Louisiana Saint Francisville Myrtles Plantation

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This most haunted plantation mansion has a violent past; large
amount of killings and murders happened.

A dozen spirit residents reside here in a variety of moods.

 

DESCRIPTION

When Tom and I visited Myrtles Plantation back in the early 2000s, we stayed in a nicely kept, unique Myrtles Plantation Bed and Breakfast with the feeling/aura of a house occupied by spirits. We walked around the outside and took the tour inside the home. We were lucky to get a room because a couple had left due to a paranormal experience in the room in which we stayed. Guest rooms were in the historic house only as there were no other rooms on the property at that time. 

2021!  Wow! The Myrtles Plantation Bed and Breakfast has been expanding on its ten acres of property, rivaling some of the other plantation houses in Louisiana that have done the same building-out and upgrading to make more room for guests and increase their profits. 

Besides the wonderful main historic house, the current owners have expanded their guest facilities to eighteen rooms by building  around the other side of the pond and gazebo, making the pond sort of the center of the property. Oak trees surround the outside of the circle of new, inviting places to stay. There is a path that travels all the way around, passing each building or guest facility. Just right of the main historic house, The Caretaker’s Quarters is a new stand-alone guest house for two, complete with a covered front porch and rocking chairs.

Across the pond from the Caretaker’s Quarters, there are five cottages, with covered front porches. Just to the right of the cottages is The Coco House. Continuing right, there is The French Quarters and its patio. The French Quarters rooms are called the Garden Rooms. These rooms have a great view of the pond and gardens. They are named after the streets in the French Quarter. Their website states: “The Amelia, Bordeaux, Carondelet, Lasalle, and Octavia sit on the second story and the Prytania Garden room is on the first floor and handicap accessible. These cozy, quaint rooms are the perfect retreat for parties of two!”

Perpendicular to the French Quarters is the new restaurant, Restaurant 1716. Directly across from the restaurant is the General Store and The Breezeway, that is perpendicular to the main historic house. The main historic Myrtles Plantation sits peacefully on top of very old Indian graves and is in the midst of a grove of moss-draped oaks and pink-blossomed crepe myrtle trees. 

Myrtles Plantation has been fortunate is that this property has had owners willing to invest in its structure and beauty. It may have gotten a little frumpy in some eras, but not for long! Myrtles Plantation Bed and Breakfast is described back in 1978 in its NRHP registration form as being “a broad, low, rambling frame, one and a half storied mansion with a clapboard exterior, with a main east, one hundred and seven feet long frontal gallery; a prime example of Southern Antebellum architecture. It’s main facade is composed of ten irregular bays.”

The outside of the mansion sports a one hundred twenty-five foot wide verandas adorned with the lacy style of wrought-iron, and plenty of porch rockers.

As with houses built in 1796 that are still used today, there have been additions and remodeling to fit the needs and style of whomever was living here. The Myrtles Plantation we see today was built in two halves; the 1796 half, and a  mid-19th century Ruffin Gray Stirling’s renovation that added the second half. The Stirling renovations not only renovated the downstairs rooms in the old part of the house, but also a southern extension was built, with Southern Antebellum architecture.

The wooden fireplace mantels on the first floor of the original house were moved up to the second floor, and marble fireplace mantels were installed in the four downstairs rooms.

The 1796 original house has the western six bays of the main facade. On the first floor are the four large common rooms. In the front of this older structure, are two of the rooms; one for the ladies’ parlor and the other room for the gentleman parlor. The two rooms at the back of the house were reserved for the dining room and the gaming room. Antebellum Gothic was the architectural style of choice in 1796.

Throughout the house, the visitor sees top-notch plaster Southern Antebellum friezework and faux bois, which go nicely with the Gothic decor; in the older part of the house as well as in the Victorian half of the house. Both parts of the home have the same roof; making it look more uniform on the outside. Inside, the newer part of the house has much taller ceilings but they made it all work.

