Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Northwestern State University - Natchitoches, LA (The Spirit of Isabella)

Photo courtesy of www.nsula.edu
444 Caspari St. 
Natchitoches, LA 71457
31.752189,-93.092839

When people are asked what is the oldest city in Louisiana, many would assume New Orleans. Surprisingly it's not, as Natchitoches is the oldest settled area in the state, being established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis. New Orleans was settled shortly thereafter in 1718. This being the case, the much smaller city of Natchitoches can boast a dense list of historical locations. Such can be found within its local college, whose mascot is ironically named “Vic the Demon”!
The Original Bullard Mansion (Note the columns)
Northwestern State University, established in 1884, sits on a large piece of property that dates back all the way to the 1600's when it was controlled by the Natchitoches Indians. Prior to the university's beginning, part of the land was home to a mansion owed by the Bullard family. In 1856, the mansion was converted into a convent by the Religious of the Society of the Sacred Heart. It is during this time, NSU was formed. Three of the four columns that adorned the front of the mansion still sit on the grounds today and have become the iconic symbol of the school. Northwestern State University continues to strive as one of the top schools in the state, known for its top curriculum in nursing and business.

Cafe Vermillionville - Lafayette, LA (Don't Mess With My Toot-Toot)

1304 West Pinhook Rd.
Lafayette, LA 70503
30.200564,-92.016492

            One of the things I love most about Louisiana is that no matter what nook of the state you are in, just when you think you are in the most secluded area possible, there is a good restaurant probably with a couple of miles from you. Let’s face it, we Louisianans love to eat! Sure, we may not all be blessed with the physique of Adonis due to this but the food is just too damn good to pass up! In the heart of Acadiana, lies the city of Lafayette, an area still heavily enriched with Cajun culture. Where many of the old timers still speak French on a daily basis, Lafayette is one of the last places in the state to experience this dying culture. 
            Here in Lafayette, you will find a great restaurant with quite an interesting history. Café Vermillionville sits only several hundred yards from the banks of Coulee des Poches, which served as a major waterway for local Indians of the Atakapa tribe. As this method of transportation grew more and more viable, the local area began to grow with small businesses such as mills, saloons, and inns.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Southdown Plantation - Houma, LA

1208 Museum Drive
Houma, LA 70360
29.58805,-90.740204


            In a land that has been historically known as a cultivator of cotton, one must not forget the importance that southern Louisiana had on sugar production, primarily in Terrebone Parish. It is here, in the town of Houma, where one of the more essential plantations that can be credited for its large amounts of sugar production lies.
            Southdown Plantation has a long history, dating back to the late 1700's when the property, once owned by the Houma Indian tribe, was obtained by means of a Spanish land grant. Two Cuban brothers purchased the land and began by building a small home on the grounds. The property was then sold to another pair of brothers, Jim and Rezin Bowie who decided to use the near thousand acres of farmland to harvest indigo. This did not prove to be very successful, as the Bowie brothers later sold the property to William Minor in 1831. It is Mr. Minor that truly made Southdown what it is today. After seeing that indigo cultivation was not the route to go, with proper machinery, he began growing sugar cane and producing sugar at an alarmingly successful rate.

Oakland Plantation - Haughton, LA (The Good Doctor and the Coffin)

Sligo Rd.
Haughton, LA 71037
32.466187,-93.514327

            Every small town has that one particular house known as the official “haunted house” that no one wants to go near. Growing up, we had a small home down the street that we swore belonged to infamous devil worshipers. I chuckle when I look back at how naïve we were growing up. I know I keep harping on it but growing up, there was nothing that instilled more fear in us than the idea of devil worshipers. Although we had no evidence that any Satanists even existed anywhere near our town but the mere mention of them was enough to send us kids all running. It didn’t help that in the mid to late 80’s the news was full of stories involving kidnappings and human sacrifices being pinned on Satanist. I can’t tell you how many times my mom would scare me when I was acting up by saying, “If you keep on being bad, I’m going to call the devil worshipers on you!” At the time, it was enough to quickly send me into an angelic state unlike no other. Looking back, I can’t believe I was so gullible to fall for it. I mean, come on, it’s not like my mom had the local devil worshipers on speed dial!

Southern Forest Heritage Museum - Long Leaf, LA (Milling Logs and Limbs Alike)

77 Long Leaf Rd.
Long Leaf, LA 71448
31.005615,-92.560383

One of my favorite places to visit, the Southern Forest Heritage Museum in Long Leaf is like taking a step back in time. From its rich history, fascinating machinery on display, eerie feel and haunted tales, these massive grounds are a ghost hunter’s dreams! Let me also mention that the Director of the museum is one of the sweetest ladies on earth and we have worked with her countless times on numerous projects. If you are ever fortunate enough to visit this spot, be sure to say hello to Ms. Claudia!
Long Leaf is a very small town about twenty miles south of Alexandria, receiving its name from the high-quality long leaf pine that was mass-milled here. This wood produced here would be a valuable material in World War II as it was used in constructing Higgins landing craft, due to its ability to withstand the seawater. The saw mill that sits here was literally its own community, eventually becoming the town it is today. Opening in 1892, the sawmill sits on fifty-seven acres of land that also houses the buildings that were once the commissary, post office, doctor’s office, planer mill, round house, machine shop, car knocker shed and small homes where former employees lived with their families.

