Born in France, Annie Palmer was a petite woman (barely 4 feet tall) who moved to the beautiful island of Jamaica. She was to marry a powerful man who owned Rose Hall and thousands of acres of sugar plantation. Little is known of her early days at Rose Hall. It is said that she pined greatly for the bright lights of Paris, and found life on the island to be a hardship.
Whatever the cause, Annie ruled with an iron fist. She was feared by the slaves who lived on and worked the plantation. Any defiance or even perceived insolence was answered with public whippings, torture in the dungeon, or even death. Annie started her day by stepping to the small balcony, and issuing the orders of the day to the assembled slaves in the yard. Her orders included punishments and executions.
Perhaps out of boredom, Annie started taking slaves to her bed. When she lavished her attentions on a slave, that man's days were numbered. After Annie grew tired of her lover, she would murder him and have him buried in an unmarked grave. We know little of her first husband, John Palmer, except that she murdered him in his bed as well. Perhaps he caught her in the act, or maybe she just tired of him too.
These were rather lawless times. The sudden death of the master of the estate seemed not to cause any investigation. Regardless, Annie cultivated the image of being a tough and merciless mistress, to keep her from appearing to be easy prey. These were difficult times to be a rich widow in a country frequented by pirates and the like. Annie found another way to remain independent and in control... Voodoo.
Many of the slaves were practitioners of the art. In order to curry favor and live longer, they taught Annie everything they knew about magic. This was to include sacrificing particularly infants whose bones she used in practicing the black magic. Soon Annie was known far and wide as "The White Witch of Jamaica". Her reputation for ruthlessness and magic powers kept her safe from those who would normally consider her a target. However, Annie found time and reason to marry two more husbands, which she eventually dispatched in a similar manner, acquiring their wealth in the process. It was assumed that they were foreigners, unacquainted with Annie's reputation on the island.
Annie's Overseer was a slave known to be quite a powerful Voodoo practitioner. A fact he managed to conceal from Annie, at risk to his own life. The Overseer had a daughter who was engaged to marry another handsome young slave on the plantation. Unfortunately, Annie's lustful eye fell upon the young man, and he was soon called upon to pleasure the mistress of the house. The Overseer knew what to expect, and began to make preparations to protect the young man from Annie's "disposable lover" policy.
However, Annie did not follow her usual pattern. She killed the young man that same night, instead of playing with him for a week or so. Perhaps he objected to her attentions and declared his love for another. Whatever the reason, the young man was dead. The Overseer's daughter was grief-stricken, while he was filled with helpless rage. Annie must die, at all costs.
A special grave was prepared in the woods, using Voodoo ritual and markings. The Overseer then entered the house, confronting the White Witch. He engaged her in magical and physical battle. He succeeded in killing her, but unfortunately, sacrificed his own life in the process. Slaves who were privy to the Overseer's plan entombed the body of the White Witch in the specially prepared grave. A grave designed to keep her from rising and walking the plantation again. They failed to complete the ritual properly, and the White Witch is said to roam the Great House to this day.
The spirit of Annie Palmer still haunts Rose Hall, along with a host of other spirits... presumably those of her victims.
According to local legend, the White Witch would seize any intruders in her home. Furthermore, she could still be seen at night riding on Rose Hall and Ironshore estates, wearing a green velvet dress, seated on a large black horse, and flaying with her whip anyone who got in her way. Annie is also said to manifest most frequently as a series of hurried foots steps heard walking through the main hall to the back entrance of the Great House. There are also stories of whispered voices in the dungeon, invisible footsteps on the stairs, and tapping on the walls. Some also claim to hear the cries of the babies she murdered, as well as old, old music as if from a long ago ball.
The Great Hall fell into ruin over the course of 200 years, until it was purchased by a developer who built the Ritz-Carlton hotel on the grounds, and devoted considerable personal expense in renovating the old plantation house. As usual, with renovations comes ghostly phenomena. Workmen reported tools being moved or hidden, only to reappear exactly where they were originally left... or more mysteriously, deposited in a place normally inaccessible. Some reported answering to someone calling their name, only to find that they were alone or out of earshot of anyone else. Newly refinished floors would become marred overnight, with what looked like old blood stains. Soon, most of the workforce was from off-island.
Eventually, the place was completed and furnished. Few of the items from the original house were recoverable. Although, there were several miraculous exceptions, including a few paintings and one old mirror. The mirror has come to play an important role in the Hauntings at Rose Hall. A person appears in the mirror when some photos are taken. It stands out as being truly eerie and hard to explain.
The Rose Hall Great House is now a museum.