Today is Monday – and in honor of Halloween today’s school post is about :Louisiana History Past/ Present & Cities of the Dead
Louisiana has a very long History -and its land soft & swampy. With New Orleans being under sea level. Burials in New Orleans and other areas had to be handle different – the custom of above ground burial came about. Here’s a brief History of the custom -past & present. Lisa
For all but the indigent, above ground tombs were the rule. The reasons were obvious as the wet ground of Louisiana caused the graves to fill with water. The coffins would often float to the surface, despite grave diggers placing heavy stones or bricks on the lids. Such conditions did not appeal to those with the wealth to be buried in style.
Most of the early tombs were not fancy or decorative though. Most were simple but functional enclosures and most of the doors were bricked over once the burial had taken place. Years later, architects would design more elaborate tombs for the city’s elite, but few of those can be seen in the older graveyards.
For those who could not afford a private tomb, but dreaded the idea of the soggy earth, they had the option of a wall vault or a society tomb. The wall vaults were constructed directly into the walls surrounding the cemetery and resembled old-time baker’s ovens. Prairie Ghost)
The above ground tombs in New Orleans cemeteries are often referred to as “cities of the dead.” … Burial plots are shallow in New Orleans because the water table is very high. Dig a few feet down, and the grave becomes soggy, filling with water. The casket will literally float.
Making Plans to visit Experience New Orleans
In New Orleans you can visit the famous Marie Laveau ( Voodoo Queen)
Perhaps one of the most famous residents of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is Marie Laveau (who we read about in the last installment of the series). Her tomb is the most frequently visited site in the graveyard. The tomb looks like most others in the cluttered cemetery, until you notice the markings and crosses that have been drawn on the stone. Apart from these marks, you will also see coins, pieces of herb, beans, bones, bags, flowers, tokens and all manner of things left behind in an offering for the good luck and blessings of the Voodoo Queen.
Legend has it that Marie’s ghost sometimes walks here and one man claims to have been slapped by her spirit after making a disparaging remark at her tomb one day.
Another tale of the cemetery, and Marie Laveau, springs from the 1930’s. According to the story, a drifter with no money or prospects decided to spend the night in the cemetery one night. He scaled a tomb and slept fitfully for several hours before being awakened by a strange sound. Thinking that perhaps he would be injured by vandals, he decided to make his escape to the streets. As he rounded the corner of a row of crypts, he saw a terrible sight. Positioned in front of Marie Laveau’s tomb was a glowing, nude woman with her body entwined by a serpent. Surrounding her were the ghostly forms of men and women, dancing in mad but silent abandon. Needless to say, the drifter fled for his life.
This time of year the local cemeteries do group tours to raise money to keep the cemeteries in shape. ( But in New Orleans it goes on year long) lisa
This custom can be found all over Louisiana as people migrated to other areas of the state and brought there customs -and the wet swamp land was common in South Louisiana. These are pictures of some of our local cemeteries a mixture of hold & new.