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Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans

Jeanne deLavigne. foreword by Frank de Caro. illustrated by Charles Richards

Publication Year: 2013

"He struck a match to look at his watch. In the flare of the light they saw a young woman just at Pitot's elbow -- a young woman dressed all in black, with pale gold hair, and a baby sleeping on her shoulder. She glided to the edge of the bridge and stepped noiselessly off into the black waters." -- from Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans

Ghosts are said to wander along the rooftops above New Orleans' Royal Street, the dead allegedly sing sacred songs in St. Louis Cathedral, and the graveyard tomb of a wealthy madam reportedly glows bright red at night. Local lore about such supernatural sightings, as curated by Jeanne deLavigne in her classic Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans, finds the phantoms of bitter lovers, vengeful slaves, and menacing gypsies haunting nearly every corner of the city, from the streets of the French Quarter to Garden District mansions. Originally printed in 1944, all forty ghost stories and the macabre etchings of New Orleans artist Charles Richards appear in this new edition.

Drawing largely on popular legend dating back to the 1800s, deLavigne provides vivid details of old New Orleans with a cast of spirits that represent the ethnic m?lange of the city set amid period homes, historic neighborhoods, and forgotten taverns. Combining folklore, newspaper accounts, and deLavigne's own voice, these phantasmal tales range from the tragic -- brothers, lost at sea as children, haunt a chapel on Thomas Street in search of their mother -- to graphic depictions of torture, mutilation, and death.

Folklorist and foreword contributor Frank de Caro places the writer and her work in context for modern readers. He uncovers new information about deLavigne's life and describes her book's pervasive lingering influence on the Crescent City's culture today.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword: Jeanne deLavigne and Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans

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pp. ix-xx

Jeanne deLavigne's Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans is a classic collection of "true" stories about the spirits who haunt people and a variety of old mansions, factories, bridges, and lonely roads. It was originally published in 1946 and has been out of print for many years, hard to find and expensive to buy...

Author's Note

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pp. xxi-2

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The Singing Capuchin

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pp. 3-15

When it rains in New Orleans—a soft, warm, laughing spring rain that makes the violets in the borders blink and gurgle— there are old people who will tell you that the rain sings. Not just a song of glistening marshes and dripping magnolias and rising bayous, nor a song of dancing feet and frilled skirts...

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The Mystery of Madame Vaquer

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pp. 16-28

The news was out. All along Customhouse street (which is now Bienville), eyes peered cautiously from V'd shutters, ears listening eagerly for a fresh morsel of luscious scandal, and tongues wagged in an incessant whispering. It was thus-and-so, such-and-such actually had taken place, somebody had heard...

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The Golden Brown Woman

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pp. 29-34

In the seven-hundred block of rue Royale stands an old mansion built more than a century ago. It rears its solid bulk on the uptown river corner of Royal and Sainte-Ann streets, and in the long ago was the domicile of a wealthy widower...

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The Soldiers Who Could Not Die

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pp. 35-39

On the woods side of Constance street, between Race and Orange, stands a mansion built about 1820. The rooms are spacious and high-ceiled—so high that, although the house has only two stories, it is a tall, imposing place. Heavy brick pillars support the front from ground to roof. In these years...

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The Specter on the Shell Road

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pp. 40-51

Early in September of 1852 word went round the bawdy houses that a ghost was haunting the Bienville street Shell Road. In those days, the outer reaches of Bienville street were flanked by swamps and thickets. Oyster shells had been laid down; and these, crushed by hoof and iron tire, made an acceptable...

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Le Néant

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pp. 52-66

Aubevie Brou walked slowly down Royal street on a night late in May, 1893. He crossed Esplanade and made his way to his own door, in the middle of the square...

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The Ghost of the Headless Woman

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pp. 67-72

It has always been a pet human theory that love is stronger than death. On the downtown-woods corner of Josephine and Rousseau streets, a house stood for generations. And that house saw a series of gruesome incidents proving the old belief...

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Between Worlds

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pp. 73-79

On a night in August, 1900, three men—Steven Biddle, John Garsten and Allen Gregg—sat in the latter's courtyard. The banana palms rustled in a slight breeze, and a tree toad chirped in the vines on the wall. There had been a shower during the day, and a moist fragrance rose from the flower beds...

