American Hauntings Podcast

Madame Delphine LaLaurie Part 1

Episode Summary

In this episode, Troy and Cody break down THE Haunted House in New Orleans- The LaLaurie Mansion. It was –and is-- the best-known haunted house in the French Quarter and yet its name was seldom mentioned. There was no need. Horrible things had happened there – horrible enough to earn the house a reputation that still lingers more than two centuries later.

Episode Notes

In this episode, Troy and Cody break down THE Haunted House in New Orleans- The LaLaurie Mansion. It was --and is-- the best-known haunted house in the French Quarter and yet its name was seldom mentioned. There was no need. Horrible things had happened there – horrible enough to earn the house a reputation that still lingers more than two centuries later.

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Want to read ahead for this season? Check out the book Haunted New Orleans  by Troy Taylor.

This episode was written by Troy Taylor. Produced and edited by Cody Beck.

Theme music by Charlie Brockus and  Alan T Fagan.

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Episode Transcription

Welcome to the new episode of American Hauntings, the podcast dedicated to the history, hauntings, legends, and lore of America’s past. The show is hosted by Cody Beck and Troy Taylor and we want to welcome you to our fourth season, “Haunted New Orleans.”

If you are tuning into the podcast for the first time, we suggest you start listening to the “Haunted New Orleans” season with episode 53, which is where this season begins and where we set the stage for what’s still to come. In each episode of the season, we’ll be revealing the history, mystery, spirits, scandals, and sins of New Orleans – a city that we believe is the most haunted in America.

So, light some candles, lock all the doors, and get ready for the next episode of Haunted New Orleans.

In the early 1900s, if someone in New Orleans mentioned “THE Haunted House,” everyone knew the place they were talking about. It was –and is-- the best-known haunted house in the French Quarter and yet its name was seldom mentioned. There was no need. Horrible things had happened there – horrible enough to earn the house a reputation that still lingers more than two centuries later.

But did all the events linked to the LaLaurie Mansion at 1140 Royal Street actually happen? Were they truth or fiction? Or a clever mish-mash of the two? If you have the stomach to listen to the next two episodes, we just might find out together.

There is no way to talk about the horrors that were said to have occurred inside of the LaLaurie Mansion without first talking about the horrors of slavery, an affliction that came to New Orleans in 1719 and has refused to completely let go of the city even three hundred years later.

The first Africans came to New Orleans as slaves while the city was being built. In the two decades that followed, more than 7,000 of them followed, most destined to live their lives in chains. New Orleans attempted to set itself apart from other southern cities by enacting a series of laws that would prevent the mistreatment of slaves. It was signed into law by Governor Bienville (B-YEN-VILL-A), who called it the “Code Noir” or the “Black Code.” These rules made New Orleans a less oppressive place for blacks to live than, say, areas dominated by the British, but regardless, it was still slavery.

The so-called Black Code contained 53 specific regulations regarding the care, treatment, and general conduct of slaves and even free blacks, of which there were many in New Orleans. They were usually former slaves or often, black immigrants from the Caribbean. Between 1840 and 1860, census records show there were over 7,500 free blacks in the city and the initials FPC (which meant Free Person of Color) began to be used after their names, and after the names of any person of mixed race, who might be mistaken for white. As oppressive as the system was, New Orleans offered free blacks more rights than any other American city, allowing them to own property and to seek justice in the courts.

The Black Code was a strange document, even by the standards of the era. To start with, it called for the removal of all Jews from the colony, which had nothing to do with slavery. It also specified that all blacks had to be baptized into the faith of the Catholic Church. The rest of the document was supposed to be designed for the betterment of the relationship between slave and master. Provision was made for elderly slaves and hospitalization for those that were injured. No work was allowed on Sundays or holidays. Rigid rules were set up against forced marriages and breeding and marriages between slaves of different masters. The separation of families – especially removing children under 14 from their mothers – was discouraged.

