New Orleans--the Big Easy, the birthplace of jazz, home of Cafe du Monde and what some call the most haunted city in America. Beneath the indulgence and revelry of the Crescent City lies a long history of the dark and mysterious. From the famous "Queen of Voodoo," Marie Laveau, who is said to haunt the site of her grave, to the wicked LaLauries, whose true natures were hidden behind elegance and the trappings of high society, New Orleans is filled with spirits of all kinds. Some of the ghosts in these stories have sordid and scandalous histories, while others are friendly specters who simply can't leave their beloved city behind. Join supernatural historian Troy Taylor as he takes readers beyond the French Quarter and shows a side of New Orleans never seen.
About the Author
Troy Taylor is an occultist, supernatural historian and the author of seventy-five books on ghosts, hauntings, history, crime and the unexplained in America. He is also the founder of the American Ghost Society and the owner of the Illinois and American Hauntings Tour companies. Taylor shares a birthday with one of his favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, but instead of living in New York and Paris like Fitzgerald, Taylor grew up in Illinois. Raised on the prairies of the state, he developed an interest in things that go bump in the night"? at an early age. As a young man, he channeled that interest into developing ghost tours and writing about haunts in Chicago and Central Illinois. Troy and his wife, Haven, currently reside in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood."
Read an Excerpt
GHOSTS OF NEW ORLEANS
A COLLECTION OF EERIE STORIES AND STRANGE TALES FROM THE CITY'S PAST
The city of New Orleans, wrote authors Lyle Saxon, Edward Dreyer and Robert Tallant, has more ghosts than there are wrought-iron balconies in the Vieux Carre. As they also noted, it is not surprising that a city with the past that New Orleans has would have more than its share of ghosts. In fact, there are so many hauntings that on one occasion even the devil himself came to visit! Stories of ghosts and hauntings fill the annals of the Crescent City to overflowing.
According to newspaper accounts of 1933, there was a haunted house on Fourth Street that was rumored to be so haunted that the owners were unable to keep tenants in it. Finally, for fear that it would be burned to the ground or vandalized, it was given to several impoverished black men, who were unable to afford the rent. They were simply asked to stay there to make sure the property was not disturbed. Unfortunately, they were unable to fulfill this simple request; a single night in the building proved that it was inhabited by ghosts.
Unwilling to sleep in the house, they began spending their nights in a small outer building. They reported many strange things about the house itself, like ghostly faces that would appear at the windows, unexplained lights and knocking sounds that came from unseen hands. Worst of all, on nights when the moon was full, the kitchen door would open and reveal eerie, misty apparitions crawling about the floor on their hands and knees.
Later, two elderly ladies moved into the front portion of the house. They, too, reported the ghosts — and in startling detail. They claimed that the apparitions looked to be covered in blood and did vile things in their presence. According to their story, one ghost pulled off his leg and threw it at the tenants and then proceeded to vomit into the women's shoes. Another dug out his liver and tossed it at a lamp and then produced a mass of worms. A third gouged out his own tongue and then clawed out his eyes. They continued to prey on the ladies for days, smashing dishes, ripping up clothing, smearing the parlor sofa with filth, ruining food and more. After a week of this, the two women moved out.
Finally, the owner of the house had the floor torn out of the building and replaced it with a new one. He never offered an explanation as to why he did it, but regardless, the haunting stopped. Although it was never verified, the tenants in the outbuilding stated that a number of old skeletons were found beneath the floor. Once they were decently buried, the ghosts no longer appeared.
There was once a house located on Saratoga Street that was haunted by the ghost of an old miser who once lived there. Throughout his life, the old man had worked hard and spent very little, always hoarding his gold pieces and hiding them in his house. Each night, he would sit by an oil lamp and count and caress each gold coin. "My beautiful children," he would call the gold pieces, as he stacked and restacked them and then placed them back into a leather pouch.
One night, perhaps fearful that he was going to be robbed, the old man stole into his backyard and buried the sack of coins in a deep hole. He planned to return and dig them up in a few days, but unfortunately he died before he could do so.
