A Handful of Haunts–Photos from New Orleans

Labor Day Weekend was wild and wooley for New Orleans with Tropical Storm Lee hitting the city at the same time as numerous revelers for Southern Decadence and other events. A friend of mine, Benjamin Lewis, was able to take pics of a handful of haunted sites and I’m most grateful to him for these marvelous images!

Beauregard-Keyes House
1113 Chartres Street

A bright spot of sunshine on a dreary day, the Beauregard-Keyes House, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.

One of the most famous homes in the city, the Beauregard-Keyes House has served as the residence for a number of famous names including Confederate General P. T. G. Beauregard, chess master Paul Morphy and novelist Frances Keyes. Events in this house have ranged from glittering balls to a bloody Sicilian mafia massacre in the early 20th century. Gun shots from the massacre are still heard, a waltzing couple seen inside while some have heard the name of General Beauregard’s Waterloo, Shiloh, being repeated over and over again. One resident even claimed to have encountered the battle of Shiloh being fought in the ballroom. I’ve covered this site in depth here.

Sign at the front of the Beauregard-Keyes House, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved,

Le Richelieu
1234 Chartres Street

Front entrance to Le Richelieu, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.

Housed in two buildings, one dating from 1845, the other from 1902, the Le Richelieu Hotel occupies the site where five French patriots were executed in the late 18thcentury. The spirits of these five men may still reside here.

Housed in two buildings, one dating from 1845, the other from 1902, the Le Richelieu Hotel occupies the site where five French patriots were executed in the late 18thcentury. The spirits of these five men may still reside here.

The two buildings that comprise Le Richelieu, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.
A view of Le Richelieu from Barracks Street, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.
Looking down this hallway at Le Richelieu one can almost imagine the Shining Twins appearing here. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.
Courtyard and pool where a group of Spanish soldiers may have been executed. Do their spirits still wander here? Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.

Old United States Mint
400 Esplanade

Front entrance to the old US Mint, now the Louisiana State Museum, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.

From 1838 to 1909, this building housed the New Orleans Mint, producing currency in all denominations. Since its closure as a mint, the building served a variety of functions until 1981 when it became a part of the State Museum of Louisiana, the capacity in which it functions today. In the second floor gallery a man in blue coveralls has been seen rolling a cigarette. He then places the cigarette into his mouth and walks into a nearby wall.

View down the length of the facade, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.
The massive old mint, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.
The rear of the old mint building, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.

Old Ursuline Convent
1100 Chartres Street

Plaque on the old convent, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.

One of the oldest buildings in New Orleans, the Old Ursuline Convent has survived hurricanes, fires and the nuns have lent aid during plagues and epidemics. It’s no surprise that their old convent would house spirits. According to Jeff Dwyer, the spirits of Ursuline sisters have been seen gliding throughout the building while the spirit of a Civil War era soldier has been seen in the garden.

A brooding sky over the Old Ursuline Convent, 2011. Photo by Benjamin Lewis, all rights reserved.

Sources 

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans.Gretna, LA: Pelican Press, 2007.
  • New Orleans Mint. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 September 2011.
  • Powell, Lewis IV. “Beauregard-Keyes House, Part I.” Southern Spirit Guide.3 December 2010.
  • Powell, Lewis IV. “Beauregard-Keyes House, Part II.” Southern Spirit Guide.6 December 2010.
  • Smith, Katherine. Journey Into Darkness…Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans: De Simonin Publications, 1998.

“We fired our guns and British kept a’comin”–Chalmette Battlefield

We fired our guns and the British kept a’comin.
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to runnin’ on
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.
from “The Battle of New Orleans” by Jimmie Driftwood, recorded by Johnny Horton in 1959.

Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve
8606 West St. Bernard Highway
Chalmette, Louisiana

The Battle of New Orleans by American painter, Thomas Moran, 1910.

