The Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South
PART FIVE-THE FINAL DESTINATIONS
We have almost come full circle on our Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South. It’s time to leave New Orleans behind and hopefully, none of the spirits have attached themselves to you so they can be left behind too! We just have two more overnight destinations, but the scares are plentiful, so buckle up for your last ride. *maniacal laugh*
Louisiana hauntings are not restricted to New Orleans. In fact, one of the most haunted plantations in the country is located about 26 miles north of Baton Rouge. The Myrtles Plantation was built in 1796 by David Bradford. Bradford was a revolutionary war general who was actually hiding out in Mississippi after George Washington put a price on his head for being a part of the Whiskey Rebellion. He was eventually pardoned and brought his family to live in the plantation. When he passed, the plantation went to his son-in-law Clarke Woodruff.
Woodruff began a scandalous affair with Chloe, one of his slaves. Chloe wanted nothing to do with him, but she was too afraid of what would happen if she scorned his advances. Of course, Chloe was also afraid of what would happen if Mrs. Woodruff found out so she started listening in on their conversations. When Clarke caught her with her ear to the door he punished her by cutting it off! Chloe wore a green turban to cover her shameful scars, and she became more and more resentful. She slipped poison into the dinners of Mrs. Woodruff and the children to make them ill. It was meant as a warning, but she used too much and they died the next day. The other slaves knew what Chloe had done and they, too, were afraid of Clarke Woodruff and did not want to be associated with the crime. So they hung Chloe from a tree behind the house.
Ruffin Grey Stirling was the next to own the cursed home with his wife and their nine children. They gave it an expansion for all of those kids! But shortly after the additions were completed, Ruffin and his oldest son died of consumption. Four more of the Stirling children died in the house before they reached adulthood.
During the Civil War, the home was looted, personal items were destroyed and Stirling’s wealth of Confederate money was rendered useless. Sarah, the oldest of the nine children, married William Drew Winter. They took over the home after the war. Winter went broke and lost the house. They mysteriously came into some money and Sarah bought it back. Then one afternoon, a man rode up on horseback and called William out onto the porch where he shot him and rode off. The murderer was never found and the reason remains unknown. Sarah was devastated and withered away inside the house, dying two years before her mother passed. Sarah’s brother, Stephen took over the plantation, but he too ran out of money and was forced to sell.
After several transfers, the plantation was purchased by Harrison Williams, with his son and second wife. They helped the place to prosper again and had six more children. Wait for it. The oldest son was herding cattle to the barn during a storm one night and he fell into the Mississippi and drowned.
If you do some research on Myrtles Plantation, you are going to find lots of historians that like to poo poo on the legend of Chloe. Like any ghost story, you have to take it with a grain of salt (no really, bring salt. It wards off evil!). But, calm down, Karen, most people just think it’s a really cool story. The rest of the history is true and Woodruff’s wife and 2 of his 3 children did die in the house. Of Tuberculosis. And, no, there is no record of a slave named Chloe, but do you really think this rich dude is going to keep a record of the slave he sexually assaulted, mutilated, and died on his property?
Chloe likely became famous because of Marjorie Munson. By the 1950’s a widow, left very wealthy from her husband’s chicken farms, moved in. She is the first person to start reporting the hauntings. She would constantly see a woman in a green turban and began to ask around about the history of the home. I’m sure she was bored, hanging out with all those chickens and that’s how the tale of Chloe came to be.
No matter the details, there have been lots of death and tragedy associated with Myrtles Plantation. The current owners know what a good thing they’ve got going and you take ghost tours of the home and, if you’re brave enough, stay a night in one of the rooms. Chloe’s ghost is still roaming the property to this day (or whoever that lady in the green turban is). Her full apparition has been caught on camera standing between the main house and the gift shop.
Children’s faces appear in windows and mirrors, while their playful laughter is heard on the Veranda. Shuffling, whispers, phantom gunshots, crying, and running footsteps are common sounds in the house as well as the grand piano playing the same chord over and over. A woman in a white Victorian dress walks through the front door then disappears. Male guests have reported that someone has arranged their shoes for them while they were out.
