The LaLaurie Mansion is widely considered among the most haunted buildings in New Orleans. Located at 1140 Royal Street in the French Quarter, the home was originally occupied by physician Louis LaLaurie and his wife Delphine.
In 1832 rumors of Madame LaLaurie's cruel treatment of enslaved workers began to circulate. Stories that she had chained a cook to the fireplace, chased a young woman off the roof, and performed perverse experiments on living persons were featured in tabloids like the New Orleans Bee.
When a terrible fire broke out at the mansion in April of 1834, seven mutilated enslaved persons were reportedly found shackled in the attic. Their bodies revealed years of torture ranging from skull fractures to whipping scars and gouged eyes. The discovery enraged local citizens who chased Madame LaLaurie from the residence and from New Orleans.
Although Delphine never returned to the mansion, the spirits of her enslaved workers have reportedly remained. Many former residents and visitors claim to experience screams of agony coming from the attic, as well as apparitions of enslaved people in the building's courtyard. Recent owner Nicolas Cage confirmed these tales and concluded that "other people have beachfront property; I have ghost front property".
Delavigne, Jeanne. Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans. (1944)
Vecsey, Laura. "New Orleans' LaLaurie House Has Gruesome Past". Forbes Magazine. (2013).
In the aftermath of President Lincoln's assassination, musicians were inspired to compose tunes expressing the nation's sadness. It is estimated that over 70 Lincoln mourning songs were produced within the first two months following his death.
One of the more popular songs written for President Lincoln was Funeral March, a piano solo composed in 1865 by Susan McFarland Parkhurst. Although it is not clear if the song was played in the presence of Lincoln's remains, Funeral March was written to imitate the solemn pace of a memorial procession. At each stop along the route of Lincoln's funeral train, military and civilian bands would perform songs composed specifically to honor "The Martyr President".
Other well known funeral marches include tunes written for Ulysses S. Grant, Napoleon, and the last scene in Shakespeare's Hamlet. The 1865 Funeral March featured above is a rare example of commemorative mourning music from the Haunted Historian archives.
Arthur Conan Doyle strongly believed ghosts could be captured on film. In his 1922 book The Case for Spirit Photography, the author presents compelling arguments for "the independent life of the spirit" and an "overwhelming mass of reliable evidence" in favor of supernormal imagery.
After visiting the Crewe Circle in September of 1919, Doyle was convinced that the paranormal group possessed "a remarkable power of producing extra faces, figures, and objects upon photographic plates". On one occasion an image featuring an ectoplasm bag was developed, and in another instance automatic writing from the group's deceased founder Archdeacon Thomas Colley appeared. When Crewe Circle were publicly accused of fraud in 1922, Doyle presented these pictures along with "a tremendous mass of accumulated evidence" as proof their work was "incompatible with any form of deception".
Despite its best efforts, the book failed to silence the notion that Crewe Circle were nothing more than "common cheats". Questions surrounding their spirit photography persist to this day as all that remains are images featured in this post from the Haunted Historian archives.
Black, James. "The Spirit Photograph Fraud". (1922)
Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Case for Spirit Photography. (1922)
Schor, Esther. Bearing the Dead: The British Culture of Mourning.
Strange, Julie-Marie. Death, Grief, and Poverty in Britain, 1870-1914.
William H. Mumler is widely recognized as the first commercial spirit photographer. With studios located at 258 Washington Street in Boston and 630 Broadway in Manhattan, the businessman offered patrons an opportunity to obtain portraits with "departed spirits recognized as that of some relative or friend".
When visitors first arrived they were seated in a Chippendale chair and told to remain still until Mumler's wife Hannah, a clairvoyant medium, had summoned the spirits. Although it often took several attempts before a ghost image appeared, customers always left "fully satisfied that the pictures were what they claimed to be--real photographs of real spirits".
The above images from the Haunted Historian archives provide a rare look inside Mumler's studio.