The stories say that the miser's phantom soon began returning to look for the gold, journeying from his grave in the cemetery across the street. The ghostly figure would appear in the yard but would wander aimlessly, as though he could no longer remember where he had buried his treasure. The pale apparition would walk about, wringing its hands and mumbling to his "beautiful children" to reveal their hiding place to him. For years, neighbors watched the scene, hoping to be shown where the gold was buried, but the ghost never appeared to find it. Many would-be treasure hunters prowled the area, and the yard soon became a field of open holes and tossed-aside soil — but the gold was never discovered.
A portion of Cherokee Street was once the scene of a poltergeist outbreak. One night, a rain of stones and bricks began to fall on a number of houses in the 200 Block. It only lasted a short time and then ceased, only to occur again the following night. No explanation could be discovered for where the rocks were coming from. As the strange phenomenon continued on night after night, the police were summoned to look into the matter. They searched the entire block but could find nothing to explain the bizarre events.
After several days of this, neighbors remembered an old man and a little girl who had lived on the block and who had hated each other violently. No one ever knew what had caused the terrible feelings between them, but all could remember the loud arguments and the violent screaming matches. Oddly, the two of them had died in the same week and had been buried in nearly adjoining tombs in the cemetery. Some older residents suggested that perhaps their spirits were still continuing their battles in death.
Shortly after, the girl's parents moved her body to another tomb, and the falls of bricks and stones ceased immediately.
According to legend, on certain nights, the crisp, clear voice of a man can be heard singing the "Kyrie" in the air around the St. Louis Cathedral. The eerie voice echoes the song near the church and seems to come from nowhere, for no living person can be seen singing in the vicinity. The story behind this phantom voice is one of the lingering legends of the city, and it may be one of the oldest ghost stories that New Orleans can boast.
The owner of the spectral voice was a priest named Pere Dagobert. He arrived in New Orleans in 1745 to pastor the Church of Saint Louis, now the St. Louis Cathedral. He was a very popular and beloved man, and he was more than just a priest to the people. He cared for the sick, was the benefactor of the poor and the widowed and was embraced by the people. They grew to love him, and by 1756 he had become the permanent pastor for the church and a permanent fixture in New Orleans. He also had a singing voice, it was said, that could be compared to an angel's.
In October 1764, the acting governor of Louisiana announced to the colony of New Orleans that the land of the city had been given in treaty to Spain. The people suddenly found themselves citizens of Spain, and terror erupted in New Orleans. The French families organized support and petitioned the king of France not to cede New Orleans to Spain, but the petition failed. Not long after, the first rebellion began to boil in the New World.
Two years later, with the arrival of the first Spanish governor, the detested Don Antonio de Ulloa, a plot began to be hatched to overthrow the Spanish. The ringleaders of the plot were some of the wealthiest and most prominent men in the city, and all were friends of Pere Dagobert's. The rebellion was successful, and by November 1, Don Antonio had escaped to Cuba, and the rebels had taken prisoner his three aides. But Spain would not give up the colony without a fight.
His Majesty Carlos of Spain sent a fleet of ships and an army of mercenaries to retake New Orleans. It was under the command of Don Alejandro O'Reilly, an Irish expatriate, now fighting for Spain. The commander would soon earn the nickname of "Bloody" O'Reilly. He quickly learned that mass arrests and intimidation would not get him the names of the rebellion's ringleaders, so he sent out spies, who mingled with the inhabitants of New Orleans and who shortly assembled a list of ten suspects.
In October 1769, the ten men who planned the rebellion were arrested and put on trial. With O'Reilly himself as judge and jury, five of the rebel leaders were executed by firing squad on October 24. A sixth man was stabbed to death with a bayonet while awaiting trial and also died.
The men were killed, but O'Reilly refused to allow them to be buried. The corpses were left out to rot in the rain and heat. The people were shocked and appalled, but there was nothing to be done since the bodies were placed under the watchful eye of the Spanish garrison. But something happened one night that has never been explained.