Between the original house and the newer second addition, there are twenty-two rooms, winding staircases, and the standard dining room, etc. of a southern plantation house of its time. Every room has the use of 18th & 19th century antiques, originally purchased by the Ruffin Gray Stirling Family, who owned Myrtles from 1834-1888. Be sure to see the Baccarat crystal chandelier, if planning a visit to the Myrtles Plantation.

 

HISTORY

The story of The Myrtles Plantation began as a consequence of the failure of the 1794 Whisky Rebellion. The leader of this rebellious short-lived movement was General David Bradford, who was a wealthy judge and whisky trade businessman from Washington County, Pennsylvania. Of course, when the Federal Army came looking for him, he skedaddled via a boat ride down to Bayou Sara Louisiana that was still under the control of Spain at the time.  

Luckily for the good General Bradford, he had applied for a Spanish land grant in 1794 and had received this large parcel of 650 acres to be exact through a Spanish official.  It was the perfect place to build a new plantation house in this sleepy little town of Saint Francesville; avoiding jail time and family shame. He was well liked by the people here who knew him from his Whisky trade business in the New Orleans area, and had proven to be a honest trader.

He named his beautiful plantation house, “Richland.” Fortunately for him, he was pardoned by President Jefferson, but continued to live out his days here with his wife and daughter until he died in 1808. In 1826, his widow sold “Richland” to the family’s son-in-law, Clark Woodruff who had married their daughter.  He also was a lawyer who rose to prominence. Unfortunately he liked to have a slave chick on the side. His wife and very young daughter and son moved into this lovely Richland Plantation House. Not too long after the family moved in, the story that was told was that his wife caught Yellow Fever and died.

The other story concerning the death of his two children isn’t told as it is tragic and maddening at the same time. Mrs. Woodruff was probably weakened  by their passing and didn’t have the strength to fight off Yellow Fever.

Apparently, a slave house servant by the name of Chloe (who was his slave chick on the side until he ended it), had her ear cut off for misbehavior. To get back at Clark Woodruff for dumping her and maiming her, Chloe made a birthday cake for Clark’s eldest daughter, Cornelia. She added some poisonous oleander berries. They all ate the cake and both the Woodruff children, Cornelia and James died. Chloe had a painful ending. Mrs. Woodruff died of Yellow Fever soon after the children died, weakened by grief.

In 1834, Clark Woodruff sold the estate to a Ruffin G. Stirling who saw the possibilities in this old house. The Stirling clan was a “wealthy family of the first rank” in Louisiana society. They owned several other plantations and also had a town house in Natches when they wanted to escape country life. Ruffin began and completed an ambitious plan with many renovations to bring the home into the mid-19th Century with great success. He renamed the Plantation, calling it “The Myrtles.”

In 1854, Ruffin Stirling died, and his son Steven Stirling inherited this property. Steven’s daughter Sarah & son-in-law William Winter and their children lived in the plantation house from 1860–1871.

When their little girl, Katie, caught Yellow Fever, Mr. Winter borrowed a servant from a neighbor, by the name of Cleo who was a Voodoo Priestess; desperately looking for a cure. She came and earnestly said her healing words but little Kate died the next day anyway.  Her father Mr. Winter, not know for controlling his temper, blamed the Voodoo ceremony performed and hung Cleo from a tree in the front yard. William was murdered suddenly by an unknown assailant; a person seeking revenge perhaps from an incident resulting from Mr Winter’s rash temper.

The Stirling family carried on and managed to hang onto the property even through reconstruction taxes. The property finally left the family entirely in 1894.  From 1894 through the early 1970s, a variety of owners enjoyed living here. When it was put back on the real estate market, in 1974, this historic home was a bit of a creaky fixer upper opportunity.

Steven Saunders and his wife saw the beauty of this structure, and bought it in 1975 with great restoration plans for this gem of a plantation house. They filled out the NRHP form and were able to register The Myrtles Plantation on the NRHP in September of 1978.

Other owners followed, doing their best to maintain this unique home. It never again became a fixer-upper opportunity. The latest owners that bought The Myrtles Plantation had a vision of what the property could be and were willing to make a financial investment to compete with other southern plantation house’s who had upscaled what they offered guests.