Monday, August 29, 2016

San Francisco Plantation - Garyville, LA (The Wedding Cake Home)

2646 Louisiana 44 
Garyville, LA 70051
30.04949,-90.601953

I believe that I can proudly say that I have visited at least ninety percent of the significant plantation homes throughout Louisiana. Although each one has their own unique beauty and history, I can honestly say that as far as appearances go, there is no other plantation home that resembles San Francisco Plantation. Depending at what angle you are looking at the house, you may see something different. Visitors have suggested that from where you are standing, the home resembles everything form a grand riverboat to a colorful wedding cake!
San Francisco Plantation was built in 1856 by Edmond Bozonier Marmillon. It is the most distinctive and only authentically restored plantation on River Road. It features five artistically hand painted ceilings, faux marbling, and faux wood graining throughout and antique furniture by master craftsman John Henry Belter.

Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum - Gibsland, LA (Eternal Partners in Crime)

2419 Main St. 
Gibsland, LA 71028
32.531048,-93.051131

*Special thanks to our North Chapter for their work on this investigation

Let's face it, who isn't fascinated with gangsters? Note, I said gangsters and not gangstas. There is nothing appealing about half naked men with their pants cinched around their knees! I'm referring to the mobsters of the twenties and thirties. I mean, come on, who doesn't like “The Godfather”? Granted, I'm not endorsing the crimes they committed, but there is just a unique allure as to their lifestyle, code of honor, and respect for family that is quite fascinating.
When you hear of mobsters, you can't help but think of some of the most famous such as Al Capone, Lester “Baby Face Nelson” Gillis, and John Dillinger. In the same breath as mentioning these notorious criminals, we must not forget about the infamous lethal lovebirds, known as Bonnie and Clyde.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Forbing Railroad Tracks - Forbing, LA (The Tale of the Headless Man)

Photo Courtesy of www.hauntla.com 
Forbing Railroad Tracks
32.39174,-93.730524

Almost every town in the state has an old urban legend of at least one old house, cemetery, or section of woods said to be haunted. The more I have researched haunted locations around the country, I must add another one of these areas; railroads. It seems that every state has several of these “haunted train tracks”. The regular tale is of either an old man with a lantern who died here or victims of a train accident who haunt the area.
Such is the case in the small town of Forbing. As you proceed on east on Flournoy Lucas Road, you will pass over a small set of tracks, known as the haunted Forbing Railroad Tracks. The hauntings behind these haunted railways originate from a man who was reportedly beheaded on these tracks. Apparitions of a headless man, holding a lantern, have been seen wandering the rails.

Hyatt High School - Fields, LA (The Mysterious Orb Video)

6249 Louisiana 109 
Fields, LA 70653
30.524764,-93.57605

         The initial schoolhouse in Fields was built around the late 1800's by the Hyatt family who settled along Windham Creek in the 1860's. The structure was your standard school for the era, as it was a small wood-framed building with no more than five or six rooms. A simple school for a few of the local community's kids who had the luxury of getting an education, as opposed to the many who were simply forced to begin manual labor at an early age.
          Due to a sudden population growth caused by an oil boom in the local area, a new school was needed to accommodate the expansion and was constructed in 1939. This new brick-laid school was large enough to house all twelve grades and included a large gym with a stage, a small building in the rear for various Agriculture classes and a cafeteria. The old original school building, along with another wood framed structure were then used as extra class rooms.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Edgewood Plantation - Farmerville, LA (A Hotbed of Activity)

8876 Hwy 2
Farmerville, LA 71241
32.78543,-92.424642

*Special thanks to Bess Maxwell, John Combs, Traci Myers and the rest of the North Chapter for all their hard work in these investigations.

Also known as the Baughman House, this beautiful Queen Anne victorian style home was built in 1902 by Jefferson Davis Baughman. The home, with its unique design, sits on over eight acres of illustrious landscaped  and wooded land. Jefferson Baughman and his wife, Nancy, had four daughters. Ms. Faye was the oldest daughter who was the last one to reside in the beautiful home and passed away in the late seventies. After her passing, the home began to deteriorate little by little. After years of the home being unused, the home fell into disrepair. Fortunately, in 2010, the home was bought by Pat and Kay Carroll and they began the daunting task of bringing back the home to its former beauty.
A background of any unusual or possible paranormal activity is generally unknown. We have one report of visitors on the front porch, after the home was abandoned and in a state of neglect, of an old radio, possibly in one of the bedrooms, suddenly coming on at a loud volume, when it was known that there was no electricity to the home at the time.

