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Archaeology & the Supernatural Connection

Do YOU Believe?

The Mississippi Archaeology Association held its annual meeting on February 17-19, 2017.   A couple of months ago, I discovered that history lovers like me could pay a small membership fee and be a part of excavations around the state.  It was an exciting idea since my formal education in English and Art History did not include Archaeology.  So I decided to join the association because I absolutely love history and secretly wish that I was Indiana Jones.

As the event neared, I became increasingly excited about hanging out with the friends of Indiana Jones.  A roomful of archaeologists.  People who study ancient cultures and dig up bones.  It all seemed so cool, but I began to wonder about the ancient cultures and what might have been their superstitions or religious beliefs.  Had they placed a curse upon any person who disturbs their grave?  Would death certainly come to those guilty of the desecration of a dead man’s bed?

I enjoyed my time in the Archaeology museum on the campus of Mississippi State University, but I learned so much more at the lecture series the following day.  Several professors, archaeologists, and graduate students participated in presentations that included intriguing finds all across the state.  The people of ancient Mississippi were an indigenous culture of hunters.  Nowadays, we never see a black bear or a cougar, but hundreds of years ago, these animals were common and plentiful in the region.  The Native Americans treasured the black bear’s paws and often used the claw in jewelry making.  Over the years, burial sites have been unearthed to find the skeletal remains of an Indian who once lived in a hut that stood over the site of their grave.  Artifacts such as pottery, jewelry, and weaponry have been found beneath the soil surrounding former Native American villages, but as I listened to the speakers discussing these historic archaeological digs, images of a supernatural and superstitious culture filled my mind.

During a ten-minute break, I walked over to the snack table and began pouring myself a cup of coffee when I was joined by an archaeologist who claimed to have experienced the supernatural during some of his digs.  He mentioned that the weather always seemed to turn volatile when a gravesite was disturbed.  Often times, the rain would delay the excavation for days after unearthing human remains.  One such event occurred after “rainmakers” were found by a group of kids who began to play and dance with the ancient rattles.  Little did they know, they were literally “drumming” up a storm.

Remember the curse of King Tutankhamun?  The opening of the Egyptian king’s tomb was reportedly the cause of several deaths.  Although the alleged curse was considered nothing more than superstition to scientists, there are numerous accounts of disaster, bad luck, and even death that has struck after an ancient burial ground has been disturbed.  Superstitions abound and warnings all demand the same adherence.  “Never, ever build on land that is an ancient burial ground or suffer the consequences of the curse!”  The same seems to go for digging up the past.  Better leave it alone.  And if you dig it up, you better put it back the way you found it!

Before the final presentation of the day, I wandered through the room searching for the Director of the Chickasaw Archaeology.  (The Chickasaw Nation once inhabited the hills of North Mississippi) I was eager to speak with him because I wanted to tell him about the land that I currently live on.  I’ve lived here for more than five years and recently discovered that the site was once a Native American village.  Upon learning this, I concluded that the land’s history was the explanation that I had been seeking for a long time.  It’s not unusual for me to live in haunted locations.  I seem to find them no matter where I move.  But this house was not old.  And no one had died here.  At least, not that I knew of.

I found Dr. Lieb and quickly introduced myself.  We talked for a few minutes about the area in North Mississippi and the ghostly sightings that had been reported.  As I continued to tell him about my experiences and the sighting of the white wolf, the director’s eyes grew large and he replied, “That’s not the first time that someone has reported these things.”

I gasped and stepped back.  Unbelievable.  And what about the apparition of the woman walking across the highway near the airport?  For years, I had heard that Indian artifacts had been unearthed during a construction project there until the director informed me that something much more sacred had been found in the area.  I listened intently, holding my breath with anticipation as I heard him say, “The body of an Indian woman was unearthed in the location you are speaking about.”

A chill crawled from the bottom of my heels to the top of my head like fingernails raking across my body as I began to realize exactly where I was living.  And why did my kids keep finding mounds of mussel shells near our yard?  According to the friends of Indiana Jones, the natives had many feasts here, and my house was situated close to the “trash mound”.  Could my house be situated over a native’s final resting place?  Could that be the reason that I continue to experience paranormal phenomena here?  Maybe so, but I will probably NEVER have the courage to disturb an ancient grave and risk suffering the consequences of its supernatural curse.  Although I admire archaeologists and their work, I will admit that living with a ghost is one thing.  Getting rid of an ancient curse? Better call your local shaman.

Suggested reading~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_pharaohs

Additional pictures from the annual meeting of

The Mississippi Association of Archaeology.