They  took advantage of the ten acres that came along with the main structure by expanding their availability by building Caretaker’s Quarters, five cottages, The Coco House and the Garden Rooms, which are the newest guest rooms built. Apparently, there was a fire that badly damaged the restaurant and another building there, so they made lemonade out of lemons.

They also took this opportunity to remodel the restaurant. Guests have raved about the meals provided here.

Reading the reviews, guests have also enjoyed their experiences and all that is offered at The Myrtles Plantaion. The spirits who reside here also appreciate all the work that was done, and sometimes can’t resist having a little fun with the guests, or show their hospitality.

 

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS

It‘s not surprising that this plantation house is the most haunted in the region, as it has a violent and tragic past.  Besides losing people from the big killer, Yellow Fever, ten people were killed or murdered in the Myrtles Plantation itself, or on the grounds near it. At last count, there are at least twelve restless ones residing here.

Regret and shame when things go wrong from bad choices resulting in a bad end, or being grounded;(Not able to leave this world), can cause restless spirits seeking forgiveness and a willingness to make amends to the injured person; or not!) .

DuPont Mansion, KY (Victor DuPont’s wild womanizing behavior caught up with him. When he refused to have anything to do with his illegitimate baby, he wound up being shot dead, and probably grounded. His spirit haunts the DuPont Mansion and the park located in front of the mansion, still looking for this child, wanting to do the right thing by the boy).

Old Faithful Inn, WY (The spirit of the husband who beheaded his bride is grounded at the hotel. He unsuccessfully tries to find his murder victim to apologize for his murderous behavior).

Stratahan House, Fl( Mrs. Stranahan’s brother was the black sheep of the family because he ran with a wild crowd and loved the brothels. This behavior gave him TB and he died. Instead of being remorseful or trying to get ungrounded, he resents the living and probably has a boatload of excuses why he behaved that way in the first place).

Myrtles Plantation Bed and Breakfast, LA (Chloe only wanted make the children sick, not kill the members of the family. OOPS!  This house servant slave suffered a brutal end. This spirit is probably grounded here. She looks for the mother of the children but can never find her to perhaps tell her that she is sorry to get out of spectral hot water, in hopes of being released from her grounding).

(A second spirit, Cleo the Voodoo priestess still feels bad at failing to heal little Katie. If she ever gets her spell right, look out spirit of Mr. Winter).

People of all ages who died suddenly from war, illness or accident sometimes are not ready to move on and choose to stay in a place where they love or where they died and try to continue on the best they can in spirit form).

Kolb Ridge Court, GA (A soldier who died in a Civil War Battle on this land, moved into a house built here, as did other soldiers into other houses built in this housing development).

Saint Augustine Lighthouse, FL (Three spirit children who died in an accidental drowning still reside here).

The Hermitage House Museum, TN (Spirits of slaves still gather on the front porch, waiting to be assigned their chores for the day).

Myrtles Plantation B and B, LA (A Confederate soldier who died nearby, a spectral guard, and victims of Yellow Fever have all tried to continue on in their life the best they can in spirit form. Mrs. Woodruff and little Katie Winter did die of Yellow Fever. Many slaves probably died from Yellow Fever when it swept through Saint Francesville).

People who die at the hands of another can be restless and often stay where they were killed.

Kennebunk Inn, ME (A murder victim is still angry and upset here).

Lumber Baron Inn, CO (Two young women who were murdered here still want justice, and so do the other spirits who reside there as well).

Captain Benson Bailey Museum, NE (The spirit of Captain Benson Bailey is still fuming about his murderous neighbor).

Myrtles Plantation Bed & Breakfast, LA (William Winter was shot by a stranger, two little Woodruff children were probably poisoned, two slave women were brutally hung, and perhaps it was Winter’s guard that was killed on this property, maybe by the same gunman who killed Winter).

When spirit children decide to stay in their favorite place, sometimes a parent they had in this world also stays as a spirit with them, especially if that parent died suddenly). 

