The Ghost Site

A year or so ago I was driving along Hwy. 4 in Tensas Parish when I noticed a sign that said “Bob’s Campground.”  And there was indeed a campground there with sites laid out in an orderly grid.  It was full of old campers and trailers … vintage Shastas and Prowlers, rusty Airstream knockoffs with round windows and the occasional full-scale mobile home.  And I couldn’t help but wonder … why?  Why would so many people want to camp along Hwy. 4 in Tensas Parish?  I vowed to go back one day and photograph my way to an answer.

I found myself there again a few weeks ago, along with my “Indian Mounds of Northeast Louisiana Driving Trail Guide”, and was astonished to discover an ancient mound in the rear of the campground.  There was even a driving trail sign that I had overlooked before.  “The Ghost Site Mound.”  I was ecstatic.

I called the phone number on the wooden sign and spoke with Bob Himself, Mr. Robert Brumley.  I told him I wanted to photograph the mound there and he graciously gave me permission and answered many of my questions about the place.  It turns out the campers there are mostly on yearly leases.  But why?  Ah, they are hunting camps.  I don’t hunt but find it somehow comforting that the mound is surrounded by people who, like the original inhabitants, still do.

I was greeted on my arrival by an inquisitive Basset Hound who, after getting her ears scratched and belly rubbed, was willing to tag along with me on the photo expedition.  There are 3 (possibly 5) mounds at the site but only one is really large enough to see.  It is about 11 feet tall and 118×92 feet at the base.  It has a historic cemetery on top as so many of the ancient mounds do.

I climbed to the summit and read the text chiseled into the old tombstones.  Jacob Bieller, October 30, 1824- April 11, 1851.  Joseph B. Ford, March 20, 1839 – Dec. 29, 1857.  Mr. Brumley told me a couple of the large and very heavy markers had tumbled off the mound over the years but he and his sons had hauled them back to the top and tried to replace them where they originally stood.

As I explored and photographed, a few of the campground inhabitants wandered by ferrying pots of food to a central location for cooking dinner.  I listened to their muffled conversation and laughter and watched their dogs weave their way through all the activity.  I knew that soon the aroma of spices and woodsmoke would fill the air and that later the families would sit under the night sky, tell stories and watch the firelight flicker in the darkness.  And I knew that even though the living quarters and cooking methods were vastly different, the evening would be much the same as it had been for the ancient Coles Creek culture who had lived at the base of the mound a thousand or so years before.

Thanks to Mr. Brumley and his family for caring for this ancient site and for allowing me to photograph it.

The Ghost Site Mound, AD 700-1200

About Jenny Ellerbe

I am a photographer living, and working, in northeastern Louisiana.
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12 Responses to The Ghost Site

  1. Great story & photos. Thanks.

  2. As usual, Jenny, fascinating! Thanks to you for doing another kind of preservation.

  3. kelin carriere says:

    I have a camp right by the big mound

  4. crist says:

    Loved the story. That campground belongs to my dad. That mound looks so much better now than it did years ago when he first purchased that land. I can remember climbing that mound and looking at all of the old gravestones that used to be up there. A little piece of history revealed. Thanks for the story.

  5. Cecil Brumley says:

    Can’t help but point out a couple of errors. Sorry, it’s the editor in me. Bob is actually my father, Robert H. Brumley Sr. You talked to Robert, or Robert H. Brumley Jr. He only has one son, so it was probably his son, Robert H. Brumley III, and son-in-law, Tommy Albritton, that helped him with the campground. Otherwise, good story. I enjoyed it. Cecil G. Brumley, Managing Editor, Hometown News Volusia.

    • Gosh, that’s a lot of Roberts! Thanks for the clarification.

      • Cristi Albritton says:

        That whole campground has taken a lot of work to be what it is today. Uncle Cecil is right on the Roberts. Robert “Bob” Brumley Sr started the camp. They opened a small store with groceries and had a flat fixing station next to the store. The store later was changed to a bunk house and rented out to hunters. Also several other camp trailers there were rented out. My dad, Robert Brumley Jr, later bought the land that joins the original camp as well as where the mound site is. My husband, (Tommy Albritton), his brother (Toney Albritton) and my brother Robert Brumley I I I, my dad, my papaw, & my grandmother, Mable Brumley all worked hard to make that camp what it is today. Both Memaw and Papaw are gone now, but what they started so many years ago still is going strong.

  6. Joyce Hurst says:

    We just happened to stumble across this site ourselves while out riding the back roads. Being an old camper fan, this place is very intriguing and has a creepy yet cozy feel to it. There was not one single person at the campground and it seems rather grown up but an interesting site to see! It makes me wonder if it perhaps flooded last year?

    • I’ve only seen a couple of people at the site during one visit. And even then it still felt creepy yet cozy. 🙂 Thanks for writing!

    • Cristi Albritton says:

      The campground is rented out to hunters and they are usually only there during the hunting season. If you check it out September thru January you will find it pretty full of hunters and fisherman. Most of the people that have camps are from South Louisiana. The camp didn’t flood last year.

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