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Up from the Sea

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pp. 80-82

The sea hath its dead. But how well it holds them is another matter.
There is the Seamen's Bethel on Saint Thomas street. This property was acquired by the Presbyterians in 1860 and adapted to its present use. Before that one of its buildings had been...

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The Gay Caballeros

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pp. 83-93

Away down in the lower part of the city known as the Third District, stood many years ago a large and imposing mansion, called La Casa Rosa, built in 1770 by Don Juan Luis Angula, a native of Barcelona, Spain...

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Walking Otto

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pp. 94-100

Old Otto Krane lived near the batture. He was old in 1878, but he always had been old. Middle-aged men remembered seeing him on the batture when they came home from the War Between the States. He had constructed a tiny shack near the...

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Tears of Heaven

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pp. 101-115

Young Franz Hartzein saw Caroline Koehn coming along the path, and he hastened to greet her. The long, full skirt of checked blue calico which she wore swished about her small feet and caught on a twig...

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The Devil's Mansion

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pp. 116-122

They say the Devil used to have a house in New Orleans. They say he kept his woman there, dressing her in silks and velvets and loading her with priceless jewels. They say, too, that he ruled the roost, as the Devil would, coming and going when and as he saw fit...

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The Whispering Hands

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pp. 123-134

Tradition says that in 1852 there lived in Apollo street (now Carondelet), in the Fourth District, a French jeweler by the name of Antoine de Laurens.
His jewelry shop was located on the ground floor of a building on the woods side of the street. He and his daughter lived in the spacious apartments above the shop. This daughter,...

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The Magic of Aga Bab

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pp. 135-152

In 1908 a barber named Philip Dusa had a shop in Claiborne avenue. His living quarters were above the shop, and his wife did sewing to help out when business was slack...

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The Return of Esposito

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pp. 153-159

"There's something been happening at the old rice mill down the street," young Irving Norton reported, when he went home to supper one day in January, 1900...

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The Ghost of the German Countess

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pp. 160-166

In the days when the uptown section of the city was known as the Faubourg Sainte-Marie, that portion was mostly swampland. During the regime of Jean and Pierre Lafitte, the Barataria pirates who flourished in the first quarter of the igth century, one of the houses of the scattered few then available...

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The Witch of the French Opera

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pp. 167-178

Madame Marguerite Sauve" stood behind her glistening counter of delectable French pastries. Her shop was in Bourbon street, a square or two from the Old French Opera House, where Madame had been a chorus girl for more years than she ever acknowledged...

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The Ghosts of Carrollton Jail

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pp. 179-191

Perhaps the most startling of all the inexplicable tales told about the ghosts of this old city is that series of recitals by members of the police force concerning the manifestations which occurred in 1898 or so in the Ninth Precinct Jail...

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The Flaming Tomb

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pp. 192-197

They say that heart responds to heart. And there is a tomb in Metairie Cemetery which responded to its mother-tomb in faraway Germany. Even now 'tis said that it pulses and glows like a living thing, although it is only an empty shell with grass growing thick and rank around it. Visitors to the cemetery...

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The Ghosts of Shiloh

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pp. 198-202

The most beautiful house in the Vieux Carre stands on the woods side of Chartres street, directly opposite the ancient Convent of the Ursulines. Fifty-seven feet wide by seventy feet deep, not including the broad galleries along the front and rear, it stands intensely solid, mute, brooding and inscrutable...

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The Lady of the Door

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pp. 203-212

Charles Duffield, one of a firm of private detectives who flourished in New Orleans during the latter part of the i gth century, has left a record of a strangely baffling case. News of it became so widely circulated that it finally found a place in the newspapers of the day...

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The Swirling Specter

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pp. 213-219

When Joseph Horn went back to his cell in the Parish Prison, after being convicted of stealing a certain lady's purse containing a sum of money, he devoted his time to examining his dirty fingernails, shuffling a pack of greasy cards, and wiggling two toes which had a soft corn between them. He never was...

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The Ghost of the Treme Street Bridge

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pp. 220-223

In April of 1874, a vast furor was created in this city by a ghost which nightly appeared near the Treme Street Bridge, at the Old Basin. Thousands of people congregated there to witness the phenomenon. Some even discharged firearms at the spectre, without effect...

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The Beautiful Lost Children

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pp. 224-226

The passion for gold is stronger than death, it appears.
Across from the cemetery at Saratoga street and Jackson avenue stands a double house, set on a line with the banquette.
Iri other years Pierre Lefevre lived there, working like mad for the gold which he hoarded year after year. Never was there enough to satisfy him. He denied himself everything, living...

