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History of Vampires in New Orleans

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Jan - 17:42 (2010)    Post subject: History of Vampires in New Orleans Reply with quote

Vampires and vampire-like creatures have been found in the folklore of every civilization, every culture, every religion since the beginning of recorded time. New Orleans is no exception. New Orleans was settled in the early 1700’s and it was during this time in Europe that massive vampire hunts were occurring.
It was a tradition that began in the early 1200’s in Eastern Europe and over hundreds of years spread into Western civilizations. Vampire hunters, usually church representatives, were digging up the dearly departed, driving wooden stakes through the corpses, then beheading and burning the body.
Causes of vampirism varied. For instance, one could be predisposed at birth for vampirism. Having been born at certain times of the year (New moon, Holy days), born with a red caul, with teeth, or with an extra nipple were sure signs. If the child was born with excess hair, white hair, red hair, a red birthmark, or with two hearts, the theory persisted. The 7th son of a 7th son was believed to be doomed to vampirism. If the child was weaned too early, suckled after weaning, or died prior to Baptism, vampirism was suspected upon death. If the pregnant woman received a curse or was stared at or attacked by a Vampire, the child would be cursed to vampirism. This type of predisposition
was considered a genetic defect, like a mutation, and vampirism was inevitable.
Vampirism can be obtained after birth as well. Typically, being fed upon seven or more times, without dying, would guarantee one to become a vampire. But, numerous things can happen after one’s death that can lead to vampirism: Committing suicide, practicing Sorcery or Witchcraft, eating sheep killed by a Wolf, leading an immoral life (prostitutes, murderers, alcoholics, rapists), dying without Last Rites, having a cat jump over the corpse/coffin, having a shadow fall on the corpse, no burial or improper burial rites, death by violence, or death by drowning.
There are of course ways to prevent vampirism should any of the above occur: A number of different things might be done in order to take steps to prevent that body from ever returning from the grave. Weighting the eyes down with coins, tying the mouth closed or stuffing with garlic, were common practices. As were placing coins or dirt on the eyes.
Our ancestors would cover mirrors in the house and stop the clocks in the home of the deceased.
In Louisiana, many families still practice a custom called "sitting up with the dead". When a family member died, someone within the family, or perhaps a close family friend, would stay with the body until it is placed into one of our above ground tombs or is buried. The body is never left unattended. There are many reasons given for this practice today, most commonly, respect for the dead. This tradition however, actually dates back to Vampire Folklore in eastern Europe. In doing this, you were watching for signs of paranormal activity. If a cat was ever seen to jump over, walk across, or stand on top of the coffin; if a dog was seen to bark or growl at the coffin; or if a horse shied from it, these were signs of impending vampirism and at that point you would take steps to prevent the corpse from returning from the dead.
Commonly used procedures would include burying the corpse face down, and burying at a crossroads. Often times, family members would place a sickle around the neck, tie body parts together or mutilate the body, usually by decapitation and placing the head at the bottom of feet. The most common remedy for impending vampirism was to drive a stake into the corpse, decapitate it and then burn the body to ashes. This method was the only way to truly destroy the undead.
By the 1700’s, these practices were going on all throughout western Europe, particularly in France and Germany, where many immigrants were migrating to New Orleans. Believers insist that vampires could have been smuggled over in ships with the settlers. The early French settlers brought over brides from Europe who transferred their belongings in large wooden casket-like boxes. But according to folklore, even though Vampires
prefer the night, they are not destroyed by daylight. It was common for the vampire to walk about during the day. They generally hunted and fed at night. They would not have needed to be smuggled in coffins in the hulls of ships. This idea is that of fictional writers such as Bram Stoker. More than likely, vampires would have entered the ships like anyone else and blended in well with society.
If being a murderer, rapist, or other criminal element would predispose one to vampirism, it is easy to see how they would have become so prevalent in New Orleans. The city did start out as a penal colony. All of the original settlers would have been predisposed to it! Once they blended in with the mortals, they could easily feed on the population without raising much suspicion. With people dying in great masses from diseases such as yellow fever, who’s going to notice another body here or there?
