General Bradford (builder of The Myrtles) had a fourteen-year-old daughter, who married Judge Clarke Woodruff. During his days as master of The Myrtles, Woodruff took one of the plantation slaves named "Chloe" as a mistress. He moved her up to the house to make their arrangement more convenient, under the guise of having her care for the Woodruff children. Chloe took advantage of this situation, however. To gain power, she began to eavesdrop on the coversations of Judge Woodruff and his guests. Although he warned her against this practice many times, she was caught on one occasion when the Judge had several influential friends in the gentlemen’s parlor. He had to punish her to save face, so he had her left ear cut off, and she was banned from the main house and returned to more harsh work elsewhere on the plantation. From that point on, she wore a handkerchief wrapped around her head to hide the defect.
Chloe reportedly longed for the comfortable work caring for the kids, and soon hatched a plan to return her to the former position. Woodruff’s nine-year-old daughter was having a birthday party, and Chloe volunteered to make the cake... but she laced the cake with a potion brewed from Oleander leaves. Her plan was that when the children got sick, she would treat them with an herbal cure and appear to have miraculusly cured them. She must have misjudged the dosage, though, because two of the children and Mrs. Woodruff died from eating the poisoned cake.
The Judge had been away, so he returned home to find that he was a widower. As the slaves were questioned, those who knew about Chloe’s dark plan turned on her. When Judge Woodruff learned what had happened, Chloe was hung from one of the plantation trees. When she was dead, her body was cut down, her pockets and clothes stuffed with rocks, and her body dropped into the river.
Not long after that, stories of Chloe’s presence in the house began to circulate among the staff and family. Today, the housekeepers lock the house up at night, only to return the next morning to find chairs in the parlor rearranged, and other furniture moved out of place. During tours, as ladies pass through the doorway to the gentleman’s parlor where Chloe was caught eavesdropping, an earring is sometimes snatched by an unseen hand. The staff regularly finds earrings in the oddest places, and write it off to the fact that Chloe loves earrings, but only needs to take one, since she only has one ear.
These stories and more continue to be a part of The Myrtles Plantation, a hauntingly wonderful place to visit...
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