There is a house in New Orleans…
Let me tell you, it has a lot to do with the sun in a specific state of play. I am saving that beast of a story for later though.
We took to Decatur Street, or Deca-tour Street, the base of crusades for New Orleans Legendary Walking Tours, in order to await our g-host. Stacey, or ‘ace Stace’ as we have quite cheesily nicknamed her came in to lead the spooky soirée. Any tour is as good as the tour guide who leads it and she was the kinda gal I would be pals with, in another life… Get it?
New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French who held the city for 50 years. Spain then took it on for 40 years before giving it back to France. France went on to sell it to America for 15 million dollars. However, this price didn’t only include New Orleans, but the whole Louisiana Colony. Thus resulting in New Orleans being worth a sum total of 7 dollars which is the exact price of a Hurricane Cocktail in Harrys Corner Bar. Cheap no?
New Orleans looks Boo-tiful at night…
Week 2 in this New Orleans heat in less than practical shoes was taking its toll on me. I had stayed the least active as possible in order to take the heat of my feet. All so I could accept our wonderful invites from our Tour Organiser at Cajun Encounters. This situation left me with a disadvantage and an advantage. Most of the other zombies/attendees on our tour had seen the majority of the streets in the day time. However, me and my ruined tootsies had not. This meant that I could truly experience the darkness and doom behind New Orleans at night and boy, was it worth it! I have picked some of my favourite tales to tell however there are many, many more.
Coma Coma Coma Coma Coma C-ameleon
Our first stop on our trip down funkytown was the Hotel Provincal. Alas, this is anything but a mere hotel and has a rather creepy CV. Prior to becoming a hotel, the building was already in the hospitality industry. Literally, the building used to be a hospital during the American Civil War.
The soldiers lucky enough to return to the hotel with limbs hanging off would receive the chop and I am not talking about a trim on the split ends. Soldiers legs, arms and other potential ‘penis-ulas’ were sliced off with a bone hacking saw. This was actually a kind procedure as it was in prevention of diseases such as gangrene forming in the ruined flesh.
Unfortunately there was no real pain relief in the 1860’s so victims, sorry, ‘patients’ would be relieved with either a shot of whisky or a whack over the head with a wooden mallet. Ironically, the morning after a whisky, I feel like I have been hit over the head with a wooden mallet. Stacey had some superb banter when telling us about this place and although I am die-ing to share, I will pipe down.
It isn’t very convent if is there’s nun
Old Ursuline Convent is the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley and was the next stop in our freak shop. Ann Rice, author of ‘Interview with a Vampire’ took her inspiration from this place and it isn’t difficult to see why. There have been open graves less chilling than this place. For the record, I don’t hang around open graves… Iberville and Bienville were the 2 founders of the Crescent City and it took them around 10 years to get current New Orleans from shitty to city. Originally, it was a couple of shacks surrounded by swamp land and kept going under construction due to death, disease and hurricanes knocking down their building blocks.
In order to sustain a city, you need a steady level of reproduction. Unfortunately there was a lack of fertilised females to assist with this. Therefore, the 2 founding fathers phoned France and asked for some booty. What’s worse, is I am not even joking. Travelling to New Orleans in the 1700’s did not involve Air Con and American Airlines. Women would be expected to travel 2 months below deck with no air, fresh food or sun. Upon arrival they would then be expected to layer up in the Louisiana heat.
If any of my friends have never been to Louisiana… and y'all are complaining about the heat… I. Do. Not. Want. To. Hear. It. pic.twitter.com/XFqjftK0YY
— Chelsie Butler (@CoachChelsie) July 21, 2017
It is no surprise that the classy French ladies weren’t all that keen. The only meat the French could then cook up came from psychiatric hospitals, prisons and brothels. The phrase ‘Easy come, easy go’ comes to mind. Reproducing with these less than angelic ladies was not what the founding fathers had in mind. So they put in a fresh order. France were able to send 52 women from convents and orphanages. Unfortunately the rough conditions aboard ship left the ladies laden with scurvy. The disease left them with sunken eyes and bulging bleeding gums with fang like teeth. These women became known as the casket girls as the French genuinely sent them on their New Orleans stay-cation with mini coffin shaped cases.
It gets worse
So, the founding fathers ordered 52 freaky females but 54 arrived. When the ship stopped at what is now known as Haiti, it picked up 2 stowaways. These 2 women were quite chuffed with their New Orleans travels and got their bearings pretty quickly. Around this time in New Orleans, the men were having a good time, a really REALLY good time. Amongst the boozing and gambling were some very business like ladies willing to inch up those petticoats. A little like nowadays, many men do not know their limits and would often pass out in the streets and back alleys. If you are a freaky stowaway from Haiti and fancy a little more blood in your Mary then this is fresh meat.
