Anyone traveling to Louisiana is going to have the opportunity to experience a broad range of activities. There are historical sites to see, amazing things to do and a variety of things to experience. Traveling to Louisiana affords the individual with the opportunity to enjoy Southern Hospitality as well as to look into what life was like in the south prior to the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves. One of the most haunted places in Louisiana is the Magnolia Plantation. There is nearly 250 years’ worth of history attached to the Magnolia Plantation and the surrounding lands. The two and a half centuries of history has led to the extensive stories of ghostly sightings and paranormal activity in the structures and the land.
The History of Magnolia Plantation
The Magnolia Plantation sits in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana along the Cane River Lake. The numerous structures that have been on, and those that remain, in that area help tell a tremendous tale of not only what the terrain has undergone over the years but also what the people in the area have experienced. Some of the key physical features of the Magnolia Plantation include acres of flat farmland and numerous magnolia and oak trees that are roughly 150 years old. With regards to the structures on the Magnolia Plantation there are still an estimated 21 different structures. Some of the structures still standing include a blacksmith shop, a store, quarters for the slaves, a slave hospital, and the main plantation home.
The history of the owners of the plantation dates back many centuries. Connections to the current owners date back to Jean Baptiste LeComte II. In the mid-1700s he received land grants from the French and Spanish. Despite how early LeComte had the land and the building of some structures no one physically lived on the property until Ambroise, LeComte’s son, and his wife, Julia Buard moved onto the land in 1830.
Ambroise and Julia used slave labor to begin producing cotton on a large scale. They used the slaves to clear and convert a wooded area measuring 2,000 acres to plant their extensive cotton crops. Ambroise and Julia’s cotton plantation thrived providing them the opportunity to have many of the structures still on the land today, built from 1835 to 1850. Their success also allowed them to build three additional plantations. Despite the advancements in farm equipment technology Magnolia hand-picked their cotton crops for more than 100 years.
With all of its success Magnolia Plantation also saw a number of trying times. In 1897, during the Civil War, Union soldiers burned down the main plantation house, leaving Ambroise and Julia living in the slave hospital. What is seen today, with respect to the main plantation house, is simply a replica of the home that was destroyed.
In 1852, control of Magnolia went from Ambroise and Julia to their son-in-law, Matthew and their daughter Ursula. Ownership of the plantation continued to change hands many times over the years but it always remained, for the most part, in the hands of LeComte’s descendants. Although there is a tremendous amount of history recalling how positive a location Magnolia Plantation was, and how it allowed people of different colors on the property there are stories of horrific treatment of the slave population. There are many that say it is because of the horrendous treatment of the slaves that the area is considered one of the most haunted plantations in Louisiana.
Following the Civil War, many of the slaves remained on the plantation. The key difference was they were considered free and were called sharecroppers. They were able to work the land and use their earnings to purchase the essentials from the Plantation Store. The ability to have room and board, as well as their freedom made many of the former slaves happy. On the other hand, there were still a number of individuals that were considered slaves that used their voodoo spells to cause pain and hardship to those that made their lives miserable. The voodoo spells and curses even went as far as the headstones and crosses for the family members of the plantation owners.
Today sections of Magnolia Plantation remain in the family. The National Park Service is the owner of other areas of the plantation. Of the numerous structures previously mentioned that remain on the property, 16 of them belong to the National Park Service, this includes the brick quarters used to house the slaves, the Overseer’s House, the blacksmith shop, the Plantation Store and even the cotton gin. Tours of the Plantation are possible Monday through Friday.
Paranormal Activity & Hauntings
People who have traveled to Magnolia Plantation have encountered paranormal activity and ghostly sightings all over the area. There are stories that a large percentage of the activity that takes place around Magnolia Plantation is the direct result of many years of voodoo curses that were placed on the owners of the plantation throughout the years. There are tales that one of the rooms in the main home was given the name, “the Dying Room,” because many of the residents went to that room when they no longer wanted to live. The room may not have been cursed but the fact remains many people died in the room.
One of the most disturbing stories related to that room revolves around a Union Major. There are stories stating that he was poisoned and that Confederate soldiers drive him insane. People who have gone to the main house over the years say sometimes you can see the Major’s face in a window of the “Dying Room.” People have also encountered the door of the kitchen opening on its own. The appearance of unusual shaped entities, shrouded in mist, appear to crawl around the kitchen on all fours. This typically only happens when the moon is full. The stories related to “The Dying Room” are so prevalent by those that have visited and continue to visit that the Ghost Adventure teams from the Travel Channel went and did an investigation of their own.
During their investigation the Ghost Adventure’s team experienced a variety of paranormal activity. They heard voices and continuous knocking while filming in the main house. They also saw what appeared to the figure of a woman made from the smoke coming from a lit fire. When they were locked in one of the cabins believed to belong to Aunt Agnes, a slave healer, they heard what could only be chanting. There were also unusual blinking lights coming from a neighboring cabin which was reportedly empty at the time. Voices recorded on audio tapes also occurred during the investigation.
At the peak of wartime, numerous Confederate soldiers who were taken prisoner were stuffed into what had been the slaves’ brick homes. Many of those soldiers died in those cabins from suffocation and were buried around the property in shallow graves. There are those that report they can hear the sounds of ghosts whispering the names of people who are reportedly alive. The voices are heard from within the slave cabins as well as around the property. Additionally, the ghostly appearances of the departed soldiers can be seen wandering aimlessly around the property.
The Confederate soldiers were not the only ones who suffered torture, abuse, and died while on the plantation. Although many stories claim that the many slaves living and working at Magnolia Plantation were treated well there are other stories that contradict those claims. There are reports, and even physical evidence, that leg stocks were used on many of the slaves as a form of punishment. The slaves were left there to starve and be humiliated. Those that did not survive the torture, that was the leg stocks, appear to remain on the property, perhaps looking for retribution. There is also evidence that the plantation’s foreman would hunt down and kill slaves, their spirits are heard crying out away from the buildings and into the wooded areas.
There is a tale of the torture and abuse of slaves in the basement of the main house by the overseer. One time the slaves that were in the basement turned things around on the overseer. The overseer ended up dying at the hands of the slaves that were in the basement with him. Some people report that it is possible to hear the sounds of someone screaming from the basement. It is also possible to hear the sounds of ankle shackles moving along the floor of the basement when no one is around.
For security reasons, around the Magnolia Plantation’s main house, sits numerous motion detectors. There are continual reports that these detectors go off on their own rather frequently. The only explanation that makes sense is that the ghosts of the slaves, soldiers, and family members that have lived on the property over the centuries remain on the property. The list of paranormal activity and ghostly sightings around Magnolia Plantation continues to prove that this location, with its extensive history, is still one of the most haunted places ghost hunter enthusiasts can visit.