Sunday, September 30, 2012

The ghost of Judge Francois X. Martin:
   For ten years, beginning in 1816, Judge Martin lived in a house at 915 Royal Street, just a few blocks from the where the Lalaurie Mansion now stands. It's said that the reclusive Judge Martin lived alone with one male servant. After going blind, he often had to be assisted back home when he lost his way around the French Quarter. Frequent reports suggest that the blind judge still haunts his old Royal Street home, bumping into things at all hours, tampering with the plumbing and opening doors.
  The house is now a small B&B, The Cornstalk Hotel, named for its distinctive and well-known fence. The fence came along after Judge Martin entered the spirit world. The legend is that a later owner built the fence for his wife who missed the cornfields of her native Iowa. Another version says it was built for his mistress. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a guest here when she was inspired to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. These days, guests at the Cornstalk Hotel still report hearing footsteps in empty hallways and say the ghost of the blind judge even bumps into guest's beds at night. If you are visiting New Orleans, be sure to take a look at the Cornstalk Hotel and the Andrew Jackson Hotel next door, also said to be haunted. The walk down Royal Street to the most haunted house in NOLA, the Lalaurie Mansion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Deanna Lynn Sletten: Author Interview: T.R. Heinan

Deanna Lynn Sletten: Author Interview: T.R. Heinan: Hi all, Today I'm talking with T.R. Heinan, author of the novel L'Immortalit é: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen which will be publi...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Introducing the Voodoo Queen

Although dates as early as 1794 appear in some biographies, Marie Laveau was probably born in 1801.  She was a free woman of color, native to New Orleans, who married Jacques Paris at St. Louis Cathedral.  The famed Father Antonio de Sedella (Pere Antoine) celebrated the nuptial Mass in July 1819 but did not record the marriage in the parish records until the following month.
We know that Jacques Paris, sometimes called Santiago Paris, came to Louisiana from Haiti after the Haitian Revolution and that his marriage to Marie Laveau lasted only about a year before he died. The "Widow Paris" then became a hairdresser catering to some of the most influential French Creole women in New Orleans. She soon took up with Christophe Dumesnil de Glapion, with whom she had many children, most of whom died as children from the yellow fever and cholera epidemics that plagued New Orleans.  It is commonly believed that Marie was buried in the Glapion family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1, although, like most "facts" about Marie Laveau, the actual location of her tomb remains in dispute.

Her home on St. Ann Street was demolished at the beginning of the 20th Century, but a sign marks the approximate spot where it once stood.  Unfortunately, the dates on the sign are almost certainly incorrect.

She is perhaps best remembered for her snake, named Zombie, her dancing in Congo Square, her spy-network, and most of all, her Voodoo. Her St. John's Eve ceremonies at her cabin near Lake Ponchartrain continued to draw large crowds for years, with as many as 12,000 attending near the end of her life. She attended daily Mass at St. Louis Cathedral and was instrumental in introducing various elements of Catholicism to the Louisiana version of Voodoo.
One of her daughters, also named Marie, is often confused with Marie the First in many accounts of her life.  It was reported by the local press that Marie Laveau died in 1881, but many people reported seeing her in New Orleans after that date.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The following was written by the Chicago-based Chief Investigator for Plains Paranormal and will be posted on their website.  Right now, they are having some kind of computer glitch, so I am posting it here for them.  I have had the opportunity to work with this group in the past and love this account of their investigation at the Lalaurie Mansion. -T.R. Heinan

The LaLaurie Mansion
 Unnoticed amongst a comfortably sized crowd, I moved away from a pre-Mardi-Gras Bourbon Street.  Slowly in barely noticeable increments, the buzz of the street lessened with each stride, but never really ceased. Surprisingly I found myself virtually alone dwarfed by the growing shadows cast by an unfamiliar architecture.  Each step took me deeper into the city’s past.  Each step grew more eerie.   Each step led me until I was before a gray monolith standing sentinel on the corner of two French Quarter streets.  This was a domicile that symbolized the segment of New Orleans history that was characterized as dark, seedy, and dangerous.  For a few silent moments I stared until I began to feel what this building represented.   Reluctant to admit it then and even more so now, there was an uncomfortable energy that was palpable if you allowed it in.  The tragedy, barbarity, sorrow, suffering, pain, and despair began to course through my veins flowing unbridled into my core.  A familiar heaviness reacquainted itself.  The hedonistic levity of Bourbon Street seemed a thousand miles despite the fact that the glow of the neon still a few short blocks away pulsed into the nighttime sky illuminating it with a pinkish-orange glow.   And while the allure of Bourbon Street still called, the gravity of the LaLaurie Mansion held me firmly in place before it.

