This afternoon, our beloved University of Tennessee Volunteers will take the field against LSU in Baton Rouge. I’ll grant you, UT is only beginning a long road back to being a football powerhouse, and it will take divine intervention to win this game, I’m afraid; but I’ll be sitting by the TV, yelling for all I’m worth–and that’s pretty loud 😉 –because my blood does run deep orange, after all.
Having said which, I thought it might be fun to retell a ghost tale from the Baton Rouge area. It wasn’t necessarily an easy thing. Baton Rouge isn’t nearly as haunted a city as New Orleans. But I found one, a very sad one of lost love and death.
Parlange Plantation is a very old place. The “big house” was built in 1754, some thirty-odd miles north of Baton Rouge, by a French nobleman named Vincent de Ternant. The Marquis–for such was his title–left his magnificent home and plantation to his son, Claude Vincent.
Claude Vincent was married twice, and the ghost in our little story was a child of his second marriage. This child, a daughter, was named Julie. She had, I suspect, the usual cultured eighteenth-century upbringing–but she didn’t necessarily have a cultured heart. Like many a romantic young girl before and since, she gave her heart to a young man of whom, for some reason, her family did not approve. Perhaps he was impoverished and ill-educated; perhaps a carouser; or, more likely, her father couldn’t countenance the idea of a son-in-law who didn’t come from the nobility.
In any case, Claude Vincent de Ternant arranged a marriage for young Julie with a nobleman fresh over from France. There would be no argument, he told his daughter. She would marry this man, and she would be a good wife to him.
The strain was too much for Julie. Heartsick and unresigned to the fate planned for her, she completely lost it during the wedding.
And when I say “lost it”, I mean she really lost it.
In the middle of the marriage ceremony, with her handsome, but unwanted, groom at her side, Julie began to scream hysterically.
She turned and ran blindly down the great house’s front yard to the driveway, screaming as she went.
That driveway was a lordly one, lined on both sides with great oak trees. Julie ran down the driveway as hard as she could run, pursued by her almost-husband and the wedding guests, screaming as she went.
Perhaps she was screaming her lost love’s name when, either accidentally or by design, she slammed headlong into one of those oak trees. She was already dead when her would-be groom lifted her off the ground.
And in the afterlife, Julie seems still to be reliving those last horrific moments before she died. She’s been seen many times since, running down that long oak-lined drive, a slender figure in a beautiful old-fashioned wedding dress and veil.
They say she doesn’t scream anymore; she only weeps now, the tears that would, inevitably, have come after the screams that were cut off by her death.
The story of the Mad Bride of Parlange Plantation is told in several books by Michael Norman and Beth Scott, and also by Dennis William Hauck in the 1994 edition of THE NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF HAUNTED PLACES.