Penalties for violations of the Codes by slaves were brutal. First offenders had their ears cut off and were branded on one shoulder with the fleur-de-lis. A second offense caused a slave to be hamstrung. A third offender was executed. If you were a white master who was convicted of cruelty to your slaves, you were likely to have them taken away from you.

So, it was not exactly equal punishment under the law.

Mass meetings or fraternizations among slaves from different households was outlawed under the Black Codes, except for within certain circumstances. Records show that as early as 1805, Congo Square – which is now Louis Armstrong Park – was a grassy area on the edge of the swamp and just outside of the French Quarter. It became a place where slaves were allowed to congregate and gather for religious ceremonies. Officials believed these were gatherings for Catholic worship, but they weren’t. It was actually a way for the slaves to keep their African customs alive and for people from various tribal groups to create a common bond through music and dance. A few years later, the immigration of slaves and former slaves from Haiti served to introduce new tribal customs to the Louisiana slaves – which was, of course, the beginnings of Voodoo in New Orleans, which we’ll delve into more deeply in later episodes.

The Black Codes condemned excessive cruelty by slave owners, but the punishment for such cruelty against white masters seemed to be loosely applied and administered.

Despite the apologists who want to convince us today that slave owners were businessmen who didn’t want to destroy or abuse their property, there is no question that men who owned other human beings were not adverse to being cruel. Slaves were beaten and flogged for a variety of offenses – for lying, laziness, talking back, steaking, being late for work, or mixing with white people.

Rumors spread of slave owners who were unusually cruel. One man, Valsin Mermillion (MER-MI-YON), was said to punish his slaves by placing them in a coffin-like box , stood on end, with nails hammered through it so that the person inside was unable to move. He also took pride in the fact that he only purchased the very best slaves. Once he bought a young man who was said to have been of exceptional size and stamina. He hooked him up to the front of a plow, instead of a horse, and ordered him to work the fields. When the slave refused to perform, Mermillion (MER-MY-YON) mad him dig his own grave, stood him in the hole, and shot him in the head.

Throughout the eighteenth century, slaves poured into New Orleans. In 1808, though, the importing of slaves into the United States was outlawed. However, New Orleans was exempted from his law until 1812. Even after that time, slaves were brought into the city from other southern states because they could fetch such a high price in the New Orleans slave markets, which were held in various parts of the city, including what is now Jackson Square. During these sales, auctioneers would dress the slaves up in European clothing to make them appear “less fearsome.”

While many of the slaves sold in the markets were taken from the ships that docked in the nearby port to the plantation that were located outside of the city, it was still a fact that many people who lived in New Orleans owned slaves. In those days, blacks – even free ones – were still looked down upon as lower-class citizens.

 But here’s where things get messy: there were very few New Orleans families – just as noted in the last episode when we discussed the “casket girls” – who could make the claim that their family contained no one of mixed race.

One of the city’s preeminent cultures was the Creole. However, this was a confusing title, since two separate groups claimed it. White Creoles used the word to describe themselves as people of European colonial ancestry. They were the descendants of the aristocratic families who traced their ancestry back to the French and Spanish colonists – in other words, ancestors of the “casket girls” and not the prostitutes and prisoners that were cleaned out of France’s prisons.

 The other group that claimed the title of Creole was the light-skinned, part African Catholics, once referred to as “mulattoes”, “quadroons” and “octoroons”. Many of them had the same surnames as the white Creoles and often traced their lineage back to the same ancestors. Both groups used the title to set themselves apart socially from other residents of New Orleans.

So, race was – and remains – a funny thing in New Orleans. Far too many people who have grown up in the city can trace their roots back to places that might surprise them. But the point of this is that even what were regarded as white citizens of New Orleans were shocked by reports of the cruel treatment of slaves in the nineteenth century. No one knew for sure if they might be related to the people who were abusing their slaves – or if they might be related to the people being abused.

