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The Living Dead and a Haunted Good Time at The Myrtles Plantation
~America’s Most Haunted House.
For years, I have wanted to visit The Myrtles Plantation and stay overnight at the famous haunted resort. Finally after rearranging my vacation plans due to a rainy weather forecast at the beach, I chose to take a detour to Louisiana Plantation country. Remarkably, this trip would prove to be memorable in an almost prophetic way.
A couple of days prior to our departure for Louisiana, my daughter, Hannah and I both seemed to experience a strange foreboding that we couldn’t shake. Was it our apprehension about visiting one of America’s most haunted houses? Maybe it was the disappointment of having to cancel our beach plans. Although I have been trying to get to The Myrtles for the past two years, the timing was never right for a trip. Neither of us discussed this unnerving feeling until the day we left. We had been traveling for an hour or so and decided to stop for a restroom break and snacks at a convenience store where I have visited many times on the travel route to Jackson, Mississippi. We pulled into the store about 10:00 a.m., got out of the SUV, and went inside. Within seconds of me entering the restroom, I overheard a woman’s screams coming from the inside of the store. I was terrified. Was the store being robbed? Hannah rushed inside the restroom and frantically explained that a tragic wreck had just happened in front of the store. I rushed out the restroom door and to my horror witnessed the aftermath of a car that had been crushed and dragged by an 18-wheeler until it managed to stop directly in front of the store. People were everywhere. One woman was almost in shock, screaming because she witnessed the event and heard the metal crushing as the car folded like an aluminum can. I began to feel sick at my stomach and saddened as we observed the lifeless body of a 20-year old male who had crossed over into the afterlife in the blink of an eye. Within seconds. He was killed on impact. My body was consumed with a chill that I couldn’t overcome as I realized how close we came to being in the path of the truck as it dragged the car. Timing and death. It never discriminates.
I took deep breaths and slowly exited the parking lot making my way onto the highway. I said a prayer for a safe trip and contemplated the irony of what had just happened versus my final destination where a history of sudden death was prevalent among the shadows of the mysterious Myrtles Plantation. What was I walking into?
When we arrived at The Myrtles Plantation, we were greeted with open arms by the staff and I was excited to meet, Hester, the African American woman who has worked at The Myrtles for many years. Hester can be seen on an episode of Ghost Hunters when the paranormal researchers/show came to The Myrtles to conduct an investigation and film a few years ago. I have seen the episode more than once and immediately recognized the sound of Hester’s voice when I entered the gift shop.
We quickly checked in and Hester answered my questions. She informed me that a newlywed couple had just left in the middle of the night, hours before our arrival. They were staying in the main house. Although I felt some relief since we would be staying in a cottage that was formerly used as the horse stables, Hester informed me that all areas of the plantation had reported paranormal activity. I began to worry a little. Would I be joining the statistics of those people who were frightened off the plantation? Hester admired my daughter’s long, soft golden hair as she touched it and let Hannah’s hair fall between her fingers. She commented that “they” were going to love her hair. “They?” Who is “they”? “They” was the ghost of the Woodruff children who died of poisoning and were known to inhabit the area where our cottage was located. We placed our suitcases in the room and made our way back to the gift shop. The next tour was about to start in 10 minutes at the main house!
3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Our tour guide signaled the start of the tour by ringing a bell to let others know that another tour was about to begin inside the main house. We joined her here on the back porch and followed her into the foyer.
This is the main staircase that leads upstairs to the bedroom where the children died. This is also the staircase where William Winter collapsed into his young wife’s arms and died after being shot in the chest while standing on the right wing porch of the mansion. He stumbled back into the house shouting for his wife. “Sarah! Sarah!” He wanted to see her face one last time before he died. The 17th step where he died is the 3rd step from the top. He is often heard climbing these stairs.
After I entered this main room, I immediately had the sensation of being watched. But I felt that there was more than one entity in the house. I picked up on three or four different personas. I did not use an EMF detector during the tour because it would have been distracting to the tour guide and other guests. I relied on my intuitive instincts and clairvoyance as we walked the first floor of the mansion.
We were not allowed to take pictures beyond the foyer, but while I was in the women’s parlor, I experienced an uncomfortable feeling of tragedy and envisioned Chloe when she was caught eavesdropping. I began to feel dreadful and depressed and my chest became very heavy and tight as if I had been struck. There was residual energy still very prevalent to me in those rooms.
