Sunday, October 30, 2016

Oak Alley Plantation - Vacherie, LA ("They Killed Us")

3645 Louisiana 18
Vacherie, LA 70090
30.003318,-90.780735

As I mentioned when I discussed Madame John's Legacy, one of my all-time favorite movies has always been Interview with the Vampire. From the storyline, to the characters and especially the locations, it is one of the few movies I do not get tired of seeing. For those of you that have seen the movie, once Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) is bitten by Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), he slowly begins to transform into a vampire. As his health worsens and his body deteriorates, his demeanor and mannerisms equally dwindle down to the shadows where he is soon to follow. He becomes ill at the site of food, yet his hunger for blood intensifies. As he and Lestat sit at the dinner table of his grand mansion, his quadroon servant comments on Louis's fading appearance. Louis cannot resist the beautiful woman and bites her. She then faints, sending Louis into a frenzy, sick of what he has now become. As additional slaves gather at the outside of the home, Louis sets it ablaze. The pinnacle of the scene shows Louis kicking the door of his home open, as he carries out his servant, flames in suit. He hands the maid off to a waiting slave, hops on a horse and flees the property, as the slaves cheer and celebrate that the “devil” has finally gone.
If you remember the scene I am referring to, than you obviously remember the beautiful home that was used as Louis's plantation. If it looks strangely familiar, it's probably because you have seen it, not only in several other movies and television shows, but it is a very common plantation used in southern artwork, as many feel it to be the quintessential depiction of southern plantation life. If you have been living under a rock for the last few centuries, I am of course referring to Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie.

Laura Plantation - Vacherie, LA (The Slave Trade)


2247 Highway 18
Vacherie, LA 70090
30.008502,-90.725387

            As unfortunate as it was, slavery was a regular fixture of everyday life for much of the south during the 1700’s and 1800’s. Without this massive workforce, much of the south would have starved and been homeless. Many, if not all, of the grand plantations of the south were built by the hands of slaves. These same hands would harvest crops from thousands upon thousands of acres of farmland. Fortunately, many now recognize the hard work that these poor souls were forced to put forth, as they played a crucial role in building the south. Yes, slavery was wrong and many were mistreated, but diaries from former slaves have acknowledged that such was not always the case. Not all plantation owners were violent sadists who gained great pleasure in the misuse of their slaves, such as the previously mentioned Madame LaLaurie. In many instances, even once slavery was abolished, some black families actually chose to remain on the plantations that they called home for so many years. Especially in the case of the house maids, who had literally raised many of the plantation owners’ children; they were often considered a part of the family.
            For many of these massive plantations, workforces commandeering hundreds of slaves were needed to keep the homes and land operating. To house such large groups, slave quarters were built in numbers that often caused them to become their own small villages of sorts. To the rear of the larger homes, these quarters were placed in rows with a main road down the middle. As with our next location, where slave quarters grew to fifty or sixty, these makeshift communities would have their own cooking areas, farmland, livestock and even commissaries.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Laurel Valley Village Plantation - Thibodaux, LA (A Bloody Revolt)

595 Louisiana 308
Thibodaux, LA 70301
29.789856,-90.787078


            For centuries, sugar has been one of the most valuable commodities in Louisiana. Across the state, hundreds of thousands of acres were reserved for the harvesting of this prized staple. With the farmland, came huge plantations and adjoining structures for the property owners and their slaves. Some of these plantations grew so large they were basically a community within a community, having their own schools, churches and stores. Workers were often paid in script, a form of currency that was exclusive to the property. You were basically paid in Monopoly money that could only be used at select stores. These stores made a killing, as they could charge more than the average price for goods, as this was the only place the workers could shop from. It wasn’t like you could go down the street to another store, as they would not accept the form of script that you were paid in. 
            Long work hours in poor conditions and low pay grew tiresome by the workers. By the late 1800’s these workers banded together and demanded better pay. The tension would come to a head in November of 1887 when black workers in Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary and Assumption parishes went on a three-week strike. With the aid of the national Knights of Labor organization, the army of nearly ten thousand men demanded an increase in wages to one dollar and twenty-five cents a day, bi-weekly payment and the discontinuing of the previously mentioned script. The strike occurred during a crucial time in sugar cane production, which would have ruined that harvesting year. After demands fell on deaf years, Governor Samuel Douglas McEnery ordered troops to defuse the situation. By the time the three-week strike came to an end, it was estimated that as many as two hundred blacks were killed.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Marland's Bridge - Sunset, LA (The Battle of Bayou Bourbeau)

Photo courtesy of www.haunteddeepsouth.blogspot.com
Chretien Point Rd.
Sunset, LA 70584
30.392404,-92.097573