It was in this climate that the horrific stories emerged from within the walls of the LaLaurie mansion in April of 1834. And to understand what was happening, we likely need to take a look at the woman at the center of the controversy – Madame Delphine LaLaurie.

She was born Marie Delphine Macarty into a wealthy New Orleans family around 1775.  Her family boasted a mayor, a governor, three chevaliers of the French crown, Irish nobility, several slave traders, and some of the most prominent members of the growing colony. They could trace their roots back to the very founding of the city; a city that – although many hated to admit it – had largely been created by thieves, cutthroats, and whores.

But Delphine’s family was among the aristocrats who came to power after the colony fell under American rule in the early nineteenth century. They were among the families who filled their homes with imported furniture, the finest Persian rugs, crystal chandeliers, and the best French wines that money could buy. They were seldom touched by the unclean conditions, the illnesses, and the crime that plagued most of the city. They were among the elite of New Orleans, a wealthy Creole family that was part of the city’s preeminent culture.

Delphine Macarty was part of the city’s elite. If there had been any hint of her dark future in her early years, her family would have kept it well hidden. Likewise, if she had been abused in some way that would have affected her mental state, it would have been a closely held secret. There is nothing written about her childhood that would lead anyone to believe that she would become a monster -- but somehow, she did.

Delphine’s father, Barthelemy Louis de Macarty, had married Marie Jeanne Lovable, (LO-VAB-LAY) the union produced two sons -- Jean Baptiste Francois and Barthelemy Louis, and an uncommonly beautiful daughter, Marie Delphine. There is little known about her early years, only that she was a beautiful child. Accounts of her charm and beauty followed her throughout her entire life.

Delphine grew up in a typically wealthy Creole home. The family owned a plantation north of the city and a house in the French Quarter. She was a happy, sociable girl and neighbors spoke of her visits to their homes. The Macarty plantation was a popular spot for parties and for visiting dignitaries, which would have given her plenty of practice when refining her manners and charm. As the daughter of a well-bred family, she would have been taught to read and write, but the bulk of her education was likely in music, art, and etiquette. She would have learned what she needed to know about running a household from her mother.

In that era, Creole girls were introduced into society at the age of 15 and usually married by the time they were 16 or 17. For some unknown reason, Delphine was not married until she was about 24. It may be that her marriage was not late at all, and that records were poorly kept, meaning that her birthdate is wrong – or it could be a sign of a greater problem. Perhaps, in spite of her beauty, Delphine was seen as a “difficult” young woman and one for which a suitable husband was hard to find. No one knows for sure, but her first husband turned out to be a controversial and prominent figure in the Spanish government that ruled Louisiana at that time.

Delphine’s first husband was Don Ramon Lopez y Angulo, the public administrator of Louisiana, who had taken office on January 1, 1800. Likely introduced by her aunt, Celeste Miro – wife of Governor Miro – Delphine married Don Ramon on June 11, 1800. They were wed in the St. Louis Cathedral with her parents as witnesses.

Little is known about their marriage, or even about Don Ramon Lopez. However, there are quite a number of his letters in the St. Vrain Collection of the Missouri History Museum’s archives. Most of them are correspondence between Lopez and the last Spanish lieutenant governor of Upper Louisiana. Based on the letters, Lopez was constantly worried about money and even pushed to have the slave trade expanded in the Louisiana Territory. He was concerned about the lack of manpower to keep the crops, and the money, moving into governmental accounts. His request was denied and his frustration about a lack of funds is evident in subsequent letters. He seemed to be a man who was deeply invested in his job, but Louisiana historian Arthur Preston Whitaker discovered the opposite. He wrote that Lopez’s papers were in “utter confusion” when he left his position in 1801, due mostly to his lack of interest in his work.

Lopez was a pensioner of the royal and distinguished order of Charles III. He had married Delphine without the permission of the king of Spain, which was against government protocol, but was also something that had been done by other Spanish officers in Louisiana before him. Even so, why Lopez would have done this is unknown. It could have been that he was so taken with Delphine and her beauty that he could not resist her, but more likely, her family’s finances and power were too good to pass up. His actual reasons will never be known, but he paid a heavy price for his rash decision. 

