New Orleans has been called the most haunted city in the united states. It has been said by many that the actual history of New Orleans is far stranger than anything fictional writers can create.
Legend tells us that this vast swamp was once used by Indians as a sacred burial place. The location was appealing for its geographical position on the Mississippi River. The french believed it would be extremely profitable for trading. Therefore, in 1718, New Orleans was founded. Being a swamp, New Orleans did not appeal to the taste of wealthy Parisians. It was during this time that the prisons in Paris were extremely over populated. The King of France decided to relieve this problem by sending over laborers from the prisons to build the city.
Murderers, thieves, rapists, and common criminals were among the first to populate the area. Living conditions were deplorable. Harsh elements, quick sand, alligators, venomous snakes, mosquitoes and disease were rampant. The murder rate was high. Add a couple of major fires that devoured the city, (as well as many of its inhabitants), numerous hurricanes, wars, and yellow fever epidemics over the next hundred years created excellent conditions for ghosts and hauntings.
In 1834, a crime occurred that shocked the city beyond belief. A crime that eventually became known as the blemish of the city. A woman by the name of Delphine LaLaurie became a common name in the city's dark history.
She moved there with her husband Dr. Louis LaLaurie both very wealthy were known to throw parties of the century, they were also known to have very well behaved slaves.
One the madame was getting ready for a party and her long hair was being combed by a 12 old slave girl named Leah, well the comb hit a snag and the madame pulled out a bullwhip and intended on punishing the poor girl. Little Leah kept running away from the madame and ran out onto the balcony where she lost her footing and fell to her death, the madame was unable to hide the crim and was charged with abusing her slaves and fined 300.00 dollars, a mere slap on the wrist for her, her slave were then taken away and auctioned off to a family member that LaLaurie payed. With her slaves back life continued on and eveything was almost forgotten until a fire broke out in the kitchen of the LaLaurie house, the fire brigade was called to the house and when they went into the kitchen they seen two slaves chained to the stove. It was apparent that they started the fire in the hopes of bringing attention to the aweful things that were being done.
The remaining slaves directed the fire brigade to a small attic crawlspace, the door was bolted and locked from the outside, yet screams and cries could be heard within. the fire brigade used a battering ram and knocked the door open, to their horror they seen at least a dozen slaves had been victims of very crude medical experimentations. They were chained to the walls, maimed and disfigured. One man looked as if he had been the victim of some crude sex change operation. One poor soul, a woman, had managed to break free from her shackles. Instead of being relieved that someone had come to rescue her, she ran in fear of further torture. She made it past the rescuers, in through the house, then jumped through a window. She fell to her death on the balcony below. The window remains sealed to this day. Another victim had her arms amputated and her skin peeled off in a circular pattern, making her look like a human caterpillar. Yet another, had been locked in a cage that the newspaper described as barely large enough to accommodate a medium size dog. Breaking the cage open, the rescuers found that the LaLaurie’s had broken all of her joints resetting them at odd angles so she resembled a human crab. Body parts were in jars on shelves in the room.
Before the LaLaurie's could be caught and punished for their crimes they escaped through their carriageway and disappeared at the river's edge.
Many years later the house was turned into apartments as it is today, during renovations on the 3rd floor however there was a horrible discovery, the bodies of seventy five people were found who had been buried alive. To this day the house is said to be the most haunted in the city.
On November 23, 1762, in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, the King of France, Louis XV gave Louisiana to his cousin, King Charles III, of Spain. The treaty was kept secret for a number of years to all except the Spanish. On March 5, 1766, the first Spanish Governor, Don Antonio de Ulloa arrived in New Orleans.No doubt France failed to alert the settlers in New Orleans of this change in command. This was a very early time for New Orleans. The French Parisians still wanting no part in colonizing this swamp city. The new Governor and his army arrived unannounced and proceeded to replace the French flag flying in the Place D’ Arms with that of Spain.
Needless to say, the French population of the city feared the worse. It would appear to The French Creole colonists wanted no part of Spanish rule. Having not been informed of this change, they of course believed that they were being invaded by Spain. They did what seemed to be the only natural thing to do, defend their city. They organized an army led by six Creole gentlemen and fought the first revolution in North America. They literally overtook the soldiers and expelled the Spaniards from the colony. The Creole colonist fought and won the first revolution in this country. The Spanish Governor and his army retreated to Cuba.
