Haunted Louisiana – Oak Alley Plantation

oak alley     Originally dubbed “Bon Sejour” (Pleasant Sojourn) by it’s original owner Jacques Telesphore Roman III, this majestic structure would come to be known as “Oak Alley” indicative of the 300+ year old oak trees, which line it’s .25 mile long driveway.

Oak Alley was constructed during a two year time span beginning in 1837 and ending in 1839; over 100 years after it’s mammoth Oaks were planted  by a French settler that had once lived on the grounds.   Though built to suit the high standards of Josephine Pile, the wife of Jacques, the elaborate estate would not hold her fancies for long.

Josephine had been well known among the most elite circles of New Orleans and yearned to return to the big city social life.  She would often return with her children to visit the city.  As time passed, the visits became more frequent and longer, leaving Jacques alone within the home that he had built for her.  Jacques would die home alone in 1848 of Tuberculosis.

After Jacques passing, his son Henri, would take over the family home.  During this period Oak Alley experienced many blows brought on by the Civil War.  Vandalism and looting brought her to her knees and by 1866 she was sold at public auction to John Armstrong.  The plantation would pass ownership through many hands until purchased by Andrew and Josephine Stewart.

The Stewart’s would spend the remainder of their lives restoring Oak Alley, which would become the first antebellum restoration in the South.  When Josephine died in 1972, Oak Alley was left to the “Oak Alley Foundation” a non-profit organization which she had founded.   In 1998, Oak Alley would be opened to the public as a bed and breakfast with guided tours.

History of Hauntings

While the original structure was under construction, a slave named Antoine was known by all as the head grounds keeper.  Antoine was known for grafting pecan trees and  is responsible for breeding what we know now as the soft shell pecan.  His original hybrid trees still stand on the estate grounds.

Antoine loved the estate and dedicated his life to caring for the grounds, it is said that he can still be seen meandering about beneath the sprawling Oaks and among the pecan trees which he had created and cared for.

Louise Roman, daughter of Jacques and Josephine, was raised to the same social standards of her mother.  During her courting years, Louise became angered by a suitor who had drank too much and in his drunken state, attempted to kiss her.  Furious over his actions, Louise ran away from him.  In her rage, she tripped and fell,  slicing her leg open on the metal frame of her hoop skirting.  The wound developed gangrene resulting in the loss of her leg.

Now seeing herself as damaged goods and no longer worthy of the attentions of those within her social standing, Louise retreated to a convent in St. Louis; she would return to Oak Alley in her late years in order to live out the last of her days.  She is often seen wandering throughout the home, many guests have heard her crying over both the loss of her leg and social status.

Josephine Roman is frequently seen wandering from room to room, making sure that everything is in order.  Josephine has been caught on camera many times both by investigators and guests alike.

Jacques died lonely in his beloved home, his shadowy apparition is sometimes spotted around the back of the estate.  He is always seen in a gray suit wearing his riding boots.  Jacques also makes appearances in a mirror that is now stored in the attic.

Josephine Stewart was said to favor the lavender room, perhaps that is why she is frequently seen walking about the room, sometimes she is seen sitting on the bed and is known to turn on the lamp at nightfall.

A fantastic list of apparitions, but that’s not all folks!  Things are known to be flung about, thrown by unseen hands.  Many items have been reported missing by guests, only to be recovered by the staff at a later date either near or in the same place from where they previously vanished.

On rare occasions the sound of a hours drawn carriage can be heard on the driveway as it approached the estate, the sound vanishes just upon it’s arrival at the front steps.

Oak Alley has been investigated by several well known paranormal researchers.  Sci-Fi’s Ghost Hunters, The Travel Channel’s, Ghost Adventures and TAPS have all reported intriguing activity citing both photographic and EVP evidence.  Many have had encounters during their stay.  One particular incident occurred during the middle of a guided tour.  Imagine the surprise of both the tour guide and 35 patrons when witnessing a candlestick fly from the mantle across the room!

Oak Alley has definitely earned her title as one of Louisiana’s most haunted, book your stay or guided tour soon, it’s definitely on my bucket list!

