Following the death of infamous pirate Jean Laffite, his men returned to Louisiana to the beautiful antebellum mansion, Chretienne Point, in order to rob its namesake, Madame Chretienne. Chretienne was a close friend of Laffite and was a rather wealthy recluse. When she heard the pirates breaking into her home, she fled and looked for an escape, but became cornered by one of them. Brandishing the Derringer pistol she had hidden within her clothing, Chretienne shot the assailant between the eyes, causing the others to evacuate at the sound of the gunshot. She proceeded to stow the body away in the closet, where it remained for three long days until authorities could reach her rather secluded abode.
The plantation, which was originally named Bon Séjour Plantation (meaning “good living”), was built to grow sugar cane. The mansion that stands today was built by slaves under the command of George Swainy between 1837 and 1839 for Jacques Telesphore Roman.
The Valcour Aime Plantation belonged to Valcour Aime, he was known as the “Louis the XIV of Louisiana” and was said to be the wealthiest person in the south. His plantation, which was sometimes called La Petite Versailles, burned to the ground in 1920. It is haunted by Aime.
Built in 1796 by General David Bradford, the Myrtles Plantation was known as Laurel Grove at the time. For several years, the general lived there alone until he was pardoned for his role in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1799 when President George Washington ordered that Bradford be executed. The rest of his family was living in their Pennsylvania home at the time. He later moved his wife, Elizabeth, and five children to the Myrtles Plantation.
The general died in 1808. Clark Woodruff, who was one of Bradford’s law students, later married Sara Mathilda in 1817, who was Bradford’s daughter. The two took care of the plantation for Elizabeth. Later on, they had three children, who were named Cornelia Gale, James, and Mary Octavia. Clark Woodruff and Mary Octavia moved to Covington, Louisiana after the death of Elizabeth Bradford in 1830. They left behind a caretaker for the plantation.
Four years later, Woodruff sold the plantation, land, and its slaves to Ruffin Gray Stirling. Woodruff passed away in New Orleans in 1851. Stirling and wife Mary Catherine Cobb began to remodel the house, nearly doubling its size. They also renamed it “The Myrtles”. They had nine children, five of which died young. Stirling himself died in 1854, leaving the plantation to his wife. In 1865, Mary Cobb hired William Drew Winter to help her manage the plantation as a lawyer/agent. Winter eventually Mary’s daughter, Sarah Stirling. They had six children, and one of them, Kate Winter, died of typhoid at the age of three.
Even though the Winters were forced to sell the plantation in 1868, they bought it back in 1870. A year after buying the house back, a man (suspected of being E. S. Webber) shot William Winter on the front porch of the Myrtles and died within minutes. Sarah remained at the plantation with her mother and siblings until she died in 1878.
The plantation was passed on to Stephen, one of Mary’s sons, two years later when she died in 1880. Being heavily in debt, Stephen sold it to Oran D. Brooks in 1886. Brooks sold it in 1889, and the house changed its owners many times until being purchased by Harrison Milton Williams in 1891. In the 20th century, the land was owned by several people. A few of the owners noticed odd happenings at the Myrtles. The place is known as “one of America’s most haunted homes”, as it is home to at least twelve spirits. It is claimed that a total of ten murders occurred in there, but historical records only suggest the one that William Winter was victim of.
There are three cemeteries in Louisiana named “St. Louis Cemetery’. The first and most famous one opened in 1789, replacing the St. Peter Cemetery as the main graveyard in the city after it was redesigned after a fire in 1788. The Saint Louis Cemetery is located on the north side of Basin Street, eight blocks from the Mississippi River, one block from the inland French Quarter border, and it borders the Iberville housing project.
St. Louis Cemetery #1 is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, and it has been active ever since it was founded. For the most part, those buried in the cemetery were part of prominent and well-to-do New Orleans families, particularly Creoles. In the early years of the St. Louis Cemetery, it was divided into three sections: one for Catholics, one for non-Catholics, and one for “Negroes”, what they may have been referring to as slaves.
By the late 18th century, St. Peter Cemetery began to fill up, and the town’s development had gotten to a point where it surrounded the graveyard, not allowing it to expand. Because of this, the Cabildo wanted the cemetery far away from the center of the population to ensure contagion and disease did not spread from the cemetery into the people.
Since New Orleans had swampy and below sea level terrain, any higher ground was extremely valuable; since the living could benefit from it, a graveyard could not be put on the land. The Cabildo chose a swampy site on St. Louis Street – a decision they would come to regret.
On August 14th, 1789, a new cemetery was created under the Spanish Royal Decree. It was located 40 yards behind the Charity Hospital. A canal was built adjacent to the cemetery in 1796 as a way to transport goods and drain the swamp. The first burials were done in such a way that the graveyard was not organized whatsoever, and it quickly became a maze of tombs and aisles.
Originally, bodies were buried below ground, but, a rise for the cemetery’s use came up, and the dead had to be in tombs above ground on top of the already buried. Since it was built on a swamp, the St. Louis Cemetery was subject to flooding often. Sand and shells were added to the site in order to fight the rising waters.
In 1816, the Macarty Crevasse’s waters flooded the cemetery so badly that it temporarily had to close, and burials needed to take place across the river. By the early 1800s, New Orleans had grown greatly, while the cemetery had remained the same and was in the way of further expansion.
Many Americans, mostly Protestant, came into Louisiana after the Louisiana Purchase, and the impending statehood. The problems were fixed in 1822 when the city created a new site in the Faubourg St. Marie that would be used as a Protestant burial grade that would later be called Girod Street Cemetery.
In 1923, St. Louis Cemetery #2 was built to alleviate the first cemetery. St. Louis Cemetery #1 remained in use, but the richer Creoles and Benevolent Societies were buried in the second cemetery, as they received the more ornate tombs. The first cemetery began to shrink as New Orleans grew. The pyramidal Varney monument, for instance, was once at the center of the site, but with the city’s expansion, now is at the entrance.
During the late 1800s, the surrounding area of the cemetery had become mostly residential. In 1898, “Storyville” was created using the sixteen square blocks, including the cemetery. It lasted until 1917 when the Navy ordered that it closed. In the mid-20th century, many significant changes started to take place.
In 1930, the construction on the Municipal Auditorium began, and the canal was filled by 1938. Storyville’s remains were destroyed for the Iberville Housing Project that came in during the 1940s. Louis Armstrong Park was created in 1976 in order to rehabilitate the area. The St. Louis Cemetery had gotten a bad reputation of being an extremely dangerous site, and the people avoided it. The place became neglected and overgrown as a result.
Now, the cemetery is a tourist destination that has been deemed safe for tourists. The Save Our Cemeteries Organization, which runs both non-profit and commercial, offers tours for a fee to raise funds to help preserve the cemetery. Acclaimed Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is said to haunt the cemetery, often seen with a snake around her neck. The cause for the other hauntings in the cemetery is the fact that thousands of bodies are layered upon one another in a small block.