The Haunted Plantation

The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana bills itself as "One of America's Most Haunted Homes". It operates as a bed and breakfast, so for as little as $115 a night (plus tax), you can stay there and see for yourself how haunted it really is.

The Myrtles Plantation house was built by David Bradford, who had been a respected lawyer in Pennsylvania until he took part in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Wanted for arrest, he fled to Louisiana, leaving his family behind, and bought 600 acres of land on which he built a house called "Laurel Grove".  After a pardon in 1799, he brought his wife and children to live there.

The property passed to Bradford's son-in-law Clark Woodruff who lost his wife and two of his three children to yellow fever. Legend has it that during Woodruff's reign at the plantation, he had a relationship with a slave girl named Chloe while his wife was pregnant. Chloe became paranoid when Woodruff ended the affair, and he allegedly cut her ear off as punishment for eavesdropping. From that point, Chloe always wore a turban to cover the scar. Image by Flickr user stevesheriw.


Chloe later poisoned a birthday cake for one of the children. Woodruff ate no cake, but his wife and children did and subsequently died. The other slaves of the plantation were so upset over the incident that they hanged Chloe from a tree. Now the ghost of Chloe and the children all roam the plantation house, although there is no solid evidence that she ever existed. This famous picture taken by Myrtles owner Teeta Moss in 1995 shows the ghost of Chloe between two buildings.

Ruffin Grey Stirling purchased the plantation in 1834 and expanded the main house to twice its original size and renamed it The Myrtles after the crape myrtles that grew there. Stirling and his wife Mary Cobb had nine children, five of whom died young. The Civil War saw The Myrtles robbed of many fine furnishings and expensive accessories. The family fortune was wrecked, as most of it was tied up in Confederate currency. After Stirling's death, his son-in-law William Winter oversaw The Myrtles. On January 26, 1871, an unknown man approached the house and shot Winter dead on the front porch. It is the only confirmed murder at the plantation. Legend says that Winter staggered through the house as he died, climbing 17 of the stairs before he collapsed. Today, footsteps can be heard on those stairs when no one is there. Image by Flickr user stevesheriw.

250longhotsummerIn 1886, the family lost ownership of the plantation forever due to crippling debts. Harrison Milton Williams purchased the home and passed it to his heirs, who subdivided the property. Marjorie Munson bought the main house in the 1950s, and at that point the ghost stories began.
The Long Hot Summer, a 1985 TV movie starring Don Johnson, Cybill Shepherd, and Jason Robards was filmed in part at The Myrtles. The film crew reported that when they moved furniture for a scene, someone would move it back to its original places! No one had been reported in the room at the time. They had to move the furniture several times in order to get the shots they needed, and were glad to be finished.
Current owners John and Teeta Moss are comfortable with the ghosts of residents past. They find the apparitions to be helpful and caring.

Visitors who stay at The Myrtles Plantation report a wide variety of paranormal manifestations.  There is a grand piano that reportedly plays a single lonely chord on its own, in the middle of the night with no one in the room. This, of course, has nothing to do with the presence of a family of cats who have the run of the plantation. There are also reports of spirits touching people and giving them the sensation of being tucked into bed, as well as children's voices. Image by Flickr user Corey Ann.

There are many pictures of The Myrtles Plantation that show strange orbs or auras, especially at night. This photo, taken by Janie Miller, appears to show British redcoats. The British army has no direct link to The Myrtles, but 700 troops were killed nearby during the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.

A mirror in the hallway reportedly shows faces of the dead from time to time. The smudges that were thought to be responsible had been cleaned over and over but still returned, even after the glass was replaced! It has been posited that imperfections in the wood behind the glass could be to blame. A French woman in a black skirt has been seen dancing with her feet slightly above the floor. Children's voice are heard, and sometime a baby is heard crying. Image by Flickr user Corey Ann.

If you can't get reservations to stay the night by Halloween this year, you can take a tour of The Myrtles, or enjoy dinner in the plantation restaurant.

See also: The Haunted Hospital

© via Wikimedia Commons // CC-BY-SA-4.0
The People of Texel Island are Professional Beachcombers
© via Wikimedia Commons // CC-BY-SA-4.0
© via Wikimedia Commons // CC-BY-SA-4.0

If you’ve ever tossed a message in a bottle into the ocean from anywhere in Northern Europe, it’s likely it ended up on Texel Island. Located off the North Coast of the Netherlands, Texel is at the intersection of several major currents, and close to several shipping routes. For the last 400 years, Texel residents have survived, in part, by scavenging items that have been lost at sea.

According to documentarian Sam Walkerdine in a piece for The Mirror, the practice has faded as other economic opportunities have opened up, but many residents still scour the beaches for lost items. One professional beachcomber, Cor Ellen, claims to have found over 500 bottles with letters inside—and has even answered some of them.

Ellen is one of the subjects of Flotsam and Jetsam (2012), Walkerdine’s 13-minute documentary on the Texel Island beachcombers (you can watch it above). In the film, a handful of Texel Islanders show off their best finds, and share their stories and strange observations. Ellen, for example, brags about scavenging crates of food, fur coats, powdered milk (“I didn’t have to go to the milkman for one year”), and even umbrella handles from passing cargo ships. Another beachcomber reminisces about finding something more personal: the collected photos and memorabilia of an English couple who had broken up and tossed their memories into the sea.

One of the weirder observations comes from Piet Van Leerson, whose family has been beachcombing for at least five generations: he claims that only left shoes wash up on Texel’s shores. The right shoes, meanwhile, end up in England and Scotland. (The shapes cause them to go in different directions.)

Beachcombing is such a big part of life on Texel, they’ve even opened several museums to show off their weirdest, funniest, and most interesting finds.

If you do decide to try and get a bottle with a letter in it to Texel, the residents have a few suggestions for you: drop the bottle somewhere off the coast of England, weigh it down with pebbles so it doesn’t get caught by the wind, and of course, remember to include a return address.

YouTube / British Movietone / AP
A Film Tour of London in 1981
YouTube / British Movietone / AP
YouTube / British Movietone / AP

Earlier this month, the Associated Press began releasing loads of archival video on YouTube. A large part of that collection comes from British Movietone, which has uploaded thousands of videos of all kinds, including many newsreels.

I have scrolled through countless pages of such videos—most without sound and/or extremely esoteric—and I finally discovered a 1981 gem, This is London. It's a sort of video time capsule for London as it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s, comprising plenty of stock footage of all the sights, royals, and ceremonies you can imagine.

If you've been to London, this is a great glimpse of what it once looked like. If you've never been, why not check out London circa 1981?


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