For violating the law, he was stripped of his office in 1801 and ordered to return to the Spanish court. Lopez pleaded extenuating circumstances and pointed out that other officers, including Governor Miro (Delphine’s uncle) had committed the same offense, but it was to no avail. The bishop of Louisiana attempted to intercede on his behalf, but it didn’t help. For some reason, Lopez had angered the king. He was exiled to San Sebastian on the northern coast of Spain.

Lopez surrendered his office to Don Juan Ventura Morales and prepared to depart for Spain, but before he could leave, his successor noticed serious problems with the accounts and brought an accusation against him before the Spanish ministry. Lopez filed his own complaints against Morales and the case became mired in legal delays and litigation. In the midst of it all, Lopez once again asked the court to suspend its decision against him. As it happened, Spain had actually ceded Louisiana back to France in 1800, but still held a strong presence in the area. Simply put, they were still managing things for the French, which kept the Lopez and Morales complaints swirling about in the court system for almost three years. Eventually, Lopez returned to Spain, bringing Delphine with him, to fight his legal battle.

On March 26, 1804, Lopez was finally pardoned by the Spanish government for marrying Delphine without permission of the court. The case brought against him by Morales was thrown out and he was again given a government position in New Orleans. Legend has it that Delphine was the one who managed to sway the Spanish court in her husband’s favor. She allegedly obtained an audience with the queen, who was so taken with Delphine’s beauty that she granted her petition.

What really happened is unknown, but we do know that Lopez died during the return trip to Louisiana. During a stop in Havana, Cuba (a common port on the way from Europe to New Orleans), Lopez passed away, leaving behind a pregnant Delphine. She gave birth to a daughter either in Havana, or on board the ship -- the records are unclear.

The girl was named Marie Francoise de Boya de Lopez y Angulo, although she was nicknamed “Borquita,” a variation of her great-grandmother’s name. The girl, noted for her beauty, was educated in Europe and eventually married into the Forstall family, which became one of the most prominent families in New Orleans history.

In 1808, Delphine, now probably thirty-two years old and with an eight-year-old daughter, married a man named Jean Pierre Paulin Blanque, who had come to New Orleans in 1803. He was reputed to be an important man in New Orleans business and politics. Stories say he was a handsome man with dark hair and eyes. After marrying Delphine, the family moved into a new home at 409 Royal Street.

Over the course of the next eight years, the couple had four children: Marie Louise Jeanne (born 1810); Louise Marie Laure (born 1811); Jean Pierre Paulin (born 1815); and Marie Louise Pauline (born 1816). Borquita, Delphine’s daughter from her previous marriage, also lived in the household until she herself was married. On the surface, Delphine and her family appeared to be living the respectable, comfortable life of a wealthy Creole family – but where Jean Blanque got his money was a bit of a mystery.

In the book Old New Orleans, author Arthur Cisby wrote:

Jean Blanque, once a well-known figure in old New Orleans. Merchant, lawyer, banker, legislator and – this was told in whispers – the “man higher up” in certain transactions relative to the importation of “black ivory” and goods upon which customs duties were not collected. M. Blanque earned this distinction during the hectic days before the Battle of New Orleans was fought, when slave smuggling activities of a swaggering company of Baratarians under the leadership of Pierre and Jean Lafitte, sometimes designated as pirates, were at their height.

According to history, mixed wildly with rumor, Blanque was engaged in the slave smuggling business in New Orleans. Slavery importation had been outlawed in the United States in 1808, but New Orleans was exempted from this law until 1812. In spite of this, many continued bringing in slaves illegally. Blanque’s name appeared more than 350 times in the slave schedules, buying and selling slaves. It was also widely known that he owned boats that were used for smuggling and privateering.

