The “Sausage Ghost” of Ursuline Avenue

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Haunted Block “The Sausage Ghost” – Ursuline Street, Between Royal and Bourbon Streets
This short block of Ursaline Avenue, located between Royal and Bourbon Streets is said to be haunted by “The Sausage Ghost’, with 4 murders taking place between 3 homes all within 4 houses apart. It started with Hans Mueller in the 1800’s, with the second murder in the 1920’s and the last murder in 2002. All three murderers were either butchers or worked in the meat/deli industry and all claim to have seen a mysterious spirit or figure who told them to commit the murders.

The Mad Butcher – Hans Mueller
In the mid 1800’s, Hans Mueller immigrated to the United States from Germany with his wife. A butcher by trade, Mueller established a sausage factory at 725 Ursaline Avenue. The factory and store were on the first floor, with the living quarters on the second level. The couple was quite successful and very popular in the neighborhood, but the success took a toll on their marriage. According to some stories, Mueller hired a young woman, a much younger and more attractive woman, to assist his wife with the day-to-day duties of running a household, and eventually Mueller began to have an affair with the woman which made his wife angry. When she threatened to fire the younger woman, Mueller murdered his wife to keep his mistress. Other stories say that the hard work took a toll on his wife’s physical appearance and he no longer found her attractive. Since divorce was unheard of during this time, his only option of getting out of the marriage was to murder his wife. Either way, the result was that he strangled the woman. If you’ve been to New Orleans, then you know that it’s not easy to dispose of a body. Mueller used the tools that were available to him at the time….his sausage grinder. Yep….that’s right. Mueller dismembered his wife’s body and ground the remains up, making her into sausage and then selling that sausage to his customers. Neighbors were suspicious of the wife’s disappearance and even more disturbed by the behavior of Mueller, who was said to be wandering at night, wringing his hands and seeming to be hiding from some invisible being. Allegedly, a customer found a gold ring in the sausage and reported it to the police, who made a visit to Mueller’s sausage factory. They found him hiding in a corner, screaming and crying in terror as if he had gone completely mad. He is said to have spent the rest of his days, hiding from some mysterious being, who he said is the one who made him kill his wife.

The Trunk Murders – The murders of Theresa and Leonida Moity
In the 1920’s, Theresa and Leonida shared the crowded living quarters of the second floor of 715 Ursaline Avenue (that’s right….next door to the former home of the Mueller Sausage Factory) with their husbands and 3 small children. Theresa and Leonida’s husbands were said to be shiftless and often drunk and unemployed. According to some stories, the men often found work as butchers. Rumors began to spread that the women were having affairs with other men, and after Leonida left her husband, Theresa’s husband began to worry that his wife might leave him as well. On the morning of October 27, 1927, a housekeeper for the couples made a grisly discovery. The dismembered bodies of two women were found in a trunk in one room, while fingers and other body parts were found in a bloody pile on a bed in another room. Theresa’s husband was found guilty of the murders and sentenced to life in prison. While in prison, he is allegedly overheard frequently talking about a mysterious figure who told him that he needed to kill and dismember his wife and her friend.

John Henry Morgan and Polly Pastori
Jump ahead to 2005. Hurricane Katrina has left much of New Orleans in ruins and under water. A landlady for an abandoned apartment on Elysian Fields Avenue is investigating the damage to the property. The property had been inhabited by a John Henry Morgan and his girlfriend. Both had received FEMA money and fled the city after the hurricane. The landlady noticed a horrible smell. Upon opening a trunk that was left behind by the previous tenants, she sees the decomposed body of a woman. The woman is identified as Polly Pastori, a previous girlfriend of Morgan, and who was last seen at 735 Ursaline Avenue in 2002 (Yes, that address is two doors down from Mueller’s Sausage Factory). Pastori and Morgan met while working at the Quartermaster…..wait for it…..a deli where fresh meat was sliced up for patrons. At the time of Pastori’s disappearance, the couple was known for their drug use and violent fighting. When Pastori disappeared, Morgan claimed that she was tired of New Orleans and left him and the city to start a new life. What really happened is that Morgan killed Pastori, dismembered her body, and stuffed her into a trunk. He then moved around the city, toting this trunk with him until he left it behind following Katrina (assuming that in the chaos, her death would be attributed to the hurricane). When he was arrested, he claimed that a drug dealer killed her. Following his trial and conviction in 2009, Morgan displayed unusual behavior, such as smiling and laughing when talking about the murder. He is also said to have talked about a mysterious spirit who told him to dismember Pastori’s body and store it in a trunk.

