FOR WHOM THE GHOUL TOLLS
If you drive down Highway 71 at a certain time you might be distracted by the sound of a ghostly bell tolling lugubriously from the solitary tower that protrudes toward the full moon in an otherwise deserted field. This tower wears a face that conveys shocked dismay. The Taylortown Tower is a creepy local legend of actual reported ghostly activity; sometimes the heart-stopping sound of a woman’s piercing scream splitting the night, emitting from the deserted bell tower, accompanies the tolling bell. A wealthy plantation owner, whose beautiful daughter was to wed the love of her life, supposedly built the tower for her in 1906. The groom never made it to the wedding. One version says that he died in a car crash en route; the other says he simply jilted the poor girl. Heartbroken, she waited in the window of the tower watching for him until one day she either hanged herself from despair or tumbled down its stairs to her death. From time to time, glimpses of this forlorn maid can be caught as she stands in the window as the sound of bells toll for a wedding that never occurred.
SHREVEPORT: REVENANTS AND RENOVATION
On a quiet corner in a quiet residential Shreveport street, The Davis Homeplace rises in a charming white rectangular shape like a sugar cube. Replete with a screened second-floor sleeping porch, rooms filled with working china clocks, antiques, push-button lights and Shreveport memorabilia, this 1916 mansion is a private home owned by Marsha and Terry Gill, who are happy to open their beloved home for tours. After they purchased the old place, they immersed themselves in a loving restoration. Ella Hunt Montgomery built the stately home early in the 19th century; her ancestry extends back to Davis Hunt, born in 1779, who became one of the most successful merchants to conduct business in Natchez’s notorious Under the Hill district. He became so wealthy that he owned at least 25 plantations, several of which were in Louisiana. Known as “King David,” he died during the Civil War.
Placed throughout the mansion are antiques furnishing that belonged to the estate of A.J. Ingersol and his wife, Effie Dalzell Ingerson. Ingersol journeyed to Shreveport via boat from Alabama to become one of the city’s most esteemed and wealthy cotton buyers. He married Effie Dalzell, daughter of Reverend William Dalzell, who not only ministered to souls, but also to his patients as a medical doctor. Considered a hero of the 1873 yellow fever epidemic in Shreveport, he remained in the stricken city to minister to its victims. Dalzell Street was named after him to commemorate his devotion and bravery.
Marsha Gill reports that since taking possession of the venerable old place, she and her family members have had numerous unexplained experiences. She describes the day the she was changing bed linens on the sleeping porch as her initiation with the spirits of the place: Alone in the house, with no television or radio playing, the sound of a woman’s laughter erupted throughout the silent house, chilling its new mistress to the bone.
At first the family found the experiences disturbing, but they have gradually come to realize and accept that theirs is a happy haunting, and the ghosts mean them no harm. They have subsequently invited paranormal societies to investigate the premises.
Marsha and Terry Gill cordially invite everyone to visit their home for a tour, where they will be happy to regale you with detailed accounts of their spiritual encounters, but ask that you call for an appointment 24 hours in advance. The days before Halloween seem like a perfect time to meet the Gills – and their spectral houseguests.
The Davis Home, 804 Wilkinson Street, Shreveport, (318) 221-3881.