Miller Cemetery - Eunice, LA (The Headless Cemetery)

Photo Courtesy of www.passinvestigators.com
Headless Cemetery
30.5288661, -92.4087380

        Widely popular amongst local teens and urban legend enthusiasts, the Miller Cemetery, also known as the Headless Cemetery, is said to be home to several strange encounters with spirits from beyond the grave. With some burials being reported as old as the late 1800's, locals feel that the spirits of many buried here still wander the grounds. In particular, the cemetery's nickname originates from the numerous sightings of a supposed headless apparition.
        As with many of these sort of supposedly haunted locations, there always come a few good tales. One in particular is that if you pull up on the grounds late at night, your vehicle will always kill and you will have trouble starting it back up. Several years ago, a small investigative team visited the Headless Cemetery and they claim that this very phenomena occurred to them.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Liberty Theatre - Eunice, LA (The Temple of Amusement)

200 Park Avenue
Eunice, LA 70535
30.492979,-92.416465 


            The Liberty Theatre became the “heart” of downtown Eunice upon its completion in 1924. It was called the “Temple of Amusement” and was the entertainment and performing arts mecca for the region. In addition to popular films, the proprietors supplied the public with operas, serious plays, musical comedies, and "high class vaudeville” acts.
            Much of the Liberty's success was due to the extraordinary promotional activities of part owner J. C. Keller, Sr. Year after year, Keller filled downtown Eunice with eager theatre goers and curious crowds anxious to see the Liberty's latest promotional gimmick. For example, at the theatre's opening Keller invited entertainers from around Louisiana and as far out as Hollywood. The opening ceremonies were attended by Fattie Arbuckle. On another occasion, a wire was strung from the Liberty across Second Street and a tightrope walker was hired to perform. Talk about big entertainment in a small town!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Elizabeth Town Hall - Elizabeth, LA

230 Poplar St.
Elizabeth, LA 70638
30.867875,-92.793469 


            Originally the Elizabeth hospital building, it was built in 1924 and is a two-story framed structure located in the small community of Elizabeth. It was initially built as a hospital for the Industrial Lumber Company, who was the main source of work and income for the community. Some controversy exists concerning the date of construction of the original hospital building. A stone on the front steps bears the date 1924, but a building which looks very much like the present one appears in a March 1923 publication. Some older town residents recall that an earlier hospital was damaged or destroyed by fire and restored or rebuilt shortly thereafter. Visitors will find relics still present from its days as a hospital, including the original antique rope elevator. Once the town's hype from its lumber days died down, so did the hospital, as it eventually shut down and now serves as the Elizabeth town hall.

Holloway Cemetery - Deville, LA (A Ghost Hunter's Training Grounds)

Holloway Cemetery (Deville)
31.363852,-92.217554 


            Located off the backroads of Deville, Louisiana, the Holloway Cemetery (Hickory Grove Cemetery) is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, cemetery in the surrounding area, having graves dating back as old as the 1820's. The cemetery is quite large, yet the graves are spread out scarcely. The grounds are said to have once contained a missionary and the site of several hangings from the massive oak trees present, yet no verifiable documentation has been found of these ever existing.
            Years ago, this was one of the first cemeteries that we used as training grounds, so to speak. Starting out with your own group is difficult, as you cannot just jump right in and start investigating private homes and grand historical locations. You have to start somewhere, and for most groups, public cemeteries are prime places to start.

Ormond Plantation - Destrehan, LA (A Revitalized Classic)

13786 River Rd.
Destrehan, LA 70047
29.957348,-90.388671

            Built before 1790 on a tract of land granted by the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, the Ormond Plantation has survived into the late twentieth century with its unique character and sometimes tragic history. In the early 1780's, Pierre D'Trepagnier was awarded a tract of land by the Spanish Governor, Don Bernardo deGalvez, in recognition of D'Trepagnier's service in subduing the British at Natchez during the American Revolution. The main building was completed shortly before 1790 and was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. D'Trepagnier and their children. The family began growing indigo, and then sugar cane, and the Plantation began to prosper.
            The house is built in the "Louisiana Colonial" style for plantations, which is modeled after the great sugar plantations of the West Indies. The house was constructed using bricks between cypress studs ("Briquettes Entre Poteaux" or brick between posts) on the front and rear walls and a type of adobe filling on the sidewalls. Round cemented brick columns sported the front porch with wood columns on the second floor sporting the roof.
            The home was often the scene for entertaining officials of the Louisiana and Spanish Governments. In 1798, the first of the mysteries occurred. Pierre D'Trepagnier was summoned from a family meal by a servant to meet a gentleman, supposedly dressed in clothes signifying a Spanish official. After a word to his wife, Pierre D'Trepagnier left with the man and never returned. No trace of D'Trepagnier was ever found.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Destrehan Plantation - Destrehan, LA (The $100 Mansion)

13034 River Road
Destrehan, LA 70047
29.945248,-90.365338


            To boast over the moniker of being the oldest plantation in Louisiana, you better be able have some great history and haunted tales to go along with the bragging. Fortunately, Destrehan Plantation can back up their claims!
            This West Indies Creole-style home was built in 1790 by Robert Antoine Robin de Logny and Charles Pacquet. In the days of grand construction contracts worth millions of dollars, the contract to build Destrehan is almost comical. According to records, Pacquet was given the use of six slaves to build the house. He was paid the grand sum of "one brute negro," a cow and a calf, 100 bushels of both corn and rice, and $100 in cash upon completion. Talk about a deal!

