Tales of haunted Bossier

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The old Taylortown Bell Tower is rumored to be haunted. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)
Historian shares rumored haunted locations in parish

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Like many destinations around the world, you will find legends within towns, including areas that are supposedly haunted. Bossier City is no different.

In the spirit of the spooky Halloween season, the Press-Tribune spoke with Bossier Parish Historian Clifton Cardin to get background on some of the rumored haunted spots across Bossier Parish. Information was also pulled from Cardin’s book “Bossier Parish History: The First 150 Years 1843-1993.”

Taylortown

Taylortown is a small town right outside of Bossier City. There’s not much in Taylortown, but it’s infamous for one thing, which is the bell tower.  At one time, the bell tower was part of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Taylortown, when it was built in 1907. The church was designed by John Dorch and built of Gothic-style architecture.  The church was only used for sermons once a month by a circuit pastor, who stayed at the homes of town residents, due to the great distances between the churches on his circuit.

As the small church’s congregation dwindled down, the church was  eventually abandoned.  Legend has it that a bride was waiting in the bell tower for her fiancé, who has killed in a car crash on his way to pick her up. She apparently was so grief stricken that she fell down the steps and died. Others say she hung her self in the bell tower, and on moonlit nights, you can hear the ringing of the bell and a woman’s scream.

Another tale is that the church was burned down by a grief stricken father over the death of his only daughter who was going to be married in the church. In reality, the church actually caught fire by hay that was stored inside the abandoned church.

Oakland Plantation

Oakland Plantation is a plantation house located in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. The plantation and its adjoining cemetery is located on Sligo Road, which is about seven miles south of Haughton.

In the early 1800s, Dr. Abel Skannal purchased the land and built a house on it. The house was built in stages, from 1838 to the early 1840s. The house still stands to this day. Although the rear part of the house was modified in the 1960s, the facade of the house has remained the same since it was built.

Legend has it the doctor slept in the coffin with a slave chained to him while he slept. It’s also written online that Dr. Skannal murdered his wife and kept her body in the attic of the house and she wasn’t discovered until after he died.

The Skannals also lost several children while they were very young. Maybe that explains the look in that picture taken by the dog sitter. If the doctor was a jokester when he was alive, the Williams family thinks he might be the one messing with them today.

The house is located on Sligo Road in Haughton and marked by a Louisiana Historical marker. It reads “This house was built in stages between 1832 and 1848, and by 1850 was owned by Doctor Abel Skannal. From this house the family controlled five plantations totaling over 8,000 acres. Rumors about ghosts are sustained by the fact that Doc Skannal kept a coffin in the attic of the house. The family cemetery is located nearby in the woods.”

Claims of paranormal activity in and around the house have been reported. It has been said that the thermostats would randomly turn down to 0°F, children’s blankets would be ripped from the bed, and chairs would rock on the front porch.

South Bossier Point

Cardin’s book claims that a “witch was found murdered in South Bossier Point.” On October 1, 1871, Nancy Robertson, a freed slave, was found dead at her home in South Bossier Point. Mysteriously, the house was locked from the inside. Neighbors could see her lying dead on the bed through a window and called for the parish coroner.

Earlier another freed slave had collapsed while plowing a field, from what white doctors diagnosed as fluid on the brain brought on by the heat of the summer. But fellow freemen were not convinced by the doctors diagnoses and remembered that the summer before this, Nancy had fell out with the man and had made vague threats against his life. The freedmen decided that this Nancy had bewitched the man with a curse. The man lingered for a few days and died.

The local coloreds quickly arrested Nancy Robertson and sent for Charles Steele, a celebrated witch doctor to have her tested for being a witch.

Charles Steele had gained fame earlier for invoking a “miracle cure” upon another colored women. This women had been sick for months with chornic chills and fell into a general poor state of health. Charles informed her she was bewitched, and that he could cure her. He prepared a nauseous dose that caused her to vomit freely.

Afterwards, he held up the vessel in which she had purged and showed her several lizards, toads, crickets and such there in. He told her that they had caused her sickness, pronounced her cured and she did indeed become well.

While on their way to get the infamous witch doctor they came across a fellow white neighbor who warned them that they may face consequences for taking the law into their own hands. The white neighbor told the freedman to have a post mortem examination to see if the man was poisoned.

When physicians examined the man, they announced that poison had nothing to do with the death (they believed it had been caused by fluid on the brain.) Apparently the freedman were not happy with this explanation and still presumed the death to have been caused by Nancy Robertson and her “bewitching.”

When the coroner, with his jury and physician arrived, the mystery of the locked house murder was solved. They broke into the house and quickly deduced that the women had been shot through a crack in the wall with a shotgun. Indeed several of her neighbors had heard the shot, but had failed to investigate. Three of the pellets penetrated her heart and killed her instantly.