Defosse House: "Woman in the Window"

Haunted Avoyelles

 

{Last Halloween we ran a series of articles entitled “Haunted Avoyelles.” We add one more to the series this year, with Mansura native and noted ghosthunter Brad Duplechien recalling rare and little known stories of a ghost at the historic Defossé House in Mansura.}
    Brad Duplechien grew up hearing ghost stories in a French Louisiana home in Mansura. It gave him a curiosity for the unexplained and the paranormal, which eventually led him to found the Louisiana Sprits Paranormal Investigations non-profit organization. Duplechien shared some experiences of growing up on the Haunted Nation website, hauntednation.blogspot.com.
     He said he would hear various ghost stories, including one involving his great-aunt’s home, which had been demolished many years before he heard the story.
    “They said the second floor had been sealed off due to a suicide and everyone swore that it was always haunted,” Duplechien said. 
    He said the story was interesting, but there was no longer a house there for him to investigate for any possible supernatural presence.
   “I would ask my mom and grandmother if there were any other houses in Mansura, still around, said to be haunted,” he recalled. “The answer was always the same: 'Mais yea. The ol’ Des Fossé home!'”
   The historic site -- now usually spelled Defossé and pronounced day-fo-say -- is the oldest home in Avoyelles still located on its original site. The Hypolite Bordelon Home in Marksville may be older, but was relocated to its current site on Tunica Drive (La. Hwy 1).
   Duplechien said the Defossé home is also the only one of the houses in the community that survived the Battle of Mansura on May 16, 1864, fought during the Union retreat in the failed Red River Campaign.
   “My mother told me that for years this home was said to be haunted by the ghost of an elderly woman,” Duplechien said. The school was adjacent to the home, and she and her classmates would dare one another to go up to the house and peek in the windows.
   “No one would ever take the challenge, as a haunted stigma had been attached to it for years,” he noted.
   Even when the home was empty, children would claim “to see the apparition of an old woman gazing out one of the windows."
   “This may very well be one of those urban legend hauntings, being passed down for years from generation to generation,” Duplechien continued, “but it sure has generated a lot of talk by locals.”
   He said he has never been able to obtain an official report validating paranormal activity at the house.
   The irony of the state’s top ghosthunter literally having a potential haunted house in his backyard is not lost on Duplechien.
   “As odd as it may sound, I have never even attempted an investigation,” he said. “I have enough connections in my hometown to where it probably would not be hard to get permission to investigate. It’s just a task I never took on.
   “How ironic, that with the hundreds of miles I’ve traveled to get to an investigation, I’ve never investigated a location that was only two miles from my original home!” 
 
Eyewitness report
   One person from Mansura who read Duplechien’s post said they had also seen the ghostly woman “walking around and cleaning” inside the house.
   The writer said they were a kid when they decided to look inside through the window.  The writer said they asked their friends if the people who owned the house were using a maid service where the maids dressed in old-timey clothes.
   “That was the first and last time I saw her,” the writer concluded.
   Duplechien did conduct a “drive by” investigation a few years ago.
   “I had my friend with sensitive abilities in the truck with me,” Duplechien recounted. “He was not from the area and knew nothing of the home. We were passing through town to attend another investigation when I pulled into the parking lot of the Des Fosse home.
   “I didn’t tell my friend anything about the home or property,” he continued. “All I asked was, ‘Do you feel anything?’ After a few moments, my friend said he picked up on an elderly woman standing near the window.”
   Duplechien said the similarity of the “sensitive’s” feeling and local lore “could have very well been a coincidence, but at the time it sure seemed like more!”
   Duplechien still holds out the possibility of mounting a full-scale paranormal investigation of the 220-plus-year-old home.
   In the meantime, he recommends to all visitors reading his account on Haunted Nation who “happen to visit the town of Mansura during their popular Cochon de Lait Festival, this would be your best chance to visit and even tour the home, as it is often open during this time.”
   The home was built in the late 1700s, probably by Dominique Coco, ancestor of the Coco family of Avoyelles. It was also home of Dr. Jules Charles Desfosse, who was honored for saving lives in Avoyelles during the 19th Century Yellow Fever epidemics.

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