Rose Hall: Annie Palmer, murderous tyrant or fictional character?

Rose Hall, completed in 1780, is located in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It’s a beautiful location, lush and green with swaying palm trees on around 7,000 acres of land. The house itself looks cavernous. It has high arches and doorways, filled with original period furniture and textiles, and a solitary balcony over the front entrance.
The Story

The owner of the plantation, John Palmer, had roughly 2,000 slaves working for him on the property. They worked the grounds and within the house. According to legend, things were pretty peaceful until John took eighteen-year-old Annie May Patterson as his wife. It is said that Annie was raised by a nanny in Haiti, Annie’s parents had died of yellow fever, who taught her the ways of voodoo and the occult. She brought all of her knowledge to Rose Hall as well as her desire to maim, torture, and kill.

In a manner still unknown, it was a short time later when John heard of Annie’s infidelity with a servant on the property. He found a whip used for breaking horses and beat Annie savagely with it. Shortly after this event, John died suddenly. It is suspected that Annie poisoned his coffee with arsenic or cast a voodoo curse upon him. Upon John’s passing, Annie sent for the slave she’d had relations with and beat him to death, believing that he had spread word of their indiscretion. She wed twice after John’s death, but each husband met his demise. Her second husband was stabbed to death in his sleep. The third was strangled.

Annie’s murderous behavior escalated from that point. She had relations with many of the male slaves on the plantation and, immediately after, murdered them so they could not speak of it. The slaves began calling her the Voodoo Woman, believing she would curse them or their families if they did not obey. She even placed bear traps under the windows of the plantation house to catch slaves who tried to run away. It is said that Annie’s favorite spot on the whole plantation was the small balcony above the front entry. She would stand there and watch discipline being handed out. Slaves would be beaten, beheaded, and tortured for disobeying the Voodoo Woman.

Annie Palmer was found dead in 1831. She had been strangled in her sleep. It is said that a slave named Takoo had killed her because his granddaughter was the object of the affections of a book maker in Montego Bay. Annie had also been courting this man and, when she found out he actually wanted the slave girl, Annie cast a spell upon her called “Old Hige” that caused her to wither and die.

Takoo gathered a small army of slaves and buried Annie, entombing her with all of her possessions in case her spirit could live within them. They performed a voodoo ceremony at her funeral intended to seal her spirit, but it was deemed unsuccessful as her spirit still lives on.

Since Annie’s death, strange noises can be heard and footsteps coming up the main staircase. You can also hear the sounds of babies crying. It is said that Annie used babies in her voodoo rituals, sacrificing them to the occult. A figure cloaked in green velvet can often be seen riding a horse across the property.

Fact or Fiction?
An investigation by Benjamin Radford, a writer and skeptic, concluded that the story of Annie Palmer is purely fiction. Although a woman of the same name exist during this time period, she is unrelated to the property and there is no indication that she was prone to the same sadistic tendencies or lechery.

Author Polly Thomas agrees. In her book A Rough Guide to Jamaica, Thomas states that the name Annie Palmer may have been confused with Rose Palmer, the original mistress of Rose Hall. She did have several husbands, but by all accounts was a “virtuous soul.”

So what do we make of this haunting? Did Annie Palmer do all of the terrible things asserted by those who work at the plantation today? When psychics visit the property, what sort of energy are they feeling? I believe it’s likely they are feeling the pain of the slaves who worked on the plantation as conditions were often terrible and slave owners were not generally kind to their slaves, but it seems as if they are rehashing the stories told by the tour guides and the owner of Rose Hall. Employees at the plantation fear the ghost of Annie Palmer, leaving the property before dark each day to avoid her vengeful spirit. The location has even been featured on shows like Scariest Places on Earth and Ghost Adventures. On both of these programs, activity was reported. Johnny Cash wrote a song about Rose Hall entitled The Ballad of Annie Palmer.

What do you think? Have you visited Rose Hall? Did you have any paranormal experiences? Let us know in the comments!

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