Occupation: Professor (USC)
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: October 24, 2020
Primary Language: English
The Story (over Zoom):
There’s a plantation called Myrtle’s that was a South Louisiana plantation outside of New Orleans that General Bradford, who was a famous general, owned. He, like many plantation owners, was sexually assaulting a slave in the house and her name was Chloe. So he had a relationship with Chloe. And Chloe got caught eavesdropping on the family. She was outside a room listening in, and to punish her they cut off her ears. Or maybe an ear. And so to get revenge she slowly poisoned the wife and children of the guy by, in the kitchen, poisoning food. And when she was caught doing that, she was killed, she was hung. And so, Myrtle’s plantation is said to still be haunted by her, if you go to the plantation in South Louisiana and go on tours, they’ll tell you about sightings of Chloe… And she had worn a scarf around her head after her ears were cut off, so y’know, you couldn’t see, and people knew the ghost was Chloe because the ghost has that green scarf on her head.
Context (as given by the informant):
When I was in middle school we did a tour of South Louisiana, a history tour where we went to different places, and that was one of the stories that we heard, that people regularly saw her ghost. If you take a tour there today they’ll tell you the story of Chloe.
The story is a way white guilt about the history of slavery gets manifest. It gets manifest in a way that is indirect, and frames Chloe as at fault.
The story is definitely intertwined with histories of oppression, and it both reflects and documents some of the injustices that occurred in the plantation era south. The use of the story as a tourist attraction is also interesting, as Myrtle plantation (and by association, Chloe) has been commercialized.