            Following our visit to Chretien Point Plantation, my friend proceeded to tell me of another reportedly haunted location only a stone’s throw away. The site was known as Marland’s Bridge and had long been a local hangout for teenagers and ghost enthusiasts, as haunted stories had heavily enveloped the bridge for years. As with many haunted bridges, railroad tracks and bayous, the familiar story of a “woman in white” was predominant here. I never could quite understand the popularity of this woman in white legend. Every now and then, someone may mix it up with an occasional woman in black or even pink. If I were to start up an urban legend, I would like to be a little more original. Why can’t we have a woman in skin tight spandex with eight inch stilettos?  Fortunately, Marland’s Bridge incorporates much more than the stale and drab tales of women in white.  
            If you happen to visit Marland’s Bridge, don’t let the looks fool you. Not sure why, but after I heard the history of the site, I was expecting a large wooden bridge spanning across a large bayou. Such was not the case, as the bridge is simply a modern rebuilt concrete structure that crosses over a small overgrown bayou. Not sure what was lurking in those waters, but during my visit, it smelled like an ogre took a crap on a burning tire! Despite the size, modern looks and horrible smell emanating from the darkness, going back in time tells an incredible story of courage and valor.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Chretien Point Plantation - Sunset, LA (One Tough Little Lady)

665 Chretien Point Plantation
Sunset, LA 70584
30.389406,-92.09826


            If I haven't already informed you, I am quite man enough to admit that I have an intense case of arachnophobia! It's pretty pathetic how severe it is, as I will literally freak out if I get near a spider bigger than a dime. I can remember putting laundry into the washer once and as I pushed down on the clothes, a spider about as big as a fifty cents piece sprang from the clothes, onto my arm! I honestly do not remember much, as I seemed to come out of my own skin, hitting a level of consciousness that is hard to comprehend. Next thing I remember, I am stripped down to my underwear, running around the house, flailing my arms like an idiot! Needless to say, it was quite a sight! Oddly enough, the types of spiders I hate the most are the ones that are the most harmless.  The proper term for this species is the golden silk orb-weaver but in Louisiana, they are referred to as banana spiders. They are massive in size, ominous in color and make gigantic webs with strange zig-zag patterns down the middle. I have always been told they are non-poisonous but I have never bothered getting close enough to one to find out. Ironically, the next location I will mention is home to the largest banana spiders I have ever seen. Maybe that's why it's one of the only plantations in Louisiana that I have yet to investigate!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bienvenue House - St. Martinville, LA (The Cajun EVP)

421 N Main St.
St. Martinville, LA 70582
30.127395,-91.828604


            Being raised in such a Cajun household is quite a unique experience. Some may call it the simple life while others refer to it as good old country living. As a child, it wasn’t a matter of eating your vegetables. As a Cajun kid, you would be more likely to hear, “Boy, if you don’t eat all of your rice and boulettes (meatballs), I’m gonna get you with the palette à mouche (fly swatter)!” I can never forget growing up, my dad would come home with huge snapping turtles that he would catch in a nearby lake. He would bring them home and proceed to clean them to make a good sauce piquante, or red gravy. In a bucket, he would throw away the feet and scrap pieces. If the turtle was a female, my cousin and I would always gather the eggs and chase each other around the yard as we threw them at one another. Consider it a poor boy’s paintball game! Yes, it sounds disgusting because it is!
               A stereotype of country folks is the comical story of eating road kill found on the side of the road. As I have often said, “The thing about stereotypes is that they are normally true!” I can attest to this, as one Sunday morning on the way to church, my mom ran over a squirrel. It wasn’t horribly marred, as it simply died of a head wound. I remember my mom saying, “I guess I should go pick it up for your daddy.” To my amazement, she swung a u-turn that would have made Bo “Bandit” Darville proud and had me get out the car to pick up the lifeless corpse. She popped the trunk and I threw the squirrel in as we proceeded to church. After Holy Communion was over and our Hail Mary’s had been said, we returned with our catch. Sure enough, my dad was pleased to see what we brought him as he would skin it and freeze it, adding with the rest of his collection. After about seven or eight had been collected, it was supper time!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rosedown Plantation - St. Francisville, LA (Stop and Smell the Roses)

12501 Louisiana 10
St. Francisville, LA 70775
30.811824,-91.344717


            As small as St. Francisville may be, it can definitely boast about two things. Not only is it home to the most haunted plantation in the south, it may very well have the most intact domestic plantation complex around. As with the previously mentioned Oakley Plantation, Rosedown Plantation is also often overshadowed by the illustrious Myrtles. However, with its beautiful gardens and original furnishings, Rosedown is as authentic as they come should one want a true depiction of antebellum times. According to the staff, approximately ninety percent of the home’s furnishings are original to the site and were imported from Philadelphia, New Orleans and Europe.
            Construction of the home began in November of 1834 by socialites Daniel and Martha Turbull. Daniel was known as quite a wealthy individual, already owning several other plantation homes such as Catapla, Hazelwood, Middleplace, Styopa, Grove, Inheritance, Woodlawn and De Soto. Unlike many of the time who obtained their land via Spanish grants, Turbull received his by a group of seven purchases made from the 1820’s through the 1840’s. When the home was finally complete in May of 1835, it sat on a total of three thousand four hundred and fifty-five acres, primarily consisting of cotton. The home would be called Rosedown, based on a play that the couple had watched while on their honeymoon in Europe. Martha would also become quite the gardener, having an immense love for flowers. Martha began extending on a pre-existing garden on the property by purchasing camellias, azaleas and other plants. What began as a small flower bed ultimately blossomed into a gigantic twenty-eight acre garden that still sits on the grounds today. With the demand to maintain and care for such a vast amount of land, the Turbulls turned to the aid of roughly one hundred and forty-five slaves they owned to tend to the property. According to an 1860’s census, in addition to Rosedown, Turbull owned Styopa Plantation, with two hundred twenty-five slaves and Hazelwood Plantation with seventy-four.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Oakley Plantation - St. Francisville, LA (The Guitar Strum)