There have been a few movies and television series filmed on the property and crews would move all the furniture around to suit the filming needs and it would keep getting put back in the original spots before they could finish filming. To put the cherry on this otherworldly cake, there are several black cats that roam the property. Live black cats. I think…
HAUNTED VICKSBURG, MS
Vicksburg haunts come from its brutal history. The land was first inhabited by Natchez Native Americans, who attacked European settlers for ownership, and the 47-day Siege of Vicksburg during the civil war ended with over 20,000 dead. Today, visitors to this beautiful city atop the Mississippi River can enjoy a wide array of entertainment, dining, and shopping opportunities.
Go ahead and check in because this quaint Bed and Breakfast is in walking distance of our haunted hot spots. Built in 1856 by Duff Green, a local cotton broker for his bride. When the Civil War reached Vicksburg in 1863. By designating his home as a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers, Duff saved the city from potential destruction. There were so many amputations performed at this makeshift hospital. At times there’d be stacks of limbs nearly piled to the ceiling. In fact, bone fragments and soldiers’ remain’s have regularly turned up on the premises, even recently.
Many ghostly soldiers have been seen all around the property. Guests have woken to find a Union soldier standing at the foot of their bed. The Dixie room was the operating room and there are multiple reports of a legless confederate soldier sitting by the fireplace. Others have seen the blurry form of a soldier who looks to be holding his own severed arm. Moans and groans can be heard coming from the room, even when it’s empty.
When the Green’s were able to return to their home, they were stuck with tragedy as each member of the family died in the home. Two of the children, William and 6-year-old Annie died from yellow fever, then Duff passed at the age of 55. Two years later, his oldest daughter, Annie (yes, they were both named Annie), died of blood poisoning, and a few years after that, Mrs. Green died.
The home became a boy’s orphanage for a while, then it was used as the Salvation Army Headquarters for over fifty years. Mr. and Mrs. Harry Sharp bought the home in the mid-1980s and restored it to its former glory. A visit to the Duff Green Mansion reveals blood-stained floors, the site of the family’s civil war cave, and an in-depth look at Vicksburg’s early days. And ghosts. The soldiers are not the only spirits of Duff Green Mansion!
Many guests have seen the apparition of Mrs. Green floating through the dining area. If something is ever out of place, she has been known to put it back where it belongs. Children visiting the home with their parents have often said that there was a mean little girl who would whisper in their ears and if they wouldn’t play with her, she would throw a ball at them. Adults have even seen the ball go rolling through the hall or bouncing down the stairs. Other hauntings include doors slamming on their own, cold chills, glasses spontaneously shattering, chairs with impressions that look like someone is sitting in them, and a general feeling of charged energy.
Your stay includes a three-course, seated breakfast in the formal dining room of the Duff Green Mansion. Each room is fitted with antique furniture and their website will let you know if your room may be haunted or not, so choose wisely!
Before dinner, take a tour of one of the coolest haunted houses in the country. The McRaven House was built in three different periods and National Geographic called it the “Time Capsule of the South.” Each addition is a representation of the time it was built and each comes with its own spirit! You can take a haunted tour of the home and stroll through the three-acre gardens- once a Confederate campsite and field hospital, get a look at Vicksburg life from three different moments in time, and meet the spirits of the owners who have never left.
The first portion was built in 1979 before Mississippi was even a state! It was a two-room brick structure with a bedroom above the kitchen built by Andrew Glass. Glass was somewhat of a desperado and would rob folks traveling the Natchez Trace and used his home as a hideout. His room is not all that different from the way he left it nearly 200 years ago. His spirit is quite active in the home. Probably because he was shot on one of his escapades and returned home, asking his wife to finish him off before the authorities arrived and he was sent to the gallows.
Glass’s ghost isn’t exactly the friendliest. In 1984, a man named Leeland lived in the home, but not for long. According to Mr. Leeland, the ghost of Glass chased all over the house and would constantly push him down, breaking his glasses. Drawers would regularly slam on French’s hands. Finally, he had enough and moved out. Glass doesn’t seem to be as angry as he used to be. He still slams doors and throws chairs and stuff, but he hasn’t harmed anyone else. I guess he just really didn’t like Leeland.