New Orleans has always had a high murder rate, not to mention, a lot of missing persons! The French Quarter has always been a very mysterious and seductive place. Many a person has mysteriously disappeared, many of whom were never known to have been here in the first place. Runaways commonly come to the French Quarter to hide out, as do people with "pasts". If no one knows you are here, how will they know if you should disappear? If you just "drifted in", people will assume you just "drifted out", as well.
Vampirism and Disease
In certain areas of rural Louisiana, some plantations had the exterior keyholes turned upside down to prevent entry of the "undead". Unhappy spirits of the dead were believed to bring disease into households. For many years, yellow fever epidemics were blamed on such "evil spirits". It is documented in our history books that early settlers in New Orleans would fire cannons into the air to repel these spirits. Plagues, as well as tuberculosis, in Europe were often blamed on vampirism. Tuberculosis patients often coughed up blood leading doctors in the Middle Ages to believe that they had been ingesting blood. Thus, came the belief that the disease was the product of a vampire bite. The word Nosferatu literally means "plague-carrier". Early cemeteries in Louisiana were often placed far from towns, many times at a cross roads, to discourage the spirits from finding their way home. Often these tactics were called "confusing the spirit".
In many cultures, Vampirism is believed to be nothing more than aberrant behavior resulting from adverse mental or physical conditions. Porphyria, a human blood disorder, is believed by many to be a condition that has resulted in many "Diagnosed" Vampires. The patient suffering from Porphyria becomes extremely sensitive to light. In addition, skin lesions may develop, and the teeth become brown or reddish-brown in color. The gums recede giving the canine teeth a "fang-like" look.
Like the diabetic who replaces insulin with injections, blood transfusions can be effective in reversing the effects of Porphyria. It is believed that in medieval Eastern Europe, nobleman may have been instructed by their physicians to drink blood to reverse the disorder. Because so many royalty had a tendency to marry within the same family, it is easy to see how recessive genetic disorders such as porphyria may have been more prevalent among the nobleman.
Vampire Lore
  The word vampire was first used in 1734: "The bodies of deceased persons animated by evil spirits, which come out of the graves at night time to suck the blood of many of the living and thereby destroy them."
     By 1862 Vampire meant a terrible BORE of a person.
     And by 1911 vampire meant "a woman who intentionally attracts and exploits men" and by 1918 (July 9) the New York  Times mentions a play called "The Vamp" starring Enid Bennett.
     Also the Verb to vamp means "to behave seductively and exploit"
    There are 2 kinds of Vampire: the spirit of a dead person or a corpse reanimated by his own or another person ( ethereal or physical)
 Becoming a Vampire:
  1.The 7th son of the 7th son
  2.A cat jumping over corpse turns the corpse into a vamp (England); in
Romania the same but the cure (antidote) is to put  a piece of iron into the corpse's hand or place Hawthorn in the coffin
 3.A baby born with teeth or a caul or stillborn
  4.A dead body that has been reflected in a mirror
  5.Someone bitten by a vamp
  7.People who die suddenly & violently
  8.Those who do not receive proper burial
  9.People who have eaten he meat of a sheep that has been killed by a wolf
  10.Having red hair
 11.By renouncing the Eastern Orthodox religion (which is why the peasantsmay have thought Vlad was a vampire)
 12.By being excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox church
 13.Wild dogs jumping over a corpse
 The art of Fooling and Controlling Vampires (and the dead in general)
These are methods of turning away evil:
  1.Take the most tortuous route home from the cemetery in order discourage ghosts from following you
  2.Wear unfamiliar clothing (disguise)
  3.Wear grotesque makeup (disguise)
  4.Impaling the corpse or breaking its legs and severing its head (so it can't see and can't run ... that ought to do it!). A severed head was sometimes placed underneath the buttocks to prevent the corpse from putting its head back on
  5.Pelt the corpse with pebbles as it's being lowered into the grave
  6.Spread Poppy seeds on the path from the graveyard ... vampires MUST stop and pick up every one and if you spread enough of them, by the time they have picked them up it's dawn and time to go back to bed (the graveyard)
  7.To detect them ... take a young virginal boy or girl and put them on a horse of a SOLID colour  and the horse must also be virgin and never have stumbled. Ifthe horse refuses to pass over a grave then you  know a vampire lies there
  8.The wooden stake of impalement HAS TO BE made of rosebush, ash or anasp tree. Sometimes a red hot iron will do.