Shanley Hotel, NY (A little daughter of the barber who worked at the hotel fell down a well and drowned. Both the spirit of the little girl and the spirit of the barber still reside there at the Shanley Hotel).

Saint James Hotel, NM (A spirit of a very active toddler who died of burns to his face refuses to go to the light, so his mother who was the wife of the owner of the hotel stays with him and tries to get him to come while continuing to look after the safety of her guests).

Whaley House, CA (Both the spirits of Mr. and Mrs. Whalely stay here with their spirit of the toddler and the spirit of their bereft adult daughter who killed herslef out of grief).

Myrtles Plantation Bed & Breakfast, LA (The spirit of Mrs. Sarah Winter and Mrs. Woodruff continue to be the mistresses of The Myrtles. While staying here, Mrs. Sarah Winter stays with her little girl, Katie. Mr. Winter, when he is not reliving his death, also keeps his wife and daughter company. Mrs Woodruff may also stay to keep an eye on James and Cornelia).

 

MANIFESTATIONS

Spirit of Chloe

Chloe, was the French/mulatto governess to the Woodruff children, who got into big trouble trying to get revenge and had a bad end. Chloe herself was hung from a high tree by the outraged slaves of the plantation.

Though always very polite, this spirit of Chloe is an unhappy soul for a variety of reasons and wanders around the house, courtyards and between the buildings.

Her apparition has been seen by many people as she isn’t shy about appearing. She is always in an intense mood, intent on reaching her goal.

Her apparition was caught by an insurance photographer that is on a post card for sale at The Myrtles Plantation gift shop.

Experiences with Chloe

Her activity suggests that Chloe is looking for someone.

She is described as being the green turbaned black woman, who wanders around the mansion during the night, and has been known to wake visitors by lifting the mosquito netting around the bed, and looking intently at the bed’s occupant, and then goes away disappointed.

A former owner of Myrtles had a face to face encounter with Chloe, who awakened her and at first scared this owner, as Chloe looked intently at her, then seemed disappointed, as if she looking for someone else. Chloe was decked out in a flowing gown and turban.

However, after living in the mansion for awhile, this former owner enjoyed having Chloe and the other ghosts around, and thought they were really quite friendly and civil, with traditional southern manners.

Two Spirit Girls

They are thought to be Cornelia Woodruff and Katie Winter.

Two little, blonde girl spirits have been seen peeking in the windows.

Both of these spirit children visited a startled writer by standing at the foot of his bed.

These two little blonde girls are also seen playing on the verandah.

Bed Mischief – By James Woodruff?

Another unknown, unseen little rascal that could be the spirit of James Woodruff who apparently likes to bounce on the beds that were just freshly made.

Fortunately, another apparition of a young woman, perhaps Chloe, dressed as a maid, follows this mischief maker around and quickly smooths out the wrinkles caused by all the jumping. No harm done!

Loving Parents & their Children.

Spectral mistresses of the house are  still here, looking after their children. Spirit of Mr. Winter is also there.

A Lady in white has been seen looking out a second floor window. This could be either Mrs. Woodruff or Mrs. Winter.

They probably keep an eye on the housekeeping staff, and perhaps visit the kitchen of the restaurant.

Their presences have been felt all over the Myrtles Plantation House  and upon entering the foyer of the Myrtles Plantation.

Tom and I stayed on the second floor of the original plantation house in the Judge Woodruff Room. When we went up to our room, we caught the aroma of spectral flowers. We had the same experience when we were leaving.

The Spirit of William Winter

William Winter was the lawyer-husband of Sarah, one of the Sterling’s 9 children.

William was shot in the chest by an unknown man as he came out the door.

He managed to stagger back into the house and up the stairs, before dying in Sarah’s arms on the 17th step.

His unseen presence is heard today as he relives the last moments of his life by thumping/staggering across the entrance way, and up the stairs to the 17th step.

William also is probably enjoying the company of his little princess, Katie and his dear wife Sarah.