11788 LA 965
St. Francisville, LA 70775
30.809357,-91.282741


            Often overlooked due to the mass notoriety garnered by the Myrtles, our next location may not get the haunted attention it deserves. Tucked away about two miles from the Myrtles is Oakley Plantation, which helps in making up the Audubon State Historic Site. The land that the home sits on began as a Spanish land grant in 1796 that was given to Ruffin Gray, a successful planter from Natchez, Mississippi. If that name sounds familiar, you’re not alone. From the information that I have gathered, Ruffin is the father of Ruffin Sterling Gray who would purchase the Myrtles in 1834. On his newly acquired land, Ruffin would begin construction on the family home. Early into the job, Ruffin would pass away, leaving behind his two children and wife, Lucy Alston. Lucy would ensure that the family home was completed, as she remarried a Scotsman by the name of James Pirrie. The two would birth a girl, Eliza, who was born on October 6, 1805.
            During this period in time, it was customary for planters to travel to New Orleans in the hopes of exposing their families to a more eclectic form of culture. I am sure these excursions were also a chance for young women to search for a successful husband in the big city. During the spring of 1821, Lucy Pirrie would make a trip to New Orleans and meet the well-known James Audubon. At the time, Audubon was working on his famous Birds of America paintings and literature and was in need of a steady paying job. Lucy would offer Audubon employment by returning to their home in order to tutor her young daughter, Eliza. The proposal was simple; Audubon would receive fifty to sixty dollars a month plus room and board for himself as well as his thirteen year old protégé, John Mason. In exchange, he had to tutor Eliza half of his time, while the other half could be spent roaming the grounds and doing as he wished. Audubon would stay at the Oakley House for about four months. During this time, he would create thirty-two of his famous pieces of artwork and gain an immense love for the West Feliciana land.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Myrtles Plantation - St. Francisville, LA (Deciphering Fact from Fiction)

7747 U.S. 61
St. Francisville, LA 70775
30.767827,-91.320355


            It goes without saying, yet I will say it anyways, that the world can often be a letdown. Remember how fun events such as Christmas, Easter and losing a tooth were until you learned the cold truth that those chipper and festive characters you loved and adored were simply your parents? As you grew older, huge delusions of grandeur set in. As a teen, I just knew that the day I got my license I would have a brand new sports car waiting for me. Reality quickly set in, as I would not get my own vehicle until I was nineteen and it was a hand-me-down pick-up truck with nearly three hundred thousand miles. Prior to that, I had to chauffeur my mom around in her Pontiac Bonneville, which was powder blue in color with a big kitty cat license plate on the front. Needless to say, this was not the chick magnet I had in mind, if you know what I mean! Growing up, I quickly learned that all that glittered wasn’t gold. Hell, in many cases, that glitter effect is simply particles of lead in gun powder and we all know how quickly that can go up in smoke.
            As I approached our next location, I contemplated how I would possibly be able to give it the justice it deserved. If you make huge claims like being the most haunted house in the most haunted state, how do you truly touch on every piece of haunted history and ghostly encounter? I decided that the best place to start was with the plain and simple hard facts. As I recollected every haunted story told of the infamous Myrtles Plantation, I gathered a plethora of endless tales of paranormal activity from the ten or so murders that are said to have occurred here. As I separated the years of stories from the confirmed documented deaths, I came to a startling discovery that surprised me. To my amazement, the stack of facts was literally non-existent in comparison to the legends that have been told to endless numbers of tour groups and mystery hounds. Wait a minute, if this is supposed to be the most haunted house in America, how on earth is there not more concrete evidence? At this time, allow me to throw the disclaimer out that I am not debating the fact that the Myrtles is haunted, as there are way too many credible individuals who have encountered very legitimate ghostly experiences here. With years of fact and fiction blending together into a mythical gumbo, time and elaborations continue to mix the stew more and more until we have a frothy bowl of misconceptions. It’s not a matter of whether or not the Myrtles is haunted, but what causes it to be so active?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ardoyne Plantation - Schriever, LA (A Familiar Woman in White)

