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Saint Louis Cemetery –
Haunted Place: St Louis Cemetery Number
499 Basin Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70112
St Louis Cemetery Number 1 can be found
just northwest of Basin St, and just 1 block west of N.
Rampart St, which is the furthest inland border of the French
Quarter. It is 8 blocks from the Mississippi River,
being the riverside border of the French Quarter. St. Louis
St. borders the cemetery's eastern side, while its western and
northern sides have the Iberville
public housing as its neighbors.
NOTE: Because of its closeness to the Iberville public housing, which in the
past has housed a few people who like to rob tourists in the narrow
alleys between vaults, there is a high wall surrounding the
cemetery, and the cemetery closes at 3:00 sharp. It is strongly
recommended that tourists visit via a tour group. When the gates
are locked, the cemeteryis left to the restless spirits who
walk its paths.
Tom and I took the Haunted Cemetery Tour,
run by a preservation group. No ghost stories were told, but we
learned a lot about this cemetery and the people whose remains are
in these vaults.
DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY:
St Louis Cemetery Number 1 is one of three
Roman Catholic cemeteries which make up Saint Louis Cemetery. It
opened in 1789, to replace the old Saint Peters Cemetery, once
located closer to the heart of the city. New Orleans was redesigned
after the huge fire of 1788. It was thought that it would be
healthier to have the cemetery further away from where people
Though this high walled St. Louis Cemetery
Number 1 is only one square block in diameter, it is the resting
place of over 100,000 departed New Orleans citizens, due to burial
customs, based on practicality. Because New Orleans has
issues with high ground water, and a lack of land for burial,
nearly all the graves are in above-ground vaults, which offered a
variety of choices, showing the creativity of the human
spirit. One does see one or two very old slab graves,
with a slab of cement, bricks on top of the burial site, to keep
the coffin(s) from popping out!
The traditional family vault ranged from
simple to very grand: The deceased was placed in a wooden coffin,
that was put in the above ground rectangular slot in the vault, and
kept there for a year and a day. The coffin was then removed, and
the bones were put in a bag, labeled and shoved to the back of the
vault, leaving room for the next family member who may pass on.
Sometimes the vault had another slot for an emergency, in case a
death happened in the family or group before the year and a day
time frame had elapsed. The grander the vault, the more slots were
available. Sometimes, another vault space was borrowed in
cases of multiple deaths in one year.
There were also group vaults, where a group
of families or an organization got together and bought a large
vault for their final resting place. These group vaults took
on a variety of shapes in this cemetery of house-like vaults, which
altogether resemble a neighborhood of structures for the dead.
Alleys and pathways wind around the various
vaults of the very prominent, making the way to the very back of
the cemetery, to the resting place of the lowly of their society.
The paupers field area of unmarked graves is located here, for
people who couldn't afford to buy a vault, and had no one to offer
a space in another vault for burial. Also in the back of the
cemetery is where the Protestant and Jewish minorities were
buried, separate from the Catholics, yet still allowed in the
St Louis Cemetery Number 1 is the final
resting place of a variety of characters; some of the
very notable, others that were flawed yet good citizens, and some
very infamous characters with personal issues as well.
In the notable
One can find the family vault of Etienne de Boré, King's Musketeer turned
sugar entrepreneur and Mayor of New Orleans.
One can find the family vault of Paul
Morphy, a world famous chess champion.
Also of note is the large memorial vault
honoring the remains of the men who died in the Battle of New
Flawed yet good citizens
Bernard de Marigny is best known for his love of
gambling, and bringing the game of Hazard (craps) to New Orleans,
though he also served honorably on the New Orleans City Council and
as President of the Louisiana Senate. Because of his debts from
gambling, Bernard sub-divided part of his plantation into sixty ft
lots, which he sold to individuals for home development, becoming a
real estate broker for a time, making money to feed his habit and
support his luxurious, spoiled life-style. At the end of his
life, he died without money because of his gambling, which
eventually ate through the family fortune.
with personal issues
Model citizen turned
Brigand, Barthelemy Lafon - Got off to a great
start, as an architect, engineer, city planner for the City of New
Orleans, making some great contributions. In 1803, when Americans
began to flood New Orleans, he became Deputy Surveyor of Orleans
County, and developed new housing and buildings in the Lower Garden
District. However, after the Battle of New Orleans, he gave up his
gifts and service, and joined the notorious Lafitte brothers,
becoming a pirate and smuggler, being seduced by the thrills and
easy, ill-gotten money. He died from yellow fever.
Priestess - Marie Laveau - She and then her
daughter sought fame and attention through practicing Voudou "magic" for both the good of people and
to bring negative consequences to those whom they thought deserved
it. They developed huge followings and cult
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
There are numerous reports of paranormal
activity, earning this cemetery the honor by some as the most
haunted cemetery in the United States. Here are just a
When a grave isn't properly
respected as a person's remains, and honor due them is missing,
entities have become restless, and haunt the area.
Gettysburg National Cemetery &
Devils Den * Rose Hills
Cemetery * The
General Wayne Inn)
Sometimes having personal regrets about
life's choices can cause restless spirits. (Dupont
Voudou Priestess - Marie Laveau
Marie began life as an illegitimate
daughter of a neglectful plantation owner and a free creole women.
She married at 18 to a Haitian free man. Marie became a hair
dresser to the wealthy after he died.She began to practice Voudou, and developed a huge
following, by doing both good works, and other not so nice
acts through her supposed magical powers, conjured up from a dark
Her practice was based on elements of the
Catholic religion, African religion and culture. Realists say that
the results of her magical powers were based on the information she
was able to gather through her hair dressing occupation and the
vast network of informants made up of the creole servants, working
in the wealthy households. Others say she actually used the
black arts of darkness.
