A few weeks ago, when I wrote about portals, I mentioned the Myrtles Plantation in Saint Francisville, Louisiana and the haunted mirror that had, according to local lore, trapped the spirits of Sara Woodruff and her two children as an eternal punishment for their bad deeds. Well, upon further research, I found a story that was both sad and macabre and really, the person who was the real villain, didn’t get punished until years later.
This information is from the American Hauntings Ink website, “According to the story, the troubles that led to the haunting at the Myrtles 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 comply, she could be sent to work in the fields, which was the most brutal of the slaves’ work.
Eventually, Woodruff tired of Chloe and chose another girl to force himself 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 hearing 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 sent to the fields. Others say that her motives were not so pure 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. Mixed in with the flour and sugar was 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 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 bed.”
It’s interesting to note that on the Myrtles Plantation website they not only talk about the legend of Chloe, they also have a photo of her ghost, standing between two buildings. The photo was taken in 1992 and was verified by the National Geographic Explorer filming crew. It was also verified by a patent researchist, Mr. Norman Benoit, in May of 1995.
So, why is that interesting? Because the story of Chloe is fiction. According to American Hauntings Ink “Sarah was not murdered. She died tragically from yellow fever (according to historical record) in 1823. Her children, a son and a daughter —- not two daughters —– died more than a year after she did. They certainly did not die from the result of a poisoned birthday cake. Also, with this legend, Octavia would not have existed at all (her mother was supposed to have been pregnant when murdered) but we know that she lived with her father, got married, and lived to a ripe old age.
In addition, Chloe never existed at all. Not only did she not murder members of the Woodruff family, but it’s unlikely that the family ever had a slave by this name. Countless hours have been spent looking through the property records of the Woodruff family, which are still available and on file as public record in St. Francisville, searching for any evidence that Chloe existed. It was a great disappointment to learn that the Woodruffs had never owned a slave, or had any record of a slave, named Chloe, or Cleo, as she appears in some versions of the story. The records list all of the other slaves owned by the Woodruff family, but Chloe simply did not exist.”
And, to be fair, there was also no record of Mr. Woodruff being anything but an exemplary husband and father.
So, is Myrtles Plantation haunted?
This is what American Hauntings Ink has to say about it, “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 candlestick in her hand. She was so real that the candle even gave off a soft glow. Knowing nothing about ghosts, Myers was terrified and pulled the covers over her head and started screaming. Then she slowly peeked out and reached out a hand to touch the woman, who had never moved, and to her amazement, the apparition vanished.”
Of course, we like to go to the real experts here at Freaky Friday. So, let’s just see what Trip Advisor says:
We stayed 2 nights in the caretakers quarters. And yes, let me tell you, you will experience things here. As I was getting out of the shower I heard a little girls voice. One night, the front door started to open and I swear it would have if it hadn’t of been locked. The next morning, my Mom said, “You sure went to the bathroom a lot last night because I heard you walking back & forth on the creaky boards all night long.” I hadn’t gotten up! We also got several orbs in pictures I took. It wasn’t scary, just exciting. If you have an interest in these sorts of things, stay here. Besides the service & breakfasts are to die for! No pun intended!!
My girlfriend and I spent a night in the children’s nursery and I have to say this was by far the scariest night of our lives. We stayed in the house by ourselves that night because no one else booked a room that night and the staff all leave at 5pm. I didn’t personally experience any ghostly activity, but in the morning my girlfriend said she felt something pull her toes. Also it’s been over a month since leaving the Myrtles and my girlfriend’s cell phone seems to be haunted because it mysteriously stopped working while we were there. And to make a long story short, 2 brand new cell phones later (Apple keeps exchanging them) she’s still having issues with that because they stop working after a couple of days. You may or may not experience something at the Myrtles Plantation, but during your stay you will always feel the constant presence of somebody watching you. It’s like I was just waiting for something to happen because the energy felt so strong in that house. And I came there as a skeptic not believing in anything. I also got a few pictures of orbs and one that looks like a full formed body of a spirit in front of the house. I walked around the plantation by myself around midnight while my girlfriend was asleep in the room and the only other person on site was the caretaker. But I didn’t see him the whole night.
Me and my wife recently stayed at the Myrtles Plantation as part of our honeymoon getaway. We stayed in The Ruffin Stirling room the house is beautiful and the staff are so nice. We even got a picture with Miss Ester it was a great experience. The beds are comfortable, and the breakfast was delicious. After arriving we on a Saturday we took the mystery tour it was very enjoyable. We however had no ghostly happenings our first night.