The French Market Inn

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The French Market Inn, 509 Decatur Street

Running parallel to the Mississippi is Decatur Street, with a long historical relationship with the river and with those who depended on the river for employment and sustenance. Decatur Street was once known as Levee Street, as it was part of the first levee systems protecting the fledgling city from the mighty Mississippi. Around 1870, the river changed course and the levee was moved further east, opening up a new waterfront. Levee Street was changed to Decatur Street in honor of Stephen Decatur, naval commander and war hero.

Decatur Street was home to the longshoremen, sailors, merchants, prostitutes and businessmen and women who made their living from the sea. Much like today, the street was dotted with inns, bars, restaurants and stores. Among those stores was a bakery located at 501 Decatur Street. Established in 1722, the bakery was owned and operated by the Druex family. The building was a humble three story brick building that wrapped around an open courtyard. The courtyard doubled as a kitchen for the family and entry/exit for supplies and finished goods being delivered from the bakery. The bakery was located on the first floor with personal residences on the second floor and the third floor was used for storage. A pulley system was used to move goods and supplies between the first and third floors. The bakery is reported to have provided baked goods for the Spanish, and later French soldiers, who were stationed in the Place d’Armes (now Jackson Square).

Around the 1830’s, the Baroness Micaela Leonard Antonie Almonester (also known as the Baroness Pontalba) purchased the building and surrounding lots or use as an inn for friends and family. The Baroness was a wealthy aristocrat and real estate developer. Her father died when she was two years old, leaving her as his sole surviving heir. Like many Creole daughters of the French and Spanish rich, she was educated at the Ursuline Convent. She was well versed in English. French and Spanish. She married her French cousin, Joseph-Xavier Celestin Delfau de Pontalba and moved to France. The marriage was a cover for her father-in-law, who saw the marriage as a way to get the young woman’s fortune. When he could not get the money, he attempted to murder her, but she survived the attempt (she was shot multiple times in the chest). After the death of her father-in-law and her husband obtaining the title of Baron, she received a legal separation from her husband. She is credited as the designer and developer of the Hotel de Pontalba in Paris (the home of the US Ambassador to France) and the Pontalba Buildings in New Orleans (which form two sides of what is now Jackson Square).

The building is once again a successful inn known as The French Market Inn. Its rooms still contain remnants of its past, with exposed brick walls and rusted metal hooks and exposed iron beams. Guests report hearing the cranking of metal and chains…almost as if a ghostly pulley system is transferring goods and supplies from the third floor to the bakery down below. Guests have also heard voices and footsteps outside of rooms, and when doors are opened, are greeted to a strange mist or by an empty hallway. The most eerie guest complaint was the report of bloody handprints being found in the room.

The Most Haunted House of New Orleans: The LaLaurie Mansion

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The Most Haunted House of New Orleans: The LaLaurie Mansion

Standing majestically at the corner of Royal and Gov. Nicholls is the Lalaurie Mansion, named for the infamous Mme Lalaurie. At one point it was the largest mansion built in the French Quarter, its three stories taking up 1/4 of a block and one of the few mansions including a full slave quarter.

Mme LaLaurie was born Marie Delphine Macarty between 1770 and 1780 in New Orleans. She was born into a wealthy family with plantations and political connections (an uncle was Governor of the Spanish American provinces of Louisiana and Florida and a cousin was mayor of New Orleans). Her first husband, Don Ramon de Lopez y Angulo, was appointed to the position of consul general for Spain. As the family was traveling to Spain to join the Spanish Court, Lopez died mysteriously. She also gave birth to her first child, a daughter. LaLaurie remained in the Spanish Court for a short time before returning to New Orleans in the early 1800’s.

In 1808, Delphine married her second husband, Jean Blanque, a banker/merchant/lawyer and legislator. She had four children with Blanque, before he, too, died a mysterious death and leaving her a small fortune.

In June, 1825, Delphine married her third husband, Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie. She purchased the property on Royal Street and built the mansion. The mansion soon became the center of New Orleans society, with lavish soirees and parties. No one attending the parties were aware of the horrors that were taking place in the attic of the mansion.

Rumors begin to circulate about the treatment of the slaves being held at the LaLaurie mansion when a teen girl threw herself from the top balcony of the residence. Before dying, she is reported to say that she killed herself to keep from being taken to the attic because “no one comes back”. This incident led to an investigation and the LaLauries were found guilty of illegal cruelty and the forced to forfeit nine slaves (the slaves were later returned through relatives).