The second portion of McRaven was built in 1836 by Sheriff Stephen Howard. He added a second bedroom, a dining room, and a double-decker enclosed porch. Sheriff Howard’s wife, Mary Elizabeth, died in the upstairs bedroom after childbirth. Some of her personal belongings are still in the house and her spirit is the most active ghost in the house. Mary Elizabeth often greets guests in her upstairs bedroom. Witnesses have reported the lights in the room turning on and off by themselves as well as an impression of a body suddenly appearing on the bed.
The third portion of the house was built by a prominent brick manufacturer and sawmill owner, John H. Bobb, in 1849. Mr. Bobb built an elegant parlor, master bedroom, men’s changing area, flying wing staircase with “Vicksburg pillars.” During the Siege of Vicksburg, Bobb caught some Union soldiers tampering with his crops and threw a brick at them to chase them off but they returned later that night and killed made Bobb the third resident to die in the house. Mr. Bobb can still be seen pacing back and forth on his balcony and setting off the alarm clock in the master bedroom. He has also been spotted tending to his garden.
McRaven’s paranormal activity has been documented by A&E, The Travel Channel, and 48 Hours. You can even catch one of many EVPs recorded by investigators on YouTube.
10 South Rooftop Bar and Grill is located on top of the First National Bank Building, with spectacular views of historic downtown Vicksburg and the Mississippi River. The First National Bank building was the tallest building in the city when it was built in 1905. The newspapers stated that even though it was officially 8 stories it was “Practically 11 Stories!” due to the mezzanines built on two floors and a large basement where a bar and restaurant were located. It was divided in half with one side for men and the other for ladies. We can’t have men and women sharing a meal, now can we?!
Of course, now the restaurant is on the rooftop and no longer divides the sexes. Now, I am a connoisseur of grilled cheese sandwiches, and I have got to say, the Grilled Cheese at 10 South with pepper jack cheese, candied bacon, sliced tomato and honey dijon on grilled Sourdough bread is worth a trip to Vicksburg even without the ghosts! Pair that with watching a Mississippi sunset while sipping on 10 South’s signature cocktail, Mississippi Sunset, and you are in for a pleasant evening. As you look out over this beautiful city, you might catch a glimpse of the spirits that were born from the deadly F5 tornado that ripped through downtown in 1953.
By the time Mother Nature had calmed, there were 38 deaths, 17 industrial plants destroyed with 12 more damaged, 76 businesses destroyed, and 275 homes leveled. Over 1,200 people were left homeless. The twister swept through Washington Street, tearing down businesses with one crushing blow. Many people took shelter in the basement of the National Bank Building, which did take a hit, but was spared from casualties. The surrounding buildings were not as fortunate and the spirits of those who died that day still roam the streets. Perhaps they are drawn to this building since it did provide safety for so many.
Certainly, the most tragic building to fall victim to the tornado was the Saenger Theater, which was less than a block away and directly in the center of the tornado’s path. The theatre was featuring a family movie that had just begun moments before the building started to shake. The Mitchell sisters were celebrating their 10th birthdays at the movie with a group of friends and their very pregnant mother. Before the tornado hit, the power flickered and went out. Then light suddenly reappeared in the large theatre as the screen wall collapsed. Then the ceiling came down trapping movie-goers under the debris.
Rescuers worked through the night, digging people out, but as temperatures dropped to near freezing, efforts were slowed considerably. Sadly five children died, all under the age of 10. One boy described the fear he felt when a chunk of debris landed across his lap. He covered his face and cried for help. When rescuers came, he kept crying out for his friend, Alvin, who had been sitting just next to him. The man that carried him out could only comfort him as he tried to avert his attention to his buried friend.
Alvin and the other children that passed that evening seem to be happy in the afterlife. Their spirits have been spotted skipping across the street and disappearing once they reach the parking lot that used to be Saenger Theater. Sometimes they are joined by other ghostly children. There is one small girl holding a doll who is believed to be the daughter of the man who owned the dry cleaners across the street. They both perished when his building collapsed. She was found in the rubble clutching her doll. While what happened to them is truly a tragedy, at least they have found eternal playmates in each other and this whole city is their playground.
