Oct 31 2017

The City of the Dead: Famous Ghosts of New Orleans

By: Burke Bischoff

New Orleans, which is regarded as one of the most culturally rich cities in America, also holds the distinction of being one of the most haunted cities as well. The city of Mardi Gras, seafood and the “laissez les bons temps rouler” philosophy has also experienced many dark points in its long and colorful history. From the Great Fires of 1788 and 1794 to the Axeman murders of 1918 and 1919, the city is no stranger to tragedy and horror. Despite every unfortunate event that has ever taken place here, New Orleans seems to take all of this death in stride. Maybe it’s the old gothic European style architecture or its residents’ skill of enjoying life in whatever good or bad situation they’re in, but the city has learned how to wear its macabre mask and look good while wearing it. In a city as interesting and unique as this, it’s no surprise that New Orleans has been able to author many ghost stories from its peculiar past. So in honor of this All Hallows’ Eve season, let us recognize those who have contributed to New Orleans’ famed spectral status and those who may even still walk among us.


General P. G. T. Beauregard
Haunts Beauregard-Keyes House Museum
1113 Chartres St.

New Orleans' Most Famous Ghosts

General Beauregard was a very prominent general for the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He led his army with General Albert Sidney Johnston to launch a surprise attack against Major General Ulysses S. Grant in 1862, known as the Battle of Shiloh. The battle, at that time, was the bloodiest battle in American history until the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, with 13,047 Union casualties and 10,699 Confederate casualties. It is believed that in the Beauregard-Keyes House Museum, which was once occupied by General Beauregard, the general and his army still reenact scenes from the battle. Reports of gunshots and cannon fire being heard, as well as screams from inside the walls of the museum, have lead many to believe General Beauregard is reliving his bloody battle over and over again.

 

Julian Eltinge
Haunted Tujague’s
823 Decatur St.

New Orleans' Most Famous Ghosts

Julian Eltinge (left), whose given name was William Julian Dalton, was a famous cross-dressing actor during the early 1900s. Having given a special stage performance before King Edward VII and staring in Hollywood films like 1918’s The Isle of Love with Rudolph Valentino, Eltinge was considered to be one of the highest paid actors at that time. He had dined at Begue’s Restaurant—which is now Tujague’s—in 1917 when he was performing in the city, and he autographed a photo of himself that ended up being framed and hung in the restaurant for nearly 100 years. In 2013, the picture was taken down and put up in the attic during renovations. After that, a couple had taken a picture of themselves while dining at Tujague’s and noticed a ghostly face that had appeared behind them, right where Eltinge’s photo used to be. The owner has since rehung the photo and Julian Eltinge has not reappeared since.

 

Madeline Freneau
Haunted “The Devil’s House”
1319 St. Charles Ave.

Sometime during the 1820s, according to legend, the Devil himself took a mistress in New Orleans, named Madeline Freneau, and built her a luxurious ornate mansion to accommodate her. While the Devil provided Freneau with a lavish lifestyle, she ultimately grew bored of him and took on another lover, Alcide Cancienne. The couple did not keep their affair a secret from the Devil. So one night while they were having dinner in the ballroom, Cancienne told Freneau that the Devil had made him an offer: he would give him Miss Freneau along with $1000, and all they had to do in return was adopt the name Mr. and Mrs. L. However, Cancienne said he had refused the deal because he had already grown tired of her. In a fit of rage, Freneau killed Cancienne, and then the Devil came in afterward to devour them both. Before the mansion was torn down in the 1930s, reports claimed that the ghosts of Freneau and Cancienne would replay the events of that dinner, and an image of the Devil was seen outside the house with blood dripping from its mouth.

 

Julie
Haunts “The Octoroon’s House”
734 Royal St.

In the 1850’s, a rich Frenchman lived in a house on Royal Street with his mistress, Julie. They loved each other dearly, but Julie wanted to be the Frenchman’s wife. However, she was an octoroon, or one-eighth black, and he was afraid of social dishonor if he married a woman of color. For months, Julie begged him to marry her and the Frenchman would constantly refuse. One cold, sleet-filled December night, the Frenchman, figuring she would never do it, told her to spend the night on the roof completely naked to prove her love and in the morning he would make her his bride. But it just so happened that some friends came by the same night and kept the Frenchman occupied until very late that night. When morning came, he went to the bedroom to check on Julie, but she was not there. She was huddled by the chimney on the roof, cold, naked and dead. Julie’s ghost appears on the roof of her house on Royal Street on the coldest night each December, waiting for her lover.

 

Delphine LaLaurie
Haunts The Former LaLaurie Mansion
1140 Royal St.