Spain was slow to respond. In 1769, another governor, Don Alejandro O’Reilly, an Irish ex-patriot who joined Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, entered New Orleans. He brought with him a new priest for the church and an entire Spanish army consisting of 24 ships. The ships appeared to float into the port of New Orleans. Governor O’Reilly and his army seized the Place D’ Arms and raised their Spanish flag. They set up camp in the newly appointed Plaza de Armas.
The governor’s first matter of business was to capture the six men who led the revolution. One by one they were captured and shot for treason without a trial.
One by one their bullet torn bodies were laid out in the sand in front of the church. Governor O’Reilly set forth a proclamation to the city of New Orleans and its French residents. It stated the bodies would be removed from the church entrance for no reason. The rotting corpses were to remain where they lie to rot, fester and decompose for the entire city to see.
The priest, of the church, at that time was a beloved Capuchin Monk, named Pere Dagobert. He was outraged by this act of terror. “What Catholic could possibly do this to nother Catholic,” he wondered. In an attempt to correct this blasphemy and give the men a proper funeral, he visited Governor O’Reilly. He tried to reason with him. Governor O’Reilly very rudely sent the priest away, forbidding him to defy his actions. Several days later, Pere Dagobert made another attempt to reason with the Governor. This time begging and beseeching him to have mercy on the souls of these poor men. Again, the Governor sent him away. The Governor warned Pere Dagobert that if defied him or even attempted to visit him again, he too would join the others in front of the church.
Finally, in an act of desperation to give these men a proper Catholic funeral, Pere Dagobert bravely did what anyone would have done. He took matters into his own hands. He waited until a stormy night and he gathered the families of the men. Pine boxes were constructed to be coffins for what was left of the remains. In the middle of a torrential rainstorm, he and the families gathered the remains into the boxes. Pere Dagobert proceeded to perform the funeral mass in the storm. Pere Dagobert was best recognized in New Orleans for his beautiful tenor voice. As he sang the Kyrie his voice echoed out against the sound of the pounding rain and crashing thunder. He continued singing throughout the rain, as he led the funeral procession down
Pere Antion’s alley (ironically named for his predecessor), down Orleans Avenue to what was then St. Peter’s cemetery. The men were given their funeral in spite of the threats of Governor O’Reilly. Not one Spanish soldier attempted to abandon their tent to disrupt the funeral.
Pere Dagobert was eventually replaced in the church by the first Spanish priest Father Antonio DeSadilla, referred to by the French as Pere Antion. Pere Dagobert continued out his life in New Orleans and was eventually buried under the altar in the Cathedral. But the impression of Pere Dagobert however intense, was not left in the Place D’ Arms,now Jackson Square. Nor was it left in the Cathedral. For it is not the ghost of Pere Dagobert that haunts this city. His impression was left in the rain. On rainy summer nights, his haunting voice can still be heard echoing throughout the alleys. Still singing the Kyrie. The closer to dawn the louder the singing. His beautiful tenor voice. singing the funeral mass, down the alley, and throughout Orleans Avenue.
One of the most mysterious ghosts in the French Quarter is that of the “Sultan”. He reportedly roams the halls of the four-story house at 716 Dauphine St., on the corner of Dauphine and Orleans Ave. A Times-Picayune article written on February 11, 1979, recounts the Sultan’s tale. There are discrepancies as to dates of the actual incident as well as when the house was even built.New Orleans was one of the first cities to be taken over and occupied by the Union during the Civil War. This was a time in our history when even the wealthiest of Creoles were losing their fortunes. Often, those who owned large mansions would sell their properties for smaller homes or even rent out the homes to several families. Businesses were dying and Confederate money was no longer good. A man by the named of LePrete owned the large mansion at 716 Dauphine Avenue. The LaPrete family owned a plantation in Plaquemines Parish but used the spacious home in the French Quarter during the winter months, which was opera season in New Orleans. In fear of losing his plantation, he planned to rent or sell his second home. He was visiting New Orleans and discussing his financial concerns with some associates in a local pub. Overhearing his conversation, a man wearing a turban approached Mr. LePrete and introduced himself as an emissary of a Turkish sultan who had recently arrived in New Orleans. He explained to Mr. LePrete that the Sultan had quite a large family and was in dire need of a large home to rent. Mr. LaPrete was delighted to hear that the Royal family was interested in his home. The man offered for Mr. LaPrete to check his references that were banks across the city where the Sultan had deposited rather large sums of money. The following morning Mr. LePrete checked with the banks and indeed, the Sultan was quite wealthy. Mr. LePrete met again with the mysterious man in a turban and orchestrated the transaction. Immediately, the Sultan moved in with his family. His family consisted of many, many wives. There were woman of every shape, size and color among them. He had many children from these wives. The Sultan had a harem of not only women but also young boys. Over the two years he occupied the house in the city, it is said that he was known to kidnap women, girls and boys off the street and torture them into submission. He had an entire army of eunuchs to protect his family and harem. The guards would march the balconies and galleries of the house with scimitars.
