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The LaLaurie Mansion.
From a postcard 1906
The LaLaurie Mansion at 1140 Royal Street, photographed in September 2009.
Delphine LaLaurie, also known as Madame LaLaurie (born Marie Delphine Macarty), was an Americanmarker socialite and supposed serial killer, who according to legend helped torture, mutilate and kill nearly 100 black slaves.

Background

Delphine Macarty was born circa 1775 to Barthelmy Louis Macarty and Vevue Lecomte, prominent members of the New Orleansmarker community. Macarty's parents were allegedly killed in a slave uprising. Delphine Macarty's cousin, Augustin de Macarty, was mayor of New Orleans from 1815-1820.

She was first married to Don Ramon de Lopez y Angulo in 1800; he died in Havana, Cubamarker, on March 26, 1804. In 1808, she married the slave trader Jean Blanque, who died in 1816. Twice widowed, she married physician Dr. Louis LaLaurie on June 25, 1825. The couple bought a mansion at 1140 Royal Street in 1831, where Delphine LaLaurie maintained a central position in the social circles of New Orleans. Although she would throw lavish parties with guest lists consisting of some of the most prominent people in the city, the manner in which Delphine LaLaurie tortured her slaves is probably the most widely known of the French Quartermarker’s macabre tales.

Rumors

In 1833, after several neighbors allegedly saw her cowhiding a young servant girl in the mansion's courtyard, rumors began to spread around town that LaLaurie treated her servants viciously. According to one tale, a young slave girl was brushing LaLaurie's hair in the upstairs bedroom when the comb hit a snag in her mistress's hair, enraging LaLaurie. LaLaurie whipped the 12-year-old slave girl, who tried to escape but fell to her death from a balcony overlooking the courtyard. The girl was quickly brought into the LaLaurie Mansion, but not before being observed by neighbors, who filed a complaint. The neighbors later asserted that the young girl was buried under a tree in the yard.

The legalities of the situation were handled by Judge Jean Francois Canonge, a friend of the LaLauries, who had visited the house on a previous occasion concerning the welfare of the LaLaurie servants. The LaLaurie slaves were confiscated and put up for auction, and the LaLauries were fined $500. Some of the LaLaurie relatives arranged to buy the slaves back and quickly returned them to her.

On April 10, 1834, during another party, a fire broke out in the kitchen of the mansion. The kitchen — as was the norm in Spanishmarker mansions — was separate from the home and located over the carriageway building across the courtyard. The firemen entered the building through the courtyard. To their surprise, there were two slaves chained to the stove in the kitchen. It appeared as though the slaves had set the fire themselves in order to attract attention. The fire itself was soon subdued.

LaLaurie escaped by horse and carriage to Bayou St. John, where she allegedly paid the captain of a schooner to carry her across to Mandeville or Covington. Many claimed they escaped to Parismarker. Others say they remained on the outskirts of New Orleans.

Historical accuracy

Most accounts relating to the discovery of grand guignol horror in the Lalaurie mansion cannot be traced back further than Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans, a book self-published in 1998 by the proprietress of a New Orleans ghost tour business. The author, Kalila Katherina Smith — whose qualifications include her work as a practitioner of eclectic magic and a certificate in Oriental Natural Healing and Integrated Body Mind Therapy — claims to have sourced her information from a contemporary newspaper, the New Orleans Bee. A review of the files of this newspaper shows this claim to be false. Contemporary sources mention the death of the young slave girl who hurled herself from the roof and confirm the discovery of seven chained and maltreated slaves in quarters near Lalaurie's kitchen, but confirm none of the more lurid allegations regarding buckets of genitalia, makeshift sex-change operations, brains stirred with sticks, women nailed to floors by their intestines, tongues sewn together, mouths stuffed with excrement and stitched up, females flayed to resemble caterpillars, suits of human skin, sliced penises, "human crabs", bottles of blood or "grand gore chambers"; nor do they detail scores of victims, no evidence for which can be traced in accounts published at the time. Secondary sources written in the 19th and early 20th centuries, several by New Orleans natives who knew the case, who had spoken to residents living in the city at the time of Lalaurie's flight, and which had in one instance involved extensive archival research, likewise fail to mention anything other than accounts of emaciated live slaves displaying wounds consistent with periods of incarceration. The New Orleans Bee, writing less than a week after the evacuation of Lalaurie's slave quarters, confirmed that all of the slaves found on the premises had been alive and that none had since died.

Death

Several different accounts of the death of Delphine LaLaurie are given. One report said she was killed by a wild boar in a hunting accident in Francemarker. Another story, as reported in The Daily Picayune of March 1892, insisted she died among friends and family in Paris. Other accounts say that Delphine LaLaurie never left Louisiana and dwelled on the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrainmarker for the remainder of her days.

LaLaurie was believed to have died on December 7, 1842, and her body secretly returned to New Orleans . In the early 1900s, Eugene Backes, who served as sexton to St. Louis Cemetery #1 until 1924, discovered an old cracked, copper plate in Alley 4 of the cemetery. The inscription on the plate read: "Madame LaLaurie, née Marie Delphine Macarty, décédée à Paris, le 7 Décembre, 1842, à l'âge de 68 ans."

Later history of the house

In 2007, actor Nicolas Cage bought the LaLaurie House through his Hancock Park Real Estate Company LLC. The LaLaurie house was put on the market again in late 2008.

In late 2009, the Bank foreclosed on the house.

Regions Financial Corporation purchased the foreclosed property for $2.3 million on November 13th, 2009.

See also



References

  1. King, Grace. Creole Families of New Orleans. New York: MacMillan & Co., 1921, p. 373. ISBN 0-87511-142-4.
  2. Smith, Kalila Katherina. Journey Into Darkness: Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans New Orleans: De Simonin Publications, 1998, pp. 18-19. ISBN 1-883100-04-6.
  3. New Orleans Bee, 11, 12, 16 April 1834.
  4. National Intelligencer, 29 April 1834.
  5. New Bedford Mercury, 2 May 1834.
  6. Salem Gazette, 2 May 1834.
  7. Le Courrier des Etats-Unis, 8 December 1838.
  8. Retrospective of Western Travel, (London, 1838) vol.II pp.136-42.
  9. Louisiana History, vol.23 (1982) pp.383-99.
  10. Castellanos, Henry C. 1895. New Orleans As It Was: Episodes of Louisiana Life 52-62.
  11. Cable, George W. 1889. True Strange Stories of Louisiana 200-219.
  12. Arthur, Stanley Clisby. 1936. Old New Orleans: A History of the Vieux Carré, its Ancient and Historical Buildings 147-51.
  13. New Orleans Bee, 16 April 1834.
  14. Nicolas Cage buys house in New Orleans’ French Quarter for $3,450,000. Big Time Listings. 24 April 2007.
  15. Nicolas Cage sues former business manager for $20 million - October 16, 2009
  16. Nicolas Cage loses 2 homes in foreclosure auction - Nov. 13, 2009


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