The LeDuc Mansion: Virtual Haunted House Tour Stop #9

Today’s tour stop finds us in lovely Hastings, MN, a scenic river town just 20 miles southeast of the Twin Cities. Hastings boasts 63 buildings on the National Register according to the Hastings Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Board, and one of those buildings is the focus of the post today: the LeDuc mansion.

The History

The LeDuc mansion was built in 1865 by William G. LeDuc. It took several years to build the home as construction costs skyrocketed well beyond what the LeDucs had budgeted to spend.

Over the years, the LeDuc family lived in the home on and off, between their stays in Washington D.C. when William served as the Secretary of Agriculture.

William had two daughters, Alice and Florence, who never married. William was entreprenuerially minded, which meant that his finances often went through dramatic highs and lows and caused unease for the family. After William’s passing in 1917, Alice bought a home in Minneapolis for the whole family, although they continued to use the mansion as their summer home.  

The sisters sold the home to a family friend, Caroll Simmons, during the Depression after losing a good deal of their fortune. Simmons operated an antique business on the first floor and lived in the home.

Simmons came to an agreement with the Minneapolis Historical Society that he would transfer the house to them upon his retirement, which happened in 1986. The house was empty for twenty years before the Historical Society was able to completely return it to its former glory and open it to the public in 2005.

Former Residents Who Can’t Let Go?

The common paranormal occurances have been reported in the mansion: doors opening and closing on their own, cold spots, and objects being moved around the room. The speculation is that one of the mansion’s former residents, namely William or Alice LeDuc, or Carroll Simmons have returned to keep an eye on their beloved home.

Just to add to the list of potential ghostly occupants, William and Alice both had a flirtation with spiritualism, and some believe that they may have opened a door to the other world through those pursuits.

Whoever may still reside within the walls of the LeDuc masnion, it appears that they are friendly and no cause for concern.

(Source and photo credit:


Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!



Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!


Villisca Ax Murder House: Haunted House Tour Stop #4

When a place openly declares itself to be an “ax murder house”, you can’t help but sit up and take notice. When you see the slightly garish sign that sits outside this small, unassuming white clapboard house, you may think that you’ve stumbled upon some kind of staged amusement attraction.

Not the case here. Welcome to the Villisca Ax Murder House. The walls of this house witnessed a horrific set of events late one night in 1912. And this little town in Iowa hasn’t been the same since.

The History

The house was owned by J.B. Moore at the time of the murders. He and his wife, Sarah, lived there with their four children. On the evening of the June 9th, 1912, the Moores had spent the majority of the day at church where Sarah organized children’s activities and their own children participated. At the end of the evening, Sarah invited two friends of her daughter to spend the night at their house. The family walked home and entered the house around 9:30pm.

The next morning, a neighbor noticed that the Moores were not up and about yet and called J.B.’s brother. What the brother found inside was horrifying. Sometime during the night, someone had bludgeoned the entire family to death with an ax, including the two young guests.

It is widely speculated that because of the mismanagment of the crime scene after its discovery, potential crucial evidence was likely tampered with or lost. Panic and suspicion gripped the small town, and although several suspects were investigated, no one ultimately was charged with the murder.

The case remains unsolved.

A House of Unrest

Based on numerous accounts of visitors to the house, as well as mediums, and paranormal investigators, it appears that the house is without a doubt haunted. Children’s voices can often be heard, and items in the house move about.

Investigators have been able to secure audio, visual, and photographic proof of paranormal activities. (Check out the Ghost Adventures page for evidence from their investigation of the house.)

The current owners offer daily tours of the house, and even the opportunity to stay overnight if you want to stage your own investigation. The only thing they ask is that you share whatever evidence you collect with them. Clearly, they are believers too.

If you want to keep a safe distance but still see the inside, you can find a virtual tour of the house here.

Cege’s Thoughts

Nothing disturbs me as much as hearing about violence against children. The brutal murders that took place inside the house that long ago night are incredibly tragic, and I feel queasy thinking that six of the eight victims were children. Whoever did it must have been a sick and twisted person. My hope that all of the victims were able to eventually find peace.

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Palmer House in Sauk Centre, MN. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!


Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!


(photo credit Jo Naylor)

The Latta Plantation: Virtual Haunted House Tour Stop #1

I am kicking off my Halloween Virtual Haunted House Tour with a stop in Huntersville, NC at the Latta Plantation. I had the opportunity to visit the Latta Plantation earlier this week. The first thing I noticed was that it took a little while to get there. Even after turning off the main road and entering the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, it was still almost 2 miles to the actual Latta Plantation Historic site.

A narrow, tree-lined road winds through the preserve, and eventually deposits you into a small parking lot that looks out at the expansive green area that encompasses the Latta House and the surrounding outbuildings.

One thing I should mention: plantations aren’t always like what Hollywood would lead you to believe. (You’ve got an image from Gone with the Wind in your head, don’t you?) The homes aren’t large, ornate mansions. You have to remember that at the time that they were built, these were working farms in the middle of nowhere. The families may only have lived a portion of the year (if at all) on the grounds. The outside areas though are often expansive, green, and lovely.

As a special treat, here’s a video blog from my visit.

The History

The Latta Plantation was built in 1800, and the residence shown here is the original home built by James Latta. There are eleven buildings on the 52-acre historical site, that the guide says offers a glimpse into life in North Carolina from 1800-1865. The plantation produced cotton, corn, wheat, potatoes, and more.

James Latta was an Irish immigrant and successful traveling merchant who became a prominent figure in Mecklenburg County in the early 1800s. A sad part of the history was that unfortunately he and his wife, Jane, outlived all but one of their children.

The Lattas were slave owners. A sign on the small slave cabin on the property provides a memorial to the Latta (and later owner William Sample’s) slaves.

Ghostly Footsteps

The reported paranormal activity on the Latta property seems to be contained within the walls of the Latta House. Volunteers and staff members report hearing noises while in the house alone, most often heavy footsteps.

Other reported incidents involve hearing children running and their laughter on the garrett above, which today is impossible due to obstacles that prevent people from crossing the garrett.

All in all though, people who hear these strange noises don’t feel anything threatening about them. They believe them to be either James Latta, checking on his home, or the Latta children who are still at play even in death.

Cege’s Thoughts

Personally, I think a place like the Latta Plantation would certainly be haunted. The land and house have seen a lot of history happen over the years. Add in the fact that there were slaves on the property at one time as well almost guarantees it. Calling slavery a cruel practice is an incredible understatement, and I think we can only imagine what difficult lives they were forced to endure.

Today, the Latta Plantation has a very peaceful feeling and you could spend an entire afternoon there exploring the outbuildings and drinking in the lovely scenery. I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!


Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!