The Origin of Vampires in New Orleans

Curiosity seekers and vampire enthusiast will find rich mythology and history about the casket girls on the Witches Brew ghost and vampire tour in New Orleans. These haunted tour stories date back to the French colony settlement in New Orleans. In 1718, John Law, a Scotsman decided to name the French colony La Nouvelle Orleans. Shortly after that in 1728, King Louis XIV sent chaste women in the care of an Ursuline priest who was instructed to marry the women to the settlers as hurriedly as possible in an attempt to stop the French colonist from pursuing American Indian mistresses.

 
A casquette girl, known initially as a fille à la cassette, and historically called casket girls got their name because they carried coffin-shaped cartridges, small hope chests, that held their belongings. Legend has it that the town’s people thought the cassettes looked like coffins and thus they spawned the long-lived story of pale, gaunt vampire girls who had arrived in the new world. It was believed that the girls were the origin of vampires being introduced to the colony, La Nouvelle Orleans.

 
Vampire legends date back to the 1200’s from tales rooted in Eastern European superstition where gypsies told stories of horrid, undead creatures that returned from the dead to visit their still living families. New Orleans’ legends reveal that the casket girls smuggled vampires over from Europe in their caskets and that the original coffins are currently stored in the attic at The Old Ursuline Convent. Completed in 1752-53, The Old Ursuline Convent is the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. You can visit the convent on the Witches Brew ghost and vampire tour in New Orleans.

 
Guides from the Museum at The Old Ursuline Convent discredit the myths explaining that the girls endured a long and arduous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and that is why the women were gaunt and pale. Furthermore, if a girl had tuberculosis it could cause her to cough up blood, and perhaps that is how the vampire claim began. Whatever was correct, the result was that colonizing Vieux Carré men developed vampire rumors about the casket girls. It is said that some of the casket girls were placed in abusive marriages, while others were forced into prostitution. The remaining casket girls hastily returned to France by the decree of King, but their caskets were left behind and are kept at The Old Ursuline Convent.

 
The legend of the casket girls has endured for nearly 300 years and has been passed from historians and storytellers to this day. What is the truth in this historical accounting? Through myth and legend, the casket girl story enriches the vampire culture of the New Orleans heritage. Learn more about the casket girls and their arrival in the new world. Take a New Orleans haunted tour with Witches Brew Ghost Tours.

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