Myrtles Plantation Address – – St Francisville, Louisiana | 7747 U.S. 61 – MAP
10 murders in over 200 years. All because General David Bradford wanted a house by a swamp in St. Francisville, Louisiana.
He got his wish in 1796. It originally served as his prison. While being kept under house arrest.
The rebellious Bradford was a leader in the Whiskey Rebellion after the American revolution. It’s the first time the new government tried to set a tax. Mistakenly choosing Bradford’s favorite drink, whiskey.
David was responsible for the March on Pittsburgh. No deaths, just lots of property damage. Since the US Government was so new, many listened to Bradford and flocked to help.
The bad press caught the attention of President George Washington. He personally led 13,000 soldiers to Pittsburgh. Showing the new leader’s power.
For his role in the rebellion, Bradford was forced to flee Pennsylvania. He settled in the small historic town of St. Francisville, Louisiana.
Built Myrtles Plantation 2 years after the rebellion. Remained exiled there for 3 more. Eventually being pardoned by President John Adams in 1799. Bradford lived 9 more years with his family before dying in 1808.
Was this place cursed?
Bradford attempted to curse the new American government. Ended up cursing himself. But did he also curse his family?
The land on which Myrtles Plantation stands was once occupied by the Tunica tribe. Which even today remains a part of Louisiana culture.
Because of the influx of settlers into the lands in and around New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the Tunica People were forced into an area known as Marksville today (68 miles from Saint Francisville).
Legend states Bradford cursed his family when building the plantation. That he unearthed a Tunica burial ground. Instead of stopping, he dug up all the bodies and bones to clear the land. Then had them burned.
Judge Clark & Real History
In 1820, 24 years after Myrtles was built, Judge Clark Woodruff moved in. A home to build a family with his wife Sarah Bradford. Yes Bradford. She was General David’s daughter.
Some legends state Sarah was only 14 years old. She was actually 19 when they married. Now, before you think bad of the Judge, note Clark was only 7 years older than his wife.
It was only 9 years after General David’s death. The couple moved into Myrtles to help Sarah’s aging mother Elizabeth run the plantation.
While at Myrtles, Clark and Sarah had 3 kids. Cornelia, James and Mary.
Legends Can Be Powerful
Legends can be powerful. Thanks to the lack of solid records from those days. They have gained popularity at Myrtles Plantation.
But legends can also be false, derived from grains of truth and exaggerated over years of storytelling.
This infuriates historians, but to tell stories is human. And if it provides life for a historic house to thrive in this modern world… then I say, what’s the harm?
Then again, we don’t want to crap on true history. If this exists to disprove the legends, then it is our duty to correct. Confused? Allow me to tell a couple of stories.
Story of Chloe
The story of Chloe starts with Judge Woodruff. It’s said he had taken a mistress. A black slave girl named Chloe.
For the slave community, information was power. Their ability to know everything about the family they served gave them strength. An example of this is the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau.
Chloe was known to eavesdrop. Warned many times by other slaves and servants to stop. But then she was caught by the family, listening outside the Woodruff’s bedroom door.
They found her with her left ear pressed against the wood. The punishment… cut off Chloe’s left ear.
Not surprisingly she was angry. The legend states Chloe remained quiet, doing her duties, but inside was seething. The right time presented itself on Cornelia’s birthday.
Chloe was told to bake a cake. The legend is foggy here. Was Chloe trying to murder the children? Or maybe just make them sick, when she poured juice of the oleander leaf into the cake batter.
One theory, she planned to make them sick and then save the children, getting her back into good graces with Judge Woodruff.
It’s said Chloe only watched as the children and their mother ate the cake. Waited as the poison took hold.
Juice of the oleander leaf ravages the nervous system. Creating drawn out symptoms as the circulation is cut off from inside the body. Leads to drowsiness, muscle tremors, seizures, followed by coma and death. In the end, the Judge’s wife and children were dead.
Chloe is Killed
When hearing of this, the other slaves and servants went against Chloe. Not out of anger but fear. They feared the Judge would hold them responsible for the death of his wife and kids.
Storming the house at night and pulling Chloe from her bed. Dragged out and hanged from a tree near the swamp. Removing any sign of the girl from this world, when throwing her body into the swamp for the alligators.
