Can’t Keep a Good Person Down in New Orleans

by M-Gillies

In July 1995, author Anne Rice staged her own funeral here. She hired a horse-drawn hearse and a brass band to play dirges, and wore an antique wedding dress as she laid down in a coffin. (It wasn't pure frivolity, the event coincided with the release of one of Rice's novels.)

With a rich history built around fact and folklore, the cemeteries of New Orleans have been heavily praised for their gothic romanticism and their eerie ambiance. As inspiration to film producers and authors of the macabre, the St. Louis Cemetery and the Lafayette Cemetery have seen their necropolis prominently portrayed as the background settings for the works of Anne Rice and her Vampire Chronicles. However, it isn’t just the gothic beauty of the cemetery that has captivated the interests of many tourists, writers and filmmakers, but also the folkloric legends surrounding the history of New Orleans gothic lore.

Known for its swamps and bogs, the city of New Orleans developed a problem with the interment of its dead years ago when early settlers ran into difficulties from the easily saturated graves they dug.

Sitting well below sea level, residents of New Orleans resorted to burying their dead in shallow graves when they discovered that after digging a few feet into the ground the graves would fill with water, literally leaving the caskets floating in a watery grave.

In an attempt to weigh the caskets down, settlers would place large stones on the casket or even drill holes into the sides. However, after dark stormy nights with heavy rainstorms, the rising water table would pop the caskets out from the ground, leaving residents unsettled by the sights of dead bodies floating by their homes.

After a series of epidemics, often blamed on the noxious fumes emitting from the corpses and two great fires, the cemeteries of St. Louis and Lafayette have become known as the final resting place of pirates, politicians and voodoo queens, with the tombs often adorned with flowers, votive candles and Hoodoo money (coins left for favors).

Nevertheless, it is the cemeteries of New Orleans that have attracted the attention of many tourists for its above ground burial crypts clustered tightly together and its twisted labyrinth of a path that has lead people to believe the cemetery to be a haunted attraction.

Read more:

Saint Louis Cemetery Number One Haunted New Orleans Tours | Haunted New Orleans Tours

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