In a city known for hot spots, the LaLaurie Mansion is perhaps the city’s hottest paranormal spot.  Dating back almost 200 years, the LaLaurie Mansion is believed the most haunted location in a city where the spirits are fueled by a rich, yet often dark history.  Located in the incomparable French Quarter of New Orleans, the past is almost palpable.  The Lalaurie Mansion stands on the corner of Governor Nicholls (formerly known as Hospital) and Royal, anchoring the city’s historic seedy underbelly to the present. While the house changes owners at an unusually high rate, the constant is an array of ghosts according to multiple accounts.

The source of these ghostly accounts is almost too horrific to bear repeating.  The principals were Delphine LaLaurie, a rumored black widow-type, and her third husband, Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, central members of the New Orleans social elite.  Lavish parties for society members were hosted by the LaLauries and catered by Negro slaves, a practice common to the antebellum South.  But the sadistic events contained within those thick walls were hidden under the noses of party goers and would have remained hidden had it not been for a kitchen fire on April 10, 1834.  After initial attempts to extinguish the flames failed, the fire spread as the firefighters arrived.  The fire was eventually brought under control.  The subsequent inspection of the premises produced a locked attic door.  Concerned that uppermost floor contained remnants of the blaze, the men broke the door where they were immediately met by the pungent smell of death.  Entering the room, the rescuers found a dozen bodies of slaves shackled to the wall.  Some were dead while others were clung to life.  But the situation was much more horrific than the confinement and mistreatment of the human beings.   Making the scene even more barbaric was the fact that crude medical experiments had been performed on the slaves. Even more dramatically, as a vengeful crowd assembled rapidly seeking instant justice, a black carriage burst through the mansion gates escorting the LaLaurie’s to a momentary safety.  Their actual destination and fate remains a mystery.

The house became a vile reminder to its horrific past.  As a result, the house remained empty for years falling into disrepair.   Instantly stories of ghostly apparitions were spotted.  A white woman with a whip patrolled the above floors.   A blood soaked man was seen appearing in the attic windows.   Mangled slaves were spotted making their way through the mansion.  Their screams were audible to those below.  Later a wave of Italian immigrants moved into the neighborhood and occupied the house en masse.   Animals were reported to have been mutilated and butchered in and around the house. Children even claimed to have been attacked by a woman in white brandishing a bullwhip.  Now the mansion has been restored and divided into upscale residences.   Work continues on the mansion to this day.   

So on that still spring Thursday and a similar Saturday, I was able to conduct an investigation of the building.  After review the recordings made from those evenings, nothing paranormal was discovered.  There were also no anomalous EMF fields detected.  No EVP’s were recorded.  And other than the aforementioned heaviness and emotionally charged atmosphere of the mansion, I experienced nothing that I would describe as paranormal. 

However, there were some interesting visually anomalies that were captured on camera.   On Thursday night, I snapped a few dozen photos of the LaLaurie Mansion and nothing seemed askew in the photos.   During my investigation Saturday night, I began to notice orbs appearing in the photos displayed on the digital viewer on the back of the camera.  Unfortunately, after the investigation I uncharacteristically lost my camera while transferring into a cab.   It was unfortunate because I was really intrigued by the orb activity that I was witnessing.  This was especially true considering that I witnessed no such activity the night before.  I know that orbs can be misidentified and are often unreliable, but I felt pretty confident in what I was witnessing.  Then what was very interesting to me was when I viewed some similar photos that were taken by another researcher the night before at the LaLaurie Mansion.   In the photos were some typical orbs captured which seemed to validate my experience.  In that collection of photos there was perhaps one of the most impressive photos of an orb as I have ever seen.    It had the impression of an energy filled blue-cat’s eye marble.   It was stunning.  According to the person who had taken the photo, some locals seem to verify our experiences by stating that orb activity at the LaLaurie Mansion was relatively common.  They even were able to make claims about the best nights of the week to view them as well as the best time of the night.

While I would have liked to been able to have produced more evidence during my visit to the LaLaurie Mansion, I was impressed with the orb activity that I was able to witness.  The energy produced by those tragic, sadistic events fueled the orbs that were witnessed as well as dark emotions that linger around that mansion.   The emotive force that emanates from the mansion is also equally impressive.  It is clear to see why the LaLaurie Mansion is rumored to be possibly the most haunted house not only in New Orleans, but America.