 

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Haunted Louisiana – The Myrtles Plantation

myrtles Our story begins in 1796 when General David Bradford, aka “Whiskey Dave” of the Whiskey Rebellion, obtained a 650 acre land grant from Baron de Corondelet.  Bradford had fled the United States to avoid arrest and imprisonment for his involvement in the Rebellion, he would land in Bayou Sarah which, at that time was still a Spanish colony.  Bradford would later be pardoned for his actions by President John Adams.

When construction began on the original home it was said that workers had unearthed a Native American burial ground.  Bradford would order the remains burned thus initiating over two centuries of hauntings that endure to this day.   Bradford experienced great losses during his time at his family home.  One of his sons would fall into the river while working one day, his body was never recovered.

After having received his Presidential pardon, Bradford, his wife Elizabeth and 5 children would move to Pennsylvania where he would pursue his political career resulting in him being appointed Deputy attorney-general for Washington County.  The  mansion would remain in his ownership until 1820 when it was purchased by his son in law, Judge Clarke Woodruff.  The Woodruff era would produce one of the Myrtles’ most well known ghosts; a young Creole slave girl named Chloe.

Woodruff took Chloe on as his Mistress.  She was moved into the main home to live with his family while caring for his children.  Chloe, however, yearned for more than just the position of Mistress.  In an attempt to gain leverage, Chloe would often eavesdrop on family conversations as well as debates held amid the many prominent guests that frequented the mansion.  After several warnings she was caught one evening eavesdropping on a heated conversation between Woodruff and some of his more affluent visitors, Bradford ordered her left ear to be cut off and banished her from working within his home.

Chloe, devastated by the terms of her punishment, devised a plan to see her way back into the home.  She would bake a cake laced with poisoned herbs and when the family became ill, it would be she that would care for them and bring them back to good health.  A good plan, but unfortunately Chloe would lace the cake with lethal doses of her herbs; Woodruffs’ wife and two of his children died.

Now Chloe was even further distraught.  She had cared for and loved his children for years, as if they were her own.  Chloe, no longer able to bear the guilt, would confess to her actions.  Woodruff, in response, ordered for her to be hung just outside of the mansion, her body would then be weighted down and thrown into the Mississippi river.

Woodruff and his last remaining child would then move to Covington Louisiana, the house would be sold in 1834 to Ruffin Gray Sterling.  Sterling and his wife would remodel the homestead, it would nearly double in size to become what we know as the 11,000 square foot Myrtles Plantation.

The Sterling era would bring about even more of the frequently seen apparitions.  Four years after completion of the renovation, Sterling would succumb to Consumption.  Further tragedies struck the family throughout the years as only 4 of their 9 children would live long enough to marry.

The Plantation suffered along with the family as it had been looted and vandalized many times by soldiers during the Civil War.  Many rogue soldiers had lost their lives by charging onto the estate grounds as both the family and slaves had been armed to protect their home.  It was during one of these looting sprees that Sterling’s son-in-law, William Winter, was shot on the front steps as he tried to defend the family’s interests.  After crawling into the house and halfway up the stairs, he died in the arms of his frantic wife.

Occurrences

Many guests have reported the loss of just 1 earring while visiting the Plantation.  Later earrings will turn up in the oddest of places, discovered by staff as they clean and organize.  Perhaps this is the work of Chloe as she would only require the one earring!

There are reports of bloodstains on the parlor floor which will appear and disappear on their own accord, no matter how often the floor is cleaned.  These stains are said to appear where Union soldiers met their demise as they attempted to loot the mansion during the Civil War.

An apparition is seen frequently on the stair case and at some times the sound of fleeting footsteps will accompany him.  It is said to be that of a man dressed in his Sunday best.  Many suspect the apparition to be remnants of William Winter as he met his demise on those very steps.

chloe1a1    Chloe is seen frequently about the grounds, even sometimes spotted on the very limb from where she was hanged.

In this picture there is the apparition of a young slave girl just in between the two buildings.  This photograph has been researched and debunked by many well-known paranormal investigators. National Geographic has used this photograph in a documentary of the Myrtles’ Plantation.  It was also researched by Mr. Norman Benoit who performed a shadow density test, thus proclaiming that all of the physical measurements of the apparition were of human dimensions and proportions.  The circumference of the head, the length of the shoulder to the elbow and the length of the elbow to the wrist were all indicative of a human.

