Myrtles Plantations Stories


Handprints in the mirrors, footsteps on the stairs, mysterious smells, vanishing
objects, death by poison, hangings, murder and gunfire -- the Myrtles Plantation
in the West Feliciana town of St. Francisville, Louisiana holds the rather
dubious record of hosting more ghostly phenomena than just about any
other house in the country. But what could be more dubious than the honor

According to the story, the troubles that led to the haunting began in 1817
when Sarah Mathilda married Clark Woodruff. Sara Matilda had given birth
to two daughters and was carrying a third child, when an event took place
that still haunts the Myrtles today.

Woodruff, had a reputation in the region for integrity with men and with the
law, but was also known for being promiscuous. While his wife was pregnant
with their third child, he started an intimate relationship with one of his
slaves. This particular girl, whose name was Chloe, was a household servant
who, while she hated being forced to give in to Woodruff's sexual demands,
realized that if she didn't, she could be sent to work in the fields, which was
the most brutal of the slave's work.

Eventually, Woodruff tired of Chloe and chose another girl with whom to
carry on. Chloe feared the worst, sure that she was going to be sent to the
fields, and she began eavesdropping on the Woodruff family's private
conversations, dreading the mention of her name. One day, the Judge caught
her at this and ordered that one of her ears be cut off to teach her a lesson
and to put her in her place. After that time, she always wore a green turban
around her head to hide the ugly scar that the knife had left behind.

What actually happened next is still unclear. Some claim that what occurred
was done so that the family would just get sick and then Chloe could nurse
them back to health and earn the Judge's gratitude. In this way, she would
be safe from ever being returned to the fields. Others say that her motives
were not so pure though and that what she did was for one reason only
-- revenge!

For whatever reason, Chloe put a small amount of poison into a birthday
cake that was made in honor of the Woodruff's oldest daughter. In with
the flour and sugar went a handful of crushed oleander flowers. The two
children, and Sarah Mathilda, each had slices of the poisoned cake but
Woodruff didn't eat any of it. Before the end of the day, all of them were
very sick. Chloe patiently attended to their needs, never realizing (if it
was an accident) that she had given them too much poison. In a matter
of hours, all three of them were dead.

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 closed off the children's dining room, where the party was held,
and never allowed it to be used again as long as he lived. Tragically, his life
was cut short a few years later by a murderer. To this day, the room where
the children were poisoned has never again been used for dining. It is called
the game room today.

Since her death, the ghost of Chloe has been reported at the Myrtles and was
even accidentally photographed by a past owner. The plantation still sells
picture postcards today with the cloudy image of what is purported to be Chloe
standing between two of the buildings. The former slave is thought to be the
most frequently encountered ghost at the Myrtles. She has often been seen in
her green turban, wandering the place at night. Sometimes the cries of little
children accompany her appearances and at other times, those who are
sleeping are startled awake by her face, peering at them from the side of the

Winter was lured out of the house by a rider, who shot him to death on the side
porch. It is here where the stories take a turn for the worse. In the legend,
Winter was shot and then mortally wounded, staggered back into the house,
passed through the gentlemen's parlor and the ladies parlor and onto the
staircase that rises from the central hallway. He then managed to climb just
high enough to die in his beloved's arms on exactly the 17th step. It has since
been claimed that ghostly footsteps have been heard coming into the house,
walking to the stairs and then climbing to the 17th step where they, of course,
come to an end.

A large mirror that, according to some of the owners, is said to hold the spirits
of some of those who have died in the house. Those who photograph the
mirror will often find that the developed picture holds the images of handprints
of a number of people, seemingly inside of the glass. When these spectral
images first appeared, the mirror was thoroughly cleaned but the prints
remained. Perplexed, the owners then tried replacing the glass, thinking that
perhaps they were flaws in the mirror itself. Strangely though, the handprints

One employee, a gateman, was hired to greet guests at the front gate each day.
One day while he was at work, a woman in a white, old-fashioned dress walked
through the gate without speaking to him. She walked up to the house and
vanished through the front door without ever opening it. The gateman quit his
job and never returned to the house.

A television mini-series remake of The Long Hot Summer, starring Don
Johnson, Cybil Shepherd, Ava Gardner and Jason Robards. A portion of
the show was shot at the Myrtles and it was not an experience that the cast
and crew would soon forget. One day, the crew moved the furniture in the
game room and the dining room for filming and then left the room. When they
returned, they reported that the furniture had been moved back to its original
position. No one was inside of either room while the crew was absent! This
happened several times, to the dismay of the crew, although they did manage
to get the shots they needed. They added that the cast was happy to move on to
another set once the filming at the Myrtles was completed.

The grand piano on the first floor also plays by itself, usually repeating the
same chord over and over again. Sometimes it continues on through the
night. When someone comes into the room to check on the sound, the
music stops and will only start again when they leave.

There have been many reports of children who are seen playing on the wide
verandah of the house, in the hallways and in the rooms. The small boy and
girl may be the Woodruff children who, while not poisoned, died within
months of each other during one of the many yellow fever epidemics that
brought tragedy to the Myrtles. 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. Is she
Cornelia Gale Woodruff or perhaps one of the Sterling children who did not
survive until adulthood.

Frances Myers claimed that she encountered the ghost in the green turban
in 1987. She was asleep in one of the downstairs bedrooms when she was
awakened suddenly by a black woman wearing a green turban and a long
dress. She was standing silently beside the bed, holding a metal candlestick in
her hand. She was so real that the candle even gave off a soft glow. Knowing
nothing about ghosts, she was terrified and pulled the covers over her head
and started screaming! Then she slowly looked out and reached out a hand
to touch the woman, who had never moved, and to her amazement, the
apparition vanished.


copyright 2008+  designed by John Harris