Houmas House - Darrow, LA (The Gentlemen Oaks)

40136 Hwy 942
Darrow, Louisiana 70725
30.140256,-90.934122


            If you ever want to take a nice joyride to see some beautiful scenery, look no further than River Road. Stretching for quite a distance, near Baton Rouge, there is no better place to experience quintessential Louisiana history, as this single road has some of the most beautiful and historic plantation homes that the state has to offer. One of the most illustrious homes on this road is Houmas House Plantation.
            The property has a vast history, dating back to the early 1700’s when the land was initially given to the Houmas Indians as a land grant. In the mid 1700’s the tribe then sold the land to Maurice Conway and Alexander Latil, where a small home was constructed. To this day, that original home is still intact and sits behind the current mansion.
            By the turn of the nineteenth century, the grounds were a large generator of sugar via its many acres of sugar cane harvesting. In 1810, Gen. Wade Hampton purchased the land with the hopes of building a large mansion on the property. His plans never quite came to fruition, as he sold the land to his daughter, Caroline, in 1825. Three years later, Caroline carried out her father’s wishes and construction was complete on the huge mansion. As sugar production flourished, the family continued increasing their land ownership, with their total land surpassing three hundred thousand acres!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Magnolia Plantation - Derry, LA (Just a Pinch of Voodoo)

5549 Hwy 119
Derry, LA 71416
31.549543,-92.94145 

            Natchitoches and its surrounding areas are definitely some of the oldest settled land in Louisiana. With age, comes experience, and these grounds have a lot of stories associated with them. Such is the case in the small town of Derry, adjacent to Natchitoches, where a lovely plantation home has quite the background.
            Magnolia Plantation sits on a large plot of land that was initially obtained by Jean Baptiste LeComte II, by means of French and Spanish land grants in the mid 1700’s. The current plantation was not built until the 1830’s. The home was burned down by federal troops in 1864 and not rebuilt until the 1890’s.
            During its prime operating days, the plantation was a major cotton supplier. As the Great Depression drew nearer, and the cotton market became unstable, the plantation began to suffer financially. It struggled through adversities though and is still owned by descendants of one of the original families who lived here. The eighteen acres of land, which is now a park, consists of the main home, a blacksmith shop, plantation store, gin barn, eight slave cabins, and former slave hospital that at various times housed the owners and overseer.

Rice Theatre - Crowley, LA (Rice Rice Baby!)

323 North Parkerson Avenue
Crowley, Louisiana 70526
30.211924,-92.372307

            On any given Saturday night and in any given town, you will find some sort of happening get-together. Outsiders call it a party, we Cajuns call it “passing a good time!” Many venues have been built throughout the years to allow such get togethers amongst locals. Whether it be Zydeco, Swamp Pop, or traditional Cajun music, folks were always looking for an excuse to have a fais do-do, which literally translates into “go to sleep”, however when used in this context, it means a late night dance. I’ve always been amusingly fascinated at much of Cajun terminology, as the translations rarely mean what they are meant to be. My favorite has always been lash pas la patate. In English it simply means “don’t let go of the potato”, however, in Cajun slang, it is used to bid someone farewell, basically telling them to “take care”. Not to be too crude but I can't help think of another. Have a bad case of diarrhea? Well in French, you have a spell of the vas veetes, or the "go quicks"! Anyone who has had them knows that when it hits, you can't help but do what it says and "go quick"! Hey, don’t look at me; I don’t make the rules, I just know the law!

The Grand Opera House - Crowley, LA (From Brothels to Broadway)

505 North Parkerson Avenue
Crowley, LA 70526
30.213595,-92.373366
 
            As mentioned with the Egan Hotel, the Grand Opera House was not only owned by the same individual, requiring the same amount of persuading, but it had also never been investigated and rumored to have been haunted for years by guests and staff alike. Some may call it bragging, but I call it being proud enough to boast the fact that our group has often been given unprecedented access to many historical locations in Louisiana. This is an attest to our years of hard work, great recommendations, and quality service.
            David E. Lyons, born in 1867, had one vision for his small town of Crowley, LA. His vision was to bring culture to his beloved town and he would do so by building the Grand, a twenty-two thousand square foot, second-story opera house. In 1898, at the age of twenty-nine, Mr. Lyons purchased the property for a mere five hundred dollars and began building his magnificent opera house, which he completed two years and eighteen thousand dollars later Mr. Lyons carefully constructed his masterpiece using virgin Louisiana cypress, pine and oak. This mostly wooden structure was accented with pressed tin tiles and hand-painted angel medallions in the four-boxed seats. The steep slope of the floor created perfect sight lines for the one thousand seats it is said to have held.

