Postcard From Haunted New Orleans - Part 2

continued from Part One

Chief Dunderhead finally returned and gathered his flock to continue the tour. I noticed we were down to about 16 from the original 22 folks who started the tour. We moseyed over to the Beauregard-Keys House at 1113 Chartres Street. The house was built in 1826 for a rich auctioneer, Joseph LeCarpentier, but the name given to the house comes from 2 other residents, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard and the author Frances P. Keyes.

Chief Dunderhead holding forth at the
Beauregard-Keys house.
This house is the scene of what is perhaps the most spectacular haunting in the city. There have been reports that late at night, there is sometimes a ghostly replay of the Civil War Battle of Shiloh where more than 3,500 men were killed and General Beauregard had a major role. Men with mangled arms and blown off faces wander around the house. Severed human limbs float in the air and the cries and moans of wounded men and dying horses fill the air. The furious sounds of war are heard, guns and cannons firing a deadly hail of lead and the smell of blood and death fills the air. 

The house has been converted into a museum now and the current caretakers say the story a ghostly battlefield is nonsense. The do admit though, there is certainly some unexplained goings on in the house and they also admit none of them will stay in the house during the night because "it gets kind of spooky in here." They report the windows will often rattle in their frames, even when there is no wind. They feel cold spots as they walk the halls and sometimes feel a cold hand brush against their arm. The worst though is the feeling that they are not alone even when they are obviously in a room by themselves. They say it feels as if someone is watching them.

The house is supposedly also home to a rare animal entity. Two psychics both stated they feel it is a dog named "Lucky," the pet of Frances Keyes when she lived in the house. When Ms. Keyes died in 1970, the faithful dog quit eating and drinking and would not leave the bed side. The poor dog laid there whining and crying until she too died just 2 days later. Caretakers and visitors have told of hearing a dog running down the hall behind them, but when they turn to look, there is nothing there. One time, a blind visitor with a seeing-eye guide dog was on a tour of the house. Upon entering the bedroom where both Ms. Keyes and Lucky died, the guide dog stiffened, raised its hackles and began to nervously shake and whimper. The visitor said, "Oh, you have a dog in here." The guide told her there had not been another dog in the house since 1970. "No," the visitor replied, "My dog never acts like that unless he sees another dog." As soon as the group left the bedroom, the guide dog calmed down and was once again his normal, calm self.

Another resident, Paul Munni, was a world champion chess master. While living there, he went insane. His last night alone in the house, he came running out naked, holding an ax and screaming. He ran through the streets trying to kill anybody he could get near, but fortunately, everyone managed to get out of his way or hid until he passed by. Police finally subdued him and hauled him off to an asylum. In addition to being a chess genius, Mr. Munni loved to play the piano and was very adept at it. The police have been contacted by people who do not know the building's history who were passing by late at night and heard beautiful piano music accompanied by a man screaming. When police respond, there is nobody in the house.

The sun has fully set by the time we leave Beauregard, Keyes, Munni and Lucky. I give the tour guide props for telling some good stories (when he's not talking about himself), but there hasn't been anything scary or weird yet. Now it's dark though and I got a bit of a spooky feeling at the Lalaurie house. The Lalaurie Mansion is considered to be the most haunted spot in perhaps the most haunted city in America. With the proven facts of the evil and depravity that went on there, if any place deserves to be haunted, it's this place. The story is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.
Dr. Louis Lalaurie and his wife Delphine moved into the 3-story mansion in 1832 and the place became well known for the lavish social affairs the doctor and his wife hosted. Guests dined on fine food served on exquisite imported china. The chairs and couches were covered in Oriental fabrics. Delphine carried herself in style and always exuded her belonging in the highest of society and she and her two daughters were known as the finest dressed ladies in the city. But there was another side to Delphine, some say a truly insane side. It was a side only a few were allowed to see, much to their sorrow.

Lalaurie Mansion (photo courtesy of  
Wikimedia Commons)
With their wealth, the Lalaurie's owned dozens of slaves who saw to their every need and kept the mansion in pristine condition. And Delphine treated them horribly. On days when she held a party, out of eyesight of the guests of course, she chained her cook to the fireplace in the kitchen until everyone had eaten their fill and departed. She would become angered if she found dust on any furniture and would chain the maid to a wall and use a horse whip on them. Eventually, the neighbors began whispering that something was not right in the Lalaurie house. Screams of pain could sometimes be heard. The slaves seemed to disappear and new ones replace them too often to be normal. 3 different stable boys came and went in a matter of months and none of them were ever seen again. One day a neighbor was returning home when she heard a scream and witnessed a small slave girl, Lia, aged 12 and known to be Delphine's personal maid, being chased across the flat roof of the mansion by Delphine with a whip in her hand. The young girl reached the edge of the roof and without hesitation, jumped to her death. The neighbor then witnessed Delphine emerge from the house with a shovel, grab the dead girl by the arm and drag the body into the small back yard where she dug a shallow grave and buried it.

Even though the law in those dark days allowed slavery, there was a law against mistreatment of slaves. The neighbor reported what she had seen to the authorities and all of the Lalaurie slaves were confiscated and resold. Unfortunately for them, Delphine persuaded other members of her family to buy all the slaves and then give them back to her.