As we exited the house onto the back veranda, I took some pictures of the alley where Chloe’s ghost was caught on camera by an insurance representative taking pictures of the property. I later investigated this area, but did not pick up any EMF readings here.
Later that evening, we visited with some of the other guests here on the back porch where a skeptic from California challenged us to some very intense and thought provoking questions about the possibility of life after death. We discussed our viewpoints until almost midnight before turning in for sleep. Hours later, we would all have interesting experiences to share over breakfast the following morning.
After dinner in The Carriage House restaurant located on the plantation grounds, my daughter and I waited for nightfall while preparing our camera, EMF detectors, and thermal heat sensors for some ghost hunting on the property. We first set out to tour the back of the property where the cabins are located. We turned on the EMF device and immediately began getting a reading. And the lights were zipping back and forth in a wild pattern before disappearing as if it was there and POOF, now it’s gone. While walking this area, I had the sensation of someone running up behind us then stopping as I turned around to look. Then when we would begin walking again, something would rush up to me again. One time, I thought that my hand was touched. It startled me. Something was taunting me, playing with me as we walked the back path of the property. The following morning one of the guests who had stayed in the cottages in this location informed me that he awakened with all the bed covers tucked neatly around him. He said that when he went to bed the night before, he pulled all the covers off to the side and only covered his lower body with a top sheet.
As we continued around to the side of the house, the EMF detector went crazy again as the lights bounced back and forth. I was standing on the steps where William Winter had been shot in the chest by the blast of a shotgun. He stumbled backwards through the gentleman’s parlor and made his way to the staircase before he died in his wife’s arms. This is the picture of the exact location of the murder and also the site of substantial EMF readings. (Note: There was an A/C unit nearby. I tested the unit several times in an effort to debunk any readings. Nothing registered here, but only in a certain spot on the porch/stairs.)
The site of William Winter’s murder at The Myrtles Plantation.
We then continued our walk to the front entrance of the property. I was eager to get some night time photos of the front gates and guard house where it has been reported that the ghost of the former caretaker has been seen on numerous occasions. He is an African American man who wears a straw hat and tells people to go away because The Myrtles is “closed” he says. This man was electrocuted by accident, I believe, in the guard shack during the 1920’s. This part of the property was probably the most frightening to me. Although I never saw anything or picked up any reading, I was scared the entire time that I was walking this path to the gates. I swear I saw a figure watching me from behind this tree. I quickly snapped a picture and got the heck out of there! CREEPY!
I have no idea what that smoky haze is on this photo! This is the front entrance to The Myrtles Plantation.
One of several EMF readings at The Myrtles. This reading actually went higher, but I managed to catch it here when I snapped the picture. I was in our room at the old horse stables. There were no televisions, computers, or microwaves in the rooms.
After an hour of roaming the property, we decided to sit on the porch at the main house. I laid the EMF detector down and did not touch it. I waited. Within minutes, its lights began dancing across the device. Flashing once, then twice, and three times before resting a moment. I watched with amusement and stayed silent about my findings since my daughter, Hannah was beginning to tire. I whispered “Goodnight” to the ghosts and made my way to the cottage.
Dusk at The Myrtles Plantation.
After showering and settling into bed, we dozed off to sleep for a few hours until I was suddenly awakened around 4:00 a.m. Without reason, I abruptly awoke and sat up in the bed staring around the room. The silence was almost deafening and yet we had left the bathroom fan and light on before going to bed. My eyes moved around the room, but I saw nothing. Why did I feel as if someone was in the room with us? I hate that feeling. You can’t shake it. I settled back down in the bed and closed my eyes. Somehow, I had to get some sleep. Ghost or no ghost. I was exhausted. I began to drift into a deep sleep. I felt that familiar feeling of slipping away into LaLa land. Then just as I was about to sink into silent lucidity, something lightly stroked the underside of my chin down to my neck. Like fingertips brushing across my skin. My eyes flew open. I slung the bedsheet aside and brushed my hand across my neck and chin as if to wipe away the feeling of being touched. I saw nothing. No one. No ghost. No apparition. I heard nothing, but deafening silence. And yet I felt unnerved, now looking forward to sunrise. I waited a few moments, then collapsed back on my pillow and fought sleep another two hours. When the alarm went off, I was already awake.
We got ready and made our way over to the gift store where a plantation style breakfast awaited us. I was eager to talk to Hester and share my experiences. Upon entering the store, Hester immediately greeted me with a smile. I wasted no time.
