Tag Archives: 1830

SOUTHERN GOTHIC

  My dad is an avid treasure hunter as well; a collector of bark cloth, mid century lamps, and wall art. We often travel together on weekends in search of items to add to his collection + my inventory. Two years ago we headed for Louisiana’s oldest city (and former set of Steel Magnolias), Natchitoches.

 Typical us, we had no prior knowledge of what the city had to offer.  The charming downtown was your typical ‘old town’ – 3 or 4 square blocks of 2 story brick buildings and cobblestones. Only this downtown also had a waterfront. And a lot of greenery. Impressed with how green Natchitoches was, we opted to take a scenic drive.

 What followed were miles upon miles of beautiful farmland, namely fields full of pecan trees. And when I least expected it, there it was. The most haunting sight I’ve ever seen, an old white home largely hidden behind a mess of trees and vines. I had to investigate.

 The driveway was empty. The surrounding grounds could be toured during business hours, which were since over. With the exception of a massive black bumbling bee hovering by the porch we were alone. Or perhaps not. I’m very sensitive to presences and felt watched the entire time. 

 Moments after leaving my dad suffered a mysterious affliction which caused him to lose most of the sight in one eye. Naturally, I think malicious forces from beyond the grave were the culprit. It’s as if they were saying ‘that’s what you get for snooping around’. Thankfully dad made a full recovery after wearing an eye patch for 3 months.

Upon my return home I researched this place of mystery. Magnolia Plantation was on the cutting edge in it’s heyday. Established in 1830, it was well equipped with many cotton gins and hundreds of slaves; who built a great fortune for the Le Comte family. It also stood atop an Indian burial ground. If that doesn’t set the tone for horror, I don’t know what does.

As  sensationalized as the Ghost Adventures episode on it was, they got a few things right. Magnolia Plantation is undoubtedly a very haunted place with a very brutal history.

The basement of the 2 1/2 story main home was used to cure meat, as well as discipline (aka shackle and torture) disobedient slaves. Escaped slaves were often hunted down, then returned and tortured. Once an overseer took slaves to the basement to torture them. Instead they tortured, killed, and cured him. The original ankle shackles used to detain slaves remain in the basement to this day.

The home has a designated ‘dying room’, where several residents and guests have died over the years. Including a Union soldier, who was slowly poisoned and went mad.

When Union soldiers overtook Natchitoches, they attempted to burn Magnolia plantation. The attempt failed, but they did succeed in shooting and killing an overseer at the doorstep. He’s buried on the property, and reputedly haunts the home.

Atypical masonry buildings housed slaves. Each building is subdivided into 2 sections, and each section housed up to 20 slaves. The buildings also housed up to 25 confederate prisoners at a time during the civil war. Many died from suffocation.

 Voodoo graffiti is found everywhere on the property. On the slave houses, the slave hospital, in the main home… even on Christian grave markers. Anthropologists studying the property found many voodoo related artifacts, much to the dismay of the local community – who’d rather downplay the negative parts of their history.

Hundreds of confederate soldiers are said to be buried on the property in unmarked shallow graves. The graves have yet to be found though.

With that said, Magnolia Plantation is considered one of the most haunted places in the south. I’d like to think the trees grow as they do because they hang in shame. Their concealment of the main home is their way of protecting us from the ugliest aspects of humanity.

I originally posted these photos on a personal blog, and had resized them to fit the dimensions of my layout. I regret not saving them in larger sizes and am sometimes tempted to go back and reshoot. But the little voice in my head tells me to steer clear. And little voices are never wrong.