2678 Highway 311
Schriever LA 70395
29.641579,-90.814027


             A leisurely drive on a lazy Sunday afternoon down the back roads of southern Louisiana can be quite an excursion. You may drive for miles and see nothing but woods, trailers and run down shacks, when out of nowhere, like an oasis, a grand plantation worth several million dollars pops up out of nowhere. Start your journey in Baton Rouge on River Rd. and it will take you through several small towns and past some of the grandest homes in the country. Another route one may be interested in taking is beginning in Lafayette and head south on Hwy 90 through Morgan City, ending in Houma. Towards the end of your trip, just off the highway, you will encounter a beautiful home that definitely sticks out from the open fields.
            The Ardoyne Plantation is a massive twenty-one room plantation home in the small town of Schriever. The story begins with a wealthy sugarcane farmer and state senator by the name of John Dalton Shaffer. When his wife’s, Julia, health starting to fade, John felt that the best cure was a change of scenery so he sent her away on an extended vacation to Europe, in the hopes of restoring her well-being. While she was away, John decided to surprise her by constructing a grand home that would be waiting on her when she arrived. He turned to architect W. C. Williams to design their plantation home based on a picture of a Scottish castle. Completed in 1894, Ardoyne Plantation was like no other, with extremely ornate designs and a massive corner tower which reaches a height of seventy-five feet. Needless to say, when Julia returned from her long vacation she was quite amazed at her “little cottage” that was promised to her. In an era when most homes were built in Acadian or Gothic fashion, this Victorian-styled home remains one of the finest examples in the state.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Voodoo Cafe - Shreveport, LA (The Amazing PEAR Device)

622 Commerce St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
32.514054,-93.744674


            By the end of the nineteenth century, the heart of a bustling Shreveport was beginning to pump freely in all directions. With the mighty Red River serving as the main source for transportation and mercantile activities, the land just to the west was flourishing into the commercial district. The strip of land along Commerce Street was close to the river and railroad, making it the perfect place for wholesale warehousing for various products, ranging from cotton, to hardware, to groceries, to oil field supplies. The buildings along the 600 block of Commerce Street were built in the late 1800's, and initially served as retail establishments for the area. Most of these were multi-story, and retain most of the original architecture and structure. Since the mid 1960’s, many of these buildings have been bars, or other public entertainment establishments.
            Our next location sits in this block of local hangout spots and is the Voodoo Café and Art Bar. The art bar is unlike any other venue in downtown Shreveport's Red River District, with live music downstairs and incredible local artwork, the Voodoo Café is the place to be during weekends. However, once the doors close each night, staff claims the building takes on a life of its own with hauntings and strange happenings of all kinds.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Davis House - Shreveport, LA (The King of Cotton)

804 Wilkinson St.
Shreveport, LA 71104
32.4858,-93.746294


            As one drives down busy Line Avenue, it’s hard to believe that at the turn of the twentieth century, this main artery of the city was a simple dirt road. However, this did not deter Ella Hunt Montgomery from building her lavished dream home. Ella was the granddaughter of the extremely wealthy David “King David” Hunt, who earned millions in Natchez, Mississippi as a planter. At a time when cotton was king, so was David, as he owned a total of twenty-five plantations and one thousand seven hundred slaves during his pinnacle.
            Obviously, financial constraints were not an issue that Ella had to deal with. In search of a good location to build her home, she would opt for the Highland neighborhood, as its grounds were high enough to avoid flooding that often took place from the nearby Red River. In 1916, she would build her home on the corner of Wilkinson Street and Line Avenue. Here, she would really put a personal touch on her prized home, decorating it with lavished furnishings and such amenities as push button lights and high ceilings. As mentioned, the area of Line Avenue was in its infancy at this time but Ella’s home played a huge role in assisting the flourishing area in expanding a growing Shreveport southward.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Shreveport Municipal Auditorium - Shreveport, LA (The Johnny Cash EVP)

705 Grand Ave.
Shreveport, LA 71101
32.507483,-93.75316


            One of the things I have been the most proud of since forming Louisiana Spirits is the fact that we have been the first paranormal investigative group to be allowed into many of the state's most well-known and historic venues. In doing so, it has validated our credibility and proved what a good reputation we have earned throughout the years. To get some of the approval we have obtained, we have had to survive imposing interviews from government officials, town meetings with civic leaders and tons of other nerve-racking encounters. Once the deciding individuals quickly saw how reputable we were, permission was granted, making all of the work and persistence worth it. The feeling of bagging a big investigation is like a drug. I know in my case it often makes me say, “Ok, if I got this big investigation, what's the next one I can get?”
            As I mentioned earlier, many of these locations that we have pioneered may not have a great deal of haunted history, if even any at all. Sometimes for the hell of it we will investigate locations simply due to the immense history and energy that it holds. Every haunted location started with the first ghostly encounter. Who's to say the first encounter cannot be experienced by yours truly? Many times, we come up short handed, leaving us to say, “Well that sucked!” Other times, we actually do find something, bringing another haunted location to the mainstream. I've always said, “It's not bragging if you can back it up!” We can proudly say that several of the most notably haunted locations in the state were introduced to the paranormal community by Louisiana Spirits. Sometimes we may not be given the credit we deserve but I'll save the sour grapes for another time!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rendall Building - Shreveport, LA (A Deep Freezer for Corpses)

