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Ghosts of New Orleans
Chretien Point Plantation
New Orleans has long been believed to be the most haunted city in America. Called The Crescent City its history dates back to 1762, when the French Colony came under Spanish control. It reverted back to the French in 1800 and in 1803 became a possession of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase. Since its inception the city has experienced the War of 1812, Civil War, an epidemic of yellow fever during the 1840s and 1850s and large areas destroyed by fire in 1788 and 1794. Its location also made it prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.
With so much tragedy befalling the city, it is little wonder some would consider it America’s most haunted. Of course, there will always be skeptics, but during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many rescue workers became believers. While searching for injured and missing people some reported seeing lights on in buildings without electricity and hearing ghostly footsteps and doors closing in abandoned buildings.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous hotels, restaurants, plantations, slave quarters and cemeteries around New Orleans have all long been hotbeds of paranormal activity. In fact, the entire state of Louisiana has more than its fair share.
Take Chretien Point Plantation, in Sunset, Louisiana. It was originally builtby Joseph Chretien. His son, Hypolite, who died in 1839, was married to a woman named Felicite. Upon his death Felicite became the overseer of the 640 acre plantation and over 500 slaves. She became well known for her eccentric behavior such as smoking cigars, playing cards and making business deals. It was common knowledge Joseph had been conducting business with the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte. Felicite continued the enterprise allowing Lafitte to use her plantation to sell his stolen plunder and undocumented slaves. Lafitte eventually moved on, but many of his pirates stayed on with the lucrative business.
These brigands couldn’t help but notice Felicite was extremely prosperous and drooled at the prospect of getting their hands on some of her riches. Late one night, several of them entered the mansion intent on looting. They were met by Felicite clad only in a nightgown walking down the staircase. She held an expensive necklace in her hand, proffering it to one of the pirates. When the pirate attempted to snatch it from her grasp Felicite pulled a gun hidden under her gown and shot the pirate to death. The rest of the pirates fled for their lives.
Felicite had her slaves bury the body in an unmarked grave somewhere on the plantation. Today, the mansion is an inn. Employees and guests have reported seeing the pirate’s ghost and hearing his footsteps on the staircase and also in the parlor and dining area. The ghost has also been said to harass guests by playing with coins left in their room. The ghosts of Felicite and her daughter Celestine, whose portrait hangs over the fireplace, have also been reported. Felicite’s ghost, wearing a wide-brimmed hat with black netting has been seen in the Magnolia room on the 2nd floor at a window holding back the curtains.
In 1863, the plantation was almost destroyed when it became the scene of “The Battle of Little Crow Bayou.” Apparitions of soldiers who died during the conflict have reportedly been seen walking across the grounds. It is interesting to note the staircase used in the movie Gone with the Wind was a replica of the one at the Chretien Point Plantation.
Of all the haunted houses, in New Orleans, the LaLaurie House is perhaps the most well known. In 1832, wealthy Creole socialites Dr. Louis LaLaurie and his wife, Delphine, moved into their grand home at 1140 Royal Street. French born Doctor Louis was Madame LaLaurie’s third husband. The two entertained the upper crust of New Orleans society with the finest foods, china and silver. Little did the attendees know the horrors lurking behind their host’s pretense of civility and elegance.
Slavery in the antebellum south was common and Madame LaLaurie owned many. According to historical accounts, Madame LaLaurie was a cruel and horrible task master who routinely subjected them to unbelievable atrocities. It was said slaves regularly “disappeared.”
In April of 1834, the LaLaurie home caught fire and when fireman arrived they discovered a ghastly scene in a secret attic. Dozens of slaves, some chained to the wall, others confined in cages. Various decapitated body parts lay about everywhere. Many had been horribly mutilated and begged to be killed to end their pain. The monstrous acts inflicted on Madame LaLaurie’s slaves shocked the city and a hue and cry went out for retribution. However, she and her husband had fled.
Evidence found suggested they may have fled across Lake Pontchartrain and lived there, while others believe they escaped to France. Years later a tombstone with her name was found in St. Louis Cemetery No.1, with the date of death being in 1842. An angry mob destroyed the home and for years afterwards remained an abandoned shell.
The LaLaurie house was rebuilt and used in various capacities. It was a saloon, girl's school, music conservatory, an apartment building and a furniture store. However, before it became occupied reports of a young slave girl fleeing across the LaLaurie roof and screams emanating from the empty house were commonplace.
Many who later occupied the structure fled within several days of moving in. In the early 1900s an Italian immigrant living in the house, claimed to be attacked by a black man in chains on the stairwell and then suddenly vanished. Most residents quickly found other places to live.
When the LaLaurie House became a furniture store, merchandise was often found drenched in an unidentifiable foul-smelling liquid. The owner, suspecting vandalism, staked his store out one night. Somehow the liquid reappeared although no one had entered. He closed the store.
Today, the house has been restored and is a private residence. People passing by the home have complained of fainting or becoming nauseous and hearing screams. Mysterious orbs have been photographed around the roof. The present owner claims nothing out of the ordinary has occurred since he moved in. However, during recent renovations several graves were discovered hidden underneath the floor, apparently dating from the time of the LaLaurie’s lived there.
Another ghostly presence resides in the French Quarter of the city, one known as the “Sultan.” He reportedly haunts the four-story house at 716 Dauphine St. and there is conflicting information as to when the house was built, who he actually was and even when incidents occurred. However, it’s generally accepted they happened during the Civil War. Times were economically hard, even for the wealthiest. Many lost vast fortunes since Confederate currency was worthless. Some were forced to sell their mansions and live in more modest abodes or even had to rent out their homes.
A man named LaPrete owned the property at 716 Dauphine Avenue. LaPrete was a wealthy plantation owner but he and his family used the mansion as a winter home. LaPrete was one of those planning to rent or sell his second home. He was discussing his financial situation with some friends one evening at a local pub when a man wearing a turban approached. He introduced himself as a liaison for a Turkish sultan who had recently arrived in the city. The sultan, it seemed, had a large family and was searching for a large home to rent. After checking the sultan’s credit references he found the sultan had deposited large sums of money in several banks around the city. LaPrete laid out the red carpet.
However, LaPrete, and the city, got more than they had bargained for. The Sultan had numerous wives…with many, many children. The Sultan was also said to have a harem of young boys. LaPrete’s royal guest became a royal pain for the two years he occupied his house. In fact, some said he was a monster, kidnapping women, girls and boys straight off the streets and torturing them. LaPrete’s home had been turned into a fortress complete with barred windows and guards armed with razor sharp scimitars.
Loud parties were in progress at all hours of the day and night during which opium, drugs and alcohol flowed freely. But one day a woman living next door noticed something wasn’t right. Where was the usual loud music and raucous laughter? Then she saw blood dripping down off of the gallery.
The police were notified. They had to gain entrance by using a battering ram. They were confronted by the sickening sight of body parts strewn throughout the house. Everyone in the house had been hacked to pieces. There were so many dead, heads had to be counted to get an accurate tally.
The only body in one piece was that of the sultan, found in a shallow grave. One hand was reaching up through the dirt as if he had been buried alive and frantically tried to dig his way out. The slaughter became the biggest mass murder mystery in New Orleans history. Although there are several theories, no one knows who committed the murders.
Two women, who later lived at the home at different times, claim to have seen the ghost of the sultan. One moved out after hearing shrieking screams and gurgling sounds. The other, a previous owner of the house, claimed she was awakened nightly by the sultan who would hover over her. When she screamed or turned on a light, he would vanish. A twisted tree grows where the sultan was buried.