Mississippi’s Lenoir Plantation – Ghosts, Deer, Hogs, War-Between-the-States History, Thoroughbreds and Quarter-Horse Training and Much More
Editor’s Note: I was fortunate enough to attend the first outdoor writer hunt ever held on Lenoir Plantation in Prairie, Mississippi, during December, 2009. This privately-held land never has been opened to the public, but it will be open in the fall of 2010 to a limited number of guests and offer hunting for deer, hogs, coons and ducks as well as fishing. But the story of Lenoir Plantation is as interesting as the game that abounds there. At this lovely antebellum home, two-different families lived and worked – the white side and the African-American side of the Lenoir family. Even today, descendants from both sides still live in the area. The Patterson family recently has purchased Lenoir Plantation, and this week, Beau Patterson will tell us about Lenoir Plantation’s history and what it will offer guests when it opens to the public in the fall of 2010.
Outside, the wind was howling, the lightning was cracking, and the thunder was rolling. I was sound asleep when I heard a scream and a thumping sound like a heavy box rolling down the stairs. Then the sound was gone, and I drifted off again to that destination between life and death known as sleep. But a second time I was awakened. This time, I heard a gurgling sound and a gasping for air as the bedsprings began to move. I had a terrifying feeling, and then it was gone. Was it only a dream? Or, had I been visited by spirits from another world and another time and place? I had an eerie feeling as though I’d been somewhere I didn’t want to go and experienced something I really wasn’t sure of its meaning.
When the morning came, I cornered Beau Patterson, one of the current owners of Lenoir Plantation, and asked him to tell me the history of this old southern mansion. “The house was built in 1847,” Patterson told me. “It was used as a hospital during the Civil War, first by the South and then by the North. This may be one of the reasons the house wasn’t pillaged and torched like many plantation homes were. The property owned by the Lenoirs at one time encompassed most of Monroe County, Mississippi, before the Civil War. Then after the war, the land was sold off, and the plantation was reduced from 30,000 acres to 7,000 acres and then to 3,000 acres. Today, there are only 700 acres, including the plantation house, left of the original plantation.
“The Lenoir family lived in this house until they sold it to a doctor from Georgia in 1982. He used it as a weekend retreat and a duck camp. Then it was sold to Lynn Davis, who built the barn and two attached covered arenas to use for training quarter horses and thoroughbreds. The restoration of the house was begun by Whitman and Betty Lenoir, the last Lenoirs to live in the plantation house. When we bought the house and property, it still had the original wallpaper that Betty Lenoir said was at least 120-years old. Once you pulled the paper off the walls, behind it was only tacked boards, so we had to hang sheetrock in a lot of the rooms and take much of the wallpaper down that had already dry rotted.
“In 2008, there was a reunion of the African-American side of the Lenoir family. The oral history of the Lenoir history was recounted andshared, including the story of the murder of William Lenoir. According to this history, William Lenoir came from France and started a farming operation near Aberdeen, Mississippi. The plantation originally had been a cotton plantation. According to this history, 2 years after he arrived, he developed a relationship with one of his slaves named Sara who became pregnant. One night she confronted him on the stairwell of the house. Apparently, he kicked her down the stairs and killed her and the baby she was carrying. Soon after Sara’s death, the house slaves greased the front door with lard so the door wouldn’t shut properly. That night, the field hands came into the big house and murdered William in his sleep, in the very room where you’re sleeping.” I began to think about my dreams the night before and the strange sounds I’d heard, and I wondered, “Was I dreaming? Or, were the ghosts of the long-departed reenacting what had happened on the stairwell and in the room where I slept so many years ago?” Are there ghosts at Lenoir Plantation? No one will say for sure, but without question, this is one of the most-unique hunting lodges I’ve ever visited.
Lenoir Plantation will be open to guests in the fall of 2010. For more information about the hunting, the fishing, the house and the old plantation, contact Beau Patterson at Bpatterson4888@gmail.com or (662) 202-4888.
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Tomorrow: After the Civil War