Fink II, Richard. The Commercialization of the Afterlife. (2010)
Kaplan, Louis. The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer. (2008)
A panel of ghost tourism experts recently convened at the National Recreation & Park Association's Annual Conference. Richard Fink II, CEO & Founder of Haunted Historian, was joined by Mark Nesbitt (Founder, Ghosts of Gettysburg) and Tim Nealon (CEO & Founder, Ghost City Tours) to discuss how ghost stories engage people with public spaces.
Over 90 park and recreation professionals attended Boo! Ghosts as a Tool for Public Engagement . The session was held on September 26, 2017 at the New Orleans Convention Center. Audio from the discussion is included below:
Fink II, Richard, Mark Nesbitt and Tim Nealon. "Boo! Ghosts as a Tool for Public Engagement". National Recreation & Park Association Annual Conference. New Orleans. (September 26, 2017).
Embalming fluid is essential to the afterlife. Not only does the use of chemicals preserve a corpse for the mourning process, but many believe it keeps the body in-tact after leaving the physical world.
Egyptians began experimenting with Natron as a preservative over 3500 years ago. The mixture would dehydrate and stiffen cadavers during mummification, and helped prepare the body for "its new role as an eternal image of the deceased". Egyptians who ignored embalming customs jeopardized "hope for life in the next world".
The American Civil War advanced embalming practices as it became necessary to preserve corpses for long travel from the battlefield to home. Dr. Thomas Holmes, known as the "Father of American Embalming," invented a mercury solution which was infused into arterial cavities to stall decomposition. The product worked with such success that Abraham Lincoln eventually sanctioned the entire Union Army to receive arterial treatment upon death. Just a few years later, the President's body was preserved with the same solution.
Today an estimated 5.3 million gallons of embalming fluid are used in the United States every year. The images featured in this post are unique examples of chemical preservation methods from the Haunted Historian archives.
Taylor, John. Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. (2001)
Wilkins, Robert. Death: A History of Man's Obsessions and Fears. (1996)
When ghosts first appeared on theater stages in the 1790s, many wondered if it was all 'smoke and mirrors'. Phantasmagoria showman manipulated magic lantern projection to "cheat the eye of man and make him believe he sees spirits of the dead".
Physicist Étienne-Gaspard Robert was among the first to host theatrical ghost shows and held performances from an abandoned crypt in Paris. Using a mobile magic lantern called the fantascope, horrific images were reflected through a concave mirror and onto clouds of smoke to produce life-like effects. At the beginning of each show Robertson promised to conjure "every species of phantom as they appeared throughout history". By the end of the illusion, spectators were left "raising their hands out of fear of ghosts dashing towards them".
Phantasmagoria shows were so authentic that newspapers questioned whether magic lantern operators had "burned drugs in the smoke-filled séance room to befuddle those present". The images featured in this post from the Haunted Historian archives demonstrate that ghost shows were not a result of magic, but rather strategic use of optical instruments.
Davies, Owen. The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts. (2007)
Evans, Henry Ridgely. The Old and the New Magic. (1906)
Minneapolis City Hall is among the most haunted locations in Minnesota. Constructed from 1889 to 1906, the building is reportedly inhabited by the spirit of deceased convict Josh Moshik.
Convicted of murder and sentenced to death in City Hall's 5th floor gallows, Moshik gained notoriety as the first person executed under influence of hypnotism. Local doctors believed that "hypnotic suggestion might take the place of medical stimulants" by stiffening muscles and preventing "the [noose] from wrenching apart the spinal column".
Unfortunately for Moshik the hanging was botched and took several agonizing minutes to complete. He would go on to become "the last man hanged in Minnesota" and has reportedly remained at City Hall in the afterlife. Visitors to the building have witnessed a disheveled spirit roaming the 5th floor and inmates have described ice cold breezes near the former gallows. Although these reports are yet to be verified by scientific fact, one has to wonder if the strange occurrences are Moshik exacting revenge on City officials?
Morris, Jeff. Twin Cities Haunted Handbook. (2012)
"New Test of Hypnotism," Kansas City Journal. (1898)