He was on the New Orleans City Council, but his main claim to fame seems to have been that the pirate Jean Lafitte wrote to him for assistance when Lafitte was negotiating with the American military to help them during the Battle of New Orleans. The implication is that Lafitte and Blanque knew one another very well and likely had engaged in quite a bit of business together already.

In his book The Pirates Lafitte, author William C. Davis wrote of Jean Blanque as one of the “few less scrupulous New Orleans merchants… [who] engaged sailors who plied both side of the laws.” In 1806, he had been taken to federal court for purchasing 27,000 pounds of illegally obtained coffee. Many merchants took advantage of the low prices and variety of goods offered by the pirates, but Blanque attracted so much attention with his purchases that he wound up in court.

Blanque was not merely a crooked businessman and friend to pirates. He had come to Louisiana as a public servant with Louisiana’s last French governor, Pierre Clement de Laussat. In 1804, he had attended the meetings that transferred the Louisiana Territory to the United States, so he must have been a man of some influence. Laussat used Blanque’s commercial house for financial transactions for the French government, which gave Blanque a hefty commission for every transaction. As New Orleans grew, so did Blanque’s role in a variety of offices and organizations. He was named as one of the officers of the new Masonic lodge in 1812 and was instrumental in gaining American protection for the city when a British invasion threatened during the War of 1812.

After the war, less was written about Blanque but it’s likely that he continued his questionable business practices, buying and selling smuggled merchandise and slaves. Then, in 1818, Blanque either died or disappeared -- no one seems to know which occurred, but he was gone, leaving Delphine with four children to raise on her own. There is no documentation of his date of death and no notice in the newspapers of the era. If he ran away due to his various problems with the law, there is no mention of it. His death was never mentioned, but according to legal papers filed in July 1819, Delphine was back to using her maiden name of Macarty.

There is no question that Delphine thrived during her marriage to the volatile and rather mysterious Jean Blanque. She lived in a grand home and had more money than she could possibly spend. Whether she knew about his illegal activities or not is unknown, but in all likelihood, she did. She had grown accustomed to a way of a life that was as grand – or perhaps was even grander – than she had known as a child and her newfound freedom as a second-time widow allowed her to become a well-known fixture in the city’s Creole society.

Then, on January 12, 1828, Delphine married Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, who had arrived in New Orleans from France in February 1825. LaLaurie’s birth date is unknown, but it falls somewhere between 1771 and 1800. It is alleged that he was somewhat younger than his new wife. He was born in Villeneuve-sur-Lot in Aquitaine and after attending medical school, he eventually graduated from dental school in Toulouse. After he finished school, he prepared to immigrate to Louisiana.

Although not much is known about Dr. LaLaurie’s personality, there are dozens of letters between he and his father that are still housed with the Missouri Historical Society. His father, Francois Jean LaLaurie wrote to his son about every two weeks. There are also a number of letters between he and his sisters and he seemed to have had a warm and loving relationship with them. There is no indication that he was anything other than a kind, personable young man, although a rather poor medical student.

LaLaurie kept a detailed record of his journey across the Atlantic to America but noted nothing unusual about the trip. He departed on December 8, 1824 and arrived in New Orleans on February 13, 1825. About a month after his arrival, he sought to establish a medical practice in the city, which was a little odd since he had only fully completed his studies at dental school. In a newspaper advertisement, he stated that he had graduated from an accredited French medical school and while not entirely a lie, it definitely shaded the extent of his degree. The practice of medicine was largely unregulated in those days, though, so it wasn’t unusual for doctors who studied in one field of medicine to randomly switch to another, as Dr. LaLaurie did. Even so, a switch from dentistry to surgery seems to be a quite a leap.

Dr. LaLaurie and Delphine became acquainted at some point in 1827 and were married early the next year. Their son, Jean Louis, was born later in 1828.

