Being a native New Orleanian, I never could deny the paranormal, we are considered one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. This city breaths it from it’s pores. From a young age I’ve heard ghost stories from the adults around me, visited graveyards for fun and watched masked men parade down the street all year round. New Orleans is a haunted town, rich with history and emotion and today on Lundi Gras I would like to share some local New Orleans haunted stories with you, this is one of my favorites, the tale of Delphine McCarty LaLaurie.
Delphine LaLaurie was a well known New Orleans socialite in the early 1800s. Her husband was a physician, Dr. Louis LaLaurie and they were wealthy enough to own a mansion located in the heart of the French Quarter. The property to this day is still dubbed the LaLaurie Mansion with the locals and is located at 1140 Royal Street.
Like the typical wealthy Southern woman, Delphine reveled in her social standing and would throw lavish parties and entertain the New Orleans elite.
At one of her lavish parties, Delphine was preparing to make a late entrance and was still ensconced in her boudoir as the guests began to arrive. A twelve year old slave girl was preparing her hair in an elaborate up-do. The poor girl must have hit a snag though and thus enrage Delphine which lead to the socialite chasing the girl around her room with a bull-whip. Leah, the girl was so afraid she rain out onto the balcony (some say roof though) with the Madame chasing behind her screaming in French. Leah lost her footing, trying to escape the mistress and plunged to her death in the courtyard below, right as one of her guest (said to be LaLaurie’s own cousin) stepped out of their carriage.
Charges were filed and Delphine’s slaves were removed from her home because of reported abuse. LaLaurie was charged $300, a pittance and managed to have a relative buy back her slaves when they went up on auction. Life went on for the LaLauries.
In April of the next year another incident occurred that involved a fire during another party. In those days the kitchen was actually separate from the house (because this is where the slaves worked) so the fire brigade was able to enter the kitchen without disturbing the party, which reportedly had continued on the sidewalk across the street. In the kitchen, the fire brigade found slaves chained to the stove and they admitted to starting the fire to commit suicide and draw attention to the other foul goings-on in the household. These slaves brought the fire brigade to an attic crawl space that was bolted and locked from the outside. Screams could be heard coming from the locked area. The fire brigade broke down the door and were literally sickened by what they found in the enclosed space. It is said that the men, upon discovering the room rushed from it vomiting and horrified by what they found.
The room held more than a dozen slaves, victims of the LaLaurie’s crude experiments. They were chained to walls, body parts missing, the bodies disfigured. It was said that Delphine paid careful attention to their faces and genitalia. One poor soul, instead of welcoming her rescuers ran past the men and jumped through a window and to her death in fear of more torture, this window remains sealed to this day.
The newspaper article that recounted the LaLaurie’s evilness stated that one of her victims had skin removed in circular patterns and her arms amputated so she resembled a caterpillar, another had their joints broken down so they could be shoved in a small box that couldn’t even accommodate a large dog.
These survivors, with amputated limbs and disfigured faces, locked in the attic for God only knows how long were removed from the home all while New Orleans elite watched in horror. A surprise addition to their festivities. These guests had dined and carried on while the LaLauries had done these unspeakable acts. The guests quickly turned on their host, only to find that the sick couple had slipped out the back of the home and disappeared. (This is what I read, but the Haunted New Orleans account below says the Police Department helped them escape) They were never seen again and it was suspected that they returned to Paris. But, recent research points that they went no further than the northern side of Lake Pontchartrain.
Today, the LaLaurie Mansion is considered one of the most haunted places in New Orleans.
Most residents of NOLA that know the story refuse to even walk on the same side of the street at the home. It is also said that if it’s quiet enough you can hear screams from within, but I’ve never heard anything of the sort, even though the house does give me the heebie jeebies.
It took forty years for the story to fade before anyone moved into the house and then it was bought by Italian immigrants. The children of the family reported numerous sightings of men in chains and covered in blood along with a woman chasing a girl and screaming in French. A mother of twins reported that a sock was shoved in the mouth of her child as she slept and numerous decapitated animals were found in the courtyard. The family quickly moved from the home and it remained vacant for a number of years.
The home later was turned into a furniture store and shortly after the business opened the shop owner entered in the morning to find all his furniture ruined, everything was covered in urine, feces and blood. The shop owner suspected vandals and quickly had the mess cleaned up and new stock ordered. Shortly after the new stock arrived again the owner entered the store to find his inventory covered in excrement. He wouldn’t let the vandals get away with it a third time, so he waited all night with a shotgun. In the morning he found the same thing, urine, feces and blood. No one had entered the building. He found a new location quickly after that night.
Later someone tried to open a bar and called int The Haunted Saloon but no one really wanted to go into the place and it shut down. The house sat vacant for a long time once again until it was purchased by developers and commission to be turned into apartments. The house was in terrible condition so they began to gut it. On pulling up the floor boards in the 3rd floor slave quarters, eight skeletons were discovered. It is reported that they were assumed to be buried alive and this accounted for all the screams that people heard in the weeks after the fire, what were assumed to be ghosts.