Situated a few miles southeast of the city of New Orleans, the Chalmette Battlefield is the site of America’s greatest victory in the War of 1812. The British first threatened the city with the arrival of a flotilla just off of Lake Pontchartrain. The Americans attempted to block the British from landing but were defeated in the brief Battle of Lake Borgne on December 18, 1814. An attack by the Americans on the British position, once they landed on the 23rd, was successful only in keeping the British on their toes, though their maintained their position. General Andrew Jackson’s American troops dug in and created earthworks on Chalmette Plantation right along the Rodriguez Canal and bounded on both sides by cypress swamps and the Mississippi River that became known as “Line Jackson.”

Undated map of the battle line and line of attack. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

At the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans (see my entry on the convent here), prayers were raised by the sisters to the Virgin Mary to ensure an American victory and protect the city. The sisters had prayed a few years earlier in 1812 when fire ravaged the city. Miraculously, the flames were swept away from the convent by a sudden change in direction. The sisters’ prayers were answered on the morning of January 8th when the British launched their main attack in darkness and heavy fog. Perhaps as an answer to the sisters’ prayers, the fog lifted to reveal the troops marching towards the American’s fortifications. Exposed to brutal artillery fire, the British lost many of their senior officers quite early on leaving the soldiers in the field without direction. Despite being outmanned by British forces, the Americans held their ground and incurred few losses. The British, on the other hand, lost 291 soldiers including two generals with over 1,200 wounded and nearly 500 captured or missing.

This decisive American victory served as the final engagement of the War of 1812, despite its occurrence after the end of the war. The war officially ended in Belgium with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, 1814, some two weeks previous to the battle. Following the tumult of battle, the site returned to its agrarian origins and the Beauregard House was built on part of the battlefield around 1830. The entrenchments, especially those in the area around the National Cemetery, were reused by Confederate and later, Union, forces during the Civil War. Towards the end of the war, a national cemetery was established for the burial of Union troops who had died in the area. The cemetery has seen over 15,000 burials and is now closed. Attempts to memorialize the site date to 1855 when construction began on a marble tower on the battlefield which was completed in 1908.

Modern photo of the battlefield with the remains of the “Line Jackson” earthworks, battle monument and the Beauregard House. From the National Park Service.

The Battlefield and National Cemetery now comprise a unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve, which preserves a series of cultural and natural resources that represent the rich history and ecology of the region. The park is named for the nineteenth century pirate, Jean Lafitte, who worked in some of the areas preserved in the park and who also came to the aid of the American’s before and during the battle. The spirit of Lafitte is one of the spirits that is said to haunt Destrehan Plantation which I wrote about in the entry on the River Road plantations of Louisiana.

Battlefields appear frequently in paranormal literature. Seemingly, the more important the battle, the more haunted the battlefield and the Chalmette Battlefield is no exception. Though finding good information on the haunting of this battlefield is not as easy. There are two primary sources for information on the ghosts of the battlefield: Jeff Dwyer’s excellent Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans and a blog from the Southern Area Paranormal Society. Outside of these sources, there is information on the haunted, but its validity is questionable.

Jeff Dwyer’s book provides good information on the battle, but he doesn’t say too much about what supernatural elements have been experienced there. He states that cold spots have been felt and that sensitive people have felt a “pulling sensation as if gravity has increased many times.” My skeptical side is apt to not usually believe “feelings” that people may get in a location, especially if that’s the only indication of paranormal activity.

The other main source for what is taking place in the battlefield involves a good deal more information. The Southern Area Paranormal Society discusses the battlefield and two nearby forts in their blog. Activity they mention on the battlefield include apparitions and voices. They also mention that activity has been reported in the Beauregard House including the sound of footsteps and possible shadow people.

Sources

  • The Battle of New Orleans. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 19 November 2010.
  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2007.
  • Greene, Jerome A. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Chalmette Unit. Listed 6 July 1987.
  • Jean Lafitte. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 November 2010.
  • Manley, Roger. Weird Louisiana: Your Travel Guide To Louisiana’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. NYC: Sterling, 2010.
  • Southern Area Paranormal Society. Fort Beivnue, Chalmette Battlefield & Fort Pike. 19 May 2009.