Note: This entry is in the process of being amended. I recently learned some details are not accurate. I hope to have the problem fixed soon.
Jean Baptiste LeComte II received Spanish and French lad grants in the mid-1700s. Buildings began to erect in the 1800s in Westwego, Louisiana. However it wasn’t until 1830 Magnolia Plantation saw it’s first residents. Jean’s son Ambroise and his wife Julia Buard and began turning the property in to large-scale cotton production. Using slave labor, they converted 2,000 acres wooded area in to huge cotton crops. Their profits allowed them to expand to three plantations using Magnolia as their home base. Most of Magnolia’s structures which include a blacksmith shop, a plantation store, a former slave hospital, eight brick cabins and a gin barn date between 1835 to 1850. The slave hospital housed the owners when the main house was burned by retreating Union soldiers during the Civil War in 1897. The house that stands today is a recreation of the original.
Magnolia remained a source for cotton for over a century. It was considered exceptional because of the farming technology, such as the cotton picker tractors and two cotton gins (both steam- and animal-powered) and a rare 11 by 30-foot wooden screw cotton press. Ambroise and Julia’s daughter Ursula and her husband Matthew took over the plantation shortly after their marriage in 1852.
The plantation was the center of a community of Creoles of color and blacks who lived and worked on the plantation as tenant farmers and laborers. However, treatment of the slave laborers was not always good. The basement was used for curing meat. In the 19th Century, a slave overseer brought slaves there to punish and torture them. Some rebelled, killing and curing him. No one knows if he was ever served to his compatriots. Leg stocks still stand on the property as a reminder of the humiliations, starvation and public punishments. Escaped slaves were allegedly hunted down. The eight brick cabins were a rare masonry slave village. Two slave families lived in each building, sometimes up to 10 people in each unit. During the Civil War, the slave quarters were used to house Confederate prisoners, up to twenty-five in each. Some soldiers died from suffocation.
Many ghosts are said to plague the property. Neighbors say they still hear the murdered overseer’s screams and feel his icy presence. Enslaved blacksmiths would incorporate hidden voodoo symbols on Christian crosses used as LeComte grave markers. The slaves often casted evil wishes on their oppressive masters using voodoo. In the main house, there is a room dubbed “The Dying Room”. It is said that many of Magnolia’s residents went to this room to die. This room also housed a Union Major who was slowly poisoned and driven to madness by his Confederate prisoners. Eyewitnesses have reported seeing a man’s distorted face appear in the window and during full moons, the kitchen door opens and misty things crawls around on their hands and knees.
Confederate soldiers who died in the slave cabins are said to be buried in shallow graves surrounding them though no one has ever did a thorough search. It is believed they whisper the names of the living. Sometimes even attempts to possess them in order to get the revenge they seek. Other ghostly apparitions and disembodied voices are often seen and heard on the property. Motion detectors are often triggered without a known reason.
Magnolia Lane Plantation has appeared on Ghost Adventures.
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