Madame LaLaurie, born Marie Delphine Macarty, was a wealthy socialite and slave owner with a body count that was rumored to be close to 100. According to some accounts, she owned as many as 50 slaves. She got the name Lalurie from her thrid marriage, after her husband’s name Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie.
Many people believe that Delphie’s vicious instincts rose after she married her third husband. Whatever the reason, she was known to publicly flog her slaves for even the most insignificant perceived slights. Even given the abhorrent standards of behavior toward slaves in her time and place, this was considered extreme, and her actions landed her in jail for cruelty in 1828, 1829, and 1832.
Some historians believe her worst actions were exaggerated as her tale became a legend, but even current news reports from the area paint a terrifying picture.
Who was Madame LaLaurine?
Madame LaLaurine was born Marie Delphine Macarty to a privileged family in New Orleans. She was born on March 19, 1787, to Louis Chevalier Barthelemy de Macarty and Marie Jeanne Lerable.She was barely fourteen when she married for the first time, and by the age of 19, she had given birth to her first child and had lost her husband.
In June 1808, Lalaurine married Jean Blanque Jean purchased a land with a residence at 409 Royal Street after their marriage. Lorraine gave birth to four more children during her marriage to Blanque: Marie Louise Pauline, Louise Marie Laure, Marie Louise Jeanne, and Jeanne Pierre Paulin Blanque. Unfortunately, tragedy struck again in 1816, and Blanque died.
But it was Delphine’s third and final marriage in 1825 that sparked the greatest dispute. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie was a French transplant. He was a doctor, however today he may be classified as a chiropractor. Their meeting was not purely coincidental. Delphine’s daughter from her second marriage suffered various malformations along her spine and became unwell as a result. Louis LaLaurie, who was hired to cure the girl, employed a variety of medical equipment that appeared to be highly cruel.
Delphine’s daughter did not recover, but Delphine was smitten with the doctor, despite the fact that she was about twenty years her senior. According to letters, LaLaurie left New Orleans for France and was convinced to return by his brother.
Delphine purchased 1140 Royal Street in 1831, where she would dwell with spouse LaLaurie and two of her children. The marriage, however, was not a happy one. Neighbors noticed the couple quarrel loudly, so it came as no surprise when Louis LaLaurie packed his belongings and left somewhere in the early months of 1834.
Delphine was said to have gone insane after the death of her husband. Rumors circulated that she was torturing her slaves, and an incident in 1833 in which a young girl within the home, Leia, died in the courtyard focused all attention on Marie Delphine Macarty LaLaurie. Following an investigation by the council, all of her slaves were freed. Delphine repurchased them all one by one. Until that fatal night in 1834, the activities at 1140 Royal Streets were peaceful.
Madame LaLaurie has a special place in the mythology of the South, and particularly of New Orleans. If there was ever a haunted house, it was her mansion, a collection of rooms used for grotesquely harming and ending slaves’ lives in the most violent ways possible.
A Fire broke out in Madame LaLaurie’s house
A fire broke out in 1834 at Madame LaLaurie’s mansion. Neighbors rushed out to help, offering to pour water on the flames and assist the family in evacuating. When they arrived, however, they noticed that Madame LaLaurie, the woman of the house, appeared to be alone.
A mansion without slaves seemed strange, and a group of locals decided to search LaLaurie Mansion. First, a group of locals discovered the slaves in the attic. Second, they had clearly been tortured.
LaLaurie broke a woman’s bones, so she could fit into a small cage.
Many of LaLaurie’s slaves were horribly mutilated, with bones that had been broken and reset numerous times. When the attic was finally opened, it was discovered that one woman was missing her arms and legs.
Another woman’s bones had been twisted and broken in order to fit her inside a tiny metal dog cage. Both women were still alive at the time of the discovery.
She stuffed animal waste into one woman’s mouth and sewn shut it
One of the most heinous forms of torment that LaLaurie inflicted on her slaves suggests that she may not have acted alone. Rescuers discovered one woman with animal waste confined in her mouth after breaking into Madame’s attic to save slaves. Her lips had been sewn shut.