After dinner, take a walk down by the river to see an illustrated history of the city. The panels of the Vicksburg floodwalls have been painted by artist Robert Dafford. They depict Vicksburg’s historical significance, as well as its envisioned future role in the region’s commerce and culture. One of these panels is themed “The 1953 Vicksburg Tornado,” and depicts the devastation in the downtown area and commemorates the Pulitzer Prize-winning work of the Vicksburg Sunday Post-Herald in the aftermath.
Get some sleep, if you can, back in your haunted room at the Duff Green Mansion. Enjoy your breakfast before it’s time to hit the road to our final city on the Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South.
HAUNTED MEMPHIS, TN
Come to Memphis for the music; Come to Memphis for the food; Come to Memphis for the history; Just come to Memphis! The largest city on the Mississippi, Memphis was founded in 1819 and even the ghosts here sing the blues. It’s no wonder that Memphis is mentioned in more songs than any other city in the world. So put on your Blue Suede Shoes and we’ll “touch down in the land of the Delta Blues.”
You can’t go to Memphis without visiting Graceland! Being that it’s the home of Elvis, Graceland is a pretty popular place. Some people believe that his spirit resides there, and fans have reported seeing the King himself roaming about the house, and in pictures, they’ve taken while visiting. If you haven’t visited Graceland, you might actually be surprised by how cozy it is. It isn’t a vast grand estate, Elvis’s digs are eclectic and quite homey!
Folks say his image is constantly reflected in the glass cases that contain his valuables. One lady was checking out his jumpsuit collection when something caught her eye. When she turned back to the display and came face to face with the King. He is also seen in the Meditation Garden, looking out at guests from the glass case that holds his eternal flame. He’s been known to visit the estate’s black horses down by the stables. His uniformed spirit is sometimes at the front gate, giving tourists a waving welcome.
The mansion’s entryway is directly beneath the bathroom where Elvis died and some people find they cannot stand there for very long before they start to feel sick to their stomachs and all around uneasiness. The maids have reported strange goings-on in the house as well. Familiar crooning vocals are heard wafting down from the second floor of the mansion, which is closed to tourists.
My favorite spirit at Graceland, though, is Scatter, Elvis’s pet Chimpanzee. He has been glimpsed running around the property and guests have been startled by his loud hoots. He also likes to tug on ladies’ clothing, as he was wont to do when he was alive!
We all know that the ghost of Elvis is not restricted to Graceland. The King has made a habit of showing up all over the world since he died. But it makes sense that he would have regular appearances at Graceland. It is, after all, the second most visited home in America, right after the White House.
After visiting the King, get all shook up for a Soul Burger at Ernestine and Hazel’s. This building was once a pharmacy, where Abe Plough became famous from his line of hair products and Coppertone brand suntan lotion. This modest little building no longer suited his needs so he gave it to his sisters, Earnestine Mitchell and Hazel Jones. The sisters converted it into a cafe with rooms upstairs available to rent by the hour. Earnestine and Hazel didn’t exactly support or promote prostitution, they just chose to turn a blind eye. The cafe became a popular stop for performers after their sets at nearby nightclubs. Legends like B.B. King and Tina Turner were regulars at Earnestine and Hazel’s establishment. Everyone loved the sisters and they were well respected by the entire community. It makes sense that they would choose to stick around for eternity.
Earnestine and Hazel are still looking after everyone who comes through their doors. Years after they passed, the manager was devastated when her son was shot and killed. She sat alone at the end of the bar and began to talk to her mentor, the late Mrs. Earnestine. After asking for a sign that her son was alright she noticed a baby bird emerging from one of the booths, walk towards the door and fly off. Moments later an older woman entered the bar and comforted her. Before she left, the woman handed the manager a sterling silver necklace with a bird. The woman was never seen again. The manager insists that it was Mrs. Earnestine, there to comfort her in her darkest moment.
The sisters are still living it up with the spirits of former patrons who tend to stop by for a spectral sip or two. Employees closing up will regularly hear voices and clinking glasses in the empty bar. Some have heard a ruckus coming from upstairs and if they get near the staircase, an unseen entity will grab for them. Perhaps the ladies of the night are drawing them to the once upstairs brothel!
