The first Gaineswood plantation house was built in 1843 by General Nathan Whitfield, a year after he purchased the 480 acre property, though the first house was simply a large log cabin.
Before Whitfield owned the land it was the site of a rather historic event in the nation at the time. The previous owner, Edmund P. Gaines met with the famous Indian chief pushmataha under a large oak tree, to negotiate the removal of Choctaw forces back to Indian territory. The tree they met under became known as the Pushmataha tree.
When Whitfield owned the estate he made his fortune from cotton farming, for which he bought many slaves that lived in small houses on the land. He was known to be a typical plantation owner when it came to slaves, treating them badly and working them too hard, which included making them dig a huge drainage canal during the summer months.
When Whitfield first bought the estate it was known as the Marlmont estate, though it was renamed in 1856 to its current name in honor of General Gaines, the man who sold it to him. Soon after this the present structure began to be built in the same place as the log cabin.
It was completed on the eve of the American civil war and remains to this day the finest plantation house ever built in Marengo county. Today the house offers tours around its grounds and through the inside of the house and is also open to the general public as a historic house museum.
There probably isn't a plantation house in the south that isn't thought to be haunted, and with good reason due to the horrific treatment many suffered in these places.
The most common source of plantation hauntings is obviously the slaves, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. The paranormal activity in the house is thought to be caused by a single ghost. The most common story is that the spirit is a past nanny called Evelyn Carter, who was buried beneath the house instead of her chosen spot in the family cemetery back in Virginia.
Apart from the odd item being misplaced and the occasional cold spot, the main way she likes to make herself known is by playing the piano. The sound only comes when no one is in the room to see it, but has been heard by many visitors and staff. One interesting thing about the music she plays is it is always very old, forgotten songs that people didn't know existed.
The nearby river is also thought to have provided a few ghosts to the property, making themselves known in the form of ghostly figures moving through the trees or brushing past people walking along the main paths. They are thought to have been from an accident when a steamboat called the Eliza Battle caught fire and killed several people on board. There are even a few claims of seeing a ghostly steamboat on the river, though this sounds a little more campfire storyish to me.