The Legend of the Christmas Spider

This is one of the most precious gifts that has been given to me, I wanted to share it with you all!  A very dear friend presented this to me at a book signing a year or so ago, she giggled when I wanted to pin him to my jacket.  My friend, Tissie Gorman, knows that I research a lot of legends, she made sure to include this little guy’s legend inside the box that contained him; I now know that he is far too special to be pinned to my jacket!

 

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The Christmas Spider

(Legend originated from Germany and the Ukraine)

Once upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year…. The day on which the Christ Child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner in the ceiling to avoid the housewife’s busy cleaning. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic.
T’was Christmas eve at last! The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it, but the poor spiders were frantic; For they could not see the tree nor be present for the Christ Childs’ visit. The oldest and the wisest of the spiders suggested that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see him. Silently they crept from the attic, down the stairs and across the floor to wait in the crack of the threshold. Suddenly the door opened a wee bit and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. They crept all over the tree, up and down over every branch and twig and saw every one of the pretty things. At last, now satisfied that they had experienced all of the trees beauty.
But Alas! Everywhere they had went, they had left their webs. When the Christ Child came to visit and bless the house he was dismayed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God’s creatures too, but he knew that the mother who had trimmed the tree for the little children would not feel the same.     The Christ Child reached out and touched the webs, turning them into sparkling strands of silver and gold!
Ever since that time tinsel has been hung on trees, and in Germany and the Ukraine, a Christmas Spider is hung amongst the ornaments on every Christmas tree!

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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.