Travel Tip: St. Francisville, Louisiana  
Travel Tip: St. Francisville, Louisiana

Did you know about charming St. Francisville, Louisiana? I didn’t. St. Francisville is the setting for a number of surviving antebellum (pre-civil war) homes. Because they surrendered to the Union Army early, Union soldiers spared their homes. Many of these homes are available as Bed and Breakfasts or for touring.

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit 2 plantation homes while steam boating through St. Francisville. The first was Rosedown, built by Martha and Daniel Turnbull in 1835. Rosedown, a State Historic Site, is most famous for their colorful gardens decorated by beautiful sculptures and fountains, and divided by carefully manicured hedges.

Inspired by by Versailles and other post Renaissance gardens that Martha visited on their honeymoon trip, her dream, which she achieved, was to create a French style garden of the 17th century, in her Louisiana wilderness home. She devoted more than 60 years to creating and maintaining these gardens. Because she kept a detailed daily journal, the state of Louisiana can maintain the gardens the way Martha envisioned them. Her first azaleas were imported in 1826. She and her husband were among the first families from Louisiana to import camellias and exotic flowers from the Orient. (from Reflections of a Rosedown, A Rosedown Book by Ola Mae Word)

A number of homes in St. Francisville are supposedly haunted. I visited the Myrtles Plantation, which is rated 13 on the list of America’s most haunted houses. The house has a grim history. The husband took a mistress, Clara, from among his slaves. When he caught Clara eavesdropping on family business, he punished her by cutting off an ear. Naturally, Clara was unhappy about this. Angrily, she boiled the leaves from the poisonous oleander plant and put the juice in a family birthday cake. The wife and 2 children died as a result. Clara eventually confessed to the murders and an angry mob killed her. Sadly, the husband no longer wanted to live in the home and sold it. Clara’s ghost and the ghost of the 2 children are among the “haints” they say walk the halls of the Myrtles. Our entertaining guide warned us to hang on to our earrings. Apparently, Clara still loves earrings and has been known to steal 1 earring from visitors to the Myrtles Plantation. The Myrtles is a Bed and Breakfast so you can check out the haunting on your own. Look for the ghost cat they say roams the halls.


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