Legends from the Bayou

  • October 10, 2020
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  • Legends from the Bayou

The Cajun and Creole people of Louisiana are well-known for their folklore legends passed down from one generation to the next. From the swamps of the bayou to the civilized inner cities, mysterious stories abound. As many legends originate from true events, some unexplainable stories become that much more frightening.

The Rougarou

In the swampy bayous of the south, the beast is known as the “rougarou” or the “loup-garou.” The legend of the wolf-man like creatures began centuries ago in France. The tales arrived in the states with French immigrants and evolved over time. The swamp creature is said to stand seven to eight feet in height, is covered in wet brown and black tangled hair and has glowing red eyes along with large canine-like teeth. The original monster was thought to have been born from a mutation. Victims might suffer the same fate if bitten by the beast or upon being cursed by a witch. Today, the rougarou is one of the most popular characters of Bayou folklore. However, as wolves are not indigenous to Louisiana, the creature is now thought to be a shapeshifter that transforms into various common animals. Regardless of the form he takes, the creature is no less dangerous. The story of the Rougarou was often told to children in an attempt to keep them from wandering or to make them behave. However, the tale prevails and many adults continue believing in the creature's existence. After Hurricane Katrina, some heard strange growling sounds during the night, which led people to believe the monster may have left the swamps and entered the city of New Orleans via the flood waters.

Madame LaLaurie

The LaLaurie family moved into the house on Royal Street in New Orleans in 1832. Delphine LaLaurie began hosting elaborate parties in her lavish mansion filled with décor and furnishings from around the world. She also spared no expense when entertaining guests. Through her exquisite taste and charm, she managed to impress the local prominent citizens of the city. However, few knew the diabolical and insane nature of the woman. She was cruel, evil and heartless and regularly punished and tortured her slaves using unimaginable measures of horror. She considered them less than human. They only served to appeal to her twisted sense of amusement. Her cook was chained to the kitchen stove by day and locked in a small room by night. She whipped a young servant to death. Most of her exploits went unnoticed until she was seen burying a young girl in the yard. The act caught the attention of a neighbor who promptly notified authorities. Delphine's servants were freed from her grasp until relatives intervened and bought the slaves back when they were sold at auctions. In 1834, the LaLaurie cook had had enough and set the kitchen on fire. The LaLauries fled the scene. The fire department arrived and extinguished the blaze. They then proceeded to investigate the smoke-filled, water-drenched home. They came across a locked room in which dozens of slaves were chained. The only furnishings were homemade tables used for horrific operations. Some of the servants were barely alive. However, many were deceased. Though new families took up residence in the stately mansion, they did not stay long. Reports of hauntings soon emerged. Occupants reported hearing crying and screams. They also witnessed grotesque apparitions of the once tortured servants. Although the hauntings eventually diminished in intensity, they still occasionally occur.

Saint Germain

The myth of the vampire continues enchanting many. Though driven by a thirst for blood, the undead have the luxury of eternal youth, physical beauty and superhuman strength. Europeans feared the creatures for centuries. However, the legend came to New Orleans in the form of Saint Germain. He was among the aristocrats who commonly appeared in the court of Louis XV. Known as Comte d' Saint Germain, he entertained all with his adventurous life stories. Germain was an alchemist who boasted of being in possession of the “elixir of life.” He told people he was more than 6,000 years old. Germain left France and moved to Germany where he reportedly died. However, he was regularly reported as being seen alive and well. In 1903, an attractive and charismatic Frenchman going by the name of Jacques Saint Germain arrived in New Orleans. He claimed to be a direct descendant of Comte Germain. He bought and lived in a stately home on the corner of Royal and Ursuline Streets. Germain being quite the ladies man was frequently seen in the company of many different women. However, on one night in December, ear-piercing screams emanated from Germain's home. The screaming woman jumped out of a second-story window in an attempt to escape. Passersby rushed to her aid. She told the people that Germain attacked and bit her. She died after being admitted to the local Charity Hospital. By the time local law enforcement officers arrived at the home, Germain was gone. Upon entering the home, officers reported that the smell of blood and death filled the residence. They found bloodstains on the wood floors and emptied wine bottles filled with blood. Since that horrific night, no one took up residence in the home. However, interestingly enough, the property remains in the possession of a private owner who pays the taxes. There does not seem to be a name or contact information affiliated with the property. Today, people whisper about occasionally seeing Saint Germain within the city. The locked door of the home keeps intruders at bay along with the proof of his possible ongoing existence. Paired with Louisiana’s beauty, cuisine and heritage, anyone with a curiosity related to the paranormal or cryptozoology should consider Louisiana an ideal destination to explore. Put Louisiana on your bucket list of must-see locations.

general , folklore

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