The most iconic haunting here comes from the jukebox. Not only will it randomly play on its own, but it seems to know exactly what to play and when. It’s like when you scroll through Facebook and see an ad for something you were just talking about in earshot of Alexa or Siri. The jukebox will sometimes play the song that a guest was looking for before they put their money in. And every now and then, it will play a song that is eerily related to a conversation being held. It’s as though Stephen King wrote this jukebox to life!
The Peabody hotel dates back to 1869 when the original structure became a social and business hub of Memphis. In 1925 a better Peabody was built at this location and it’s legacy as the “South’s Grand Hotel,” took off. You may know of the famous tradition of the March of the Peabody Ducks that began in 1933. 5 North American mallard ducks live on the rooftop and visit the lobby daily. You’ve got a grand, historic hotel with ducks waddling through the lobby, and you’ve got spirits waiting to tell you their stories before you lay down your head to sleep. How much better can it get!
Just before the Peabody opened, the owner, Col. Robert Brinkley, had planned to name the hotel after himself. However, he received word that his dear friend, philanthropist George Peabody had died, so he changed the name in his honor. Though George could not have known that this grand hotel bore his name, his spirit has made the discovery and is now quite comfortable here. His large white mutton chops are hard to miss when he makes an appearance. He seems particularly fond of the ducks and has been mistaken to be the Duckmaster (Yes, that is a real and awesome job).
The Eleventh floor is a particular hot spot in the Peabody. Ghostly whispers echo through the hall and guests have noticed cold spots and strange noises all coming from the eleventh floor. There are claims that a number of people have committed suicide in the building over the years. Many tall buildings set the scene for wealthy bankers and businessmen to leap to their death when the Great Depression hit. Perhaps theirs are the spirits on the 11th floor, wandering forlornly in this extravagant, expensive hotel.
Rest up for more spirits the next day!
The Lorraine motel can lay claim to the spirits of many great men and women who once spent a night or two here. Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding, just to name a few. But what makes The Lorraine Motel one of the most infamous locations in Memphis is an event that left a huge scar on the south that may never heal.
This is the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. The motel is now part of The National Civil Rights Museum and it sits, untouched since that day. The bedsheets are still rumpled, there are cigarette butts in the ashtray, and coffee cups sit on the table. This is much less of a paranormal haunted location and it is a poignant, soul-stirring experience. Many visitors find they cannot stay long before feeling uncomfortable and even dizzy.
The global tragedy that occurred here can be a hard pill to swallow. It is not the type of haunting that everyone is looking for. However, the National Civil Rights Museum’s mission to preserve the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and chronicle the American civil rights movement is vital to moving forward with the ongoing struggle for equal human rights.
And now it’s time to party! Beale Street is one of the most iconic streets in America. Thriving since the roaring 20′s, it has maintained that exciting carnival atmosphere. The history here is unforgettable for the Blues, as well as civil rights and economic equality. The street came alive with music from the crowded nightclubs, theaters, restaurants, and stores disguising the “underworld” of gambling, drinking, prostitution, murder, and voodoo. While Beale street did hit a pothole of despair in the 1980’s, today, it is thriving once again with live music seven days a week and legendary blues and jazz festivals. If you’re looking for spirits on Beale Street, you need not look hard at all!
WC Handy is considered to be one of America’s most influential songwriters ever. His small shotgun shack, where he lived from 1912 to 1918, has been moved to Beale Street and opened as a museum. You can tour the home where Handy wrote several classics, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the “Father of the Blues” himself!
Tin Roof occupies the former home of Pee Wee’s Saloon. Pee Wee’s was a large saloon, gambling hall, and rooming house. Legend has it that W.C. Handy wrote “Memphis Blues” here in 1900. The owner was Virgilio Maffei, an Italian immigrant who most called “Pee Wee’” because he was only four and a half feet tall. But don’t let his small stature fool you. Pee Wee ran a tight ship. If things got out of hand between gamblers, there was a bayou bordering the saloon that made a perfect dumping ground for bodies.