The stories of something strange going on in the house continued and soon, party invitations were being declined and the Lalaurie's were no longer being invited to social events. In short order, they were being politely ignored by other members of high society. Then one day a fire, perhaps set by the cook who couldn't take any more abuse, broke out in the kitchen and raced through the house. Firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze, but in the process, a hidden, secret door was found in an upstairs hallway.

Behind the door, firemen found 12 slaves chained to the wall. Men, women, and several children, all naked and in pitiful condition. Several more were chained to homemade operating tables. Two were painfully compressed and confined in dog cages. Their arms and legs had been broken to fit them into the cages. Human body parts were strewn around; heads and severed limbs were found in buckets. Whips and board paddles were hung from the walls and men's severed body parts were lined up on a shelf like trophies. There were more sick depravities visited on these poor people, but I'll stop the description here. It was reported the firemen, men who in their careers had seen human bodies in horrible situations, retreated from the room and threw up. Needless to say, only a truly sick, psychotic mind could even think of such things, much less actually doing them.

When word got out of the discovery, a mob carrying hanging ropes surrounded the house. Before they could break in however, a carriage pulled by 2 horses burst from behind the gate and the Lalaurie's made their escape. Nobody knows for sure where they went or what happened to them as they were never seen in New Orleans again and there has been no record discovered about them after that day.

Within days, the house had been broken into, ransacked and left in damaged condition. It stood vacant for years until a man purchased it from the city for a pittance. He began repairs and moved in, but stayed only 3 months before fleeing. He told the neighbors he couldn't take the screams and moans any more. Again, it remained empty for years. Even the homeless who went inside for shelter would not stay and would even come running out into a cold rainstorm in the middle of the night. Over the years, a few people tried to use the place; it was turned into apartments, but invariably, tenants would leave in a few weeks in spite of the extremely low rent being charged. One tenant left in the middle of the night and told the manager a naked black man had attacked him, but when he screamed, the naked man vanished. One young mother left when she awoke one night to find an elegant woman dressed in fine clothing bent over the crib holding her baby. When the mother made a sound, the entity looked at her with "evil eyes" and disappeared. There were claims of pets being butchered. Children were supposedly attacked by a smoky phantom welding a whip. Everyone complained of hearing moans and cries.

The house at one point was turned into a saloon named appropriately enough, "The Haunted Saloon." It closed when the owner kept having trouble with employees abruptly quitting. It was turned into a furniture store which wasn't successful. The owner thought vandals were breaking in at night because he would find the inventory covered in a black, stinking liquid. After this happened several times, he spent the night in the store with his shotgun and was positive nobody had gotten in, but in the morning, he once more found his merchandise covered in the strange liquid. He closed the store that same day.

Nicolas Cage purchased the house in 2007, but suffered financial setback after his purchase and the property was foreclosed on Friday the 13th, 2010. He never spent a night in it. Today, the Lalaurie Mansion is owned by Regions Bank and has been totally renovated and turned into luxury apartments. Rumor has it that priests and an exorcist were brought in to cleanse the building. Maybe that worked. However, perhaps there's still something there. You may notice the picture posted here is from a royalty-free source rather than one I took like the others. I have a very dependable Nikon 35mm digital camera that I keep in very good condition. It has never given me any trouble and takes great pictures. I took several shots of the Lalaurie Mansion and when I looked at them after taking the picture, they looked fine. When I got back to our hotel and downloaded them to my computer, the pictures were nothing but white. I looked on the card - white. I didn't change any settings and the pictures I took before and after are perfectly fine, just not the Lalaurie Mansion photos. Chill bumps on my arms!

Our next destination was a bar which used to be a house of ill repute and I'm sad to say, it was kind of forgettable. Again, Chief Dunderhead claimed it belonged to a friend of his and urged us to buy drinks as we went into a back outdoor patio which had a somewhat large tree in it. The story here was that a young prostitute, new to the profession, fell in love with a sailor. He asked her to marry him and said he was going to make one more voyage overseas to earn enough money to buy a house for them. She faithfully kept going to the docks waiting and watching for his ship to return, but it was long overdue and assumed to be lost at sea with all hands. The older ladies made fun of her for thinking she could escape the life she had been forced into by circumstances. One night, deep in despair, she made her way into the courtyard and hung herself from the same tree under which we sat. Supposedly, there have been reports that some nights a wispy, ghostly female can be seen hanging from the tree. I intently looked, but probably needed several more adult beverages before I would be seeing anything hanging from the tree other than a few leaves.  To be honest, the bar wasn't that interesting and Chief Dunderhead told the story like he was more than ready to end this thing and join his friend at the bar. It was a disappointing ending to the tour.

Back to our car parked at Jackson Brewery after
the ghost tour.
I counted the people sitting around the tables in our group when we broke up and found there were only 13 of us left. Seems to me that when almost 50% of your group leaves a walking tour before it is over, then maybe it wasn't exactly the biggest thrill. There were certainly parts that were interesting. Talking to some of the other folks in our group was fun. The way our guide kept urging us to buy drinks from his friend's bars kind of irked me and probably contributed to my less than thrilled feelings for the tour. I think you can do better and get out cheaper by buying one of the many "ghosts of New Orleans" books and mapping out a walking tour of your own. That's what we'll do the next time we are in New Orleans, and there will definitely be a next time. We're already looking forward to it, but I'm pretty sure we'll give the Lalaurie Mansion a wide berth!