Spirit of Indian Maiden

A well-endowed, naked Indian girl has been seen a lot, lounging in the gazebo in the back yard. She might be one whose grave lies under the Myrtle’s Plantation.

Priestess Cleo At Work

Inside a bedroom, a spirit of a voodoo priestess Cleo tries in vain to save a little Katie with chants, and with something she holds in her hand; perhaps trying to stop her own hanging or to have some peace about this failure.

She also tries to forget the wrong done to her by Mr.Winter which must make her restless.

She has appointed herself to be the helper in The Myrtles Plantation, perhaps to make up for her failure to cure.

She defended the property against the Ghost Adventure Trio, giving them some intense experiences.

Ballet Dancer

She has been seen dancing around the first floor. 

The dancer must be practicing for her recital.

Not much is said about her.

Perhaps she was the eldest daughter who was poisoned, or a visiting artist for a party?

Outside Spirits

A Confederate Soldier has been seen and heard tromping across the front porch.

At the front gateAnother male specter dressed in khaki, sternly warns visitors not to come in to visit.

Apparitions come from the slave graveyard to the house to report for daily chores.

PARANORMAL FINDINGS

Guests, staff and owners have experienced a boatload of paranormal activity throughout the years. The spirits here are put to work but they don’t mind at all. There are day and night tours at the Myrtles which helps to bring in extra income. They know that they are welcome to stay and are not shy about letting the living know that they are here. 

Miss Hester, the Tour Director told Zac of Ghost Adventures that she heard a little girl voice say “Hello There” twice on the verandah. 

She had earlier seen a girl follow a couple up the walkway on their way to check into The Myrtles Plantation B and B.

Two photographs have been deemed to be authentic. One was taken by an insurance photographer. A seen apparition of a black female servant, thought to be Chloe, can be clearly seen standing between two structures.

Some guests have caught ghostly images on pictures taken, using high shutter speed film. One such photograph is of little Katie Winter or little Cornelia Woodruff looking through a porch window at arriving guests.

The TV show, Ghost Hunters came and did an investigation and caught a lot of hard evidence of spirit activity, and had a tangle with a Voo Doo Priestess!  Yikes.

The spirit of little Katie rolled the ball down the steps of the staircase for Zac when he asked her during the Ghost Adventures investigation. The spirit of her Katie’s mother, Sarah told Zac where her husband died on the staircase.

A psychic by the name of Jane Roberts came to investigate Myrtles Plantation. When she walked into the parlor, she felt that she was in the middle of a crowded cocktail party, full of happy, pleasant spirits.

 

STILL HAUNTED?

A Big Yes Indeed!

The owners and their guests of this bed and breakfast have plenty of company; the southern, hospitable kind. There are quite a few spirits who have found some peace here; enjoying the improved grounds and the beautiful interior, and their good memories; and space to try to forget their bad ones.

One spirit, Chloe, searches for a way to get out of trouble she caused herself. The spirit of Mrs. Woodruff and Mrs. and Mr. Winter are having the time with their children. Their children are enjoying being kids! Cleo is still trying to get her spell right that she feels bad about that it didn’t work. The spectral guard is still doing his job, guarding the place from the living. The Confederate soldier is still on patrol, and the spectral slaves still report for chore assignments. 

Most of the spirits have found way to fit in with the current situation, finding a way to try to be helpful, hospitable and let the living people know that they are there.  

Understandably, no Voodoo is allowed on the property because this may give Cleo more power. It is unknown what she would do with this new force. Her killer is also here!

 

LOCATION

7747 U.S. Highway 61
P.O. Box 1100
St. Francisville, Louisiana 70775

John and Teeta Moss, Proprietors
(212) 635-6277

One can find Myrtles Plantation 30 miles north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is just on the outskirts of St. Francisville.

Tours and mystery weekends are offered, and people can stay overnight. The current owners are carefully restoring this gorgeous mansion in such a way as not to interfere with visitors and over-nighters at this most popular bed & breakfast inn.

SOURCES INCLUDE

travelchannel.com
npgallery.nps.gov
myrtlesplantation.com

 
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Louisiana