If you’ve ever visited New Orleans, chances are, you heard the name “Storyville” at least once especially if you taken New Orleans ghost tours. It was a social experiment; a way to deal with New Orleans’ population’s vices. A set of blocks where the original Sin City could partake of all their sins. Interestingly enough, the idea was first set forth by “Reformers” – people tired of the crime happening and who sought to ban alcohol, jazz, bars and prostitution. Their real issue was not so much with the actual vices, but more with the spread of those vices into neighborhoods where families of high esteem resided. Heaven forbid one of their children should bear witness to these atrocities. Their efforts went through many avenues but, it became clear the vices were not going to go away. Essentially, they settled for the seclusion of the vices to one area of the city, specifically designated as such so those wishing to avoid immoral behavior could avoid going to that section of town.
For some time, it worked, and, all parties were happy with the setup.
Particularly Mary Deubler, also known as Josie Lobrano or Josie Arlington and Tom Anderson – the designated unofficial mayor of Storyville. During the reign of Storyville, everyone from Sarah Bernhardt to Theodore Roosevelt visited. In Anderson’s famed brothel, a photo of him shaking hands with Teddy graced the wall behind the bar.
But aside from Storyville’s secrets, the people of Storyville had their own secrets.
This story can be illustrated even more in our New Orleans ghost tours. Josie longed for a proper life, particularly because of her niece, who she loved and cared for much of her life. Tom wanted nothing more than to rid himself of his second wife, to marry the third. His first wife died young and together they had a daughter…a daughter he sent to the convent after her mother’s death…terrified by the prospect of being a single father to a daughter. Others were felons on the run, some were lesbians, some were black. But, all, every single one of them found New Orleans and the famed area of Storyville to be their home. A home where they worked, played, made money and despite many of the efforts by Reformers to rid the city of them, managed to carve out their piece and place in history.
-The Head Witch in Charge