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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.