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The sadistic slave owner of the French Quarter.

Posted on July 19 2019

The woman who became infamous as the 'Cruel Mistress of the Haunted House' was born Marie Delphine Macarty. She was born on March 19, 1787, to Louis Chevalier Barthelemy de Macarty and Marie Jeanne Lerable. Delphine was a member of the large, wealthy, and politically powerful Macarty clan. Her family included military officers, planters, and merchants and had arrived relatively early during the French Colonization period. Many of her relatives owned and managed extensive real estate and slaves. As her surname indicates, her family originated in Ireland. Legend has it that the family patriarch fled Ireland to France to escape the political and religious tyranny imposed by England's monarchs. Delphine was married a total of three times to elite men and all of them died but losing her 3rd husband reportedly drove Delphine mad. Rumors spread that she was harming her slaves, and an incident in 1833 when a young slave within the household, Leia, fell to her death in the courtyard turned all eyes on Marie Delphine Macarty LaLaurie. An investigation was held by the council, an all of her slaves were set free. One by one, Delphine purchased them all back. The events within 1140 Royal Streets quieted until that fateful night in 1834. On the morning of April 10, 1834, a fire broke out at the luxurious house owned by Delphine LaLaurie. The fire not only destroyed part of the house, it also brought to light seven slaves who were starved, tortured and chained in the upper part of the building. The nearly helpless were carried to the Cabildo where they received medical treatment, food and drink. Nearly two thousand townspeople came to view the victims. Appalled by the wretched sight before them, the people began gathered at the LaLaurie Mansion in expectation that the Sheriff would arrest Delphine. However, the Sheriff never arrived. As the day went on and no action was taken, the crowd slowly transformed into a mob with only one thought on their mind: vengeance. When Madame LaLaurie managed to escape the fray, the enraged crowd attacked the now empty residence. When Madame LaLaurie managed to escape the fray, the enraged crowd attacked the now empty residence. They stripped the interior of its valuables and continued their assault by trying to dismantle the whole house by damaging the walls and the roof. By the next morning, they had nearly demolished the entire house. Details of the fire and the aftermath, as reported by eyewitnesses, emerged in the local newspapers during the following week. The account was soon picked up by national publications. Madame LaLaurie was reviled as a "monster," a "demon in the shape of a woman" and "fury itself escaped from hell." The fire was ignited in the kitchen of the grand mansion. Allegedly started on purpose by a slave woman who had been chained to a stove as punishment, the fire seemed to be an attempt at trying to call attention to the deplorable conditions that she and her fellow slaves were forced to endure. Many of the stories that are told about the LaLaurie Mansion involve slaves being found under extreme conditions after the fire was extinguished. One version begins with the conditions that the slaves were found in when authorities arrived. It was said that one of the slaves had their bones broken numerous times, and set in unnatural positions, so that when she moved, her limbs remained crooked and bent, her gait reminiscent of a crab's. Another slave was said to have had a hole drilled into his head, with a wooden spoon sticking out--An obvious attempt to stir the brains of this poor soul. Yet another person was allegedly found with the peeled back, so that the tissue and muscle was exposed to the naked eye. And yet another slave was said to have had their intestines removed from their body and wrapped around their naked waist. Others were covered with honey and black ants. The lucky ones, as the legend goes, were the ones who were found dead, their torture finally at an end. 

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