The Haunted "Jewel of the Mississippi"
If you go out looking for reviews on Houmas House in Darrow, LA you will find that every one of them is good even if there is some dispute about how the slave labor, that built this jewel, should be addressed. What you will find no dispute over, however, is that Houmas House is haunted!
It’s no surprise, either! This Greek Revival turned Williamsburg Federal house dates from1829 and is connected to the French House from 1803 via carriageway. The ten luxurious acres that still remain were once part of the largest sugarcane empire in the South!
Raising sugar was backbreaking work and frontier life just wasn’t for the faint of heart. Yellow Fever and Malaria epidemics swept through the region during the hot summer months. Though we may not think of this way now, Louisiana was once on the western edge of America! Childbirth and the routine illnesses we deal with today were life threatening on the edges of civilization. Travel by riverboat was the fastest transportation and medical care was often days, if not weeks in coming.
Houmas House, then called The Houma, and the four families that claimed stewardship of it up until it’s purchase in 2003 by Kevin Kelly, were no exception. It may be that the hardships over the last 240 years have left an imprint on the property and the spectral inhabitants that remain today!
The most commonly seen ghost, is that of a young girl dressed in a blue dress who frequently appears on the freestanding staircase and, occasionally, visits the Bette Davis Room. A tall, thin man has been seen on the property and out near the front gate. Staff reports odd occurrences such as moving objects and unexplainable smells in the kitchen area of the French House and the courtyard beyond. There are numerous accounts of seeing people who look “out of place” and then vanish. A set of caretakers claimed that when 16 of the great Oaks were cut for profit, the remaining oaks became gnarled and droopy overnight. All of the men who cut these glorious sentinels drowned in the Mississippi River and their bodies were never recovered.
Lost, as well, were the bodies of generations of inhabitants at Houmas House. Following the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 levies were erected along the river. During this time the cemetery was buried under one of the new levies, never to be seen again!
So what is really going on here and who is it that wanders the splendid gardens by day and the richly ensconced halls by night? No one is entirely sure. But with former inhabitants like the one that faced down General Burnside during the Civil War and threatened an international incident if he inhabited the property, claiming British/Irish citizenship, it’s sure that there are a few ornery ones! We do know that sightings and odd happenings occur without concern for what hour of the day it is! Would you like to take the chance of bumping into a ghost yourself?
The plantation’s incredible gardens are open 9-7 daily with paid admission. I’d recommend allowing plenty of time to sit on a bench and enjoy the scenery or to have a lively conversation with a peacock or Mr. Kelly’s lab who roams the property. Tours of the house, Mr. Kelly’s private residence, are available most days. The property is dotted with quality eateries and restaurants allowing guests to linger and enjoy. And, if you’d like to linger a little longer, several small cottages are available for overnight rental. No matter how you decide to enjoy the history and ghosts of The Jewel of the Mississippi, be sure to allow plenty of time to relax and enjoy the ambiance of the true Southern gem which is Houmas House.
Michelle Tebow is the Author of Ghost Hunting: An Easy to Read Beginner’s Guide and the President of Ultimate Paranormal which provides haunted and historic adventures and consultation to small groups and independent travelers. For information you can find us at: www.ultimateparanormal.com.