LaLaurie would cut women’s intestine and wrap them around their bodies.
It’s unclear whether LaLaurie’s heinous treatment of slaves worsened over time, but one of the most heinous acts LaLaurie allegedly committed was chaining women up, cutting their stomachs open, and then wrapping their intestines around their waists.
According to legend, she would then hang and rot their bodies.
She once chained her personal chef to the stove
LaLaurie chained her 70-year-old personal chef, who prepared all of her meals. Either because she couldn’t trust the woman not to flee or because she got sick satisfaction from being in complete control.
Ironically, this would be LaLaurie’s undoing. Rather than spending the rest of her life chained to an oven, the emaciated cook set fire to LaLaurie’s mansion, drawing attention to Madame’s brutal treatment of her slaves in front of the entire city of New Orleans.
One of the slave chose suicide instead of LaLaurie’s punishment
LaLaurie was so terrifying that many of her slaves chose to commit suicide rather than face her punishments. According to one story, Lia, a 12-year-old slave girl, accidentally snagged LaLaurie’s hair while brushing it.
LaLaurie chased Lia down with a whip, and the girl chose to jump off the roof rather than face whatever horrific torment awaited her. LaLaurie had the girl’s body buried in a well, and the discovery of her remains contributed to LaLaurie’s downfall in New Orleans.
She didn’t even spare her own daughters
According to some accounts, Madame LaLaurie even beat her own daughters. LaLaurie punished her daughters for attempting to feed the emaciated slaves, who appeared “haggard and wretched.”
However, LaLaurie projected a positive public image, and it was difficult for locals to confirm that she was anything other than “charming” and “hospitable.”
She was never punished for her horrible acts
Despite the fact that one of her slaves set fire to her mansion and the people of New Orleans rioted over her belongings, Madame LaLaurie escaped punishment. Nobody knows what she did with the rest of her life.
Most people believe LaLaurie fled to Alabama before travelling to Paris, where she spent the rest of her life in freedom.
Madame LaLaurie’s house has been played by misfortune ever since
A mob ransacked LaLaurie’s home at 1140 Royal Street after she fled, and the property remained vacant for years. Not surprisingly, there were rumours that the house was haunted, with people claiming to see and hear former slaves’ ghosts. When the house was finally reoccupied, the new owner complained about terrible shrieks and moans. He was only there for three months.
During Reconstruction, the house was converted into a girls’ high school, and later, “a conservatory of music and a fashionable dancing school.” However, according to local news reports, the school’s male teacher made inappropriate advances on the students, and the school was closed as a result.
Later, the house was the home of Jules Vigne, an eccentric, wealthy recluse who lived there secretly until his death in 1892. His body was discovered “on a tattered cot in the mansion, apparently living in filth,” according to authorities. Investigators also discovered his antique collection and other valuables hidden throughout the house. Bags of cash were discovered strewn about the house, with more treasures rumored to be hidden elsewhere.
Finally, the house was converted into a low-cost apartment building. Residents reported ghostly encounters, many of which were violent and terrifying. According to one resident, the ghost of a naked, chained slave pursued them, but then vanished into thin air. Others keep a slew of shady accounts, such as phantoms stalking children and animal sacrifices.
Residents had had enough. It was never easy to keep tenants in the mansion, and eventually, after word spread of the strange goings-on, the mansion was deserted once more. Several businesses moved in, but none lasted long. The house is now an apartment building; during renovations, the owners apparently discovered even more bodies that had been hurriedly thrown into a mass grave beneath the house.
According to the inscription on the plaque, Madame LaLaurie died in Paris on December 7, 1842. However, the mystery persists, as other records found in Paris claim she died in 1849.
Despite the plaque and the records, it was widely assumed that LaLaurie returned to New Orleans under a new name and continued her reign of terror.
Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie’s body has never been discovered.
Now that you’ve read about Madame LaLaurine, read about Linda Ann Weston Who Tortured Mentally Disable People In Her Horrifying Torture Dungeon