Let the haunting good times roll

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 2, 2002


LAPLACE – The River Parishes are uncommonly rich in history. As one might well expect, the area is also rich in ghost stories.

Tourists often come to the area in hopes of visiting a spirit-haunted antebellum plantation, and sometimes they are not disappointed. Over the years, a few of the midnight ramblers have been captured on film, and mediums call the region a “hot spot” for hauntings.

Besides ghosts, there are also tales of weird creatures of the wild, supposedly living in the area’s swamps.

So, gather the children close, and read these tales of terror, preferably by lamplight. Then try and sleep.


Several local plantations are said to contain their share of historical spirits. One of these, Destrehan Plantation is said to be overcrowded with otherworldly creatures.

Ghosts are said to inhabit the attic, various rooms and are even reported to have joined tour groups. Numerous photographs exist of entities, including a group of children on a rear gallery staircase and another reflected in a mirror.

Past owner Jean Noel d’Estrehan has reportedly joined visitors taking the tour, only recognized once they see his portrait. The daughter of a former caretaker once told interviewers of her close encounters with ghosts on the property, as she resembled a former owner’s wife who died at an early age.

Other alleged ghosts have also been reported at Evergreen, Oak Alley, San Francisco, Ormond and Whitney plantations.

At Whitney, near Wallace, owner John Cummings III has reportedly seen an elderly black woman holding an infant on the rear gallery. At Evergreen, located near Whitney, piano playing is reportedly heard late at night, played by a former teacher who once lived with the residents. There is no piano in the house now.

The spirit of a headless woman has been seen from a second-floor window at Oak Alley in Vacherie and a photograph exists of the spirit.

At San Francisco, in Garyville, psychic investigators for the Society of Paranormal Research claim to have detected the lingering spirit of former owner Charles Marmillion, in one of the second-floor bedrooms.

Ormond owner Ken Elliott II was in the midst of renovations prior to the opening of the house to tourists several years ago. While working on the foundation, the power would unexpectedly go out at odd times. All he had to do to restore power was to ask the spirit of his late mother, Betty LeBlanc, to turn the lights back on. Instantly, the power was restored.

Another encounter with a spirit was reported as recently as last year at St. John Theater in Reserve. Three women and a 12-year-old boy were working late one evening on the stage when two little girls appeared in the lobby. They looked to be about six and had wavy, long, brown hair.

A woman called to the children, who were strangers to the theater volunteers. Instead of replying, the girls darted away. The women gave chase and followed them up the stairs to the balcony, where they could hear the girls giggling.

“It didn’t sound right,” one of the women said. “It wasn’t evil, but I had the creeps.” No children were found, either by the women or a deputy summoned to the scene.


Reports surface from time to time, some dating back more than 100 years, of strange creatures said to inhabit the area’s many marshes.

In 1891, Civil War veteran Frederick Kliebert was returning home from a squirrel hunt in the woods near South Vacherie.

“All of a sudden, he heard at a short distance from him a sound like that of a deer coming toward him,” according to a local newspaper account. “Since his gun was loaded with fine shot, he hurried to reload with buckshot in order to shoot the animal which he thought was a deer. He was greatly surprised when he saw approaching him a huge man of around nine feet in height, covered by a long, black beard. He had on a kind of cloak of fur or some material of a brownish color which seemed to be attached only by a rope around the neck. The rest of his body was naked and was covered with red hair.”

The account mentioned the “giant” gave Kliebert only “a sad and serious look” in response to questions, then walked to the west, leaving behind footprints of 23 inches in length and nine inches in width.

In 1983, a LaPlace man claimed to have spotted a Bigfoot with 19-inch footprints near Ruddock. His two Doberman pinschers chased the seven-foot-tall being and were later found decapitated.

In 1989, another LaPlace man was alone on the levee near Bayou Steel, planning to go hunting in the batture. He heard a noise, turned, and “saw two big, red eyes starin’ back at me!” He dropped his gun and fled.

Still another man, leaving a West St. John High School football game a few years ago, caught a glimpse of “something” crossing the highway just at the edge of his headlights.

The man described a “person” covered head to foot in fur, its legs crooked like dog legs. This being, however, was less than six feet in height. The man kept driving, thinking he might have spotted the legendary loup-garou, or a werewolf.