  9.All vampires have to be buried face down after they have been killed
 10.In Romania, young women seeking to avoid giving birth to a vampire should eat salt (for its purifying powers)
 11.Crossing the arms of a corpse
 12.Burying the corpse with a sickle around its neck so if it sat up it would decapitate itself
 13.Putting a thorn under the tongue to prevent it from sucking blood
 14.Inserting a needle into the navel
 15.Placing the heart on the head
 16.Cutting off the feet
 17.Cutting the knee ligaments (very common)
 18.Staking can be accompanied by driving a sacred nail into the head
  Rome interpreted corporeal incorruptibility as a reward for sanctity Dhampirs are sons of vampires in Yugoslavia & the Balkans who (for a fee) would chase down their alleged vampire fathers and kill them for local villagers
Black is the European colour or mourning but it is white in China and yellow in ancient Egypt
Vampire bats are found ONLY in Mexico and Central and South America; usually feed on cattle but have attacked humans. Vampire bats were discovered and so named by CORTES in Mexico.
 The bat is the only mammal that can fly.
  Many Vampires prey (at least at first) on family & loved ones usually violating a taboo
Polish & Russian vamps are out from noon to midnight and in Russia a vamp is the child of a witch and a werewolf
In Greece Vampires have blues eyes; in Poland they have sharp, pointed tongues
Vampires are said to have hairy palms (just as Wer-wolves)
 Tradition says that GARLIC sprang up where Satan placed his left foot as he departed from Paradise after the temptation and the Fall
Coffins were thought to be used originally to keep animals from digging up corpses
 The big vampire mania in Europe is from 1723-1735
  Necrophiliacs were thought to be vampires
  Aristocrat's disease (teeth & gum disease & photosensitivity as well as hair and nails glowing fluorescently) is called  Porphyria
  Necrophagism (eating corpses)
Necrosadism (mutilation of corpses to induce sexual excitement)
 Why Garlic? In Medieval times doctors thought that plague was caused by bad air (corruption of the air) hence "to fight fire with fire" as it were, garlic was used to fight disease -- along with other strong smelling things like incense, perfume,cow dung, human faeces and Juniper
A Vampire By Any Other Name
  Africa: The Loango and in Ashantiland the Asanbosam
Assyria: Ekimmu (EKIMINU) a malignant spirit (half ghost half vampire) haunts its victims and sometimes attacks them; caused by no proper burial
Babylonia: Lilitu (in Hebrew Lilith or Adam's first wife in Talmudic lore); she becomes a succubus attacked infants and children and bringing erotic dreams to men. The Talmud itslef does not mention preying on children; that was added later.
 Brazil: The Jaracaca which attacks only young mothers with babies
 Bulgaria: The Obour has only 1 nostril and a pointed tongue
  China: The P'O which has greenish white hair, claws cruel eyes. Caused by a cat jumping over a corpse. Vampires take possession of a human body but unlike European ones, Chinese vampires have never been human at any time; they are called Ch'Iang Shih (sometimes Ch'Iing Shuh)
 Crete: Vampires are called Katalkanas
 Denmark: Mara is a female vampire
 Greece: Vrukalakos and anyone with red hair is suspect; also a Lamia which has the head & breast of female & the body of serpent. It has the same function as Lilith. Some sources say in Greece Lamia is not a vampire but a ghoul is a Empusa.
  The Roman version of Lamia is Strix (the plural is Strigae) and in Italian it's Strega (which now means "witch").
 Germany: The Alp which sucks blood and the nipples of victims.  There is also the Mara or Mora which is a succubus who straddles sleeping men causing horrible nightmares
     Hungary: Pamgri or Vampir
     Ireland: The Druids spoke of Dearg-Duls
     India: The Baitol which is a vampire but it possesses corpses
     Malaysia: The Langsuitis a woman who wears a gown, has long nails and long jet black hair to her ankles and she has a hole the back of her neck which she uses to suck the blood from children. To cure her, stuff the hole with as much hair as it will hold and cut her nails.
Portugal: The Bruxsa is actually a cucubuth (a critter that is both a Wer-Wolf and a Vampire) that attacks travellers & their own (the Bruxsa's own) children
 Romania: The Nosferat is a stillborn illegitimate child of two people who are similarly illegitimate. It can shape change (any variety of animals and can be male or female).