“Good Morning, Hester. Can you tell me if any of your guests have reported being touched?”
Hester smiled and nodded before answering. Her tone indicated that she had been asked this question before. “Yes, we hear that often.”
“Where are they touched? Can you tell me?” I couldn’t wait to hear this.
I shook my head. “No, this wasn’t my feet.”
Hester stopped what she was doing and turned to me, giving me her full attention. “Where? What happened?”
“Hester, I felt someone touch my face. Right here. Under my chin. It felt like a light stroke.” I demonstrated how fingertips can move across the underside of the chin creating a tickling sensation.
Hester smiled and said, “That sounds like one of the children.”
A cold chill came over me. I poured myself a cup of coffee and served myself scrambled eggs with sausage and biscuit. As the other guests joined us, I began hearing about their experiences the night before. A lady from Phoenix, Arizona reported feeling someone sit down on the corner of the bed, but when she turned to see who it was, no one was there. She also reported feeling someone attempting to adjust her pillows and rearrange the coins that she had left on the fireplace mantel.
Some of the staff members shared recent occurrences from prior guests. One story included one of the scariest encounters I’ve ever heard. Just two weeks ago when a wedding party was being held on the grounds, one of the attendees decided to take a nap after having too much champagne. She returned to her cottage and fell asleep only to awaken with the bedsheets hovering over her. She began screaming and crying as she ran around the back of the property. A member of the staff had to intervene and try to console her, but she insisted that the bedsheets were in fact hovering over her when she awakened.
Staying at The Myrtles has been a long, cherished wish for me, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to experience its magic and mystery, as well as, its history. Do I think that The Myrtles is haunted? Let me put it this way. Although I did not see an apparition (THANK GOD!), I have no reason to believe that it is not haunted. During breakfast, some of the staff members shared their experiences with the ghosts of The Myrtles Plantation. It seemed everybody had something to contribute. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences. But I do believe in ghosts! SLEEP WITH THE LIGHTS ON!
The following essay was recognized and awarded for ranking #58 in Personal Memoir/Essay out of 19,000 entries, Writer’s Digest Annual Competition. (2001) Modified, July/2015
I wrote this some years ago…but I thought you might enjoy reading it today. One night when I was driving home from a babysitting job, I lost control of my car and crashed over a bridge into water some 30 to 40 feet below. With no street lights around, I was surrounded by total darkness. This moment in April, 1986 changed my life…for the rest of my life.
A Bridge Between Two Worlds
My eyes flew open. I frantically reached for the handle to roll down the car window as the vehicle flooded with muddy water. I didn’t realize that every window in the car had shattered upon impact. Splinters of glass covered by head and I could feel tiny, sharp slivers of glass protruding from my face. Sand swirled around my eyes causing them to sting and burn. I hung upside down, my legs pinned under the steering wheel. The car had flipped as it went over the side of the bridge. Suddenly, I realized there was no way out. I was overwhelmed with despair and sadness as I realized that I wasn’t going to live even though I struggled, suffocating before my lungs filled with water.
Flashes of light darted in and out of my mind. Scenes of my childhood zipped through my mind like a movie reel. Scenes from my childhood days until the age of fourteen. Then suddenly it ceased. My body began to feel limp and lifeless as life quickly evaporated. It felt much like the physical sensation of fainting as my soul was sucked from my body. A vacuum pulling the spirit away into another realm. A realm where I floated as if by magic. I stood suspended above the vehicle and stared at the once shiny, new Oldsmobile upside down in a deep, muddy creek some forty feet below the old farm bridge.
The night sky was black except for a bright, shining full moon until suddenly a massive light burst forth surrounding me. The light consumed me and forced me to close my eyes for a moment. I stood bathed in the light, void of any earthly clothes or possessions. It was an indescribable canvas before me. A pathway painted with light. The light was pure love, but it was a love beyond any earthly experience. It was the love of a mother for her child multiple times over. It was an unconditional love, with no expectations or assumptions. As I stood paralyzed by its glory, I became confused for a moment. Moments were seconds or milliseconds in the time scheme of things. I turned and looked back at the car in the creek. I thought about my loved ones and wondered if it was really meant for me to die at the young age of sixteen. Something urged me to return. There was something that I had not accomplished.