Egan Hotel - Crowley, LA (A Secret Mafia Hangout)

North Parkerson Ave.
Crowley, LA
30.213785,-92.373109
 
            The Egan Hotel in Crowley had been a long sought after location to investigate along with the adjacent Crowley Opera House. Both locations were owned by the same individual and he had never allowed a group inside either building to investigate. This made me want in even more so we pulled together all our resources and met with the owner several times. After much sweet talking and convincing that our group was legitimate enough, he finally gave us the green light. We have been eternally grateful since then.
            After many attempts by the group and the building owner, very little information was found on the history of the Egan Hotel. All we know is that the hotel was built in the early 1900's and closed down in the 1960's. During its tenure as a hotel, celebrities such as Babe Ruth, the New York Yankees, and Clark Gable have stayed here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Old SSA Priory/Nunnery - Covington, LA (The Doorway to Hell)

Stafford Road
Covington, LA
30.529746,-90.063429

         Another one of those urban legend locations, the old St. Scholastica Academy Priory, also known to locals as the SSA Nunnery has long been a hot topic amongst haunted enthusiast wanting an adventurist investigation as well as drunk teens looking for a place to break the law. Legends tell of a large group of nuns dying here in a fire years ago and trespassing teens that went missing, never to be found again, however none of these claims can be substantiated. Adjacent to the building is a cemetery, said to be the resting place of several nuns. Although there were a few graves from the early 1900’s, most were from the sixties through the early eighties. Some claim that the building was built in the early 1900’s but this is impossible, as the building and its fixtures suggests a construction date of approximately the fifties or sixties at the earliest. There could have very well been an older building that existed prior to the current one but we were unable to find the history of it.
          The land and building is in complete shambles and I can only presume that it is frequently patrolled by local law enforcement, as to avoid trespassing so I do not recommend even attempting to visit this place. However, as you will continue to learn as you read on; do as I say, not as I do!

Beauregard Gothic Jail - Deridder, LA (The Famed Hanging Jail)

Courthouse Square
Deridder, Louisiana
30.846396,-93.288203 

        Although not necessarily one of the most haunted places I have investigated, the Beauregard Gothic jail has long been one my favorite places to visit. Possibly it is due to my years working inside of prisons; I have always been fascinated with this ornate structure. It’s not often you find a building so beautiful that was meant to house the complete opposite. This jail is definitely that example.
This three-story Gothic structure was built in 1914 and operated as the local jail until 1984. Its design is quite ingenious, as a single spiral staircase takes you to each floor. The first floor consists of a few offices and what I can best describe as a “drunk tank”, as it is one large dormitory-style room. The second and third floors are similar, as there are four identical cells that branch out from the small rotunda. A dumb waiter took food and supplies through the different levels.
         Another interesting feature is the underground tunnel that connects the jail to the adjacent courthouse. This conveniently allowed officers to escort inmates directly from the jail to a back staircase of the courthouse that led directly into the court room. This definitely kept security at a maximum and never allowed the inmates to come in contact with anyone from the general public. The most notable section of the jail is the third floor, which served as a makeshift gallows of sorts, as several executions were carried out here. Two in particular would go down in the record books due to one of Beauregard Parish’s most heinous crimes!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Loyd's Hall - Cheneyville, LA (The 180 Year Old Blood Stain)

292 Loyd Bridge Road
Cheneyville, LA 71325
31.034294,-92.354555



            Located on six hundred forty acres of working farm land in Cheneyville, Loyd's Hall Plantation is truly a unique plantation in many ways. The home was built in 1820 by William Loyd, originating from the famous Lloyds of London. However, being the "black sheep" of the family, he moved to America and was forced to drop one of the "L's" from his last name. Mr. Loyd was quite the eccentric character, being disliked by many people. Proof of this can be found in the original front door, which is now the door to the dining room. On it, you can still see gashes left by Indian
The door to the right is the one mentioned that contains the
markings from the arrows

arrowheads, shot by the displeased locals! There are also bullets lodged in the wall from a previous dispute that are still visible to this day. Mr. Loyd then began working with both the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War. When word of the double agent's affairs got out, William finally met his demise and was hanged in his own front yard. The home's tragedies did not end here, as Mr. Loyd's later relative, Inez Loyd, jumped to her death from the third story attic. The suicide was said to have taken place because Inez was stood up by her fiancé. The third floor was also said to have been home to a small school house on one side and the makeshift residence of the teacher on the other.

