When I decided to choose Poltergeist as this week’s horror movie, I only knew of Ryan Gray of UNO coming to the French Quarter to monitor the dig of a pool in the 600 block of Rampart. Thirteen caskets were found in the backyard and as it was for a pool it seemed fitting that it could be perfectly paired with Poltergeist. It was the perfect pairing for adding a paranormal comparison to this week’s horror movie.
What I found was even more to add to the paranormal element of New Orleans. The history of New Orleans itself is the very blueprint of how to create a haunting. Due to it being a major city in the South due to its location to the Mississippi River, it made it perfect for pirates like Pierre Lafitte as well as legitimate shipping business and logging.
The actual history of the city is that much like most of Southern Louisiana it was a swamp. The rich Parisians did not want to come to the area because of the snakes and alligators. So the overcrowding of the Paris prisons made King Louis decide that by emptying the prisons and forcing them to develop the area for inhabitation. The dregs of Paris were now let loose in the new land: murders, rapists, thieves, etc. People died from disease, murder, snakes, and alligators. From one site I read, I found out that New Orleans was allegedly an Indian burial ground. This is reportedly true in parts of Louisiana, the Myrtles was an Indian burial ground. This helps retain the energy that sustains the numerous ghosts who call the plantation their home.
Of course, New Orleans in the early days had a unique take on slaves. Even though President Lincoln freed the slaves in the 1800s, many elite Creoles still retained slaves. Free people of color, such as Marie Laveaux worked with the Creoles and were considered someone of value for her skills, and not the way a slave is treated. However well Marie Laveaux was treated and revered, the exact polar opposite was the life of the people who worked for Madame Delphine LaLaurie. A young slave committed suicide, if accidently because LaLaurie was chasing her with a bull whip through the house. While the dates are different in various places, her slaves were taken from her and her cousin was able to buy them back. Two slaves, chained to the stove set the house on fire. The bodies found in the attic set a mixed mob on the family, but they escaped. The rumors of a haunting were actually the slaves that they had not found. There were tortured slaves hidden under the floor boards on the third floor. They were calling out for help in the days after the fire. When the house was renovated and the floors were fixed on the third floor they found the bodies of the forgotten slaves. They’d been buried alive and died from combinations of dehydration, malnutrition, and the wounds from which Madame LaLaurie inflicted upon them.
According to WNOL the most recent bodies found, the ones identified by Ryan Gray of UNO were on the site of the first cemetery in New Orleans. The article reveals that many such bodies were buried in the ground before it was learned that we are so far below the water table that we had to have our cemeteries above ground. The organized cemeteries were for the rich people. Many of the Creoles would bury their slaves in the backyard. This disrespect for human life is often a basis for hauntings.
In the article Ryan Gray states, “Part of the reason why the cemetery was closed was because it was overcrowded, and historical accounts and complaints can’t dig anywhere without hitting earlier remains,” Gray said.
Read more: http://www.wdsu.com/news/29744746/detail.html#ixzz1klthMqsW
Ironically, this is very similar to the plot of the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg collaboration, “Poltergeist.” It is revealed by Craig T. Nelson’s boss that the prime real estate location that he lives in was once a cemetery. He hedges about whether or not they moved the bodies; but when JoBeth Williams’ character is almost drowned by bodies coming up in the area of the pool that were reanimated by the unrest of the countless bodies, it is revealed then that the bodies were never moved. Could this be one of the reasons why New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in America?