Haunted History?

Tragic deaths, mystery and ghosts rumors surround Ormond, Destrehan Plantations

November 02, 2009 at 12:47 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

As is typical of older homes, both the Destrehan and Ormond Plantations garner plenty of interest from those who believe in ghosts.
Jonathan Menard
As is typical of older homes, both the Destrehan and Ormond Plantations garner plenty of interest from those who believe in ghosts.
With Halloween approaching, residents and visitors from outside the parish will make their way to the Destrehan Plantation, hopeful that they might catch sight of one of the mansion’s supposed ghosts. And while the Ormond Plantation doesn’t allow tours, its history has plenty of tragedy and mystery.

The History of Destrehan Plantation
Established in 1787, the Destrehan Plantation is the oldest documented plantation home in the lower Mississippi Valley.

For three years, Charles Paquet, a free mullato who was contracted by Robin deLogny, worked to build the French Colonial style plantation. When the home was finished, deLogny wouldn’t have much time to enjoy it, living there for only two years before his death in 1792.

In 1810, deLogny’s daughter Celeste and husband Jean Noel d’Estrehan purchased the plantation and added two wings to accommodate 14 children.

Descendants of the family owned the property until the early 1900s. One of them, Elenore Destrehan, married a man named Stephen Henderson whose ghost has allegedly been sighted at the plantation.

Henderson was a friend of Jean Lafitte, and while Lafitte never visited the home, there is a legend that he buried treasure somewhere on the plantation.

When the house was abandoned in 1958, it was broken into by vandals and treasure hunters searching for the pirate’s bounty.

The ghost on the stairs
For many years, employees, their families and visitors have reported seeing ghosts on the property. Henderson’s ghost is the most sighted. He was only married to Elenore a year before she died, and was so devastated, that he died a few years later. Both are now buried in a cemetery near the plantation.

One of those who reported seeing Henderson was Annette Roper, whose parents were employed by the plantation in 1984. Roper said that she was reading in her bed when she saw a transparent form that appeared to be sitting in a chair. When Roper tried to touch the figure, her hand went through the misty shape.

Roper said she saw the figure two more times. One day she saw it in a second-floor window, and the next time she observed it walking across the driveway.

During the Destrehan Plantation Spring Festival in June of 2006, Australian mystic Victoria Maison said she saw a ghost on the stairway in the back of the plantation. This alleged ghost was also captured on film. The photo was at the on-site gift store until the owner decided to take it back.

Because of these supposed sightings, the plantation does get its fair share of visitors during Halloween, Executive Director Nancy Robert said.

“Most of the people who come around Halloween are fans of Anne Rice and they want to see the plantation because it was in the movie ‘Interview with the Vampire,’” she said. “But we do have some people who come by and ask where the ghosts are.”

Robert said that because the plantation has such a flavorful history, there are going to be ghost stories. And while she admits that strange things do sometimes occur at the plantation, it’s nothing that wouldn’t occur anywhere else.

“Every now and then someone will take a picture and see something, but it just depends on their imagination,” she said. “It’s a great thing for people who do believe in that, but there are no daily occurrences or anything like that.”

The History of Ormond Plantation
In the early 1780’s, Pierre d’Trepagnier was awarded a tract of land by Spanish Governor Don Bernardo deGalvez in recognition of his service in subduing the British at Natchez during the American Revolution. The main building was completed shortly before 1790 and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. d’Trepagnier and their children. d’Trepagnier soon began growing indigo - and then sugar cane - and the plantation began to prosper.

Owners meet tragic, mysterious ends
Ten years after the home was finished, it was the site of a slave uprising. According to the Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans, the leader of the rebellion was eventually caught and punished. While he was being whipped, the slave allegedly laid a curse on the master and the plantation.
The first of the home’s many mysteries began in 1798 when d’Trepagnier was summoned from a family meal by a servant to meet a man dressed as a Spanish official. d’Trepagnier left with the man and was never heard from again.

From 1805 to 1819, Col. Richard Butler owned the plantation. When the yellow fever epidemic arrived in New Orleans, he sold the plantation to his brother-in-law and moved to Mississippi. A year later, Butler and his wife fell victim to the yellow fever.

In 1898, State Senator Basile LaPlace, Jr. bought the plantation, but his time there was short. LaPlace, who had allegedly made enemies with the Ku Klux Klan, was called out into the night and riddled with bullets. LaPlace was then hung in the large oak tree which stands on River Road in front of the plantation home.

Over the years, there have been reported ghost sightings by the bed and breakfast staff, according to the Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans.

But don’t plan on getting close to the plantation during Halloween - no tours are offered.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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DHS defense faces stiff challenge as Barbe visits
DHS defense faces stiff challenge as Barbe visits
For the second time in three seasons, Barbe will visit Destrehan Friday night in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, with a spot in the state quarterfinals on the line.

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