In April, 1834 a fire broke out in the mansion. When officials arrived, an elderly woman was found chained to the stove. She said that she started the fire to commit suicide and avoid punishment in the upper rooms. At the same time, bystanders were attempting to enter the slave quarters to save the slaves who might be in the quarters. The LaLauries refused and the people forced their way into the rooms. What they found there was the thing of nightmares.

They found emaciated men, women and children in chains, in cages and with various wounds and injuries. According to reports, many were bound in restrictive postures and one was reported to have had bones broken and reset as to appear to be in a “crab” position. Stories began to circulate that Doctor and Mme LaLaurie were using their slaves to conduct cruel medical experiments. Following the fire, officials dug up the courtyard and found evidence of additional people who had been tortured to death and buried in shallow graves.

The LaLauries supposedly fled back to Paris to avoid prosecution. According to French archives, Delphine died in Paris in December, 1849.

The house built by the LaLauries still stands at the corner of Royal and Governor Nicholls. The building has been used as a public school, a music and dance school, a refuge for delinquents, a bar and a luxury apartment building. It was purchased by Nicolas Cage in 2009 but sold in auction. It is currently owned by a single family who uses it as a vacation home. It is reported to be the most haunted building in New Orleans. Visitors report seeing terrified faces in the upper window, hearing the cries of tortured slaves during the night and even the Mme LaLaurie has been reported as trying to smother young children who visit the home.

Harem of Horror: The Massacre at the “Sultan’s Palace”

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Harem of Horror: The Massacre at the “Sultan’s Palace”

At the corner of Dauphine and Orleans Streets sits the Gardette-LePrete house, named for the architect who designed the home and the local plantation owner and businessman who bought the mansion in the early 1800’s. One of the most photographed homes in the French Quarter, the pale pink exterior is accented by green shuttered windows and is graced with the ornate scrolled wrought-iron balconies that so define the architecture in the Quarter.

The mansion was home to the LePrete family until the Civil War, when LePrete found himself in financial trouble and he was forced to seek out a new owner for the mansion. The story says that LePrete was approached by the brother of a powerful Turkish sultan, who was forced to flee his native Turkey for fear that his brother would have him murdered to prevent him from seeking the throne.

The sultan’s brother arrived in New Orleans, bringing with him rich tapestries, lavish furniture and decorations and his harem of women and eunuchs. According to the legend, neighbors could hear music and the sounds of sexual pleasure coming from the home every night. This went on for several months, until a massive storm struck New Orleans. When the storm was over, a man was strolling down the street, and as he passed the mansion, he noticed a stream of blood flowing down the front steps onto the sidewalk and into the street. Terrified, he notified the police.

The police arrived and cautiously entered the home to find a grisly sight. Walls and furniture were soaked in blood. There were dismembered bodies and bodies that had been sliced open, with their insides spilling out onto the floor. Gagging, the police made their way to the small courtyard and found a freshly dug grave with a hand sticking out from the ground….the sultan’s brother had been buried alive.

The police could find no evidence to direct them to who committed this horrific massacre. There were rumors of a pirate ship docked at the port, which disappeared during the storm. Others spoke of assassins sent by the sultan to kill his brother and ensure no threat to his rule.

The property exchanged hands many times over the next century, with no one remaining in the home for long. Inhabitants complained of a fair-haired man dressed in colorful silks wandering the halls and the screams and crying of women. Eventually the home was abandoned and became a harbor for the homeless. It was purchased in the 1960’s, restored and made into 6 individual apartments and remains this way to this day.

As exciting as this tale is, there is no evidence of a sultan or anyone of royalty purchasing this home or of a horrific massacre taking place on the property. Residents do report strange things occurring, such as items going missing and strange noises. Some have also reported seeing the ghostly figures of a man dressed in Civil War clothing and a woman wearing a dress of the same time period.

