Mme. Delphine Lalaurie was born Marie Delphine Macarty, circa 1775 to Louis Barthelemy McCarty and Vevue McCarty, prominent members of the New Orleans community. Barthelemy McCarty was an Irish immigrant come to New Orleans, and shortened his last name to 'Macarty' soon after his arrival, as was accustomed for many immigrants. Marie Delphine Macarty's brother, Augustine Macarty was elected mayor of New Orleans in 1812, possibly helping to elevate Delphine's eventual rise to prominence in the New Orleans community. Both Barthelemy and Vevue died during a slave revolt in Haiti between these times. In part, this event may have contributed to Delphine's attitude towards her servants. As to what brought Barthelemy and Vevue to Haiti, no account is given. You can join Unsolved Mysteries and post your own mysteries or
On June 11, 1800, Marie Delphine Macarty was married to Don Ramon de Lopez y Angulo and they had one child, (Marie Francois) Delphine de Borgia y Argulo. At the time, Spain was in control of New Orleans, so conditions must have been favorable for Spaniards in New Orleans. However; by 1804, Don Ramon had somehow fallen out of favor with the king of Spain, and died mysteriously in Cuba, even as Delphine was in Spain pleading with the king to renew his favoritism towards Don Ramon. Her ability to charm and captivate paid off, as the king agreed he would renew favor with Don Ramon, but it was too late. Don Ramon de Lopez y Angulo died, leaving Delphine and Marie Francois in serious debt. In 1808, Delphine married a slave trader, Jean Blanque. Together they had one daughter, Camille Blanque whose name is given in various accounts of the Lalaurie Mansion. In 1816, after only eight years of marriage, Jean Blanque died, widowing Delphine a second time, and again leaving her and her two daughters now in serious debt. The circumastances and whereabouts of Jean Blanque's death are to this day, still unknown.
It is here we begin to find the two different sides of Mme. Delphine Lalaurie- the charming, captivating, flirtatious and highly respected hostess of the Lalaurie Mansion, and the horiffic dark sadist side, that alledgedly beat, tortured and performed medical experiments on her servants when they missed a snap of her fingers, or were late serving dessert to Madame's guests. Indeed, Madame was fanatical in her need for promptness, excluding herself, of course.
In 1819, we find Delphine Macarty's name on an emancipation petition to free a servant by the name of "Jean Louis", and again in 1832 her name, along with her husband's name, Dr. Leonard Louis Lalaurie on an emancipation petition to free a servant named "Devince". One could view these two acts as acts of kindness towards her servants in giving two of them their freedom, showing the gracious and compassionate side of Delphine Lalaurie, and many believe that Mme. Lalaurie was an early victim of "yellow journalism". During that time, social status and elitism was of extreme importance in New Orleans, while jealousy amongst the commoner ran a close second. On June 12th, 1825, Marie Delphine Macarty married for a third time, to Dr. Leonard Louis Lalaurie, a prominent dentist in New Orleans, and quite possibly one of the only dentists in New Orleans. Because there were no schools of medicine in New Orleans, prior to the 1830's, Dr. Lalaurie's knowledge of the profession was most likely considered top notch, although to what extent of knowledge Dr. Lalaurie had of the profession, is still at best, controversial. In 1832, Dr. Lalaurie and his wife Delphine purchased the house at 1140 Rue Royale from another prominent member of New Orleans society, Edmond Soniet du Fossat who reportedly had the house constructed for the Lalaurie's.
Immediately Delphine Lalaurie began decorating the home with elaborate furnishings. Costly furniture, elaborate paintings by well known artists of the day amongst other fine appointments. Soon thereafter, weekly parties were held at the Lalaurie Mansion, where the most prominent citizens of New Orleans would attend, including a judge, Judge Caponage, a very dear friend of the Lalauries.