Why? Perhaps she was trying to get even or
have power and respect from her father's class, and society
in general, becoming something above her lowly beginning. Her many
followers came from all walks of life, from the wealthy to the
She did volunteer to take care of the sick
along side the priest during the many epidemics which rolled
through New Orleans, perhaps to develop good PR among the people,
or perhaps because she did have a heart and a will to do good,
underneath all her issues, and her quest for power and fame.
When she died, her daughter, also named Maria took over her
mother's Voudou cult.
Marie Laveau was buried in an
unmarked tomb, not in the family vault. Because of the fame
and attention she received through practicing Voudou " black magic", the authorities didn't
want to turn the cemetery into a shrine for her followers.
Her daughter Marie, also a Voudou
Priestess was buried in the family vault years later, which may
seem unfair to Marie Laveau, and
perhaps has some regret about becoming involved with Voudou, as she is also seen praying twice a
day at Saint Louis Cathedral-Basilica.
The Entity of Henry Vignes - Victim of a betrayal by a
Henry was a seaman, who foolishly gave the
papers to his family's vault to his landlady, who owned the
building where he lived. He trusted her to be in charge if he died
at sea. She proved to be of poor character, and she sold his
vault for her personal gain. When he suddenly died, before he
could seek justice, there was no vault to put him in, so he was
buried in an unmarked grave in the back of this cemetery in the
pauper's field area.
Suffering a sudden, unexpected
death, especially at the hands of another can cause restless
Worth Steakhouse * County
Line BBQ *
O Henry's Roadhouse Building * White
Eagle Pub & Hotel)
The entity of a young man - known as Alphonse -
Never has gotten past his own demise...
He is lonely and misses his loved ones
terribly. He seems to long for his home, and mourns his own death.
This entity behaves like his life was suddenly taken from him,
perhaps the victim of a member of the Pinead Clan, or a disease.
Like many cemeteries, there are restless
souls here who cannot give up this world for the next for a variety
of reasons. The entities described below go all the way and
appear in a solid, human-like living form, and speak clearly to the
living. They are mistaken for being real people. Perhaps they feel
it would be rude not to do so, or are so upset they are willing to
gather the energy to give the living the full paranormal
Two of the entities were restless and
upset, because they were buried in nameless graves;
one in an unmarked tomb, and one in an
unmarked grave in the pauper's field section of unmarked
graves, at the very back of the cemetery, next to the Protestant
and Jewish section.
The Entity of Marie Laveau - Was not a happy
camper, for a very long time.
* Her distinctive apparition
had been seen in the area of her unmarked tomb, probably fuming,
frustrated with the living, and longing for the fame and power she
enjoyed during her life-time as a Voudou Priestess.
* Perhaps she has regrets about turning from her Catholic faith,
dividing her worship with the black arts, causing her burial to be
* She has been seen, in a foul mood,
storming along a pathway, chanting curses, aimed at the
* She slapped a man who was passing by the
area of her unmarked tomb. Perhaps he unknowingly stepped on her
grave Perhaps he looked a lot like someone she was furious
with when she was still alive.
* Many believe that her death didn't stop
her from practicing her black magic, using the powers of darkness.
Some say she turns herself into a black crow or a big black dog.
Both such animals have been seen roaming the cemetery. Many people
leave notes, requests, and offerings on the family vault for
Entity of Henry Vignes - In search of a
vault for his remains.
Appears to the unsuspecting tourist or tour
guide in a full, solid form, looking very much alive. He is
described as tall, dressed in a white shirt, with piercing blue
eyes, still looking for his family's lost vault, or a place in
someone else's vault, so he could be
It has been reported by witnesses, who are
visiting the cemetery that the entity of Henry will approach the
unsuspecting person, and ask if they know where his family's old
vault, for the Vignes family, is
located. He then walks away and suddenly disappears.
Sometimes this entity will tap the living
on the shoulder, and ask, "Do you know anything about this Tomb
At family funerals, Henry has asked the
mourners if there is any room in the vault for his
Lonely entity of a
young man - Alphonse
Th entity of this young man will walk up
to the visitor, looking like a real, live person, will take their
hand into his ice cold hand, and with a big smile on his face, ask
for help in going to his home. He will start to cry and then
This same entity is very much afraid of the Pinead family vault, and warns visitors to
stay away from it.
The entity of Alphonse has been seen carrying vases and flowers
from other vaults to his own, perhaps to try to make himself feel
Yes indeed, in a big way!
Evidence abounds, pointing to the restless
ones who walk its pathways, searching for the something that keeps
them in this world.
Throughout the years, the living have
gathered evidence of Orbs, taken photos with entities in full
form, recorded EVPs, and
experienced strange paranormal activity.
The entity of Henry Vignes' image has been seen in photos, wearing
a dark suit with no shirt. On EVPs, he pleads with the living, "I need to
The entity of Alphonse will also appear in
photos, and his voice has been recorded on EVPs as well.
The restless, bitter entity of Marie Laveau - May have mellowed a
bit. While her angry presence has been seen and heard by many
eye witnesses throughout the years, she may have found some peace.
Perhaps to try to calm her spirit, a plaque about Marie and her Voudou practice was placed on the
outside of an unmarked tomb that possibly is her resting place,
though none knows for sure. People have marked three Saint Louis-cemeteries on the outside of the
vault, leave a note about their request, and leave an offering.
When they believe that their wish came true because of her, they
draw a line through the three Xs.
HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory
by Dennis William Hauk
The Saint Louis Cemetery page on Wikipedia * "The Ten Most Haunted Places in New Orleans, Louisiana To see a Real Ghost!" on Haunted America Tours