601 Texas St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
32.511876,-93.750607


            I must admit, after spending over ten years conducting paranormal investigations all across Louisiana, I have really been to some incredible places. Mind you, for every cool place, I have been to at least two nasty hole-in-the walls. From grand plantations, giant theatres, hospitals and jails, I’ve been to locations I would have never dreamed of going if I would have never gotten into this field of study. I have been to major businesses in their infancy, some just before bankruptcy and even some prior to being destroyed by fires or floods. I’m chuckling to myself as I type, as I suddenly have the urge to sing my own rendition of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere Man”. I’ve been to Opelousas, Bougalousa, Marksville, Moreauville, Shreveport, Simmesport, Bossier City, Morgan City, what a pity!
            Now that the musical portion of this blog is complete, I can continue with the next location. For years, the Rendall Building has served the city of Shreveport well, housing many different businesses since its construction in 1922. The Rendall’s of Shreveport owned a previous building on the same grounds that was built around the 1880’s but it would be demolished to make room for the current structure. The building was initially ran and operated as a drug store. The basement contained a very large walk-in freezer, which was actually the first of its kind for Shreveport. Next to the drug store, stood the previously mentioned Caddo Parish Courthouse. As we have recently learned, the courthouse was home to several hangings. Once the executions were carried out, there was a need to temporarily store the bodies. What better place than the first refrigeration unit in the city? As I write this, I can’t help but wonder if the notorious “Butterfly Man” was kept in this freezer when he was executed. I hope his wings didn’t get too brittle and break off from the cold temperatures! When word of how convenient this walk-in cooler was for storing dead bodies, the funeral home caught wind of it and they too began using the freezer to extend the shelf life of their customers.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Old Pea Farm/Caddo Parish Penal Farm - Shreveport, LA (The Abandoned Big House)

Photo courtesy of https://sbintheknow.wordpress.com/
West 70th St.
Shreveport, LA 71129
32.44146,-93.907614


            With all the years that I have worked in corrections, I have always had a special interest in old abandoned jails. Throw in the concept of a haunted jail and you can bet your life I will be there! As previously mentioned with the Deridder Gothic Jail and Angola State Penitentiary, prisons are notorious for being home to vast amounts of negative energy associated with years of depression, abuse and violence. Such is the case with one particular prison hidden amongst the woods of
Location of the Old Pea Farm. Click to Enlarge.
Shreveport. Although a shell of its former self, the ruined shambles of the old Caddo Parish Penal Farm peeks through the trees off of West 70th Street as a grim reminder of a rough and rugged prison of the past.

            The land that the prison sits on was once home to the plantation of Governor Caesar Carpentier Antoine. Antoine was the third of three African-American Republicans who were elected and served as the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana during the era of Reconstruction. As his political career dwindled down, he would move to Shreveport and build his home here where he opened up a small family grocery.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Old Hamel's Amusement Park - Shreveport, LA (A Park Long Forgotten)

Carolyn Ct.
Shreveport, LA 71115
32.461027,-93.686128


*Photos courtesy of www.hauntla.com
            I have always been a huge fan of amusement parks. Fortunately, the love for death defying roller coasters and other nausea-inducing rides have been inherited by my daughter, as I now have a companion to ride with. Unfortunately, Louisiana has never been known for having many, if any, amusement parks. The only one that has been around during recent years was the old Jazzland, later becoming Six Flags, in New Orleans. The park was only opened several years, as Hurricane Katrina would condemn it. This has now left Louisiana “park-less”, having to travel to Arlington for the closest available place to get your roller coaster fix.
            One park that existed for over thirty years in Shreveport was the popular Hamel’s Amusement Park. For years, this park was the ideal place to take your hyper kids, wearing them out with a day full of great rides and carnival games. The park began as a simple dairy barn in the early 1960’s. With the purchase of a few llamas, goats and lambs, a small petting zoo was incorporated onto the grounds to occupy the children as their parents purchased dairy products. As time went on, more animals arrived such as wild cats, peacocks, elephants and primates, turning the petting zoo into a full blown zoo. With the addition of a small train, Hamel’s Zoo was becoming quite the local attraction by the 1970’s.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Old Ellerbe Road School - Shreveport, LA (The Stuff Legends Are Made Of)

Ellerbe Rd.
Shreveport, LA 71115
32.29622,-93.59637


*Artistic Photos Courtesy of https://bbrasseaux.wordpress.com/
            I have always been amazed at the complexity and size that urban legends can grow to. In many cases, it seems that the less legitimate evidence that is found, the more absurd the tales become. Such was the case with the “Doorway to Hell” at the SSA Convent. I can remember about ten years ago, my friend told me about this old abandoned house in Alexandria rumored to have been used to perform illegal abortions. The stories were of epic proportion, consisting of a maniacal evil doctor who would dispose of the fetuses in a well to the rear of the property. Knowing damn well there was
Map showing the school's location. Click to enlarge.
no evidence of such a business ever existing, we were still determined to pay this house a visit. What resulted were us trekking in the middle of the ghetto, almost getting my truck stuck in the mud, only to arrive at an old abandoned house that was being used as a crack house and rendezvous point for late-night “booty calls”. The ground was littered with used condoms, dirty syringes and pairs of underwear. To this day, I learned a valuable lesson that some urban legends are to be taken with a fine grain of salt.