But rumours soon spread around town that Mme.Lalaurie treated her servants viciously, after several neighbors saw her cowhiding a young servant girl in the mansion's courtyard. The young girl had been attending to Mme. Lalaurie in the upstairs bedroom, brushing her hair. Reportedly, the young servant girl was not Mme. Lalaurie's usual, but the regular attendant of Delphine had "fallen ill." While brushing the hair of Mme. Lalaurie, the young servant girl hit a snag in Delphine's hair, causing Madame to become hot with rage, and even moreso after the slave girl ran away from Delphine, rather than be subjected to her punishments. By several accounts, the young girl ran down stairs with Mme. Lalaurie hot on her heels, probably with her whip in hand. Down the stairs, into the courtyard, and back up the stairs the young girl ran, Delphine by this time surely infuriated. Out onto the belvedere and up to the roof the young servant girl ran, Delphine still in close pursuit, following the young girl up to the roof, where she cornered the servant. Rather than face the wrath of Mme. Lalaurie, the slave girl jumped from the roof, landing lifelessly into the courtyard below. She was quickly brought into the Lalaurie Mansion, but not before being observed by neighbors, who would file a complaint. The neighbors would later assert that the young girl was carried into the courtyard late that night, and buried inside the well.
The situation was handled by Judge Caponage, a friend of the Lalaurie's, who by this time, was demanded upon to take action, after having to visit the house on a previous occasion concerning the welfare of the Lalaurie servants. The Lalaurie's slaves were taken away, and the Lalaurie's fined a mere $300, which was probably a large sum of money in those days, but not for the more prominent members of New Orleans society. To the dismay of Delphine's servants that were taken away, Madame coaxed several of her relatives to buy them back for her, wherein she purchased them back from the relatives, and from that point on, the house remained relatively quiet. At least until April 11th, 1834.
On April 11th, 1834 the Lalaurie's cook, tired of the cruel and unjust punishment inflicted upon herself and other servants, presumably by Mme. Lalaurie, alledgedly set fire to the kitchen in hopes of being rescued or at least, shedding light on the Lalaurie Mansion's little shop of horrors. The cook herself was chained in the kitchen, and had been told by other servants that Mme. Lalaurie had taken her grandson up to "the attic", a place in the Lalaurie Mansion feared by all servants. They knew once a servant was brought to the attic, they would never been seen again. Outside, neighbors and fellow New Orleanians noticed that the mansion was on fire, and stopped to help the Lalaurie's rescue their valuables from the burning home. Many neighbors became suspicious and asked each other "Why aren't the slaves helping to rescue Madame's precious belongings?" , as one of them suggested that they were all locked up in the attic. When the question was proposed to Delphine Lalaurie on the whereabouts of her servants, she merely stated that they were safe, and not to worry about them, but to continue to help her with her valuables.
One of the neighbors, doubting Mme. Lalaurie asked her for the keys to the attic, which was met with an answer of refusal. The brave neighbor volunteered to enter the home, and several other volunteers, including firefighters and onlookers rushed into the home, rushing up the stairs and breaking down the attic door. The sight, reported the next day by the New Orleans Bee (the city newspaper at the time) was appalling, to say the least. The smell of death as the volunteers entered the attic made many of them sick, if not the sight of the tortured servants chained to the floor. Accounts were given of servants doused in honey, and then covered with ants that were brought out of the home. Another servant found alive in the attic, reportedly had a hole drilled into his head, with a stick inserted into it, to "stir his brains." Horrid medical experiments were brought to light as the volunteers rescued the servants from the house, and took them to the nearby Cabildo building, to look after them. Other atrocities reported by the New Orleans Bee the next day won't be mentioned here because of their graphic, descriptive content. It didn't take long for news to spread about New Orleans of the atrocities committed by Mme. Lalaurie to her servants. The next morning, a mob gathered outside of the Lalaurie Mansion, demanding justice of the Lalaurie's, but not before Delphine escaped by horse and carriage to Bayou St. John, where it is said she paid the captain of a schooner to carry her across to Mandeville, Louisiana.
