircase when they asked for a sign from any of
the resident spirits.
yes, even though I don’t really believe in ghosts, I was
a little creeped out when I unlocked the door to the
William Winter room, where the girl supposedly died at the
hands of the voodoo priestess.
are comfortable but in need of sprucing up. The bright
pink bathroom definitely needed a remodel. Guests should
come with a sense of adventure.
the end, I’m proud to say I survived the night. No one
so much as tickled my toes, rearranged the sheets or
tapped on the wall — but I’m still checking to see if
anything suspicious is going to appear in the photos I
Myrtles, 7747 U.S. Highway 61 in St. Francisville, hosts
daily history tours year-round and evening mystery tours
in October. Five rooms in the original home are available
for rental, along with the caretakers quarters, four
garden rooms built in the 1980s and four small cottages
built in 2012. Rates range from $115 to $400, including
breakfast. A restaurant called the Carriage House also
operates on the property. For more information, go to
myrtlesplantation.com or call 800-809-0565.