The mourning families were each visited by Pere Dagobert, who brought food and some small comfort to them. He appeared at their homes, and one by one he brought them to the cathedral and locked them in a small room. As darkness grew deeper, he came and went, each time leaving a sobbing woman and sometimes a few sleepy, frightened children behind.
Then, at some point in the early morning hours, Pere Dagobert opened the door. He held a lighted candle in his hand and silently beckoned the families to follow him. They entered the cathedral, and there they discovered that the bodies of the six slain ringleaders had somehow appeared there. A dark cloth covered each of the bodies on the floor. How Pere Dagobert had managed to "spirit" these bodies into the church, and from under the noses of the Spanish authorities, is still unknown.
A funeral mass was held; then, in the driving rain, the families managed to get the bodies to the cemetery, where each was entombed. The graves were then sealed in such a way that no traces of the burials could be found.
The miracle was never forgotten by the city's French, and Pere Dagobert remained a mysterious and beloved figure in the city until his untimely death in 1776. He was interred in a crypt beneath the altar of the cathedral, and many believe that he has never left this place, still content to watch over his parishioners from the other side. They believe that it is Pere Dagobert's voice that has been heard singing the "Kyrie" near the old cathedral and that his spirit is still keeping watch over New Orleans more than two centuries after his death.
Years ago, there was also the tale of the "Ghost Who Walked the Sausage Factory." It concerned a brutal murder that had a hideous and supernatural aftermath — a story about a man named Hans Muller, a German immigrant who moved to New Orleans and started a sausage factory. Muller had come to America with his wife but soon grew tired of her and began having affairs with some of the young women who worked in the factory.
One night, Muller decided to get rid of his wife once and for all; he clubbed her over the head and dumped her body into a meat grinder. She was ground up into sausage — which was complained about by customers for several days afterward because they found bone and bits of cloth in their supper.
Days passed, and Muller began explaining to everyone that his wife had returned to Germany. No one had any reason to suspect otherwise. Then, one night, while working in the factory alone, he heard a loud thumping sound that came from the boiler vat. He went to look, and suddenly the hideous ghost of his wife lurched toward him from the shadows. She was covered with blood, and most of her head had been torn away. As her gory fingers reached for him, he began to scream and ran shrieking out of the building. When his neighbors were stirred from their sleep, he told them that he had woken from a bad dream.
The next day, the sausage shop opened as usual, but Muller was nowhere to be seen. A customer came in late in the morning to purchase some sausage and then returned home to cook it for her lunch. She placed the meat into the frying pan and noticed something odd — there appeared to be something inside of the meat. She quickly realized that it was a gold wedding ring! She called the police, but when they went to investigate, they found that Muller was not at home. A quick search found him at the sausage factory, crouched in the corner, screaming, crying and weeping. He told the police officers that he was hiding from his wife, who was going to come out of the sausage grinder and kill him. They took him away, and he spent the remaining few days of his life in an insane asylum.
Soon after, another man bought the sausage factory, but the ghost continued to appear. For months, he had a terrible time keeping workers, and no one would stay in the building after dark. Finally, the ghost stopped appearing, and the new owner learned that Hans Muller had committed suicide at the asylum at about the same time. Apparently, Mrs. Muller's need for revenge had been satisfied.
Located on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter is an apartment that, according to reports, is seldom occupied. Apparently, many tenants in the past have abandoned the place after encountering the otherworldly occupants of the building.
Back in the 1850s, the building was occupied by a dentist named Deschamps, who had an unhealthy interest in the occult. He decided to experiment with what he believed to be his "supernatural powers" and began attempting to hypnotize a young girl for the purpose of using her as a medium to locate buried treasure. When his experiments failed, he began to beat and abuse the girl. Finally, after weeks of beatings, she died from an overdose of chloroform. Deschamps was arrested, tried for her murder and hanged.
In the years that followed, the ghosts of the dentist and his victim began returning to the scene of the crime and replaying the deadly events of the past. According to the luckless tenants who encountered them, they always appeared together.