             Additionally, many of these places can be quite dangerous due to the terrain and/or neighborhood. Most of these locations are posted and regularly patrolled by the police. Often times, such venues are better left alone in the hands of future storytellers, as they are not worth the dangers associated with them to investigate. Such is definitely the case with our next location. In over ten years of research on haunted locations in Louisiana, I don’t think that any spot is more mysterious and enveloped with more urban legends than the old Ellerbe Road School in Shreveport.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Oakland Cemetery - Shreveport, LA (Fee Fo Lais, Cora Lee and the Cotton Patch)

Milam St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
32.508674,-93.754619


            I have never been too proud for shameless self-promotion. In 2008, when I wrote my first book Paranormal Uncensored: A Raw Look at Louisiana Ghost Hunting, I tried to think of a clever image for the book cover. Despite the saying, people do judge a book by its cover so I had to make sure it had meaning. My book was all about being different than the norm and breaking through the stereotypical paranormal books that were already around. Around this same time, we would conduct an investigation of the famous Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, which we will go into great detail a few blogs from now. We had arrived at the auditorium with daylight to spare and we had noticed a cemetery only a few feet away. We decided to stroll through this unique cemetery, just as any paranormal investigator would do to kill time. We were accompanied by the director of the auditorium at the time and she would give us a crash course on this extremely interesting and historical cemetery.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Logan Mansion - Shreveport, LA (The Mischievous Theodora)

725 Austin Pl.
Shreveport, LA 71101
32.506712,-93.753851

The historic downtown Shreveport area is filled with quite an assortment of unique locations. With a cornucopia of cemeteries, municipal buildings and grand mansions, a walking tour of this area will give you a great feel for the life and times of this fruitful city. Fortunately, the historic district of Shreveport is a paranormal investigator’s dream, as literally every one of these locations come with their share of haunts. Fortunately, with our star-studded Northern Chapter running wild from Shreveport to Monroe, we have been able to be the first to investigate many of these locations. Our pioneering of many of these spots has opened the paranormal floodgates, as our investigations of many of these areas have garnered a great deal of attention to other investigators and paranormal television programs.
One of the flagship homes that are a regular stop of many of the haunted history tours in Shreveport is the Logan Mansion. The Logan Mansion was built in 1897 by Lafayette Robert Logan, a prominent beer and ice manufacturer. Designed by architect Nathaniel Sykes Allen, the mansion is one of the finest remaining Queen Anne Victorian houses in the city, with an extremely ornate interior and equally-elaborate exterior. In the mid 1900’s the home was turned into a boarding home for teachers. Today it is operated as a historic mansion available for tours.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Karpeles Manuscript Library - Shreveport, LA (The Mysterious Musical Chairs)

3201 Centenary Blvd.
Shreveport, LA 71104
32.480633,-93.733764

            Before I go any further, I would like to take this time to give massive props to my Northern Chapter. Led by John Combs and Bess Maxwell, this chapter is definitely my hardest working portion of Louisiana Spirits. I jokingly tell them that there are some small towns in the northern portion of the state where I think they have investigated every single house in the town. The chapter conducts an investigation almost every weekend. When they aren’t investigating they are conducting preliminary interviews, researching, or reviewing evidence. Their years of experience and wisdom has garnered them almost every historical location in the Shreveport and Bossier City area.  Our next location has gotten so much attention and activity, our Northern Chapter decided to set up shop there, turning the basement into a makeshift office.
            The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Shreveport is one of twelve museums established by David and Marsha Karpeles across the United States. Founded in 1983, these museums collectively contain the world’s largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents. Relics such as stones containing Egyptian hieroglyphics and Civil War documents can be found at the Shreveport installation. The museum is open to the general public daily for free of charge. Construction on the building began in the 1920's. Due to the Great Depression, finances held up completion until 1938. This was the home of Shreveport's First Church of Science. The church moved into the building and held services in the basement while the building was undergoing construction. The building has been home to the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum for about the last ten years.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Greenwood Cemetery - Shreveport, LA (The Spectral Skid Mark)

130 Stoner Ave.
Shreveport, LA 71101
32.500049,-93.731724


            It wouldn’t be right to touch on hauntings in Shreveport without visiting a couple of creepy cemeteries. Besides, aren’t all cemeteries haunted? Sadly, the answer would be no, but they sure make for some great places to visit to admire historical graves and get a case of the “heebie jeebies”. The Greenwood Cemetery, not to be confused with the smaller Greenwood Town Cemetery, is a short distance from the Red River. It initially started as a small ten-acre plot of land called the New City Cemetery. Formerly, the land is said to have been part of a home known as the Stoner
Map and legend of the cemetery grounds, along with the
locations of the most notable gravesites.
Plantation. Research also shows that prior to that, the land housed a Civil War military hospital as well as the first charity hospital. In 1905, the name would be changed to Greenwood Cemetery, and the site has grown to over seventy-acres.