He had bars put over the doors and windows of the house making it look for like a fortress. For two years, his parties were the talk of the city. Loud music and laughter rang through the building all hours of the day and night. The smell of opium and incense reeked through the doors and windows.
Two years after the sultan moved into the home, a woman who lived at a neighboring house was strolling by early one morning. As she passed the corner, she noticed that for the first time in two years, the home was quiet, no laughter, and no music. She stood for a few seconds on the corner, straining to hear any sign of life. She then became aware that there was a drip coming down off of the gallery. Looking up, she realized that it was blood. Running around to the front door, she observed blood pooling from underneath.
She reported the situation to police who had to enter the property by way of a battering ram.
As the doors collapsed in, the police saw pools of blood trailing down the halls. As they wallowed through the congealed blood they saw that there were body parts strewn throughout the house. Legs, arms, heads, torsos, every member of the household had been cut into pieces. The woman, children and eunuchs alike, butchered into unrecognizable parts. They had to count heads in order to get an accurate count of the bodies.
The Sultan’s body was the only one that had not been cut up. His body was found in a shallow grave, one hand reaching through the freshly dug dirt. When they retrieved his body, there was so much soil shoved into his throat and esophagus, it can only be assumed that he was buried alive. The murder of the Sultan and his entourage is the biggest mass murder mystery in the city’s history. No one knows who committed the murders.
For years, the city blamed pirates for the crime. It was assumed that possibly they intended to rob him and ultimately murdered everyone. This story doesn’t carry a lot weight however. Pirates generally used pistols. Also, the largest trade for pirates was white slavery. It would have been far more profitable to kidnap the woman and children, even the eunuchs and sell them as slaves in the Caribbean.
A much more sinister explanation has since been derived. It is now suspected that this man, Prince Suleyman, was not a Sultan at all, but the brother of a Sultan. Up until the late 1800’s, it was customary that when a son was crowned Sultan, he would order his brothers and their families executed. With many wives and many children, it meant many heirs. Older brothers who gained the crown would insure that one of their own children would be heir to the thrown rather than a brother. It is now believed that the prince was hiding in New Orleans with his family to avoid execution from his older brother, the real Sultan. Professional assassins from Turkey located him and were ordered to execute the entire household. The prince was probably drugged or knocked unconscious the buried alive. This is substantiated by the way the body was dressed in traditional Muslim funeral attire and dressing.
In the newspaper article of 1979, called “Life with an Exotic Ghost,” tales of the sultan’s ghost was recounted. Two residents of the home who had lived there during different periods, claim to have had encounters with the sultan. Both women claim to have seen the ghost of the sultan. One woman moved out of the home after hearing shrieking screams and gurgling sounds inside the house. A previous owner of the house, claimed she was visited nightly by the Sultan. She would awaken to a presence hovering over her. When she would look up, she could see his face peering down at her, with his turban still on his head. When she would scream or turn on a light, the apparition would vanish. A twisted tree grows in the courtyard in the site where the sultan was buried. Other residents throughout the years have claim to have heard the sounds of body parts hitting the wood floors at night. While others have merely seen the robe of the Sultan whip around a corner.
These are just a few stories to tell about how haunted New Orleans is, if you plan on visiting it should be told that no matter where you go in New Orleans no matter what corner you turn always remember you may not be alone like you think, there are also plenty of haunted hotels and it wouldn't hurt to check out the cemeteries as well. Have fun and enjoy yourself and whatever you do dont turn out your lights