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The Ghosts of Chattanooga’s Historic Read House Hotel

The Ghosts of Chattanooga’s Historic Read House Hotel

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The Crutchfield House Hotel aka/ The Historic Read House Hotel, Chattanooga, TN           Circa 1847

Chattanooga, Tennessee could probably be sited as one of the most haunted locations in the United States.  The mid-size city’s Civil War past harbors one of the bloodiest battles in the War Between the States with approximately 34,000 dead and wounded soldiers, second only to Gettysburg.  It’s a city of enormous beauty and quintessential history that is sure to please those like myself who love to hunt haunted locations.  Perhaps that is the real reason that I am intrigued by ghosts.  I’ve been a lifelong paranormal researcher studying the unexplained since I was able to obtain a library card and check out books.  It’s a fascination that began after I experienced my first encounter with the living dead, and the rest is history.

During a weekend getaway to Chattanooga this past July, 2016, my daughter and I visited the famous Sheraton Read House Hotel at 827 Broad Street.  The hotel was originally built in 1847 and was conveniently located across from the railroad, the main source of business and imports.  Known then as the Crutchfield House (named after the Crutchfield family who owned the property), the hotel burned to the ground in 1867 and the Crutchfield’s decided not to rebuild.  This decision paved the way for Dr. John T. Read to purchase the property years later and build a ten-story building in the Georgian architectural style.  But prior to the new construction in 1926, the hotel had served as a Civil War hospital (1863) housing hundreds of sick and mortally wounded Union soldiers, many who arrived by the railway tracks adjacent to the hotel.

The site of the hotel had a gruesome past.  Many suicides, murders, and natural deaths were said to have occurred in both buildings located at this site.  Ghost hunters know that the spirits of the dead may sometimes remain attached to a location, not necessarily a building.  And it’s this belief that still keeps the legend of Annalisa Netherly alive in ROOM 311 at the historic hotel.

There are different accounts of Annalisa’s story.  Some accounts claim that she was a prostitute who was brought into the hotel by a Confederate soldier who murdered her and left her in the room.  Other accounts claim that she arrived at the hotel with her lover or husband sometime during the 1920’s and had an extended stay there.  This story concludes that her lover left her heartbroken and she committed suicide.  But the most compelling and believable story to me was the claim that Annalisa arrived at the hotel during the 1920’s and was murdered by a jealous husband or boyfriend.  According to the legend, Annalisa was caught with another man and her throat was slashed from ear to ear almost decapitating her.  Her body was found soaking in the bathtub hours later.

Reports of ghostly activity have been reported at the hotel for many years.  Ghost sightings are plentiful and evident in numerous online pictures that guests have shared.  Over the years, guests have rented ROOM 311 and left during the middle of the night vowing not to return.  There have been reports of shadow images in mirrors and glimpses of spirits moving about the room and even resting on the bed.  Smokers occupying the room have been met with the unfriendly ghost who is said to hate men and cigarettes.

While ROOM 311 was made available to guests who requested it or if all other rooms at the hotel were booked, it is NO longer available to rent.  According to a local citizen, a man reportedly rented the room and was attacked by an unseen force leaving him covered in bruises.  The man claimed that the malevolent spirit also moved the objects in the room and hurled a bedside lamp at him.  Since there had been other reports similar to this visitor’s claim, the hotel placed a lock on the outside of the door and sealed it shut.

As an empath, I was very interested in discovering what energy that I could pick up at this hotel.  My take-away was that the hotel had many more entities than Annalisa.  I visited the locked ROOM 311 and immediately felt anger and despair upon entering the hallway.  A horrible sense of murder and doom enveloped me as I stood in front of the door and I sensed her anger.  I also sensed her grief.

The ghost of Annalisa has been seen countless times at the hotel.  She is said to be wearing white and often manifests to children.  Tragically, her ghost sometimes appears to be pregnant.  The impressions that I received of Annalisa were of a young brunette in her 20’s when she died, and although she often wore her hair in a bun, her hair was a tousled mess at the time she was murdered.

To add to the final intrigue~ Al Capone, notorious Prohibition Era gangster was said to have stayed in ROOM 311 during his federal trial.  Security bars were placed on the window and were not removed until 2004 during a renovation.  Like Annalisa’s knife wounds that killed her, Capone, aka, Scarface, received his nickname from the scars inflicted on him during a bar room brawl after Capone refused to apologize for ‘un-gentleman like’ remarks that he made to a man’s sister.  Although Capone often told inflated lies about how he received the scars on his face, it was actually the blade of a man’s knife that left him scarred for life.  Capone reportedly stayed in the haunted room without incident.