            The cemetery is the home to individuals of all races, ranks and titles. Several Confederate soldiers have been laid to rest here along with four former mayors of Shreveport. One of the most notable burials here is that of Milton Taylor Hancock, the inventor of the modern disc plow. In 1892, Hancock’s four year old daughter, Ethyl, would pass away. She was buried in a cast-iron coffin that was placed in the family tomb. A chair would be placed inside the tomb, which Milton’s wife, Nina, would sit in each evening when she visited Ethyl. In 1903, tragedy would strike again, as they lost their twenty-four year-old daughter, Irene. She would also be buried in the vault with her young sister, followed by her parents.

Caddo Parish Courthouse - Shreveport, LA (The Death of the Butterfly Man)

501 Texas St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
32.512156,-93.749811


            We begin our next story in 1838, when a newly created Caddo Parish was in need of a parish seat and center for local government. A temporary courthouse, if you wish to call it that, was established at the private residence of Thomas Wallace. Wallace would later become an important figure in Shreveport and Caddo Parish history, also giving Wallace Lake its name. Obviously, this would only be temporary, and by 1840, the parish then used a structure at the corner of Texas and Market Streets. In April of 1855 the building was sold at a sheriff’s sale, leaving the parish without a courthouse once again so they rented a structure in the 500 block of Market Street from Ephraim C. Hart. Finally, in 1860, someone would come up with the ingenious idea that maybe, just maybe, the city needed a permanent courthouse so a two-story colonial-style structure would be erected.
            As we have learned, during the Civil War, Louisiana was a state without a capitol, as
Photograph of the original Caddo Courthouse.
legislature would move from New Orleans, to Baton Rouge, to Opelousas, to Shreveport, finally returning for good to Baton Rouge. During the times that the temporary capitol was in Shreveport, it set up shop at the Caddo Parish Courthouse. By the time the capitol was returned to Baton Rouge, the building was in great disrepair and would ultimately be demolished in 1889. In 1892, a new Romanesque-style courthouse was built and would remain as the center of local government until 1926 when it too, was demolished and replaced with the current courthouse that stands there today.

Monday, October 10, 2016

C.E. Byrd High School - Shreveport, LA (The Infamous Catacombs)

3201 Line Ave.
Shreveport, LA 71104
32.480412,-93.745716


            When Clifton Ellis Byrd, Sr. first arrived in Shreveport in 1892 the city was in desperate need of an educational system. With a humble salary of seventy dollars a month, Byrd would rent out two rooms of a YMCA building and establish the first public high school. The first year’s enrollment garnered seventy students and the need for a larger school was needed so the school moved to the old Soady building on Crockett Street. After another move in 1899, the Caddo Parish School Board, now ran by its newly elected superintendent, C.E. Byrd, it was decided that a large permanent school finally be built. Construction would begin in 1924.
            In 1925, the honorably named C.E. Byrd High School was complete. To this day, it remains the largest and oldest high school in Shreveport. Home of the Yellow Jackets, C. E. Byrd High School is now a science and mathematics magnet school that has seen thousands upon thousands of students walk through its antique hallways. Although I have never been inside C.E. Byrd High School, I can relate to attending a school of such age.

LaBranche Plantation Dependency House - St. Rose, LA (Hitler's Horse)

11244 River Rd.
St. Rose, LA 70887
29.951718,-90.312949


            Like many of you, I have always liked to travel. I never could quite understand how my father, over sixty-five years of age, has never left the state, nor has he had the desire to do so. There is just way too much out there to see and explore that is not in our own backyards. I’ve always been the one that enjoys the strange, off-the-wall roadside attractions such as the “World’s Largest Ball of Twine” or the “Amazing Four Headed Pig”. You know that sort of stuff. Unfortunately, many of these places are humorously a let-down, as when you show up to find this swine specimen, you are treated with an obviously fake stuffed creature or something similar. Remember guys, all that glitters is not gold. Take this blog for example! I bet you were expecting a true monotone encyclopedia of sorts, not some crazy Cajun talking about the Biscuit Place and clubs for well-endowed men!
             As I was saying, taking road trips, you can definitely find some strange things. One such location is an extremely old house in Saint Rose with quite a pair of oddities. Not only does the LaBranche Plantation Dependency house a bathtub that was once owned by Zachery Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States but it is also the burial site of a horse said to have been owned by Hitler himself. Now, if that isn’t a reason to wake up the kids and pull over, I don’t know what is!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

La Tech Jack Howard Auditorium - Ruston, LA (A Killer Performance!)

