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Surprises at St Francisville

Featuring Karen Revell and Laura Stone as they reminisce on their Lower Mississippi River cruise aboard American Duchess in late 2019.

We know there’s nothing quite like personal experience. It’s the little things. The smells, the music, the colours, the people you meet, the food you taste and the joys you discover that all add up to your opinion on a port of call – right?

In November 2019, before the world went mad, our special Key Partnership Managers, Karen Revell and Laura Stone, took a trip on the gorgeous paddlewheeler, American Duchess. We’ve asked them to take a deep dive into different ports of call for us in this series. Today’s episode features St Francisville, Louisiana

Laura says, “Truthfully, I hadn’t really heard much about St Francisville prior to our visit, other that it being a beautiful historic town with plantation houses. On arrival we were advised we were going to get to see the Myrtle Plantation. This plantation has 22 rooms over 2 floors, and the most stunning veranda the full length of the house. This was really interesting to see as the house was a Creole styled plantation house, and very warm and inviting. On arrival we went to a little gift shop, where we were welcomed with a cup of local hot chocolate. We heard about the history of the house and how it was thought to be haunted by the previous owners and it was well known for its paranormal activity. The grounds of this property are stunning and covered in Crepe Myrtle, and oak trees.”

She continued, “After this the hop-on-hop-off bus took us to town were we stopped for a coffee and chat with the locals. It was great to hear about the town through their eyes. We visited some of the local stores and antique shops, and then made our way to the Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery. We were able to enter the church and read the history of the church and grounds. With a beautiful LARGE oak tree hovering over the above ground grave sites, this was a very eery but stunning place. Again the history in the area and paranormal activity adding to the atmosphere.”

Great Expectations

Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana – image by Bogdan Oporowski via Wikimedia Commons

The hop-on-hop-off bus took us to town were we stopped for a coffee and chat with the locals. It was great to hear about the town through their eyes.

LAURA STONE

Karen says, “I TOTALLY loved this little town.  Like Laura said I hadn’t heard much about it and nor had I done any research about it.  Therefore I was super impressed.  Barb (AQV famil escort) had told me about a shop that was a “must” visit!  It was called Grandmothers Buttons.  Now I am not a sewer – or a mender – or anyone that has anything to do with buttons – however, I was taken by Barbs story and how amazing the shop was, so I visited it!  My whole day was totally exceeded in my expectations.  As Laura mentioned our visit to Myrtles Plantation was awesome.  The stories from the tour guide showing us around were so captivating. It was touted as “one of America’s most haunted homes”. 

It is said that it is supposedly home to at least 12 ghosts.

KAREN REVELL

Karen continued, “Reports have been made that 10 murders occurred in the house.   Even the story about the mirror that they have had replaced and reglazed many MANY times (pictured left) if you have a look at the top of the door in the picture to the right hand side you can see some etching on the picture – this is in fact in the glass.  Every time they have had the mirror re-glazed this comes back. 

They say that the mirror holds the spirits of Sara Woodruff and two of her children, and according to custom, the mirrors are covered after a death – but legend has it that this particular one was overlooked and therefore the uncovered mirror reportedly trapped the spirits of Sara and her children and they say that you can occasionally see handprints on the mirror.  Is this the etching?   The Plantation home tour was absolutely incredible – the stories of the ghost’s that still visit to this day were keeping us all very intrigued.  The other picture I have attached also shows of two lots of ghosts.

Highlights

The spooky vistas of Myrtle Plantation during Halloween time.

We asked Karen for her highlight of the day. “The Myrtle Planation was really wonderful and with the Halloween decorations still floating around, gave it that extra spooky touch. With the moss draped oak trees, and the sun shining through the frosty air, it was a really stunning place and I loved seeing all the beautiful old world charm this house had to offer.” said Karen.

This is a tricky one – I have two from today! 😊  Myrtles Plantation was an absolute highlight – but was so was Grandmothers Buttons shop.  This shop was started where an industrious woman with uncommon passions (buttons) built a thriving business with the help of her family and community.   I did some retail therapy here in this shop – I got a beautiful bracelet with old antique buttons (not your normal style buttons) but very beautiful and rare buttons that made up the most gorgeous bracelet.

LAURA STONE

Interesting Facts

Strange stories from the Civil War abound in St Francisville, Louisiana.

One of the strangest occasions in Civil War history occurred at St Francisville when both sides laid down their weapons for the burial of the union officer. This is re-enacted every year, and it is said that the soldiers haunt this ground and stories of sightings are talked about throughout town.

KAREN REVELL

Laura was fascinated to learn that, “The town of St Francisville was established on May 11 1807 by John H Johnson and was originally known as the Villa of St Francis.  A number of the historic structures from that period still exist.  It was previously called “the town two miles long and two yards wide” because it was developed on top of a narrow ridge overlooking the Mississippi River.”

Physicality

Grandmother’s Buttons store – St Francisville. Image: thepipe26 Wikimedia Commons

Laura says, “With the hop on hop off bus, getting around was super easy.   When we did the Myrtles Plantation tour it was about 12 minutes in the bus (maybe a little longer) so it isn’t walk-able – but the bus took us there so this wasn’t an issue.  For the rest of the stops it was lovely to walk around the town on a beautiful day.”

Lasting Impressions

Grace Episcopal Church, St Francisville, Louisiana, USA – by Ken Lund Flickr

To get a really great small town experience in Louisiana, this is a great place to be. The people are very welcoming and it is very picturesque. The history and stories give it an extra touch and we had a great time exploring.

LAURA STONE

Laura’s final word on St Francisville was “This town was one of my favourites (and yes I did have a few) however the vast array of things to see and do it really was a really brilliant day.  As per the other towns we visited, it amazed me the history that was connected with the towns.  So very interesting and it is amazing how quickly I had forgotten just how incredible this cruise we did from New Orleans to Memphis actually was. “