Place d’Armes Hotel – Return of Students

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Place d’Armes – The Return of Students

The location of the Capuchin School in New Orleans, the First School in Louisiana

The Place d’Armes Hotel, located on St. Anne Street in the French Quarter, was the location of the first school established in French Colonial Louisiana. Established in 1725 by Father Raphael de Luxembourg, the school was housed in a small, wood framed structure adjacent to the Place d’Armes (the current site of the St. Louis Cathedral). It was the first school to offer regular classes in the French Colony of Louisiana. Reports from the time indicate that it only offered classes to boys and that due to a lack of interest in education, only had a max of 30 students. With the help and support of the Ursaline Convent and the Catholic Church, the school prevailed and grew. By the 1750’s the current building was in disrepair and a decision was made to sell the property and move the school to be included as part of the church.
On Good Friday, March 21, 1788, a great fire swept through what is now recognized as the French Quarter. A two-story brick house, with a two story kitchen in the courtyard was built on the property and it was purchased by Julien Poydras, a Louisiana philanthropist, who died shortly after the purchase. In 1832, the property size was increased to its present dimensions. It was a single family home until 1909, when it was divided into apartments by Anthony J. Valentino.

The location is now home to the Place d’Armes hotel. It is a simple three story brick building, with a small, yet welcoming lobby, decorated in golds and reds. Small, narrow hallways open up onto balconies overlooking a courtyard, with lush tropical foliage and a koi pond. From its external balconies, one can see Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral.

According to stories, several students, teachers and the headmaster of the school were killed in the Good Friday fire. Guests to the hotel report seeing a bearded man in period clothing standing in the lobby or walking along one of the balconies. Other guests have also reported seeing a young girl in period clothing, asking about her grandmother. Guests have also reported hearing children’s laughter and voices and mysterious footsteps in the hallways.


 

References
Wilson, S. (1961). The Capuchin School in New Orleans, 1725: the first school of Louisiana. New Orleans: Archdiocesan School Board.

Haunted New Orleans

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Place d’Armes Hotel

The Return of Students

Location of The Capuchin School in New Orleans, the First School in Louisiana

The Place d’Armes Hotel, located on St. Anne Street in the French Quarter, was the location of the first school established in French Colonial Louisiana. Established in 1725 by Father Raphael de Luxembourg, the school was housed in a small, wood framed structure adjacent to the Place d’Armes (the current site of the St. Louis Cathedral). It was the first school to offer regular classes in the French Colony of Louisiana. Reports from the time indicate that it only offered classes to boys and that due to a lack of interest in education, only had a max of 30 students. With the help and support of the Ursaline Convent and the Catholic Church, the school prevailed and grew. By the 1750’s the current building was in disrepair and a decision was made to sell the property and move the school to be included as part of the church.

On Good Friday, March 21, 1788, a great fire swept through what is now recognized as the French Quarter. A two-story brick house, with a two story kitchen in the courtyard was built on the property and it was purchased by Julien Poydras, a Louisiana philanthropist, who died shortly after the purchase. In 1832, the property size was increased to its present dimensions. It was a single family home until 1909, when it was divided into apartments by Anthony J. Valentino.

The location is now home to the Place d’Armes hotel. It is a simple three story brick building, with a small, yet welcoming lobby, decorated in golds and reds. Small, narrow hallways open up onto balconies overlooking a courtyard, with lush tropical foliage and a koi pond. From its external balconies, one can see Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral.

According to stories, several students, teachers and the headmaster of the school were killed in the Good Friday fire. Guests to the hotel report seeing a bearded man in period clothing standing in the lobby or walking along one of the balconies. Other guests have also reported seeing a young girl in period clothing, asking about her grandmother. Guests have also reported hearing children’s laughter and voices and mysterious footsteps in the hallways.

References
Wilson, S. (1961). The Capuchin School in New Orleans, 1725: the first school of Louisiana. New Orleans: Archdiocesan School Board.

First blog post

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Hi!  I’m Shannon and I welcome you to my travel blog.  This is my first venture into online blogging, so please be kind.  A little about me.  I’ve been a social worker, a career counselor, a PR/Communications professional and now I’m a transplant nurse.  I share a house with an adorable papillon, Valentino, and two cats, Izzy (who is feral and even after 10 years of co-habitation, fears that I will eat him some day) and Louis (mischievous and the life of the party).  In my spare time, I love to travel, read, write and take photos.  Along the way, I’ve met some interesting people and heard some great stories.  I started this blog to share the stories and photos of the places I’ve visited and the people I’ve met.  I hope you enjoy it.

The image I have chosen is called Alice and the Cheshire Cat  and is a piece from Ally Burguieres, an artist, designer and inventor in popular and conceptual pieces located in New Orleans. I wandered into her gallery on Royal Street and fell in love with her work. Please check out her work at http://www.galleryburguieres.com/about.html and visit her gallery, located at 736 Royal Street, the next time you are in The Big Easy.