Knowing Capone’s love of cigars and his raunchy temperament, I find it surprising that Annalisa let him off the hook during his stay.  On the other hand, if Annalisa did in fact stay at the Read House Hotel during the 1920’s as some believe, that would put her in that room after its construction in 1926.  Capone stayed in the room in 1931.  Perhaps Capone’s scarred face served as a trophy of misfortune and a symbol that Annalisa could find sympathy for.  Who was the real Annalisa Netherly and who killed her?  Unfortunately, the mystery has never been solved, but her legend and her restless spirit lives on.

 

NOTE:  During the new re-construction of the hotel in 1926, the exact location of Room 311 became known today as ROOM 313.  ROOM 313 is believed to be the original site of the former Room 311.  Notice the deadbolt locks on Room 313’s door. 

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The Sheraton Read House Hotel today.
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Hallway leading to Room 311
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Room 311 today is NOT the exact location of the original haunted room.
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ROOM 313~ The original ROOM 311 is now locked with a deadbolt.
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Al Capone, aka Scarface once stayed in the haunted room.

 

 

Daddy’s Girl~ A Christmas Memoir

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L. Sydney Fisher and her father, Landon C. Fisher about a year before he passed away.

This time of year is difficult for so many people who have lost loved ones.  As the holiday approaches, I’m wishing you happy memories that fill your heart with joy rather than sadness.  It is my sincere belief that our loved ones who have passed on want us to be living happy and prosperous lives, and I truly believe that they are nearer than you think!

I hope you enjoy the following memoir written some years ago.  It was a 2nd place winner in a local writing contest.  Merry Christmas from my house to yours!  

Daddy’s Girl

I’ll never forget one Christmas Eve at K-Mart in Memphis, Tennessee.  The stores were open late for last-minute shopping, and my dad and stepmom had rushed out to pick up some last-minute items on a Christmas list that had already surpassed even Santa. My eyes were wide with excitement and hope as I eyed the toys on the shelves still waiting to be bought.  My daddy hobbled along beside me, one of his legs being shorter than the other as we walked up and down the aisles.

Suddenly, something caught my eye.  I stopped and stared at the polished white boots and shiny silver wheels.

“Daddy, look!” I exclaimed.  “Roller skates!  Will you buy me these for Christmas, please?  And they are even on sale.”  I begged.

Daddy never said a word.  He picked up the skate and inspected the price.  “Gee, I’m sorry, Honey.  I don’t have enough money with me.  Maybe Santa will bring you some next year.”

My heart sank as I wandered off to a different aisle.  Unknowing to me, my daddy would somehow manage to get those skates to the check-out stand without being seen.

The following morning at 6:30 a.m., I jumped out of bed and rushed to the den.  As I stood staring at the mounds of presents beneath the tree, I noticed a brown paper sack sitting off to itself.  I tore the bag open and buried my face inside.  The sound of crinkling paper filled my ears as I stared at the shiny wheels and white polished boots that I had longed for just a few hours before.  I squealed with delight as I pulled the roller skates out of the sack.  And my dad stood watching me, a beaming smile of satisfaction on his face.

It’s true that I was spoiled, pampered, and treasured as a little girl loved by her daddy. Through the years, he patiently watched as I wore more make-up than Tammy Faye Baker and dressed in clothes much too tight for little girls to wear.  He tolerated my strong will with a soft disapproval and a determination to teach me Christian morals. There was rarely a need for spankings from him since disappointing him would have been more punishment than he could have possibly administered.

A few years later as a budding young woman, I proudly watched my daddy tell the nurses about Jesus as he lay in his hospital bed hooked to feeding tubes and IV’s laced with morphine.  When not in a drug-induced sleep, he spoke with conviction about the strength Christ had showered on him during his battle with cancer.  As “Daddy’s Little Girl”, I bathed his face with a cool cloth and fed him cold, wet ice chips to soothe his dry mouth.  I stood in awe and basked in his spirit each time this 85 pounds of flesh and bones mustered the strength to tell me I was his “sweetie pie”.

As a grown woman, I envision hugging my daddy each Christmas, and I never fail to recall the words he instilled in my soul so many times during my childhood when he said, “You know, someday you’re going to make something of yourself and be known as somebody really special.”

He fed me with encouragement, nourished me with love, and bathed me in righteous teachings that have continued to inspire me.  If “Children Live What They Live”, as the saying goes, then the daddies who teach us about life and living such as mine must have the halos of angels about their heads.  For today when I reminisce, I must say, Dear Daddy, I was somebody special the day God chose me to be your girl.”

Love,

Sydney

The Myrtles Plantation~A Haunted Good Time

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The Living Dead and a Haunted Good Time at The Myrtles Plantation

~America’s Most Haunted House.

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          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

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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.

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          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.

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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.)

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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!

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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.

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Dusk at The Myrtles Plantation.

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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.

“The feet.”

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!

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