Chalmette Battlefield - Chalmette, LA (The Battle of New Orleans)

8606 West St Bernard Hwy.
Chalmette, LA 70043
29.945081,-89.986053

            Many military historians will tell you that there is no battle in Louisiana more crucial than the Battle of New Orleans. Taking place on January 8, 1815, this was the final battle of the War of 1812, as United States troops, led by General Andrew Jackson, fought off the British Army, led by General Edward Pakenham. The battle was critical, as it prevented the British from seizing New Orleans as well as the vast amount of land we know as the Louisiana Purchase. One can only imagine how history would have been re-written if we would have lost this intense battle. Let’s face it; we could all be eating tea and crumpets right now, instead of beer and boudin!
           What is believed to be the most ironic part of the battle is that it could have actually been prevented, saving hundreds of lives. On December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent had been signed, placing a truce between both sides. In the days before e-mail and text messages, news took a bit longer to reach its desired source, so while news of the peace treaty was on its way, thousands were still battling for their lives.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Susie Plantation - Centerville (The Grave & Ghost of Addie Harris)

Susie Plantation (Centerville/Garden City)
29.762908,-91.451877





            Between the small towns of Centerville and Garden City, along the winding Bayou Teche, lies quite the little hidden gem when it comes to haunted plantations. Susie Plantation was built and completed between 1848 and 1852 by Royal and Adeline Harris as a working sugar cane and rice plantation. In 1858, Royal would pass away, leaving the home to his wife who would remarry to John H. Darnall. In appearance, the home is your standard smaller plantation for the period; a two story home with large columns to the front and to the rear of the building.
            The conversation piece of this home is not what’s inside, but what lies on the property. Only several feet away from the home sits an above ground grave. The grave is the final resting place of Addie (Adeliza) E. Harris, daughter of the original plantation’s owner, who died in 1872. The cause of death is still uncertain, while some say she died during childbirth, others claim she fell to her death from the second floor of the home. What’s most interesting is that her tombstone is etched with this ominous epitaph:

"Weep Not For Me, I Am Not Dead, I Only Sleepth"

Carville Leprosy Colony - Carville, LA (The Armadillo Stole My Leg)


5445 Point Clair Rd
Carville, Louisiana 70721
30.19677,-91.124
 
            When most people hear the word leprosy, they immediately break out into chills. For years, there has been a certain stigma associated with leprosy as this uncontrollable plague worse than a zombie apocalypse! Leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions are the primary external sign. Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Contrary to folklore, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they can become numb or diseased as a result of secondary infections; these occur as a result of the body's defenses being compromised by the primary disease.
Your Typical Leprosy Patient
            Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, dates back to primitive civilizations around 4000 BC and continues on today. However, now that proper treatments have been discovered, the cases are scarce and easily curable. Initially thought of as highly contagious, we learned this is not the case, as it is primarily spread by armadillos. Just when you thought an armadillo couldn't be any more of a pain in the ass! During the 1800’s, with a cure still not known, there was nothing people could really do with those with leprosy other than simply seclude them from others.

Mary Jane's Bridge - Broussard, LA (Acadiana's Urban Legend)

Mary Jane’s Bridge (Broussard)
30.153936,-91.906444


            Every state has its fair share of urban legends that make for great campfire stories or ingenious ways to scare young kids. Whether it is a man with a hook for a hand, a strange cryptozoological creature or an infamous “woman in white” that wanders abandoned roads at night, the legends are sure to keep locals enthralled and children afraid to go to sleep at night. Louisiana is no exception, as these sorts of legends are abundant. As a child, when I misbehaved, I was often threatened with the dreaded "Johnny Panachaffa", the imaginary "boogaloo" that roamed the woods at night searching for young children. What did this crazy Cajun with the funny last name do with his victims, might one ask? Murder them? Molest them? Dig their eyeballs out with a melon scooper and use their skulls as a sex toy? Oh no, not this weirdo; he would do the unthinkable. HE WOULD SNEAK IN YOUR ROOM AND PULL YOUR TOES AT NIGHT! I never quite could understand of all the things this make-believe guy could do, why pull your toes? Shame on our parents for not coming up with a little more clever way of verifying what a badass this bayou boogie man would be! Fortunately, Broussard, Louisiana does not have such a sadistic and maniacal creeper with a foot fetish.

Ft. Jackson - Buras, LA (The Failed Fort of the Confederacy)

Fort Jackson/Fort St. Phillip (Buras)
29.356594,-89.454718


            By the early 1800’s, New Orleans and the surrounding areas were no stranger to war and attacks, specifically from Spain and Britain. After several skirmishes and attempts to seize New Orleans, the city’s hero, General Andrew Jackson ordered that a fortification be built to not only protect the city but to secure the river from any future attacks. Construction of Fort Jackson began in 1822 and was completed and occupied in 1832. It was then garrisoned by a small force until February 9, 1842, when it was declared a military reservation by executive order of President John Tyler.

