History meets paranormal studies for Discovery Channel program
Contact: Rene Abadie
Southeastern history professor Samuel C. Hyde Jr., center, joins Brad Klinge, left, and his brother Barry, hosts of the Discovery Channel Ghost Lab series, in front of the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville. Hyde served as historical consultant on the episode that explored the haunting legends associated with the plantation.
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University historian Samuel C. Hyde knows the history and background of the Florida Parishes like few others.
So it seemed natural for the Discovery Channel to tap Hyde’s expertise when it set out to do a segment for the new television series “Ghost Lab” that focused on the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville.
Hyde, holder of Southeastern’s Leon C. Ford Endowed Chair in History and director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies, was interviewed for the first episode of “Ghost Lab,” which premiered this week (Oct. 6) on the Discovery Channel. The episode will be replayed over the year on the cable channel.
“I was asked to provide the historical context of events occurring in the region and that are alleged to have contributed to the Myrtles Plantation reputation as a haunted site,” Hyde said.
Built around 1792, the Myrtles is one of Louisiana’s oldest antebellum plantations, explained Hyde, a resident of Denham Springs. The building is associated with numerous stories about the various owners and occupants, including the legend that the house is built over an Indian burial ground and that Union soldiers occupied it during the Civil War and were reportedly killed in the house.
“The Myrtles occupies a special spot in the history of the Florida Parishes,” said Hyde, considered one of the leading authorities on the history and culture of the region that runs from the Feliciana parishes near Baton Rouge to the state line of Mississippi. “Over the years, stories have been told and retold and embellished with legends and rumors. One of the most persistent beliefs, however, is that the Myrtles is a haunted mansion.”
The fact that the Myrtles is considered by some paranormal researchers as the most haunted location in the United States is what attracted the producers of “Ghost Lab” to the area. With the help of the latest technology, brothers Brad and Barry Klinge of Texas took their traveling “ghost lab” to the plantation, where they employed their high-tech equipment: surveillance video cameras that can shoot in total darkness; temperature, humidity and dew point data loggers; various digital cameras, including some with thermal imaging capability; audio recorders and thousands of feet of video cable. Their company, Everyday Paranormal, employs an investigation team that has explored more than 70 locations.
In addition to providing an interview, Hyde also narrated a portion of the program, reading letters from the time of a notorious murder at the Myrtles.
“That elicited a paranormal response that was very weird sounding,” he said. “But this group is very serious about their work, and the show appears to be a hit.”