305 Wisteria St.
Ruston, LA 71272
32.526209,-92.646836

            In addition to the previously mentioned Biomedical Engineering Building, the campus of Louisiana Tech is probably most known for its haunting of another building. The Jack Howard Auditorium, built in 1940, has hosted popular performances by up and coming performing arts students and musicians throughout the years. As the sounds of recitals and plays echo throughout the building, ghostly spectators observe from afar. Students who have worked in the theatre during late hours have reported seeing the figure of a woman sitting in the seats. They have also heard strange sounds and witnessed lights turn on and off. The most common occurrence is for the theatre seats to be folded down, even after they have all been placed in the upright position. Staff make it a chore to ensure that all of the seats are raised. Minutes after they do so, they notice that the same one or two seats are always placed back down.
            For years, the urban legends of the auditorium have stayed the same. Two female students by the name of Jan and Vera were roommates. They both tried out for the school play and Jan was cast in the lead role. Vera became so upset she hanged herself along the rafters of Howard Auditorium and haunts the theater to this very day. Although the legend makes for a great late-night story, the truth has been changed just a bit. In reality, there is said to have been no debate amongst feuding roommates, yet the story does center around a woman named Vera.

La Tech Biomedical Engineering Building - Ruston, LA (Bulldogs and Battery Drain)

711 S. Vienna St.
Ruston, LA 71270
32.521108,-92.638104


            Louisiana is known for many of its prestigious universities. Whether it is for the strenuous curriculum of Loyola, intense sports programs of LSU, or unmatched partying of ULL, people travel from all around to experience a college life like no other. One of these hidden gems that often do not get the notoriety that it deserves is Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Established in 1894, Louisiana Tech is one of the top schools in the state for those pursuing an engineering, business or marketing degree.
            As with many of the universities in the state, Louisiana Tech has its share of haunted tales that echo across campus. Like the years of alumni who have come and gone, so have random events that have etched a reminder in time. For many of the cities in Louisiana, as soon as they were settled, venues for higher learning were usually soon to follow. As part of the property belonging to Louisiana Tech, near its campus sits one of the buildings that have long been reported as haunted.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

St. John Theatre - Reserve, LA (What Causes a Haunting?)

115 West 4th St.
Reserve, LA 70084
30.054904,-90.557958


            From the largest cities to the smallest towns, Louisiana has a vast and eclectic amount of theatres. Some may be grand multi-tiered and greatly ornate venues that hosts the biggest productions featuring the top stars of today, while others may be no bigger than your living room with milk crates for chairs. Whatever the case may be, you are likely to be equally entertained with both extremes. As a child, there was a movie theatre in my home town that was so bad, it was worth going, because you never quite knew what you would encounter. What they called new releases were already on VHS, your feet stuck to the floors from the filth and if you didn't get a staph infection from the chair springs sticking you in your legs, chances were you already had it form getting bit by one of the cat-sized rats that often scurried across the floor. I use the term “scurried”, yet “slowly crept” was more like it, as they had feasted for so long on candy and popcorn, they couldn't quite get around like they used to.
            Pardon me for my wild tangent, as I often have the tendency to veer off topic. Nonetheless, our next location is one of these small hometown theatres but I can assure you, the conditions inside are nowhere near the old theatre I used to visit. In the small town of Reserve is a local theatre that has long been a source of great entertainment for the local community. The theatre was built in 1931 by Louis J. Maurin, Sr. and was originally opened to play motion pictures, or “talkies” as they were often called during these times. In 1954, a large remodeling took place and the venue was renamed to Maurin's Show Place of the River Parishes. It continued to feature the latest movies of the times until its doors would shut down on May 27, 1979. Fortunately, the closure would not last too long. On May of 1980, the St. John the Baptist Parish Council purchased and renovated the facility as a live-theatre venue and leased it to the Cultural Center Committee. The venue, now named the St. John Theatre opened in July of 1981 with the staging of the musical, "South Pacific," and has operated ever since, producing and presenting live-theatre and cultural events for the residents of the local community.

Pitchers and Pints Brew House - Pineville, LA (The Woman in Black)

3231 Hwy 28 East
Pineville, LA 71360
31.334041,-92.390666


            One of the most popular hangout spots in the Pineville area is the Pitchers and Pints Brew House. The city is in short supply of watering holes since the restrictions of being a “dry city” have been recently lifted. Still, the Brew House is a great place for a quick beer and a game of pool. Prior to the building being a bar, it was known as Sister’s Restaurant and was owned by the parents of my co-founder and long-time friend, Brandon Thomas. Prior to being a successful restaurant, this place was host to many businesses such as a floral shop, veterinary clinic, insurance office and a furniture store. The building was originally a private residence, built sometime in the 1960’s. During this time, the original owner was conducting bull-dozing work near the home when a freak accident caused a tree limb to fall off the dozer, decapitating him!
            Prior to knowing Brandon, I had frequented the restaurant as the food was quite good. Once I met Brandon in 2005, he would not only tell me that the restaurant belonged to his family, which would now enable me to get some great free food, but also that the restaurant had long been rumored as being haunted. As we were just starting out with Louisiana Spirits, we would often use the restaurant as our training grounds, along with many of the local cemeteries. I was always more fond of investigating here as it was climate-controlled, spider-free and we had an endless supply of food at our disposal! In addition to all those perks, the restaurant did have its fair share of activity. On numerous occasions, we would be alone in the building and we could hear stacks of plates in the kitchen start to rattle as if they were moving on their own.