 

childThe ghosts of children are often captured in photographs all about the interior of the Plantation as well as it grounds.  So many children have perished on this property it would be quite difficult to accurately identify any one of them.  As records were not kept on the slave population and waves of plagues were rampant during this era, there is no way for anyone to know exactly how many children passed away on this property over the past 212 years.

This photograph was taken by a teacher on a school field trip.  The figure of the little girl in the window was not discovered until some time after.  Note that the child appears to be looking directly into the camera.

 

mirror Owners and staff have reported hand prints on mirrors and windows for centuries.  The infamous mirror which hangs near the staircase is a prime target.  Previous owners have gone as far as replacing the actual glass to rid themselves of the nuisance, but to no avail; the hand prints would only return.

 

 

 

 

As the Myrtles have been visited and investigated frequently through time, reports range from the inconspicuous to the insane.  Guests have had many encounters with the ghostly inhabitants.  Many items have gone missing and some overnight guest complain of their difficulties in getting out of their beds in the mornings after having been tucked too snugly into their sheets while they slept.

The Myrtles offers guided tours and is currently in operation as a bed and breakfast where many paranormal enthusiasts have conducted their own private investigations.  The Myrtles Plantation is definitely a destination for anyone seeking a ghostly encounter.

 

Haunted Louisiana – The home of Marie Laveau

marieAh, her majesty, Marie Laveau.  This (devout Catholic) Voodoo Queen has left her mark throughout the history of New Orleans legend and lore and she endures until this day.

Marie Laveau was born in 1794 in Haiti.  It would be her blending of Catholicism and Voodoo rituals that would create a new form of Voodoo practices, exclusive to New Orleans.

As a young girl, it is said that Marie learned the practice of Voodoo from her grandmother.  Legend states that there was something very different about Marie and her mastering of the arts.  Marie advanced quickly, her knowledge and powers quickly surpassed all others.  There is a legend that Marie raised a young girl from her grave after having been buried for several days; she was also said to have brought several animals back from the unwakeable sleep as well.

On August 4th 1819, Marie wed one Jacques Paris at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans; the marriage certificate can be viewed as it hangs on display within the church to this day.  No children would be bore during their brief marriage as Paris would die in 1820 of unusual circumstances.

After Paris’ passing, Marie became a hairdresser to the wealthy.  It was during this time that she took on a lover.  Christophe Glapion and Marie would live together as husband and wife until his death on December 1st 1835.  He too died of mysterious circumstances.  Glapion was happy and in good spirits at dinner the night before but was found dead before breakfast the following morning.  Many say that he had served his purpose; Marie had bore 15 children within their 15 year relationship.

Marie Laveau served the community of New Orleans well throughout her life.  She worked tirelessly with the homeless and the ill.  Her knowledge of medicinal herbs came in handy when the city had been struck with yellow fever;  Marie saved many lives.  Her living was made by selling her gris gris and charms; follwers would trek from miles around to purchase Marie’s talismans and remedies.  Followers would also flock by the thousands to witness her performing her rituals on St John’s eve.  Nearly a century of service and rumors had passed since her birth, Marie passed to the other side on June 15th 1881.

Not everyone agrees on her death day, some will say that Marie still walks among us this day.  Some say that she is an immortal or vampire, some say that she appears as a large crow or black cat and others see her just as she was, but only for one brief moment.  Marie can be sometimes be seen sitting in front of her cottage or walking along St. Ann street the smell of burning herbs often accompanies her.  She has been witnessed hovering above her old home; her presence is described as a black fog or mist.  It is not uncommon to hear reports of visitors that have seen Marie’s beloved rooster or large cat Henri in or around the house as well.  Many have tried to photograph them but the images will disappear before a camera shot can be made.

Marie is not bound to her old home site.  She has been seen along Rampart street.  Some reports claim that she is shopping for herbs along the street side others have seen her with a large basket full of gris gris to sell to her loyal public.  Marie is also notorious for appearing at her grave site at St. Louis Cemetery #1.  Many followers and enthusiast have visited her tomb, many have returned with stories of their encounters with the Voodoo Queen here.  Marie had many ties with the St. Louis Cathedral, many have seen her on the church grounds as well as participating in Church services.