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The Golden Witch

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pp. 227-238

In October of 1863 a young priest stood at the ruined gate of an ancient house in Washington avenue. A small boy overtook him and paused uncertainly beside him. The priest had a foreign look, and the boy wondered momentarily who he might be...

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Up the Garret Stairs

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pp. 239-247

In May of 1909, certain mysterious manifestations in this city drew the attention of the newspapers. Spiritualistic mediums awoke to the fact that the times were opportune, and arranged seances whenever and wherever possible...

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The Haunted House of the Rue Royale

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pp. 248-2582

The most widely known of all the haunted houses in this city is the old Lalaurie house, which stands on the uptown corner of Royal street and Governor Nicholls, formerly Hospital street...

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The Ghost of Love

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pp. 259-268

It was in 1870 that John Pelham brought his bride to live in the little house on the corner of Eighth and Chippewa streets. The house was set by itself in the midst of a garden space, and young Pelham had visions of fresh vegetables and tall flowering shrubs and many rose bushes. Already there were two fig trees...

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The Fountain Woman

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pp. 269-276

On a certain street stands an old house of many rooms. It is in the old part of town—that portion once designated as the Faubourg Marigny, during Bernard de Marigny's regime. Bernard was born in 1785 and died early in 1868. But the house in question is said to be a part of the great residence erected by...

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Warring Wraiths

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pp. 277-279

What is anger like when it is engendered in a mind without form, a heart without being, a spirit without the familiar armor of flesh? Bootless and futile it must be ... yet they tell us it flames and rages, driving the poor wraith to utter madness and to acts of unthinkable fury...

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The Haunted Spanish Barracks

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pp. 280-284

On the downtown woods corner of Burgundy and Barracks streets stands a great granite-faced structure which is designated in ancient historical records as being able to accommodate fifteen hundred men—soldiers, that was, of the Spanish Crown. It was built with two stories and a garret, plain and solid and...

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The Red-Headed Ghost of Parish Prison

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pp. 285-291

Back in the last quarter of the igth century tradition says that a red-headed woman stole the heart of the warden of the old Parish Prison.
The first time he saw her was on a street corner. She smiled at him, openly and without shame or reserve. In that...

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The White Skiff

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pp. 292-304

Helvar Nolt sat at the door of his tavern near the Old Basin. The April sun was hot and it shone in Helvar's eyes and blinded him. His mongrel dog, Snack, sprawled on the gallery beside him, snoring contentedly. A parrot screamed from a neighboring gallery, and Helvar groaned...

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The Mansion That Ghosts Carried Away

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pp. 305-311

A ways out, in the downtown portion of this city, there is a road which forks. One fork leads to Bayou Saint-Jean. The other ranges along to Gentilly Road, and so at length to Chef Menteur...

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The Twin Green Spirits

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pp. 312-326

Juan Morales sat under the cherry trees with Marta Gonzales and the Three Wise Men. Marta was only ten, but the Three Wise Men were all over seventy. Juan was in between, being fifty-five and Corral Master at Jackson Barracks. He and Marta called the three the Wise Men because they were so very old...

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The Lost Pearl

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pp. 327-336

Late in January of 1874, two Orleanians, Hubert Grahame and Numa Pilot, went on a hunting trip. Returning with wellfilled gamebags, they thought to save time by taking a shorter route home...

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The White Althea Tree

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pp. 337-346

When Denise Mercier received a proposal of marriage from Louis Augarde in the spring of 1866, she was so happy that her older sister, Georgine, knew at once that Louis must finally have made his declaration of love...

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Golden Slippers

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pp. 347-364

In August of 1873, according to a New Orleans newspaper of that time, two clerks in a store on Common street, near Saint- Charles, worked very late one night, it being twelve o'clock or after when they finally finished...

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The Swamp Witch

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pp. 365-374

On Wednesday, the fifteenth of December, 1915, the Curator of the Louisiana State Museum in this city gave into the hands of his taxidermist the hide of a snow-white deer. It was a buck about two years old, belonging to the family of Louisiana...

E-ISBN-13: 9780807152928
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807152911

Page Count: 400
Illustrations: 10 b&w illus., 3 halftones
Publication Year: 2013