It is rumoured that she stayed in the area for at least ten days afterwards. Only a vague and hypothetical account is given of Dr. Louis Lalaurie and Delphine's two daughters. It is guessed that they met Delphine several days later on the Northshore, in or around Mandeville or Covington, Louisiana. From this point, no one really knows for sure what happened to Delphine Lalaurie or her family. There seems to be no public record or mention of them after they escaped to the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain, except maybe one account of Louis Lalaurie being mentioned in a census report in the 1850's somewhere along the gulf coast of Mississippi. Some speculate that Delphine fled to Mobile, Alabama, or New York, and from there sailed to France where she lived out the rest of her short life.
Several different accounts of her death are given. One report says she was killed by a wild boar, in a hunting accident in France, while another, a story ran in The Daily Picayune in March, 1892, insists she died amongst friends and family in Paris. Other accounts say that Delphine Lalaurie never left Louisiana, and dwelled on the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain for the remainder of her days. The truth may never be known. Most people do concur that Delphine Lalaurie died on December 7th, 1842, and her body secretly returned to New Orleans. In the early 1900's, Eugene Backes who served as sexton to St. Louis Cemetery #1 until 1924, discovered an old cracked, copper plate, worn by time in Alley 4 of St. Louis cemetery. The inscription on the plate read: "Madame Lalaurie, nee Marie Delphine Maccarthy, decedee a Paris, le' 7 decembre, 1842, a l'age de 6 --. "
The Lalaurie Mansion after April 11th, 1834 remained charred and vacated for some 40 years, with only the walls left to describe that it was once a home. In 1837, an agent for the Lalaurie's sold the home, and from that time on up until 1865, the house is slowly rebuilt, but no one stays very long. Stories of unusual noises,lights flickering on and off in the house and unexplained anomalies spread throughout the city. The first owner to inhabit the mansion, after the Lalauries escape from the city, stays only three months. For a few months, the mansion becomes a barber shop, but again, only lasts for a few months. In 1865 during Reconstruction, the house becomes a desegregated girls high school until 1878 when again, the New Orleans school system implements segregation. The school is now segregated, and lasts only for one year. It then becomes a conservatory for music and dance that lasts only for a short time.
It is then passed on to Joseph Edouard Vigne, an eccentric member of an upper class New Orleans family, but Vigne himself is thought to be poor. In 1892 a black crepe is seen hanging from the mansion's door, and local townspeople go in to investigate, finding Vigne dead in the attic, and more than $10,000 in cash and family heirlooms stashed all over the home. The contents of the house are soon auctioned off. By 1920, the mansion has been renovated, and becomes apartments, and there are many reports of ghosts. A man wakes up in the middle of the night, being choked by what he describes as a servant dressed in clothes not appropriate to the current times, only to be rescued by another servant wearing clothes similar to the assailant, wrestling each other into darkness. Others claim to see Mme. Lalaurie herself in the house, as well as servants in chains, wandering around aimlessly upstairs.
The mansion is sold a few more times, to William Warrington, where it becomes the Warrington Home for wayward boys until 1932, where it is sold to the Grand Consistory of Louisiana, who ten years later, sells the mansion. It then becomes a bar, and the owner, aware of the Lalaurie Mansion's haunted history, keeps a record of strange things experienced by his patrons. Later, it becomes a furniture store. After finding the furniture in his store completely demolished on several occasions, the furniture store owner decides to wait in the mansion one night to apprehend the vandals who are causing damage to his property. After a quiet night and no vandals appear, first light reveals to the furniture store owner that again, his furniture has again been destroyed. The owner quickly sells out.
The Lalaurie Mansion as of 1969, has been divided into 20 apartments, before being bought by a New Orleans physician, who in present day, has restored the mansion to its original state, leaving 5 condominiums to the rear of the mansion, and claims to have had no paranormal experiences since moving into the Lalaurie Mansion. However; reports well into the 1980's and recent photographs of "orbs" in and around the house seem to contradict this. Is the Lalaurie Mansion haunted? Perhaps only the individual belief of such things that exist inside ourselves can make that judgement. Or perhaps a visit to 1140 Rue Royal could make the discernment for us.
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