However the second night was very creepy. As I was trying to go to sleep around 11pm I began hearing a soft humming like a tune. Followed by the feeling of something or someone else climbing and then sitting on the bed between me and my wife. It was freaky this continued off and on from 12am to about 3am. Then it stopped just as suddenly as it had begun.
I told the staff about it the next day and was informed that the room we were in was the children’s nursery at one time and that the children were probably playing with us. I am looking forward to a return trip hopefully next year on our anniversary. I highly recommend it.
Thank you everyone at the Myrtles for a wonderful experience that we will always remember.
OMG this plantation is amazing! Gorgeous, beautiful we were so happy with our rooms! It’s a long way from Australia to St Francisville but it was so worth it! You’ve heard it’s haunted! Well I’m s sceptic but I experienced something in the room, my son did too later in the night. My son in law was in the Bradford suite and he experienced the bed moving and later, my daughter had all the sheets tighten across her legs when in bed alone. This is a must see in Louisiana, great service awesome breakfasts love, love, love this place
The Myrtles is a beautiful setting and conjures images of the old south. While the house is not as large as others in the area, the B&B is worth the visit. The history encompasses Native American burial grounds, a murder of William Winters outside the house (he stumbled into the house and died in his wife’s arms supposedly on the 17th stair of the staircase). and the infamous Chloe who poisoned the mistress and two children (girl and boy). The tour and ghostly history is definitely worth the time.
Upon our arrival, I noticed a little boy peering through the lace curtains at one of the two front doors. I waved, and he smiled and did too. We weren’t sure where to go in so I suggested the door where I saw the boy. The door was unlocked and in we went. The floors are made of cypress wood; beautiful and squeak a lot. We could hear a tour in another room of the main house. My hubby went out a back door to find someone and I stayed in the house (by the piano and staircase. I heard the tour guide excuse herself and come towards the room. I found it very telling when she looked around the walls (not the room) before she saw me. She was looking for a ghost. She asked me how I got in and I explained the door was unlocked. Apparently that’s not normal as she checks the door in the morning ad evening to ensure the deadbolt and door lock are locked. When she inspected the door (mumbling to herself or someone unseen that the door is always locked), she found it was indeed unlocked. She commented she would not be so keen to stay in the house since it was so inviting to us.
We stayed there overnight, there were no other guests, the Carriage restaurant was closed, and the caretaker was gone until the next day. We heard footsteps outside our room on the wooden porch that stopped when we opened our door. A rocking chair moved on its own and would stop when we sat down next to it. We went to sleep late and as I drifted off, I felt myself being tucked in. It didn’t really, consciously register with me at the time. About 4:00am, there was a very loud noise that woke us both up with a start! We still could not say what kind of noise, only that is wad extremely loud. I could not get out of bed as I was tucked in tight up to my neck! Hubby had to help me out. We learned that Chloe was known to tuck guests in at night. We also learned from the tour that the murder of Winter’s is played out and the loud noise that woke us could have been this reenactment as the staircase where he died was right on the other side of the wall of our bedroom.
This is definitely one historic and haunted house. I hope to visit again.
We booked the William Winter suite in the main house of The Myrtles Plantation and the whole experience lived up to our expectations. We were shown to our room by Miss Hester and, because our key turned easily in the lock, we were advised that an uneventful night was most likely in our future. Not so much… After taking the tour and hearing about the history of the home we enjoyed a nice meal and visited with our fellow guests – all of whom wanted a “haunted” experience but admitted that peace and quiet would not be altogether unwelcome. We turned in for the night but a couple hours later awoke because the room felt warm. I turned down the thermostat and kicked the covers around my knees. About 40 minutes later there was a tugging on the sheet which I dismissed as my niece moving around. However, a few moments later the coverlet was pulled up about 8 inches. My sleeping companion was snoring her head off so I knew she wasn’t to blame. I calmed myself and tried to doze off again but shortly thereafter the blanket was inexplicably tugged up to my neck. I flailed around and made sure the invisible hands that insisted on tucking me in knew I didn’t appreciate it at all. During breakfast the staff related that a young girl died in the Wm Winter room and they felt that someone still watches over its occupants and kindly tucks them in. Overall, we enjoyed the gracious staff, other friendly guests, and even captured an unexplained ball of light making its way up the stairs where a former owner collapsed and died after being shot. Give The Myrtles a try! It’s great fun. I’m sure we will return.
I’m pretty sure I would not like to be tucked in by a dead person. No, it just doesn’t sound cozy at all! How about you?