Scotland: Baobham are groups of beautiful girls who drain blood from victims
  Vampire Epedemics:
     For 400 years after Vlad the story of Vlad was a "best seller" in print especially in the German language but Dracula stories also abounded in Hungarian, Romanian Greek and Turkish Eastern Europe was aflame with a vampire scare at the beginning of the  18th century: Chios (1708); Belgrade (1725 and 1732); Serbia (1825); Hungary (1832); Danzig (1855) The early vampire craze kicked off with The Story of Peter Pogojowitz in 1725; he was just a peasant who died and was thought to be a vampire so they had to exhume the body
     In France in 1746, Dom Agustin Calmet published a treatise on ghosts and vampires (he was a Benedictine Monk) Gilles de Rais (aka de Retz): He was a French national hero fighting with Joan Of Arc. After the death of Joan and the crowing of the Dauphin, he went weird and tortured children (mainly boys ... 200 of them). He would order  his servants to stab them in the jugular vein so their blood would shoot all over him and whilst they bled to death he'd masturbate over them. He was accused of sitting on he bowels of a boy and drinking his blood while the boy lay bleeding to  death and accused of sodomy. Brought to trial in 1440 and written about in Joris Karl Huysmans' novel La-Bas (1891)
Vlad the Impaler:
  Vlad's father is Vlad Dracul (Vlad the devil) and was made a member of The Order Of the Dragon in Nuremburg in February 1431. Membership in the order meant an oath to fight the  Turks (forever) and yet the whole Dracula family flirted with the Turks as well as killing them. Vlad father killed December 1447 by henchmen of John Hunyadi .. a lose  relative NOT prone to flirting with the Turks
  Prince Vlad Tepes the 5th of Wallachia (1431-1476 ... age 46 he was beheaded) born in the Translyvanian town of  Sighisoara, otherwise known as Schassburg
  Nickname Vlad; other name "Voevod" or warlord or warrior prince (as opposed to a prince who rules by inherited right)
Tepes (pronounced tzae-paesh) means "spike" in Romanian; (I am grateful to Ioana Timariu for this amendment).
  Vlad signed his name "DRAKULYA" ; the city of Bistrita is starting point for anyone interested in following this story by real travel in 1453 Constantinople falls to the Turks (during Crusades) Vlad is Greek Orthodox (but also ties to Rome)
  1.Foreign Ambassadors
     When visiting ambassadors from Turkey neglected to remove their turbans in his presence[**said they could not  because it was their custom always to wear them**] he had their turbans nailed to their heads with small iron nails and sent them home that way
  2.The Nobleman with the Keen Sense of Smell
     In the Russian story a servant gags at the stench of impaled bodies at an outdoor banquet Dracula is having. Dracula often dined amidst the dying people whose deaths he had ordered. Dracula has the complaining servant impaled a few feet above the rest so he won't smell anything
  3.Two Monks
     Two Roman Catholic monks were in Dracula's court where all kinds of people were impaled. Dracula separated the 2  monks and asked the first what he thought: the 1st monk said that Dracula had made martyrs of these people and was doing wrong. 2nd monk said they must have done something wrong and Dracula was punishing them justly. The 1st monk got impaled and the 2nd was given 50 ducats of gold and a free escort to the Hungarian border. A Greek monk was constantly belittling a poor Romanian priest over theological and other matters and belittling Romanians in general: Dracula invites both to his court (neither knows of the other. Dracula  asked the Greek monk what he thought of him; the Greek monk was a sycophant and lied and was executed. A Romanian priest is asked same questions and says some people are unhappy under Vlad's reign cause their problems have increased and others (he says) are happy. Vlad is delighted at his honesty and promotes him the court confessor
  4.Lazy Woman
   Once Dracula saw a man on the street with a dirty and ragged shirt. Dracula asked if he had a wife and the man says  yes. Dracula sees that she is healthy and has plenty of flax and call  her lazy so he has both her hands cut off and has  her body impaled {he procured a new wife for the man and showed her what happened to her lazy predecessor as a warning; the new wife was definitely not lazy}
  5.Dracula's Mistress
     Not in Russian versions. {Dracula's mistress sees Vlad is unhappy and tries to cheer him up by saying she is pregnant. He says don't lie (she is now afraid of being caught in the lie so tries to maintain she REALLY is ie how would he know. He opens her entrails to see and sees nothing and as she lies dying says see, I knew you could not be pregnant}.
