"Cities of the Dead"
The earliest cemeteries were underground burials, but there were problems with the
coffins bursting up through the ground and floating away in times of heavy rains and
floods. Because of New Orleans' unusually high water table burial underground was not
They began using above ground crypts for burial.
Many of these seem to be only big enough for two coffins, yet there may be half a dozen or
more names on the memorial stone. How this is accomplished is that after a year and a day,
the crypt may beopened and the old coffin and body broken up. The remains are then stored
in a hollow area under the lower crypt. There is little left after a year, because of the
extreme heat, the crypts virtually become little ovens, nearly cremating the remains.
The "Cities of the Dead" are alluring, but dangerous. Don't go alone...travel
with a group or tour. The narrow paths and many tombs offer hiding for muggers.
Tomb of Marie Laveau
Believed to have been born in New Orleans in 1794 and died in New Orleans
on June 15th, 1881. The daughter of a white man, Charles Laveau and Darcantel Marguerite,
a mulatto with Indian blood, Marie was a tall woman, with black hair, dark skin that
had a distinct reddish cast, and fierce black eyes. On August 4, 1819, Marie married
Jacques Paris in St. Louis Cathedral. Their contract of marriage can still be found
in the files there. Shortly after the wedding, Jacques disappeared. A record
of his death did not appear until several years after he had been gone. A few years
after becoming a widow, Louis Christophe Duminy de Glapion moved into Maries home and
lived there until he died in 1835. He and Marie had fifteen children.
Marie became the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans sometime during the 1830's. She became
the most famous and powerful voodoo queen in the world, so powerful that she acclaimed
herself the Pope of Voodoo. She was respected and feared by thousands. A devout
catholic, going to mass each day, she got permission to hold rituals behind St. Louis
Cathedral. Starting out as a hairdresser and later as a selfless nurse, Marie Laveau
became the first commercial voodoo queen. Over the years following the death of de
Glapion, there are several small articles that mention Marie appearing in the New Orleans
newspapers. And then, on June 16, 1881, the newspapers announced that Marie Laveau
was dead. She would have been 87 years old.
The main mystery of Marie Laveau arises when people still claim to be seeing her long
after her reported death. Who was it that died, and who did people continue to see? The
widely accepted opinion is that it was the Widow Paris that died in 1881 and her daughter
Marie Glapion, a striking look alike, took over the role of Voodoo Queen, walking in her
mothers footsteps and became almost as powerful. Marie II was about 50 years old when her
mother died. This theory accounts for sightings all the way into the early twentieth
Marie Laveau's tomb in St. Louis Cemetary Number I is frequently covered with rosaries,
flowers, coins, and various other offerings. Some visitors also tap three times on the
tomb or mark three Xs with a piece of brick or chalk, and then ask Marie for a favor.