Photo Courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
She poured her drink and slowly turned the crystal goblet in her hand, watching the lights of the Christmas tree sparkle and bounce across the walls of the parlor. She had successfully avoided the hot toddies the night before, and the wine at dinner this evening, thinking of how proud he would be to know she was keeping her promise to remain sober. He worried about her, and reminded her of his concern in his letters.
But in his last letter, Prentiss made it clear that their love was doomed. His wife would make divorce impossible, and he was unwilling to leave her with his entire fortune. A letter from his sister made it clear he would not be visiting during the holidays, and her decision was made. This morning was the last she would feel the pain of waking alone, because today would be the last she would spend longing for the touch of her lover.
Ladell turned up the radio as she heard her favorite song… “How soon will I be seeing you? How soon, I wish I really knew. And when will you be saying words I want to hear?”
A week later, she was dead; suicide by poison. Her drink of choice, mercury cyanide.
Ladell Allen Bonner was fifty four when she killed herself with cyanide she drank in her family home on Christmas in 1948. It marked the sad ending of a torrid long-distance affair with a former boyfriend who was hesitant to divorce his wife. For sixty years, the story was one of speculation and tragedy – until a secret cache of letters was discovered by the home’s new owners under the floorboards in Ladell’s old bedroom. This fictional account cannot capture what actually happened… only Ladell knew what was on her mind, and in her heart, that evening.
Since her death, the mansion – hauntingly designed with turrets and surrounded by a black iron fence – has been an active spot for ghostly encounters, and has been called one of the country’s most haunted homes. A spirit of a woman is said to wander the mansion, often causing guests to sense someone standing behind them even when no one can be seen. Current owners report items going missing in the home, and the presence of a “doppelganger” – an apparition that mimicked their son, appearing to the parents in one area of the house while he was in another.
You can visit the Allen House and see for yourself what all the fuss is about, and even participate in an investigation. On December 5 they will host Dinner and a Ghost, and tickets are on sale now. Follow their Facebook page for more information on the home and upcoming events.