The LaLauries moved into the mansion at 1140 Royal Street in 1832, four years into their marriage. The house, a beautiful two-story Creole-style building had several balconies that allowed air to circulate through the house and a beautiful shaded courtyard that was paved with bricks. The house had been built in 1831 and was one of the finest in the French Quarter. The LaLauries lavishly decorated the home, filling it with rich furniture and fine art. The couple threw lavish parties which often saw them featured in the society pages of the day.

Delphine was a queen of Creole society; a woman to be admired, loved, and envied. For years, she had been handling her own business affairs and was respected for her intelligence and style. Her daughters were among the finest dressed girls in New Orleans.  Those who received her attentions at her wonderful gatherings could not stop talking about her. Guests in her home were pampered as their hostess bustled about the house, seeing to their every need. They dined on European china and danced and rested on Oriental fabrics that had been imported at great expense. One of the things that nearly all her guests recalled about her was her extraordinary kindness.

But this was the side of Delphine that her friends and admirers were merely allowed to see. There was another side. Beneath her beautiful and refined exterior was a cruel, cold-blooded (and possibly insane) woman that some only suspected, but others – namely the slaves who attended to her house -- knew as fact.

There is no record to say that Dr. LaLaurie ever actually established a medical practice in New Orleans. However, there are a number of receipts and written requests for LaLaurie’s services kept in historical archives. One acquaintance wrote to LaLaurie for assistance with a slave who was sick and LaLaurie billed him for a potion. It should be noted that slaves were often the test subjects for a variety of untried medical potions and remedies. This was not illegal, nor even considered unethical. Another client asked for a tooth to be removed and LaLaurie later billed him for treatment. He was apparently working from home, which was not uncommon at the time.

Curiously, Dr. LaLaurie is mostly left out of the accounts of the atrocities that occurred in his home in 1834. He is occasionally mentioned as one of the perpetrators, but is mostly seen as a background figure, hidden in the shadow of his wife’s overpowering evil. This is strange, considering that in some erroneous accounts of the horror, medical experiments are mentioned. Since he was a doctor, who would have been more likely to conduct such experiments? He should have been the likely suspect as a doctor, but he never was. Perhaps this is because – in all the true, historical accounts of the terrible events – no medical experiments were ever mentioned. It is my personal belief that Dr. LaLaurie was truly an unwilling conspirator in the events that occurred both before and after April 1834.

The LaLauries continued their privileged life during 1832, but then a strange incident took place on October 26, 1832. On that date, the LaLauries petitioned the court to free a slave they owned named Devince, who was “a Creole of Louisiana of about 40 or 45 years of age.” The petition was granted in August 1833. Eight months later, Delphine and her husband would be revealed as the torturers, and possibly murderers, of slaves.

What could have happened to cause them to free one of them? While the record remains unclear, I have an idea, primarily based on what happened soon after.

On November 16, 1832 – less than one month after the court petition – a summons was issued to Dr. LaLaurie, who was residing away from New Orleans at the time. In the summons, Delphine petitioned for separation from her husband. She cited that “through a series of ill treatment from the said Louis LaLaurie that indeed the said LaLaurie acted toward her a long time since in such a manner as to render their living together insupportable.” Delphine swore that LaLaurie beat and mistreated her on October 26, 1832. She asked to be allowed to separate from him and for the court to let her remain at the house on Royal Street. Judge Joshua Lawn signed an order that allowed her to sue her husband for legal separation.

It remains a mystery as to what happened that day, but it was serious enough to convince Delphine to separate from her husband, which was an uncommon occurrence in those days. Note the date of the alleged beating – October 26 – this is the same day that the LaLauries were recorded as petitioning the court for the freedom of the slave Devince. What happened? Anyone who can say for sure is long dead, but based on what happened later, I have a theory. I believe that Dr. LaLaurie did in fact beat his wife that day – as a response to her brutal treatment of the slave. I believe that he put a stop to her attack on the man and went as far as to strike her to prevent her from doing serious damage to him. LaLaurie was so shocked by her actions – and perhaps by his own – that he abandoned his wife and moved out of the house.

