Demopolis is the largest city in Marengo County, Alabama. There are a lot of historical sites in this city and some of the best places to visit here are Bluff Hill, Demopolis Public Library, Foscue Creek Park, Social Butterfly Marketplace, Mustard Seed, Spillway Falls, Demopolis Public Square, Foscue-Whitfield House, the Curtis House, and many more.
Downtown Demopolis, Alabama. (Link: https://elevation.maplogs.com/poi/demopolis_al_usa.59558.html)
On the top of the list of the places to visit in Demopolis is Gaineswood. This is a plantation and is currently managed by the Alabama Historical Commission as a historic house museum. However, it is not famous just because of that. Many claim that this place is haunted.
A photo of the Gaineswood Plantation. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaineswood)
The History Of Gaineswood
The Gaineswood plantation house is the grandest one ever built in Marengo County. Also, it is visited by many because of the fact that it is one of the most significant buildings that still stand, which is of Greek Revival architecture in the whole of Alabama. Accordingly, it is dubbed as Alabama’s finest neoclassical house and one of the most unusual neoclassical mansions in the whole of the United States.
An old illustration of the Gaineswood Plantation. (Link: http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-3020)
What makes it more interesting was that the actual construction of Gaineswood plantation was performed by enslaved people for almost 20 years. It was finally completed on the evening of the American Civil War.
The person who designed the Gaineswood plantation was General Nathan Bryan Whitfield. He was quite the figure in the area as he owned as many as 7,200 acres of land and enslaved around 235 people. He was a cotton planter and made a living out of it.
General Nathan Bryan Whitfield in an undated photo. (Link: http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-3020)
Whitfield bought the land where the Gaineswood plantation was erected from brothers George Strother Gaines and Edmund P. Gaines. He initially gave the plantation the name Marlmont but he changed it in 1856 in honor of George Gaines. During the time that Whitfield managed the Gaineswood plantation, it was used as a log house.
George Strother Gaines in an undated illustration. (Link: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/26236017/george-strother-gaines)
By the year 1861, Whitfield sold the Gaineswood plantation to his son, Bryan Watkins Whitfield. When Bryan was the one who already owned the Gaineswood plantation, it was used as a resident for him and his family. in 1923, the family of Bryan sold the Gaineswood plantation and it was used as a private residence for the net years. By 1966, it was bought by the state of Alabama to be preserved and be used as a house museum.
One of the rooms inside the Gaineswood Plantation. (Link: https://www.ruralswalabama.org/attraction/gaineswood-started-1842-completed-on-eve-of-civil-war/)
Today, people can visit the three surviving buildings at Gaineswood plantation. These are the cook’s house, the garden pavilion, and the monumental gatehouse. Unfortunately, no quarters for the slaves were preserved.
Another room that people can view at the Gaineswood Plantation. (Link: https://www.ruralswalabama.org/attraction/gaineswood-started-1842-completed-on-eve-of-civil-war/)
The Ghost Of Gaineswood Plantation
General Nathan B. Whitfield reportedly hired a young woman named Miss Carter to act as their housekeeper. He did so because soon after the completion of the mansion at the Gaineswood Plantation, his wife died. Miss Carter’s sister, Evelyn, had to come to the plantation one winter because the housekeeper asked the general if her sister could keep her company during that time. The general agreed.
Another room at the Gaineswood Plantation. (Link: http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/m-7309)
Evelyn was an accomplished musician as she skillfully played the piano. The General reportedly even joined her while he used his bagpipes. They played a lot of music including the General’s favorite tunes of Scotland.
Evelyn, however, became sick. She got the best medical care but she still passed away. Her body was not carried back to Virginia immediately because of the snow. Their father was likewise on a business in Greece and her final wish was that he return in time for her funeral. Miss Carter then decided it was best to have her sister’s burial by spring. Her casket was placed inside a heavy pine box and was sealed with rosin. It was stored under the stairs in the cellar.
More on Evelyn’s death, it is rumored that she had an affair with a French Count. However, she reportedly became brokenhearted because he left her to marry a daughter of the Whitfields. Because of being brokenhearted, she became lonely and this led to her death. It is unclear if this is true.
After Evelyn’s death, people in the Gaineswood plantation began to hear footsteps that were coming up the stairs from the cellar. The footsteps would stop in the drawing room where the piano was located. The sounds of someone playing the piano with Scottish ballads or Stephen Foster melodies could then be heard. Whenever someone would check out the drawing room to see where the music is coming from, the music would stop right there and then. When the person or persons who went to check the room would be back upstairs, new music would be played again.
When spring came, they took Evelyn’s body home to Virginia. However, that did not stop for Evelyn to continue to haunt the Gaineswood plantation. They were less frequent but Evelyn made sure to play some music from time to time.