Some say that the author Oliver La Farge once lived in this apartment and that he also encountered these ghosts. Whether he did or not, there have certainly been plenty of other people who have. One young man, who was a tenant in the house, was taking a bath one evening when he was surprised by the glowering apparition of Dr. Deschamps. Terrified, he jumped from the tub and ran naked out into the street. A policeman gave chase and managed to stop him with a few shouts and an overcoat. The tenant was so terrified that he refused to set foot in the apartment ever again. His friends had to go there to pick up his clothing and belongings.
In more recent years, the place became a restaurant, and employees claimed to have their own encounters with the ghosts of the dentist and the young woman whose life he took. Pots, pans and plates mysteriously moved about in the kitchen. Objects vanished only to appear again in different places. Unearthly voices were heard in the building, and staff members claimed to hear someone calling their name.
One questionable (though chilling) tale of New Orleans involves an old mansion that was visited by a newspaper reporter back in the 1920s. The young man had been sent to the house to interview an old Spanish lady who was said to be more than one hundred years old. When the reporter reached the house, he discovered a crumbling edifice that had been built in the late 1700s and that had fallen into a state of disrepair.
He was admitted to the house by an ancient mulatto servant, who led him upstairs and into the presence of "the Señorita." This was the old woman whom he had been sent to interview, even though he could barely stand to look at her. She was a revolting old hag with skin like parchment and few teeth left in her mouth. However, she was covered with priceless jewelry and even wore a jewel-encrusted tiara on her nearly hairless head.
As the Señorita began to talk, the reporter realized that her sanity had left her long ago. Even though her father had been dead for more than seventy years, she still spoke of him as though he were alive and away on a trip to Spain. She also still believed that she was a young girl and chatted away about her lovers, who were always wealthy Spaniards who came to New Orleans to try to win her hand in marriage. She spoke of her own beauty and of the wonderful parties that her father would host in her honor when he returned.
She grew increasingly strange as she continued to speak, hinting that her lovers never left the mansion after they once called upon her. They never wanted to, she told him, as they were so enraptured by her that they would do anything she wanted. One lover, she confided, had even poisoned his own mother so that he could give the Señorita her jewels. She spoke whimsically of the house's rose garden, saying that she had enjoyed many of her trysts with her lovers there.
During the interview, she constantly gave orders to her servant concerning a great dinner that night, although no dinner was ever prepared. Eventually, the old woman drifted off to sleep; with that, the bizarre interview came to an end.
Leaving the old woman snoring in her chair, the reporter slipped off down a corridor and began to explore the decrepit old house. From out of the shadows there suddenly appeared a ghostly man who was clad in dirty and outdated clothing. The apparition was totally silent but managed to convince the nervous reporter to follow him into a room at the end of the hall. When he stepped inside, he was greeted with the sight of scores of other phantoms, all of them young men and all of them long dead. Terrified, the reporter ran down the staircase to the first floor. He dashed out of the gate and never returned to the house.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Haunted New Orleans"
Copyright © 2010 Troy Taylor.
Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Ghosts of New Orleans: A Collection of Eerie Stories and Strange Tales from the City's Past,
2. New Orleans' Most Famous Haunted House: The Dark History of the LaLaurie Mansion,
3. The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans: The History and Mystery of Marie Laveau,
4. The New Orleans Way of Death: History and Haunts of the City Cemeteries,
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1,
Josie Arlington and the Flaming Tomb of Metairie Cemetery,
5. The Octoroon Mistress: The Haunting of a Lost Lover in the French Quarter,
6. Phantom Army of New Orleans: Hauntings of the Beauregard-Keyes House,
7. Madame Mineurecanal: The Creole Lady of Royal Street,
8. The Devil Came to New Orleans: The Macabre History of the Fabled Devil's Mansion,
9. No Escape Even After Death: Ghostly Tales of Prisons and Jails in New Orleans,
The Carrollton Jail,
The Redheaded Ghost of the Parish Prison,
10. Brothers in Arms: Spirits of the Civil War at the Griffon House,
11. The Sultan's Palace: The Haunted History of the Gardette–Le Prete Mansion,
12. Dinner, Lodging Spirits: Haunted Hotels and Restaurants in New Orleans,
Lafitte Guest House,
Andrew Jackson Hotel,
Hotel Villa Convento,
O'Flaherty's Irish Pub,
Old Absinthe House,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I recently took a trip to New Orleans & bought this book. As I flipped through the text, I began to get the feeling that I had read this copy before. A quick check proved this to be the case. The author has lifted entire paragraphs from preexisting works: "Jules served as apprentice under his mother's tutelage for six years before she sent him to France where he served in the great kitchens of Paris, Strassburg and Marseilles. He returned to New Orleans and became chef of the famous Pickwick Club in 1887 before his mother summoned him to head the house of Antoine... Jules married Althea Roy, daughter of a planter in Youngsville in southwest Louisiana, and Marie Louise, the grand dame of the family, was born. A son, Roy Louis, was born in 1902..." -from Antoine's Restaurant's website "After the death of his father, Antoine's son, Jules served as apprentice under his mother for six years before traveling to France, where he worked in the finest kitchens of Paris and Marseilles. In 1887, he returned to New Orleans and became chef of the renowned Pickwick Club until his mother summoned him to master the kitchens at Antoine's. Jules later married Althea Roy, daughter of a planter from Youngsville in southwest Louisiana, and their son, Roy Louis, was born in 1902..." --From Haunted New Orleans page 123 There have been only nominal changes to content or structure. Copying & pasting entire passages & changing a few words doesn't make it original. The plagiarism doesn't end there, unfortunately: "Rumored to be the 'House of the Rising Sun,' the Villa Convento is a Creole townhouse built in or around 1833. The land was purchased from the Ursulines nuns. The first owner was Jean Baptiste Poeyfarre, who commissioned the construction of the building. His widow, ten years later, sold the property and building to Octave Voorheis. Mr. Voorheis lost this purchase in the depression following the Civil War, approximately in 1872... On March 10, 1902, Pasquale Taromina purchased the property. The family lived here until February 1946." -from Hotel Villa Convento's website "This former Creole townhouse and bordello is rumored to be the original 'House of the Rising Sun', from the famous song. It was built about 1833 on land was purchased from the Ursulines nuns, and the first owner was Jean Baptiste Poeyfarre, who commissioned the actual construction. His widow sold the place ten years later to Octave Voorheis, who lost the property in the depression following the Civil War. It was purchased by Pasquale Taromina in 1902, and he owned it until his death in 1946." --from `Haunted New Orleans', page 114 Mr. Taylor also took passages from print books: "In the early days burials were all in ground and were terrifying affairs. Caskets were lowered into gurgling pools of water and were sunk into pits of oozing mud. As often as not, the coffin would capsize as the water seeped within. Heavy rains or a storm would cast newly buried half-decomposed cadavers to the surface." --from Gumbo Ya Ya (published in 1945), page 337 "Such conditions made funerals a somewhat terrifying affair. Caskets were often lowered into gurgling pools of water and oozing mud. As often as not, the coffin would capsize as the water began to leak in, causing newly buried half-decomposed cadavers to float to the surface of the grave..." --from Haunted New Orleans, page 57 Someone needs to sit this writer down & explain how wrong this is. Save your money for writers who deserve it.
Few cities' annals fascinate the way the long, colorful history of New Orleans does. While there's no shortage of books old or recent detailing New Orleans' twisting, twisted chronicles over the past three centuries, readers interested in the city's eerier side will find much to delight in author Troy Taylor's brief but entertaining book, "Haunted New Orleans." Over the course of 12 chapters in less than 130 pages, Taylor tells some of New Orleans' most famous and infamous ghost stories, and he tells them well. A lot of this material is available in greater detail in other books, but to his credit Taylor does a fine job of introducing tales that for countless years have made the flesh of both the city's residents and its visitors shiver. "Haunted New Orleans" is a solid, informative and often spine-tingling primer for people intrigued by the macabre things that rise up to crawl and creep when sunlight surrenders to nightfall in The Big Easy.