At some point, however, he had a change of heart. It may have been his wife’s legal summons, or perhaps something else, but he soon returned. Delphine never went forward with the case against her husband. I believe that the freeing of Devince was likely the price that Delphine had to pay to ensure her husband’s silence about her cruelty; or perhaps Dr. LaLaurie freed the man out of guilt for allowing the cruelty to occur in the first place. Once again, we will never know for sure, but we do know that the mistreatment of slaves was considered a serious offense in New Orleans in those days.

The Black Codes had been in effect for almost a century and while punishments for slave owners who mistreated their slaves was not very serious legally – it certainly looked bad in the cities social circles, when so many people could trace – if they wanted to – their ancestry back to those who came to New Orleans in chains.

For the most part, local residents did not look kindly on those who abused their slaves – as the LaLauries would soon discover. 

Those who attended the grand parties at the LaLaurie house often spoke of the quiet gracefulness of the family’s slaves. Nearly as elegant as the guests, these slaves went about their work with silent skill. They moved about the house like shadows, rarely speaking and never raising their eyes. There were those who wondered about them, and perhaps this is how the rumors began to circulate. It is more likely, however, that no one spoke of Delphine’s cruelty until after the incident in 1833. Years later, people whispered of the brutality that they never suspected and the terrible treatment that they had somehow missed. She kept her cook chained to the fireplace in the kitchen, the stories said, forced to prepare the sumptuous dinners that they had enjoyed. There were also tales that were much worse – stories that went far beyond mere cruelty.

It was a neighbor on Royal Street, a man named Montreuil (MON-TRILL), who first began to suspect something was not quite right in the LaLaurie house. There were whispered conversations about how the LaLaurie slaves seemed to come and go quite often. Parlor maids would be replaced with no explanation or the stable boy would suddenly just disappear, never to be seen again. He made a report to the authorities but, even though he was friends with a number of prominent people, nothing was done about it.

Then, in late 1833, another neighbor was climbing her own stairs when she heard a scream and witnessed Delphine chasing a young girl across her courtyard with a whip. The neighbor watched the girl being pursued from floor to floor until they at last appeared on the rooftop. The child ran down the steeply pitched roof and then vanished. Moments later, the neighbor heard a horrible thud as the small body struck the flagstones below. Late that night, the woman claimed that she saw one of Delphine’s slaves carry a bundle into the courtyard and bury it. She believed that it was the body of the young girl, but it was never proven. She told her story to the police, and this time action was taken.

The LaLaurie slaves were impounded and sold at auction. Unfortunately for them, Delphine coaxed some relatives into buying them and then selling them back to her in secret. She explained to her friends that the entire incident had been a horrible accident. Some believed her, but many others did not and the LaLaurie’s social standing began to slowly decline.

The stories spread about the mistreatment of the LaLaurie slaves and uneasy whispering spread among her former friends. A few party invitations were declined, dinner invitations were ignored, and the family was soon politely avoided by other members of the Creole society.

Finally, in April of 1834, all the stories about Delphine LaLaurie were finally proven to be true at last.

Be sure to return for the next episode, when we’ll explore the horrific stories – along with the truth --- of what was found in the LaLaurie Mansion. And we’ll also explore the many ghost stories about the place that caused it to earn the reputation as THE haunted house of New Orleans.

Thanks for tuning into the American Hauntings Podcast – the show where we discuss history, hauntings, legends, lore, and the dark side of American history. This is the first episode of our brand-new season, “Haunted New Orleans.”

I’m your co-host Cody Beck and with me is my co-host – author, historian, crime buff, and the founder of American Hauntings, Troy Taylor.

We have also posted the FULL Haunted America Conference website (with speakers, after hours events, ALL new workshops, etc.) at GHOST CONFERENCE.NET and we’ll talk more about that later. Tickets on sale starting January 6

This episode of the American Hauntings podcast was written by Troy Taylor and it was produced and edited by me -- Cody Beck.

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