This article is part of an AGDAILY series on the history and lore of haunted farm locations across the United States.
Gen. David Bradford, a lawyer and attorney general in Washington County, Pennsylvania, fled in fear of his life in 1794. A leader in the violent Whiskey Rebellion, Bradford had to leave his posthumously historic home when he got wind that George Washington’s troops were headed his way.
Bradford landed just outside of what is now St. Francisville, Louisiana, and had a large home built for himself on about six hundred acres of land. After being pardoned for his actions in the rebellion by President John Adams in 1799, Bradford was reunited with his family in his new home, which he called Laurel Grove.
Bradford took in law students to teach them, and one of these young lawyers was a man named Clark Woodruff, who would later marry one of the Bradford daughters, Sara. After David Bradford’s death, his daughter and son-in-law moved back into Laurel Grove and expanded the farm to 650 acres of cotton and indigo.
Unfortunately, after only a few years of successfully running the operation, Clark was left with only one daughter, Octavia, after something killed Sara and the other kids. Clark and Octavia left Laurel Grove for good.
Some accounts say that Sara and the kids died of yellow fever, but the lingering spirits in the farmhouse seemingly tell a different tale.
The 650 acres of cotton and indigo was tented to by slaves. One young slave, Chloe, can be seen today wandering the home today. The legend says that Clark was having an affair with Chloe, but when Chloe felt that Woodruff was getting tired of her, she began eavesdropping on his conversations with his wife to see what she could do better to keep her place in the house rather than the fields.
Chloe was caught eavesdropping, and Clark Woodruff had her ear cut off as punishment. From then on Chloe would be seen with a green head wrap on to cover the damage. Chloe was asked to make a birthday cake for the oldest Woodruff daughter, and many believe that Chloe snuck poisonous oleander flowers into the cake. If Chloe nursed the family back to health, she knew she wouldn’t be sent out to the fields to work again. Unfortunately, the lore suggests that Chloe put in too much and killed Sara and the three kids who ate the cake, leaving only Clark and Octavia.
Fearing punishment on all of them for what Chloe had done, the other slaves hanged Chloe and threw her body into the Mississippi River.
These deaths were only the first that the home would claim.
In 1834 Ruffin Sterling and his wife, Mary, bought Laurel Grove and re-named it to The Myrtles Plantation, after the myrtle trees lining the property. Ruffin died of tuberculosis, and Mary kept the plantation running.
But this death was not the last, only four of the nine children lived long enough to marry, with one son dying shortly after marriage, and a son-in-law, named William Winter, being murdered on the front porch.
The home that once housed wealthy families is now home to their souls that can’t find their way out of their beautiful home.
Now used as a bed and breakfast for guests who seek a spooky stay, Chloe, the Woodruffs, and William Winter and his wife can all be seen and heard in the home.
The first documentation of ghosts in the house was when the Sterling family was applying for fire insurance. They were asked to take pictures of the home with no people in them in order to be evaluated and approved for the insurance, and they were rejected because they had sent in a photo with a little girl in the corner of the picture, which is believed to be the ghost of Chloe.
Guests at the hotel share pictures and stories of seeing the poisoned Woodruff kids playing in the mirror, hearing William Winter try to run toward his wife, who was standing on the steps at the time of his murder, and more.
Check out their Facebook page to see more, if you dare!
Elizabeth Maslyn is a born-and-raised dairy farmer from Upstate New York. Her passion for agriculture has driven her to share the stories of farmers with all consumers, and promote agriculture in everything she does. She works hard to increase food literacy in her community, and wants to share the stories of her local farmers.