Marie was seen frequently at her home and all throughout the French Quarter immediately following Hurricane Katrina.  Witnesses claim to have seen her weeping; perhaps she wept for the state of her beloved city during it’s worst days.

Haunted New Orleans – The Griffin House

gh     This beautiful home was erected in 1852 by Adam Griffin at what is now known as 1447 Constance street in New Orleans.  Griffin would only occupy the home for a matter of months before fleeing the area; The Federal army was on it’s way to New Orleans.

In 1862, New Orleans was under siege, the Union troops had been selecting and taking over large family estates in which to house their men and supplies.  The Griffin home would be one of the homes that fell into their hands.

During the Civil War occupation period, the Griffin house would be used as barracks and for storing of munitions, and this is where the haunted history begins!  The first of the soldiers to occupy the home reported hearing groans accompanied by the sound of clanging chains coming from the third floor, or attic.  Upon investigation, the rattled soldiers discovered several slaves that had been shackled to the walls, many in the advanced stages of starvation, some had already died.  The slaves were in such dire condition that many of them were plagued by maggots that had infested their woulds.  Those that could be saved were moved to a field hospital to be cared for.  Shortly after, the home became shelter to both soldiers and prisoners of war.

While still occupied by Union soldiers, two confederate deserters dressed in Union uniforms were caught looting in the area; a crime punishable by death.  When brought to the Griffin house, the deserters continued their ruse assuming that their punishment would be much more severe if they were tried as Union Soldiers.  They were so intent on convincing their captors that they would sing songs that were familiar to Union soldiers such as “John Brown’s Body”.  Some of the soldiers had been convinced and became sympathetic, supplying the two deserters with whiskey and other luxuries that were on hand.

When the deserters found out that there would be no leniency in their sentencing, they bribed a guard to smuggle in two pistols so that they may kill themselves before their sentence was passed.  The two of them lay across from each other in their beds, each of them facing the other as one shot the other in the heart.  It was reported that the deserters bled so profusely that their blood seeped through the floorboards and down the walls of the room beneath them.

After the War, the Griffin home was used commercially by several different owners.  Throughout the years, those that had been employed there had reported seeing two drunken soldiers, both holding bottles of whiskey as they sang “John Brown’s Body”.  There have also been reports having heard the sound of marching boots that accompany the singing voices.

In the early 1900’s the house was used as a perfume bottling company and then as a union hiring hall.  The next owner was a man who rebuilt air conditioners, he was said to have disappeared from the home without a trace.  During this period there were several reports of hearing the singing soldiers and marching boots.  There were also reports of screams and groaning accompanied by the sound of clanging chains coming from the attic.  Many passers by had reported seeing the two drunken soldiers staring out of the second floor window.

The home was especially active in and around 1936 while the Griffin house was being used as a lamp factory.  Several workers reported doors that opened on their own followed by the deafening sound of marching.  Others reported seeing and hearing the drunken soldiers as well as seeing blood seeping through the ceiling and walls of a second story room.

The new owners were nearly killed upon their initial inspection of their newly purchased investment.  A concrete block was thrown from the second floor as they stood at the base of the stairs.  Had they not seen the block coming at them they would have both been killed.  The kicker is that there are no such concrete blocks used in the construction of the home.  When the two startled investors went up stairs to investigate, they found that no one was there; all windows and doors were secured.

A few years later, after it had been deemed impossible to maintain commercial tenants, the home was converted into a boarding house.  One of the first tenants, a widow, would rent out a room on the second level.  One day while sewing near the window, she looked down to see a drop of blood on her arm.  Thinking that she must have scratched herself, she wiped the blood away.  Moments later it had reappeared, then another then another.  The widow looked up to see that blood was seeping through the ceiling and landing on her arm.  She immediately ran shrieking from the home and never returned.

In the 1970’s the neighborhood had become blighted, many of the once beautiful family estates had been overtaken by drug addicts and transients, the Griffin house would befall the same fate, but it would not last for long.  Even the addicts and transients were haunted while occupying the house.  Reports were made by some of them that they had witness 2 men in “some kind of police uniforms” singing  “old timey songs”.

In more recent years there have still been reports of having seen the two soldiers peering at the occupants from outside any given window on any given level.  There are also more recent reports of blood seeping through the ceiling and walls as well as the singing voices and marching boots.