  6.The Florentine Merchant
     A travelling merchant lost 160 ducats while staying at an Inn and went to Prince Dracula to explain. Dracula proclaimed that this was no way to treat a guest. He told the town either to find the thief or he'd destroy the whole town. He also demanded that the townspeople replace the ducats BUT that ONE EXTRA be returned. The Foreigner reported the extra ducat to Dracula, thereby saving himself from certain impalement for Dracula was testing his and honesty. The thief was found, and, of course, impaled. Dracula asked the Merchant to leave his gold there.
  7.The Golden Cup
    Dracula had a golden cup placed near the fountain in a deserted square of Targoviste. The cup was left there for people to drink from. NO ONE ever dared steal it.
  8.Dracula's Treasure
  Buried in iron barrels at the bottom of a river and all the artisans who made and hid the treasure were killed
  9.Burning the Sick & the Poor
     Dracula invited beggars [the sick & the poor] to dinner and then locked the room from then outside and set in on fire claiming that he was "eliminating inferior stock." In another version he came in to talk to them while they were eating and asked if they wanted to be without any more cares in the world, by which they assumed he intended to give them gifts. The beggars were apparently lazy and openly said so and Dracula thought that because they lived off the sweat of others they were thieves... he invited all beggars in the land to free clothes and free food .. they got drunk and died  in the fire.
    Unfaithful wives and promiscuous women were punished by Dracule by cutting off their sex organs, skinning them alive  and exposing them in public with their skin hanging from a nearby pole
Dracule is famous also for cutting off limbs, strangling, blinding, boiling and burning his victims Dracule learned impaling from the Turks (he was captured by them in1442 and led in chains to Adrianople where he was eventually released). Dracula's imprisonment by the Turks happened  when he was no more than 15 years old and  included physical and moral abuse. He had to swear an oath never to attack the Turks.
     Most impalings done only between 1459 and 1461.  In a battle in 1456 he impaled 20,000 Turks at once witnessed by Mohammed II outside Targoviste (Vlad's capital).  Impalements were spread out over 2 square miles.  Dracule was a (sort of) hero in Romania because he made the streets so "safe" that you could leave a purse in the  middle of the road and no one would pick it up.
  Elizabeth of Bathory
  Was born 1560 (Hungarian) married to Count Ferencz Nadasdy (who was always away at war) on May 8, 1575. Some say her mother was a lesbian; some say Elizabeth was too. Elizabeth murdered over 650 girls for her "beauty baths" which she"discovered" after she struck a servant one day and the servant's blood dropped on her hand. She felt that human blood seemed to make her skin soft and supple
  Her manservant, Thurko, (sometimes written Thorko) introduced her to witchcraft. She had no children for the first 10 years of her marriage but then had 3 boys and 1 girl
Castle Csejthe (her home in the Northwest of Hungary) gets turned into a torture chamber. Young girls were lured to the castle on pretence of $$$ and employment ("service") by accomplices (two "witches," Dorottya Szentes & Darvula)
     One day a servant girl who was combing her hair accidentally pulled her hair and when Elizabeth slapped her some blood spurted on to her hand which she subsequently became convinced that the skin became more supple and smooth
Countess also used an iron maiden for extracting blood.One of her victims escaped and went to King Mathias II of Hungary who commissioned an inquiry. Her castle is raided on Dec 30, 1610.  All were brought to trial in January/February 1611 in Bitcse.  After the trial all her accomplices (including nurse Iilona Joo) were tortured, beheaded & then cremated (some accounts also say burned alive)
     Iilona Joo and Dorottya Szentes also had their fingers torn out individually and were then burned alive.  Johanes Vjvary testified that 37 girls were tortured and killed and Ilona Joo said 40 were tortured and killed. Because of her eminence she was imprisoned (rather than executed) and sealed in a room by a stone mason in her castle. Food was slipped through a tiny slot. She died 3 years later.  The Bathories were tied to Vlad's family (one Steven Bathory had helped Vlad out in some battles)
      Sergeant Francois Berterand
  Was known as the vampire and was a soldier with a taste for graveyards and their inhabitants. He was caught in in the act  in 1849 and spent 1 year in prison for lycanthropy and necrophilia.

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