I was stunned by a loud but warm, male voice that echoed around me instructing me to “just walk toward the light”. I swung back around and faced the light. The voice repeated the instructions again. “Just walk toward the light.” It was so tempting. The love and peace in the light was so great, I yearned to know more. And then just as quickly as the voice spoke, the light disappeared. In a flash, I was back in my body fighting to hold my breath for just a few seconds longer.
I felt my legs sliding free from the steering column. I floated on my right side away from the driver’s seat. The headrest and roof of the car had caved in locking me in a near death position, but at that moment I miraculously floated through an opening in one of the windows. I opened my eyes and saw a light beaming into the water as I neared the top, aching for a breath of air. The water splashed as I surfaced and I gasped and coughed taking in large gulps of air. I sobbed and stared at the moon in bewilderment as I began to swim toward the creek’s edge. My shoulder ached as I realized that it might be dislocated.
The creek bank now posed another challenge since it was more than 30 feet high and was nothing more than red, clay dirt. There was not any handy tree branches or roots growing out of the side of the embankment for me to grab hold of. I dug my fingers into the mud pulling my 128 pound body up the steep incline. My fingernails peeled and bled as I pulled myself to safety. The red clay hid the blood trickling down my hands, but it could not disguise the pain as my fingernails ripped and tore with each struggle. After finally reaching the top of the bank, I lay in the farm field and grieved. The top of my thighs throbbed with pain. I massaged my legs beneath the wet jeans and felt the ten inch long welts from the blow to the steering column.
I slowly stood up and began my half-mile walk back to a fellow church member’s house. I was once again surrounded by darkness since there were no lights on the country road, and the only company that I had was the sound of barking dogs in the distance. I stumbled into the yard and limped up the porch steps. I knocked on the door. Martha opened the door and gasped upon seeing my blood stained face and my sweater ripped to shreds from tree branches that penetrated the car windows as it crashed into the creek. Martha refused to give me a mirror until my insistent begging finally convinced her that I needed to examine my mouth. I placed the mirror in front of me and opened my mouth to remove the remnants of muddy leaves and a leech that had attached itself to the inside of my bottom lip. A few hours later after a trip to the hospital, I fought sleep as I battled the sound of sand swirling around my ears during the crash. And attachments unlike the leech had already began moving in.
It wasn’t until several years after my accident that I discovered the impact near death experiences have on people like me. I was doing some research on psychic phenomena, a subject I’ve studied for many years, when I learned that survivors of these experiences typically report an increase in psychic abilities. I was shocked and relieved to learn of this new revelation since I seemed to have an increase in what I called “weird” insights. These insights came to me over the years with increasing regularity, sometimes on a daily basis. Although I have always thought of myself as being in tune with the supernatural, it wasn’t until this accident that I seriously began to question what happened that night.
Over the years I have learned through frequent research trips to the local library and through conversations with like-minded people, that the soul we possess, capable of travel to another dimension, is simply an energy field. This same energy field is known as an aura composed of bright light surrounding our bodies in hues of the primary colors. It is capable of picking up both positive and negative vibrations in the physical world, as well as the spiritual world. According to this research, I must have inherited a heightened sense of awareness while I was near death.
There have been times when I have physically felt the aftermath of premonitions. One day while sitting at work, I suddenly felt a crushing blow to my head and chest area. Having sensed for several days that something dreadful was imminent, I realized the crushing sensation must be from a near future accident. Approximately three weeks later, I was involved in a serious car wreck that left me with cuts and bruises to my head and airbag burns to my wrists. The car was totaled.
How do I view this uncanny talent? At times, I am not sure. It is certainly frightening and unnerving from time to time. On the other hand, it’s a blessing. I have experienced so many insights that there are too many to mention here. Are all premonitions only meant to serve as warnings? I don’t think so.
That bridge changed my life in several ways, but most importantly it changed my perception of what life really is. It solidified my belief in a hereafter. It also brought with it a realization of the treasures that surround me everyday in the physical world. I am no longer scared or ignorant of the unexplained. Nor am I critical of those who trust me enough to share their own extraordinary experiences.
Over the years, I have learned to accept a heightened sense of awareness. I have learned to give in to life’s promptings and follow the yellow brick road. Although there have been times when I wasn’t sure where that road would take me, I developed a soulful peace that I can thank the Light for while I was on that bridge. For it is when we ignore that nagging feeling, that the real doom prevails. Sometimes it is not always a warning that we must heed, but a message we should grasp, or a path we should follow.