Saturday, September 11, 2010

Haunted Plantations of Louisiana's River Road, Part II

Continuing the exploration of River Road…

Ormond Plantation
13786 River Road

Ormond Plantation. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston
for the Historic American Buildings Survey, 1938. Courtesy of the
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Located near Destrehan Plantation, one of the first great plantations of River Road, Ormond Plantation dates to just after the construction of Destrehan. Ormond, like it’s sister plantation, initially was an indigo plantation, switching to sugar cane some years later. The history of Ormond, however, has been fraught with sadness from its very beginnings as three of its owners have met odd and untimely deaths. Its first owner, Pierre d’Trepagnier, who built the main house in 1790, often entertained Spanish government officials. One evening, whilst dining with his family, he was called away to meet with a supposed government official in his carriage outside. Trepagnier stepped out and was never seen again. The next owner, Colonel Richard Butler renamed the plantation after his family’s ancestral home in Ireland, Castle Ormonde. He mysteriously sold the plantation 15 years later and he and his wife died from yellow fever in Bay St. Louis.

In 1898, Ormond was purchased by State Senator Basile LaPlace, Jr. Like Trepagnier almost a hundred years earlier, LaPlace was called away from his family during dinner one evening in 1899. The following morning, his bullet-riddled body was found hanging near the front drive. According to the history on the Ormond Plantation website, LaPlace had possibly raised the ire of the local Ku Klux Klan. Some blame these three deaths on a curse placed on the plantation by the leader of an early slave uprising on the plantation that was quashed by Trepagnier. Regardless, something supposedly haunts this plantation.

Reports as early as 1880, report dark, shadow-like figures being seen on the estate. More recently, Ormond staff report a man in 19th century dress as well as a young woman in one of the upstairs rooms. Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations captured an interesting video clip of a light descending the staircase.

Houmas House Plantation
40136 Louisiana Highway 942

The Houmas House. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston
for the Historic American Buildings Survey, 1938. Courtesy of the
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

In the years preceding the Civil War, Houmas House Plantation was one of the largest plantations in Louisiana and quite possibly, the South. With some 300,000 acres being worked by over 800 slaves, Houmas was the largest single economic unit in the state. The plantation was built by General Wade Hampton whose granddaughter may be the best known spirit on the plantation. The young female spirit appeared during the house’s restoration to astonished workers in 2003. The girl, wearing a blue dress descended the staircase and vanished. She has also been seen following tour groups through the house. While she may be General Hampton’s granddaughter who died—possibly of yellow fever—in 1848, she might also be the seven year old daughter of Colonel William P. Miles who owned the house later in the century. The Miles’ daughter was buried in a nearby family cemetery later was destroyed by a flood.

Visitor Information

Both plantations featured in this section are open for tours by the public. For further information, please see the following sites:

Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican
     Publishing, 2007
Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. Investigation Report for Ormond
     Plantation. Accessed 7 September 2010.
National Park Service. Houmas House. Southeastern Louisiana: A
     National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary. Accessed 6
     September 2010.
Ormond Plantation. History. Accessed 11 September 2010.

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