Now Chloe is the resident ghost of Myrtles Plantation. Guests are known to see her sometimes only from the waist up. An apparition of a beautiful black woman with her head wrapped in a green scarf to hide her missing left ear.
But what’s real? The legend states Sarah and her daughter’s Cornelia and Mary were killed by the slave girl known as Chloe.
Historical record does support multiple deaths in 1823 and 1824. Sarah and 2 of her kids. But it’s not murder.
The record is clear on their cause of death… a disease known as Yellow Fever. Sarah, Cornelia and… James, their son. Mary survived it, living a full life until the age of 71. That’s the story of Chloe. The other story…
Famous Ghost Photo
About a famous ghost photo. One of the world’s most known was taken here in 1992.
Said to be completely a mistake. As the owners documented the General Store roof for their insurance. Taking the picture and noticing the anomaly hidden to the right of the structure. A shadow looking very much like a woman.
The Myrtles Plantation website claims the photo was examined by a film crew from National Geographic. That the shadow is correct for an average woman’s height. All thought it to be Chloe.
This remains one of the top ghost photos around the world.
But Chloe isn’t the only ghost in such a historically significant house. More spirits wrapped in past events.
Little Girls on the Lawn
Guests see 2 little blond girls in white dresses playing on the front lawn. They appear only in the rain.
Seen while sitting on the porch looking into the downpour. The two girls playing as if it’s a nice sunny day. So much rain, yet they remain dry.
Some have guessed them to be Cornelia and Mary, the ghosts of the Judge Woodruff’s little girls poisoned by Chloe. But as you now know, History disagrees.
Tripping in the Dining Room
In 1834, Myrtles Plantation was sold to Ruffin (Raw-fin) Grey Stirling. Because of his son Lewis, many guests trip when walking out of the dining room. I’ll explain.
The current owners keep the space completely clear. For liability reasons, quick to point out there’s nothing to trip on.
Many guests still trip. Not because of clumsiness. It’s said, this is the spot where his son Lewis fell dead.
The legend states the son was shot in what was then the game room over a gambling debt. Crawling, he made it to that spot at the dining room door before dying. Now others fall in the same spot. Said to be tripping over his body.
The wife of Ruffin was Mary Cobb. She was a widow when passing Myrtles down to her daughter Sarah, at the time also a widow. Sarah had married William Winter in 1852. They had a daughter named Kate.
The tragic tale of little Kate ends the same as her legendary family, Yellow Fever. She was confined to her bedroom. Today called the “William Winters Room”.
It’s said the family was desperate. The little girl fading fast. Her parents sent for a local “Voodoo Priestess”. The slave woman came to Myrtles and tried to save her. She failed.
They blamed her. A dark legend states they killed the woman on the spot. She was only the first death that day. Kate Winters succumbed to the fever. She was only 2 years old.
So why is the bedroom where Kate died named after her father William? Because he’s another murdered soul in the house.
One night in 1871, he heard a voice calling from the darkness outside. A confused William walked onto the porch. Heard a click and a shot rang out.
He was hit, fallen and… here’s where the history gets confused again.
The story told at Myrtles is that William crawled into the house. Tried to get up the grand staircase to find his wife Sarah. She ran down and met her husband at the 17th step. Held him, rocking and crying as her husband died.
Some historical reports disagree and say William died alone, outside on the dark porch.
Either way, William Winters is a real murder that happened inside Myrtles Plantation. And the killer was never caught! Words that start so many ghost stories all over the world. Spirits created by unfinished business.
Guests have heard a woman crying while passing the grand staircase. Always finding it empty.
The ghost of a caretaker continues to walk the grounds. Meeting guests coming to stay overnight in the house which is now an Inn.
He’s not happy. Will yell out “what are you doing here” before blocking their path. People identify themselves as guests, saying, “We’re paying to be here!” but the caretaker doesn’t care.
Because when he was alive, the only guests were family. A Caucasian man in overalls who used to live in a cottage on the grounds in the late-1920’s. This man oversaw everything for Harrison Milton Williams and his family.
After dying it’s said the caretaker gave up his job until the 1960’s. Partly because stranger guests started arriving, and that’s the time they took down his cottage for a new one.