10 murders in over 200 years because General David Bradford wanted a house by the swamp. He got it in 1796.
It originally served as his prison, kept under house arrest. The rebellious General Bradford was a leader in the Whiskey Rebellion, the first time America’s new government tried to set a tax (on whiskey). Was personally responsible for a March on Pittsburgh which led to no deaths, just property damage.
For his role, Bradford was forced to flee Pennsylvania and settle in in Saint Francisville, Louisiana. He would be pardoned by President John Adams in 1799 to live another 9 years with his family before dying in 1808.
Was this place cursed?
The land once occupied by the Tunica tribe. Because of the influx of Anglo-Americans, they moved to an area known today as Marksville (about 68 miles from Saint Francisville).
The Tunica burial ground was left behind. Legend states Bradford cleared the land, digging up native bodies and burning them.
Judge Clark & Real History
In 1820, Judge Clark Woodruff bought the house and grounds. A home to build his family with wife Sarah Matilda Bradford. Yes Bradford, she was General David’s daughter.
Only 19 years old when they married (not 14 as some legends state), 9 years after General David’s death. They moved into Myrtles to help her mother Elizabeth run the plantation.
During this time they’d have 3 kids, Cornelia, James and Mary.
Legends Can Be Powerful
Legends can be powerful. Thanks to confusing records of the day, many have gained popularity at Myrtles Plantation. But legends can also be false, derived from grains of truth and exaggerated over the years.
This is infuriating for Historians, but to tell stories is human. And if it provides life for a historic house then what’s the harm.
If true history exists to refute the legends, then it’s important to correct. If nobody’s sure, then let’s tell a couple stories.
Story of Chloe
Clark Woodruff is said to have taken a mistress, a black slave girl named Chloe.
As with many slaves, information was power among the other slaves and the community. This is proved by the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau.
Chloe was known to eavesdrop. She was warned to stop, so when caught with her ear against the Woodruff’s bedroom door listening in on him and his wife, he had no choice.
The punishment… Chloe’s left ear was sliced off.
Her anger grew, waiting for the right moment. It’s the daughters’ birthday and Chloe was told to bake a cake.
Did she want to kill the girls? Nobody knows for sure. Those optimistic souls believe it was just a ruse, when she poured juice of the oleander leaf into the cake batter.
Maybe she just wanted to get them sick, save them and be in the good graces of the Judge. It’s said Chloe did nothing as the little girls and their mother ate the cake. As the poison took hold.
This type of poisoning would ravage the nervous system. Drawn out symptoms as circulation is cut off inside the body, leads to drowsiness, tremors in the muscles, seizure, then coma and finally death.
Chloe is Killed
When hearing of this, the other slaves rose up against Chloe. For fear the Judge would hold them all responsible for the death of his wife and daughters. They stormed the house, pulled Chloe out and hanged her from a tree near the swamp. Taking her body and throwing it into the water for the alligators.
Chloe is the resident ghost of Myrtles Plantation. Most guests see her from the waist up, a full apparition of a beautiful black woman, her head wrapped in a green turbine to hide what’s believed to be her missing ear.
HISTORIC CORRECTION ::
The legend states Sarah Matilda and her daughter’s Cornelia and Mary were killed by the slave Chloe. Historical record agrees Sarah and 2 of her kids died at Myrtles 1823 and 1824. The official cause is not murder, but Yellow Fever. States Sarah, Cornelia and James died. Mary lived.
Famous Ghost Photo
One of the world’s most famous ghost photos was taken here in 1992. Unexpected as the owners only wanted to document the roof of the General Store building for their insurance.
The Myrtles Plantation website claims the photo was examined by a film crew from National Geographic and patent researchist. The size is correct for a human, and all thought it was Chloe.
This remains one of the top ghost photos around the world.
Little Girls on the Lawn
Guest will see 2 little girls in white dresses with blond hair playing on the lawn. They appear in the rain, only in downpours the girls play as if it’s a sunny day. They remain dry.
Said to be the ghosts of the Judge Woodruff’s little girls poisoned by Chloe.
Tripping in the Dining Room
Myrtles Plantation was sold to Ruffin Grey Stirling in 1834. Today some guests will trip when walking out of the dining room.
The current owners keep the space completely clear for this reason. For liability reasons, quickly pointing out there’s nothing to trip on and hope they’re okay.
Many guests all tripping not because an epidemic of clumsiness.
It’s said to be the spot a son of Ruffin Grey Stirling fell dead. Maybe the curse of dark energy remains. Legend says the son was stabbed in the dining room over a gambling debt. Crawling, he made it to the door before dying. Now others fall in the same spot, tripped by his residual energy.
The wife of Ruffin, Mary Cobb, passed the house down to their daughter Sarah. Sarah was a widow when meeting William Winter. They married in 1852 and eventually had a daughter named Kate.
The tragic tale ends with little Kate catching Yellow Fever. Only 3 years old when confined to the room that would eventually became the “William Winters Room”.
It’s said the family was desperate. The little girl fading and her parents sent word to a local “Voodoo Priestess”. This slave woman came to the house because she had to, tried to save the girl but failed.
They blamed her. She failed to save their daughter and was responsible for her death. Legend states they killed her right on the spot, meaning two deaths in Myrtles that day… one of sickness and one of violence.
So why name Kate’s death room after her father William Winters.
Because he’s another murdered soul in the house. While listed as the owner of Myrtles in 1871, one night a voice is heard calling from the night-time darkness outside.
Confused, William walked out onto the porch, heard a click and a shot rang out. He was hit, fallen and… history gets confused again.
The story told at Myrtles is that William crawled into the house and tried to get up the grand staircase to his wife. She came down meeting William at the 17th step. She held him, rocking back and forth, crying as her husband died.
Other historical reports state William died alone on the dark porch.
Either way, William was a real murder at Myrtles Plantation.
“The killer was never caught”, words starting the most active ghost stories all over the world. Strong dark energy created by unfinished business.
Reports from guests talk about hearing a woman crying when walking upstairs.
A caretaker greets guests coming onto the grounds. He’s not happy, yells out “what are you doing here” and blocks their path. They say, “We’re paying guests!” but he doesn’t care.
Because when this caretaker was alive, the only guests were family. This Caucasian man in overalls used to live in a cottage on the grounds in the late-1920’s. He oversaw everything for Harrison Milton Williams and his family.
After dying it’s said the caretaker gave up the job until the 1960’s when his ghost was first seen by people on the grounds.
Why the 1960’s… it’s when they replaced his cottage with a new one.
Just a Sample
This is what being haunted can become. Whether you’re visiting for the ghosts or history, becoming infamous can be lucrative for a place like Myrtles.