Map of Ft. Jackson
            With the American Civil War now under way, the Union had their eyes set on capturing New Orleans and it would not be long before a deadly attempt would be made. The infamous battle to gain control of New Orleans took place at Fort Jackson and St. Phillip from April 16, 1862 until April 28, 1862. During these tense 13 days, Union soldiers, led by Flag Officer David G. Farragut, commanded naval ships into the murky waters and unleashed a barrage of mortars onto the Confederate forts. For several days, the bombardments continued, with the river obstructions being partially destroyed on the night of April 22nd. The Union and their firepower was too much for the Confederacy to contend with, as ships pushed through the barricades and made their way to New Orleans, ultimately seizing the city. After putting up a great fight, the forts officially surrendered on April 28th. The final death toll from the battle was approximately 1,011!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

U.S.S. Kidd - Baton Rouge, LA (The Pirate of the Pacific)


305 South River Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
30.44342,-91.190171


            As a child, I can remember taking a class field trip to Baton Rouge and visiting a battleship. We were young kids, having no knowledge about what we were seeing. We just knew it looked cool because “it had guns on it!” It wasn’t until years later when I learned how historically important this ship was, not only as an valuable fixture for the state, but for its great services it offered to the United States military.
              The U.S.S. Kidd is a Fletcher-class destroyer named after Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr., who was killed during the attack at Pearl Harbor. This ship, identified as DD-661, as it was the Navy’s six hundred and sixty-first destroyer built, was officially christened and launched on February 28, 1943. From here on, the U.S.S. Kidd began its colorful journey through the open seas.
            Its first excursion was to simply be delivered to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyards. In an unconventional fashion, the Kidd arrived proudly flying the skull and crossbones flag high atop its mast. One can only imagine how odd it must have been to see a U.S. Naval ship flying the flag of the Jolly Roger. However, the uniqueness turned into tradition, as the flag became a regular fixture to the ship. What is most interesting is that after receiving approval by the appropriate officials, the ship's crew painted a pirate on their smokestack. To this day, the Kidd, known as the “Pirate of the Pacific” is the only U.S. battleship to ever be granted permission to fly the flag that represents piracy.

Spanish Moon - Baton Rouge, LA (Spirits of All Kinds!)

Photo Courtesy of Nola.com
1109 Highland Rd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
30.437085,-91.185756

            Ah, another haunted bar! Definitely cannot go wrong with the Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge. Whether it is for great music, stiff drinks, or sociable company, spirits flow freely at this old neighborhood establishment in more ways than one!
            The building was initially constructed in the 1880’s as a firehouse. During the infamous 1918 Flu Pandemic that killed roughly twenty million people worldwide, the location served as a makeshift morgue for that many who succumbed to the deadly illness. From then on, history is a bit cloudy in regards to what the establishment was used for. Some say a feed store, while others remember a thrift store being located here. One fact that most people can agree on is that by the 1970’s, the once fire station had now become a literal “flop house”, basically a low class watering hole for the local vagabonds, pimps, drug addicts, etc. Basically, this was not the place to hang out if you wanted to spend a relaxing Saturday night chilling with a beer! In the early 1980’s the bar was named the Cypress Hollow, with clientele slowly improving. Finally, in 1997, the Spanish Moon opened here, turning the historical building into the successful establishment it is today.

Old State Capitol - Baton Rouge, LA (The Castle on the Hill)

100 North Boulevard
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
30.446602,-91.189098


*EVP's courtesy of Louisiana Spirits
 
            The old Louisiana State Capitol is a beautiful structure, sitting high atop the land to overlook the mighty Mississippi River. If walls could talk, this 150-plus year old building could lecture for days! It has survived the ravages of war, fires, physical fights, political battles and so much more.
            The building, which is known as “Castellated Gothic” was designed and built by James Harrison Dakin in 1852, five years after Baton Rouge was able to gain control as the state’s Capitol. Prior to this, New Orleans served as the temporary capitol. The building definitely coincides with its construction style, as it truly looks like a stout castle with thick walls, turrets and plaster trim resembling large blocks.
            In 1862, under the command of Admiral David Farragut, Union troops captured the building, transforming it into a stronghold and prison, absolving the current Louisiana legislators, sending them to find another safe haven. On December 28, 1862 the interior of the capitol was completely destroyed due to a fire unintentionally started by Union soldiers. Fortunately, the charred interior was completely reconstructed in 1882 by architect William A. Freret. On March 1, 1882, Governor McEnery arrived in Baton Rouge to officially take reigns of the newly restored statehouse and the new life of the capitol began.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Guaranty Income Life & Broadcasting Building - Baton Rouge, LA



929 Government St.

 Baton Rouge, La 70801

30.443595,-91.180937


            Constructed in the 1920’s, this building was initially the Baton Rouge General Hospital and served as the gold standard for the local medical community. For its time, the hospital was considered to be extremely technologically advanced. The hospital operated in its entirety until the 1950’s, when it shut down and then became the Guaranty Income Life and Broadcasting building. This location is now home to five broadcasting stations and an insurance firm.