The building was a recording studio for a little while and sound engineers would constantly pick up the sounds of a brawl and gunshots. In 1997, The Hard Rock Cafe bought the building, and rather than tear down the old saloon, they pushed the old building down to create a basement. Hard Rock had all kinds of strange encounters and they haven’t stopped now that Tin Roof has moved in. Those phantom gunshots can still be heard over the live music and guests have reported being shoved by an unseen force. When it comes to the spirits of angry gamblers, it’s probably best to just stay out of their way so you don’t end up in the bayou yourself!
In 2014, The Hard Rock Cafe moved down Beale Street from one haunted building to another. However, the new spirit is much more appropriate for a restaurant dedicated to Rock and Roll. This building was once the home of the Lansky Brothers Clothing Store. They got their start selling Army surplus clothing, but as the Beale Street nightlife got more colorful, the brothers changed to high-fashion custom menswear. They had a high clientele of musicians and other public figures, including Duke Ellington and B.B. King.
One day, a young man was looking in the window, admiring the suits on display. The young man worked as an usher at Loew’s Theatre a block away and Lansky had seen him many times, looking in the windows and recognized Elvis Presley from church where he sang gospel music. Lansky invited Elvis inside and was told, “You have some nice stuff in there. When I get rich, I’ll buy you out.”
He started off slow, cashing his paycheck to buy a shirt for $3.95. Then Lansky put together young Elvis’s pink coat and pink-and-black cummerbund for his prom. When Elvis was invited to sing on the Ed Sullivan Show he didn’t have the money for the fine ensemble Lansky created. Lansky told him as long as he remembered him when he got rich, he could have the clothes for free. Elvis became a lifelong, loyal customer and Lansky Brothers became known as the Clothier to Music Royalty, adding famous customers like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Frank Sinatra, and many more.
Now that the Hard Rock Cafe occupies the building, it can be hard to know if you are looking at an extravagant display, or standing face to face with the spirits of the great musicians dressed in their finest Lansky Brothers fashion!
The Orpheum Theatre has survived numerous bankruptcies, a devastating fire, the decay of downtown Memphis and the threat of demolition to become the “South’s Finest Theatre.” In 1890 The Grand Opera House was built and became known as the classiest theatre outside of New York City. The Grand eventually became part of the Orpheum Circuit, bringing in the very best in Vaudeville entertainment.
In 1923 a fire broke out in the middle of a strip-tease and burned the theatre to the ground. In 1928, a new Orpheum was built, twice as large and beautifully decorated. By the 1940’s Vaudeville was dying and The Orpheum ran as a movie theater until 1976 when live performances came back to The Theatre. After being restored in 1984, the Orpheum has presented more Broadway touring productions than any other theater in the country and boasts a long line up of some of the best entertainers in the world. Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis call The Orpheum home, as does a 9-year-old ghost named Mary.
12-year-old Mary was hit by a car in front of the theater in 1921. She has been seen playing in and around The Orpheus ever since. Her long brown hair is in pigtails and she is in her white school uniform and long black socks. She likes to dance in the lobby when she really enjoys the music. Numerous performers have seen Mary in the audience, sitting in her favorite seat, C-5, in the mezzanine. Yul Brynner claims that he was drawn to her every night when “The King and I” toured through The Orpheus. She always sits, very politely, enjoying each performance, but behind the scenes, she is known for a bit of mischief! She’s been known to make the lights flicker and doors slam during rehearsals; she’s even thrown a maid’s cleaning tools into the toilet. Most occurrences are followed by her girlish laughter.
From Memphis, you’ve got about three hours to get back to Nashville where it all began. As you stumble your way back to your hotel on your final night of the Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South, I hope that you have not only been scared silly, but also learned from our journeys into the past and found a bit of wander over a simpler time. I am so happy to have shared some of my favorite spooky spots in my own part of the country. Southern Hospitality does extend beyond the grave and our Nightly Spirits Haunted Pub Tours across the south are happy to oblige. May you meet many more ghosts before you become one yourself!
Stay tuned for more Ultimate Haunted Road Trips through more regions of America!