New Orleans' Most Famous Ghosts

Madame LaLaurie was a social butterfly and was known for throwing extravagant cocktail parties with her husband at their home on Royal Street. She was also known to be very violent towards her servants. On April 10, 1834, a fire broke out in the LaLaurie mansion while they were holding a cocktail party. While the fire brigade was dealing with the fire, the servants brought their attention to a locked room on the third floor of the house where screaming could be heard. When the firefighters knocked the door down, many of the firemen vomited and fell to their knees over the sight and the smell. Many people were chained in that room and were victims of cruel medical experimentations such as facial and genital disfigurement, amputated limbs, and peeled off skin. While survivors were being rescued, an angry mob formed to have the LaLauries’ heads, but the family escaped by carriage and disappeared. Madam LaLaurie’s ghost still resides in the house and has been reported chasing people with a bullwhip, decapitating animals, or moving around furniture.

 

Marie Laveau
Haunts St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
300 N Claiborne Ave.

New Orleans' Most Famous Ghosts

The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau, was not only a powerful healer and a hairdresser during her time in the 1800s, but she also introduced Catholic teachings and practices into the Voodoo religion that still persist today. Known for her compassion, Laveau would help any and all who came to her regardless of race and financial status. A popular tradition was started years ago that if you wanted Lavaeu to grant you a wish, you had to draw an X on her tomb, turn around three times, knock on her tomb, and yell out your wish, much to the frustration of the Archdiocese and Save Our Cemeteries. People have sworn that when they left offerings at Laveau’s tomb after having their wish granted, they could hear a woman whispering in their ears and had ghostly images show up in photos of her tomb.

 

Elizabeth Duparc Locoul
Haunts The Olivier House Hotel
828 Toulouse St.

New Orleans' Most Famous Ghosts

Madame Locoul (right) became the new owner of The Olivier House Hotel after the original owner, Madame Olivier, passed away. Usually described as nasty and spiteful, Madame Locoul would always wear black and would wander throughout the house and courtyard mumbling the rosary to herself. She would also scream and curse at anyone who interrupted her while she was praying. It was also said that she allegedly had her servants branded to prove that they belonged to her. Today, people have reported seeing an old woman wandering around the first floor of the building, dressed in all black, carrying a rosary, and cursing at anyone who was nearby.

 

Marguerite
Haunted the French Quarter
Around Bourbon and Toulouse Streets

Also known as the Witch of the French Opera, Marguerite was said to be a performer at the Old Opera House. She lived near the corner of St. Ann and Royal Streets and had a younger lover who wasn’t faithful to her. Discovering his affair, Marguerite wrote a letter to him, swearing revenge on the both of them, and then committed suicide. The night after her death, it’s said that Marguerite’s ghost came into the couple’s apartment and turned on the gas, killing them both. Her ghost was noted to continually wander around the streets near the French Opera House, dressed in white with wild hair and red eyes. Her ghost disappeared, never to be seen again, when a tenant in the apartment she lived in discovered her suicide note and burned it.

 

Marie
Haunts Lafitte Guest House
1003 Bourbon St.

New Orleans' Most Famous Ghosts

The Lafitte Guest House has had many guests in the past. One pair of guests, who stayed in the upstairs hall in Room 21, included a little girl named Marie and her mother. Marie ended up dying in the house during a bad yellow fever epidemic, possibly in 1853, which ended up taking the lives of many other children in that house. Distraught by the loss of her daughter, Marie’s mother refused to ever leave her room. Marie’s ghost has been known to talk to other children who stay in the house, cry and cough in the middle of the night, and usually appears in a mirror that is right next to Room 21.

 

The Sultan’s Brother
Haunts The Gardette-Lepretre Mansion
716 Dauphine St.

Sometime during the 19th century, a wealthy Turkish emissary claiming to be a Sultan approached a man named LePretre and purchased the mansion from him on Dauphine Street. The “Sultan” immediately installed iron works on all of the entrances and windows, and he used the property to throw wild and lavish parties. The “Sultan” had music playing all through the night, incense and opium would cloud the air in the mansion, and he would constantly indulge in escapades with his harem of women and young boys. One morning, someone noticed blood dribbling down the walls of the mansion and onto the street. When the police came to bust the door down, they were greeted by the severed body parts of numerous people littered throughout the rooms. The “Sultan” was found in the courtyard of the mansion, having been buried alive. It’s now believed this was actually the Sultan’s brother and that the real Sultan had him assassinated for stealing his belongings and fleeing to New Orleans. Reports say the brother’s ghost and his harem can be heard screaming and making gurgling noises in the mansion, as well as the sounds of body parts hitting the floors at night.

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