More and more blood-less bodies were turning up and the nuns in Ursuline Convent had caught on. They got hold of both of the girls and locked them in the attic of the building. Over 800 bolts were put on the windows surrounding the attic and have been there ever since. Aren’t vampires immortal…?
An American Horror Story
— NOLA Defender (@NolaDefender) April 29, 2017
For those interested in the American Horror Story series, you can see the real house of Madame LaLaurie on this tour. You can also visit the house in which American filmed, a few doors down.
Madame Delphine LaLaurie is a name that gives chills to the chilling. Delphine was a lady of her time, high in society and prospering gracefully off her third husband. The prior two husbands died by the way, third time lucky and all that. Both husbands left her some serious dolla and the third was a Doctor if you please. Delphine LaLaurie wasn’t just a money orientated Madame but was also a party piece. Parties at Madame Delphine LaLauries were a grand affair. Think imported champagne, caviare and the most fabulous music. Anyone who was anyone, who was anyone, would be seen at her parties. All was going well until 1 of 2 things happened.
A story circulates of 12 year old slave girl to Madame LaLaurie which if true, says a lot about Delphines character. One evening, Lia was brushing the Madames hair and as she pulled the comb through it caught on a knot. When Lia tried to brush through the knot, Delphine flew in to an unruly rage. She picked up a bull whip and proceeded to chase young Lia through the house and round the balcony. As Lia ran from her, she ended up accidentally falling to her death in the courtyard. Interestingly enough, the drama behind this died down and her parties continued as usual. Until…
House of fire
One evening, during one of the Madames prominent parties, smoke begun to tumble out of the kitchen. As if the party goers were going to allow a little smoke get in the way of their boozy antics. When the fire crew turned up to deal with the fire, they found a young slave girl who had tied herself to the stove. They rescued her from the building but of course, had endless questions. The slave girl continued to tell the authorities that she would rather die on the stove than go to the attic. At this point, it became clear that there certainly wasn’t cash in this attic.
What they found left their stomachs turning in shock and disgust. Slaves were found in a most horrendous state. Some were hung up from their necks, others were badly mutilated. The ones on the better end of the scale were starving and covered in scars. There are horror stories of one slave with all of their joints broken in the other direction to resemble a crab. How true some of these tales are is questionable but at the time, it was common place to use some of these forms of punishment. Many of the plantation owners at the time were convinced their slaves would grab a machete in the middle of the night and come for them and their families. Whilst the fire was put out and the attic scene was discovered, LaLaurie and her family fled from town, never to be seen again.
There is a house in New Orleans, they call the Rising Sun
Probably one of the most iconic songs of all time? I hear the singers are complete animals too! It has long been up for debate about the actual location of the house of the rising sun. This is probably a good thing however as if we had a certain location, you wouldn’t be able to get within a mile due to tourism. The Hotel Villa Convento story fascinates us greatly. Ironically, this building used to be owned by the same nuns who had the Ursuline Convent. However, it went through a variety of owners and then eventually fell in to the arms of a Madam. Ironically, that was exactly what was to take place inside when the building became a brothel.
Primarily men (shock) have encountered ghostly events with what is believed to be the prior Madam of the brothel. She is known to whisper in ears, sit on the bed and stare down during acts of em, extracurricular activities. We are so absolutely keen to stay in this hotel. Although I can be a bit of a Madam at times so I wouldn’t want to put anyones nose out of joint…
An Irish Goodbye
Amongst some of my highlights are other downright creepy tales of pirates, rebels and party friendly ghosts. However, if I told you, I would have to kill you and that’s death-inately not on the cards. Stacey was a brilliant tour guide who not only captured the audience, but also had the knowledge and banter too match. We love a right good ghost walk tour and would highly recommend Legendary Walking Tours to anyone visiting New Orleans. If you want ghosts, you better walk.
Ace Stace mentioned at the end of her tour that she once had an Irish guy visit. She apologised to us in advance for her attempt at the accent but went on to tell us about a phrase he said which captures the tour perfectly. I have a very well known Irish phrase inked on my arm and was fully expecting ‘May you be half an hour in heaven before the devil knows your dead.’ This would of also been very relevant but instead it was…
Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
Legendary Walking Tours
Miss V Claimer
Firstly, a huge hanks to our tour-tastic tour guide who absolutely nailed the Ghost stories. We would also like to thank Cajun Encounters and Legendary Walking Tours for their assisted organisation of this trip and also for hosting us on a complimentary basis. Anyone who knows me will know I bloody love a good ghost story and this was as good as they get. As always, my opinions are relevant, interesting and sometimes really funny. Even with the heat and the sore feet.