Sunday, August 15, 2010

Case Files: Catfish Plantation

It's always interesting when you visit a haunted place--even when it's just to learn a bit about the history and to enjoy their hospitality.  It was after a trip to the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas that I decided to sidetrack a bit on the way back to Memphis to hit the legendary Catfish Plantation restaurant in Waxahachie, Texas.

The Catfish Plantation is known for serving up some of the best fried catfish in the area (something I can definitely attest to) and for their trio of ghosts:  Caroline, Will and Elizabeth.

The house itself dates back to 1895 and a local resident by the name of Anderson.  It serviced as a farm estate for his family and relatives for many years until it was converted into a doctor's office in 1970.  Later, in 1984, the current owners (Tom and Melissa Baker) purchased the property and would open the restaurant.  As the Bakers mention on their website, it wouldn't be long after purchasing the place that they would notice paranormal activity in the home--things like dishes being moved, glowing balls of light and the apparition of a young girl in a wedding dress standing by a front window!

Over the years, Catfish Plantation has been featured in many haunted programs on the Travel Channel, etc. and they now know there are three spirits in the restaurant.  The first is 'Will' a farmer believed to have passed away on the property in the 1930's.  He has been seen by witnesses as reputable as the local police, standing on the front porch of the house in a pair of coveralls.  The second spirit is called 'Caroline' and is thought to be an elderly woman who resided in the house as well.

But the most commonly reported ghost is that of 'Elizabeth,' a young girl who is often seen in a wedding dress standing by her favorite window.  She also likes to visit the ladies restroom where it is believed she was strangled to death sometime in the 1920's.  Visitors to the restaurant have reported smelling roses when she is around, though most of the activity is attributed to the 'flirty' Will who likes to touch female visitors.

I was told all this information while enjoying my dinner at the plantation just before closing.  There was one other couple there for a meal--and when they left, my waitress took me on a short tour of the historic, haunted place.  During that tour, I had my own brief but interesting paranormal experience.  The waitress was telling me about Elizabeth's favorite spot by 'her window,' when we heard a metallic 'ding.'  After a quick look around the dining room, we found that a set of silverware on my table (a set that I wasn't using since there were place settings for four) had been moved from a straight position to a crossed position (see photo).

I snapped a photo of the incident and continued touring the restaurant.  The young girl was telling me tales about the women's restroom when an unmistakable cold spot hit the room.  The waitress was only mildly alarmed, but she ushered me away from the area (I don't think she likes seeing ghosts as much as I do).  I took a few more pictures and then got back on the road to Memphis.  A few weeks later, a paranormal television show called Ghost Lab would feature an episode of Catfish Plantation--and during their visit, they would also experience the moving silverware!

If you're ever in the area of Waxahachie, and you're craving some top notch fried catfish, I recommend visiting the Catfish Plantation (they also feature paranormal events).  Just don't sit in Elizabeth's favorite spot!