Rotherwood Mansion is a typical antebellum plantation, built in the early 1800s after an earlier structure burnt down. It is a good example of the kind of Neo Classical architecture that was so common among the houses of the landed gentry and plantation owners of that time. The house is a two story, build of red brick, with a portico in front supported by graceful Doric columns that help to offset the overall massiveness of the place. It was built, owned and resided in by the Reverend F.A. Ross, who had a daughter named Rowena. Rowena was well educated, beautiful, respected and well-liked by the townspeople and adored and doted upon by her father.
Unfortunately Rowena’s life was beset by tragedy. She lost two husbands, one to a boating accident and the other to Yellow Fever. Her daughter by her third husband suffered an early demise as well. This was the last straw for the poor woman and she drowned herself in a nearby river. The Reverend Ross was basically ruined financially when he attempted to break into the cotton market and failed. He was forced to sell the house and plantation to a Joshua Phipps. Phipps was known for being a particularly cruel and ruthless man, especially to his slaves. It was said that he went so far as to build a whipping post inside the house so that he could enjoy inflicting pain inside as well as out.
Phipps also had a mistress, herself a former slave and supposedly as cruel and sadistic as he, and just as likely to vent that cruelty on the slaves as well. Both of these characters were hated and despised by the people of the town and surrounding area. It was said that you could hear the screams of their hapless victims in the dead of the night, a symphony of death and pain that no one wanted to hear except for the two people who dealt it out. Phipps came down with a mysterious illness and fever in 1861 and was soon bedridden. The slave who attended him claimed that a swarm of black flies entered the room, lodged in his nose and throat, and so suffocated him to death. It was a fit ending to a life dedicated to the causing of suffering in others.
The slaves tracked down his mistress and killed her in retribution for her part in Phipps cruelties. Her body was buried in an unmarked grave for fear that the angry slaves would dig it up and mutilate it. The funeral was probably the wildest of all. The horses were unable to pull the wagon with Phipps coffin on it, and only after adding several more horses were they able to get the wagon to start rolling toward the grave site. As this was going on, the sky began to darken as if a storm was approaching. The black shroud over the coffin began to shift and move about and suddenly a huge, black dog emerged and ran off howling like the devil himself was after him. Supposedly the dog haunts the grounds to this day and can be heard howling and keening mournfully on dark stormy nights.
The ghosts of Phipps and his mistress still haunt the place. It is said you can hear him laughing sadistically at the sufferings of his victims and that he will rip the covers off of some unfortunate sleeper simply to enjoy the terror he induces. Far less malevolent, but tragic nonetheless is the “Lady in White”, who happens to be Rowena, still searching for her first husband and only true love who drowned in a nearby river.