            For years, this old hospital has been reported to be haunted. A majority of the activity reported seems to originate from the basement area, which was the morgue when the hospital was still in operation. The basement now serves as several offices and an area to store, no pun intended, dead files!

Pleasant Hall (LSU Campus) - Baton Rouge, LA (A Lover's Quarrel Turned Deadly)



Pleasant Hall, Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, LA 70802

30.416828,-91.177607


*Photo courtesy of www.nola.com
 

            Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge is known as one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. From its top quality academics to its star-studded athletics, LSU is the place to go for the soon to be college student. Just as LSU is known for its rowdy football games in the massive stadium ironically dubbed “Death Valley”, an actual death in this valley has made a women’s dorm on campus quite an interesting place as well! 

            Originally called Smith Hall, named after President James Monroe Smith, Pleasant Hall was built in 1931 and served as the campus’s first women’s dormitory. The long standing dormitory/hotel operated until 2002, when it was converted into the continuing education department.

Rose Theatre - Bastrop, LA (The Ghost of Mrs. Rose Goodwin)

102 East Jefferson Ave.
Bastrop, LA 71221
32.778275,-91.914514


            The Rose Theatre was built in 1927 by C.J. Goodwin and was initially intended to accommodate the traveling vaudeville shows of the time as well as an opportune venue to feature current silent films. The building then turned into your run of the mill movie cinema until it shut down in the 1970's. Fortunately, in 1985, the original owner's donated the theater to the local Cotton Country Players, who began running local community performances.
            The theatre also has a history of unusual activity that continues to intrigue former and current owners, employees and guests alike. Objects known to have been left in specific locations get moved to new locations. Disembodied voices and other strange noises have often been heard when no one else is around. Doors are often opened and closed, with no one around to do so. Guests have reported a sense of uneasinesses, as if someone was watching them. On several occasions, staff have reported seeing an apparitional figure on the stairwell, near the balcony area as well as hearing the piano play by itself. Many of the guests and staff feel these strange occurrences are attributed to Mr. Goodwin's wife, Mrs. Rose Ames Goodwin, a benevolent spirit that playfully interacts with those who entertain the idea of the afterlife.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Kent House Plantation - Alexandria, LA (A Hidden Gem of Activity)

3601 Bayou Rapides Road
Alexandria, Louisiana 71303
31.303697,-92.482873

*All pictures below are courtesy of www.kenthouse.org

        If you are looking for a true rendition of French and Spanish life during the late 1700's, then look no further than Kent House Plantation! This beautiful home is one of the oldest original structures still standing in Louisiana. This French colonial home was built around 1796 by French settler, Pierre Baillio II, on ground due to a Spanish land grant that consisted of 500 arpents, which is approximately the French equivalent of an acre, near Poste des Rapides.
        In 1842, the home was sold to Mr. Robert Hynson of Kent County, Maryland, oddly giving this home its final name. After the home luckily survived almost being burnt down during the 1864 Civil War Red River Campaign, it passed through several different owners, and was finally divided into three sections and moved two block over to its current location in 1964.

Tyrone Plantation - Alexandria, LA

6576 Bayou Rapides Rd.
Alexandria, LA 71303
31.312389,-92.562517

This quaint little plantation home was built in 1843 by Virginian, George Mason Graham.  Graham was familiar with plantation life and built a three storied house, a granary, a brick kiln, a saw mill, a cotton gin and a wharf for barge traffic on the bayou. Graham wrote an autobiography and left much correspondence that is in federal, state and university archives. Graham also built what is probably the only underground tomb on a plantation and buried there a wife and a son that has given rise to the story of the “soldier ghost.” Mr. Graham is probably most known for his work with the state's educational system, obtaining federal property, now known as the Pentagon Barracks, in Baton Rouge for a new location for a state university, which you may have heard of: Louisiana State University.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Old State Penitentiary - Baton Rouge, LA (Warden's House)

703 Laurel Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
30.451065,-91.182302  

As I mentioned in the history of Angola State Penitentiary, prior to its construction, state inmates were housed at the first Louisiana State Penitentiary, located at the intersection of 6th and Laurel Street in Baton Rouge. North of the penitentiary grounds, stood a small building built around 1840. This is the only remaining building of the prison complex which existed from 1834 to 1917. It served as the prison store and clerk’s living quarters, ultimately becoming the warden’s house, as it is most commonly known today.
In 1925, the building was moved several blocks to its current location and an extensive renovation was conducted in 1966. The structure is now home to several offices. Not much is actually known regarding the hauntings associated with this location, but there have been several reports of unexplainable sounds, disembodied voices, and accounts of electronics going haywire for no apparent reason. Is this enough to slap a big “haunted” label on the building? Probably not, yet with years of rumors, one can only be intrigued to look into the reports further. I am unaware of any actual investigation ever being conducted here so let’s add the warden’s house to our “to do” list!