In my lifetime I have visited a total of 5 plantations. Destrehan, Nottoway, Laura, Oak Alley, and Myrtles. I guess you can say I have a subtle fascination with these Louisiana tours. While working on my master’s thesis, I had an opportunity to read two books that fueled this interest as part of research for a short story. Lies Across America really opened my eyes to the details that are omitted on historical tours, landmarks, and sites. The Myrtles Plantation: The True Story of America’s Most Haunted House also provided me with a little bit of an insider’s view of their plantation tours.
Friday night, I managed to muster up enough courage to take the Myrtles Plantation’s evening “mystery tour.” I’ve wanted to for some time, but I tend to shy away from hauntings, spirits, ghosts, and random other scary things because…well, I live alone…and I’m scary. I’m afraid of the dark—no joke—and have been since childhood. I have never slept with every light in the house off and I rarely sleep without the light of the television. Anyway, my boyfriend has never been on a plantation tour before and the Myrtles Plantation was an unfortunate first tour, in my opinion.
The Myrtles tour is more about scare tactics than it is about history. The tour guides weren’t dressed in uniform and appeared to have no dress guidelines. Jean capris, flip-flops…we’ll call it casual street attire. This could be easily overlooked. I don’t need somebody to dress in period attire just to share a piece of history with me. Lies Across America points out that on many plantation tours, details about slavery are skimmed over or somehow reflected in a positive light. The Myrtles tour was no different. While it was mentioned that the plantation held about 30+ slaves, other details were sketchy. For example, Chloe is the popular story shared in most documentaries and books on this plantation. During the introduction to her story it is noted that she was the master’s mistress and it was common for the master to have/take a slave mistress during those times. The tour guides mentioned that many slave women desired this position so that they could enjoy the amenities that came with being a house slave (i.e. good food, nice clothes, etc.). Part true I suppose, but what about the other details?
Again, if you’re looking for history, then the Myrtles Plantation tour might not be for you. If you want to hear a bunch of “scary” stories about ghosts and dead cats that still lurk the grounds, various individual/personal encounters with these ghosts, and a few stories about how those ghosts died—then maybe this is the tour for you. If you’re interested in history and seeing more than 2-3 plantation rooms, then maybe you should consider Nottoway or Laura.
Although I have my issues with the Myrtle’s tour, I am glad that I went. Many of the visitors on our tour had stayed or were staying overnight for the full haunted experience. Some of them even shared stories of encounters they’d already had with the spirits. While there’s nothing like plantation history, there are several things I will not do while on plantation grounds. Touch items in the house. Make jokes about unfortunate events. Lean on objects or walls. And I damn sure won’t stay the night. That’s just me.
I do recommend The Myrtles Plantation book. You might get more out of that than the actual tour:
Broken clocks tick…beds rise in the air…paintings fly across the room…locked doors fling open…crystal chandeliers shake…heavy footsteps and eerie piano music sound in the dead of night-and that’s just for starters. Welcome to the Myrtles Long recognized as America’s most haunted house both by parapsychologists and the media, The Myrtles is a twenty-eight-room (naysue: I only saw 2-3 rooms on the night tour) Louisiana bed-and-breakfast once owned by Frances Kermeen. In this spine-tingling chronicle, Frances tells the story of how she was drawn to this former plantation mansion, its bone-chilling history, and the incredible encounters of the ghostly kind she had that forever changed her beliefs about the supernatural-and just may change yours. Along with the sometimes terrifying, sometimes benevolent hauntings, her years at The Myrtles also brought death threats from the Ku Klux Klan, the tragic loss of friends, a catastrophic betrayal, and other personal challenges. They would all converge with the paranormal phenomena around her into one cataclysmic event…
Get to reading, y’all.