This cemetery plays a pivotal role in my latest work in progress. There is something romantic and intriguing about the place, despite its location in the middle of the warehouse district in New Orleans.
Let me set the scene for you. The entire cemetery is surrounded by a cement wall, perhaps to keep the ghosts in, or the vandals out – no matter, both seem to ignore it. The tombs are shoved together so tightly that they create a mystical maze for tourists and mourners in which they can lose themselves. There are oven tombs with brick arches, where the dead are interred behind walls, barrel-vaulted tombs characterized by their vaulted roofs, box tombs, built closer to the ground, parapet tombs with their raised crosses, and the list goes on and on. There is no rhyme or reason to the placement of these tombs and so a wonderful lack of symmetry is formed.
St. Louis Cemetery #1 is listed on the National Registry of The Most Haunted Places in America, and for good reason. The remains of those who participated in the Battle of New Orleans can be found here, along with the city’s first black mayor, and it’s mayor and its most famous resident the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.
1. Many are said to have captured Marie Laveau’s ghost on film here. Believers and tourists still leave flowers, candles and offerings at her tomb everyday.
3. A ghost by the name of Henry roams the maze of the cemetery. The story goes that he gave his tomb to a woman who was supposed to keep his papers for him. While he was out to sea she sold the tomb, and when he died he was laid to rest in a potter’s field. He has spent the time since inquiring with tourists if they have seen the Vignes’ tomb. He appears in a dark suit with no shirt and is desperate to find his final resting place.
4. Alphonse – he was a lonely young man, or so they say. Upon entering the cemetery, he may take your hand and ask you to help him find his way home. He’s been seen taking flowers from other graves and bringing them back to his own.
5. Ghost cats and dogs are frequent sightings here. Many believe that they are the ghosts of the caretakers animals.
Take the cemetery tour if you are in New Orleans, or if you are really brave, check them out on your own. Even if you don’t see a ghost for yourself, you will be taken by the place’s beauty.
Monique O’Connor James
Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, and The Mulligan Man published by Astraea press.
Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.