The Haunting History of The LaLaurie Mansion Part 1: The Early Life of Delphine LaLaurie

The LaLaurie Mansion 1906

When it comes to the most haunted locations within the United States, many cities automatically pop into peoples’ minds. One of the most well-known, infamous locations would be the big easy itself, New Orleans, Louisiana. Besides Mardi Gras, Beignets, and French architecture, New Orleans is known for its rich history. For a city with such a vibrant cultural heritage, any place with that much antiquity is bound to have darker stories from its past. A community that is not only on the map for its food and partying, but also for it’s voodoo and ghost stories; New Orleans is considered such a swinging good time that many decide to stay long after their life in the mortal world has ended. I could write countless articles about different locations throughout New Orleans, and over time I hope to do so, but for today we are starting a mini Halloween series that only focuses on one: The LaLaurie Mansion.

Now this name may sound familiar to some and completely random to others. Maybe you’ve heard of the notorious Delphine LaLaurie from a history class, or maybe you watched Season 3 of American Horror Story where pieces of her gruesome tale are brought to life. Whether you recognize her name or not, once you finish this article, it’ll become a name you never forget.

Delphine LaLaurie was born Marie Delphine Macarty on March 19th, 1787 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Delphine grew up in a rather prominent family within the New Orleans’ community, with family members in high-standing roles in society. That being said, the concept of slavery was something she was very accustom to from a very young age. She was also very accustom to the anxiety and possibility of slave rebellions. This was in part due to the Haitian Revolution happening in 1791 when she was just around four years of age, but also by the fact that her uncle was murdered by his slaves prior to Delphine’s birth. This underlying state of fear and uncertainty that many slave owners lived in caused many to treat their slaves in a much crueler manner. I believe (in my own completely unprofessional and unqualified opinion) that this may have contributed to her mindset later in life.

This is where I am going to slightly skim a few major events in Delphine’s life. Basically she had three husbands throughout the course of her lifetime. The first being Don Ramón de Lopez y Angulo who died around 1804 days before Delphine would give birth to their only child together. The second being Jean Blanque who had four more children with Delphine only to pass away in 1816. And the last being (you may have guessed the last name) Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie. Now at this point in time, Delphine had acquired a sum of money from her previous two marriages and from a financial standpoint did not truly have much need for her third husband. After their marriage in 1825, the newly named Mrs. LaLaurie used her money to build the famous mansion on 1140 Royal Street that many know today. The grand two-story estate was gorgeous on the outside, but soon many would discover just what gruesomeness resided within the mansions walls.

This is when the events of the 1830s not only took place, but slowly came to light. It is also important to note that in the early 1830s, LaLaurie, with the help of her children and the claims of poor treatment (you’ll see why this is very ironic soon) divorced Leonard in either 1832 or 1834. This isn’t extremely pertinent to the story but some do feel this is what may have also led Delphine towards insanity and caused her heightened cruelty towards her slaves. It is also said by some sources that until meeting Leonard and being influenced by his cruel nature, she treated slaves more respectfully.

The more important thing to note would be other members of the community and their views on LaLaurie and her household. When Delphine built the house she made sure a separate slaves quarters was constructed. As touched upon above, many within the New Orleans society noted that Delphine always seemed courteous towards her own slaves in public as well as to other slaves within the community. Others, though, soon got a glimpse of just what a true monster LaLaurie was.

Tune back in tomorrow for the next piece of The LaLaurie Mansion’s Haunting History

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