New Orleans, Louisiana is home to three exceedingly large Roman Catholic cemeteries. Each called St. Louis Cemetery, they are numerically labeled with a 1, 2, and 3. They all contain mostly above-ground vaults and tombs and little spacing with a narrow walkway for visitation navigation. Let’s start with number 1…
St Louis Cemetery 1
This is the one most widely known and it’s New Orlean’s largest cemetery, holding over a hundred thousand deceased individuals. It was established by Spanish royal decree and opened in 1789, replacing the old St. Peter Cemetery which no longer exists. It is located eight blocks from the Mississippi River and is one block beyond the French Quarter inland border.
This cemetery resides famous New Orleanians such as Etienne de Boré, who was a wealthy pioneer in the sugar industry and was the first mayor of New Orleans, and Homer Plessy, who was the plaintiff from the infamous case of Plessy Vs. Ferguson. The first African American mayor of New Orleans named Ernest N. ‘Dutch’ Morial was also laid to rest here.
Besides being the largest in the city and oldest, it is also labeled as one of the most haunted cemeteries in the country. Within two centuries, numerous accounts of ghostly experiences have occurred with a few specific spirits to blame. Probably the most famous ghost is that of Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Born in 1801, she later practiced voodooism, the occult, and worked with herbs, being revered and feared all the same. During her lifetime, her fame grew and others begged to know her ways and longed her guidance in their own ritualistic practices. There is a legend that she knew all the secrets of all societies…
Her spirit has been witnessed throughout the French Quarter – passing her home and pacing around the tombs of the cemetery. It’s hard not to recognize her with her turban, colored red and white. She is also known for being a rather aggressive spirit as people report being pushed, scratched, and pinched.
Another ghost in this cemetery is the spirit of a man named Henry Vignes, described as having blue eyes with great height, reportedly looking so real, there have been claims of conversations with the spirit. Another is the spirit of Alphonse as he is known to take visitors’ hands and with a smile, he’ll ask for them to take him home, but it is unknown of where his home actually is. Both souls are said to be lost as they were in their lives.
St Louis Cemetery 2
Located three blocks from cemetery 1, St Louis Cemetery 2 was sanctified in 1823 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Many admired jazz and blues musicians are buried here as well as many noble citizens and politicians. Here is a brief list of these people:
- Danny Barker and Ernie K. Doe (musicians)
- Andre Cailluox (African American Union hero and martyr of the American Civil War)
- Dominique You (or Youx) (served in Battle of New Orleans, former privateer)
- Henriette DeLille (Venerable Mother, candidate for sainthood by the Catholic church)
- Carleton Hunt (served in Confederate Army during Civil War)
Though it received flooding from Hurrican Katrina, it was very minor and seems untouched by the storm.
St Louis Cemetery 3
Opened it 1854, this cemetery is thirty blocks from the Mississippi and is about two blocks from the French Quarter. The tombs are characterized by being a bit more ‘elaborate’ than the other cemeteries with numerous marble tombs from the 1800s. It includes a Greek Orthodox section as well.
Ragtime composer Paul Sarebresole, painter Ralston Crawford, and photographer E. J. Bellocq are laid to rest here along with other admired persons. One of the most famous of the resting deceased here is a self-taught pianist and singer by the name of Sweet Emma Barrett. She basically helped with the expansion and popularity of New Orleans Jazz.
Cemetery 3 was heavily flooded by Hurricane Katrina but sustained minimal damage, only minor plaster damage from debris.
Note: I know information about the 2nd and 3rd cemeteries were significantly shorter than the topic of the 1st cemetery, but that is because the 1st one is by far the most famous and widely known and there is a boatload of information on it, while there’s not too much regarding the other two. Thank you for understanding and I hope you guys enjoyed this post!
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For more information on the St. Louis Cemeteries, check these out:
Photo by Charles Talen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Louis_Cemetery This article is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
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