From the ROYAL STREET Photo Album: St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

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Today, I’m sharing some images from one of the unique things about New Orleans/SE Louisiana: the cemeteries, or cities of the dead. Common legend dictates that the ground is so low and soft in the city, and the water table so high, that burying folks below grounds doesn’t quite work–a big rain, and granny’s remains could easily be floating down the street. Not a good thing.

As I understand it, that’s partially true, and it’s partially just that the practice of 18th-century French and Spanish people who lived in the city was to bury people in vaults.

For whatever combination of reasons, in the older parts of the city, especially, people are buried aboveground. The oldest cemetery in the city–which is the site of a major scene in Royal Street–is St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (yes, there’s also a No. 2, which is almost as old). St. Louis No. 1 dates from the 1700s. You can see from the photo above how close it is to downtown NOLA.

There are a couple of tombs for people who play a role in Royal Street. The first is that of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. As you can see, people still feel the need to leave their calling cards (or graffiti) on her tombstone.

And here is the tomb of Dominique You. “Captain Dominique” was the trusted lieutenant and reported half-brother of the pirate Jean Lafitte, and he makes a couple of major appearances in Royal Street (Jean is a series regular). After the Battle of New Orleans in 1814, President James Madison pardoned Jean Lafitte, his brother Pierre, half-brother Dominique You and the rest of Jean’s pirate hordes as a reward for helping the American’s save New Orleans from the British. Jean wasn’t a guy to settle down to a life of respectability, however, and went back to pirating. No one is sure where he’s buried–or if he died at sea in battle. But Dominique took his pardon and became a respected man in the city…thus, his tomb.

The cities of the dead are kind of creepy, yes? St. Louis No. 1 made a great spot to set a scene in the novel.

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate’s Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man’s Curse) releases April 2016).

9 thoughts on “From the ROYAL STREET Photo Album: St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

  1. All these pics and history are really getting me excited about Royal Street. I have a soft spot for Marie Laveau. 🙂

    Looking forward to April!

  2. Hi Suzanne! Just wanted to pop in and say that I have been to St Louis No 1. Yes, very creepy, yet very cool and interesting. Hopefully I will get back to NOLA next year. Thanks for the wonderful pics.

  3. Cemetries are also very creepy as I think we all ‘know’ we’ll end up in them at some point. I always liked the idea of building these tombs – just like a house and less likely to get buried than gravestones as the wildlife creeps back! Great pictures! 🙂

  4. Very interesting but i must admit that i don’t feel at ease ina any cimetery
    i can’t wait to discover your book^^

    all the best

  5. Those pics are the first I have seen of the cemetary, though I have read about them multiple times. One of my favourite series is by Laura Childs, the Scrapbooking Mysteries. It also takes place in New Orleans, and I so love the atmosphere and descriptions of everything.

  6. Royal Street was my W.O.W pick this week – I can’t wait to read it and all your fun photos are making me even more excited about it.

    One of the reasons I have always wanted to visit N.O. are these old cemetaries. Thanks for the pics! 🙂
    Jen

  7. It was so creepy for me to see all those graves above the ground. I made my husband walk through some of the grave yards when we went to visit. It’s creepy yet very cool at the same time. One is because of writers putting them into their books. You feel like it’s real 😉 Like Jeanienne Frost’s Night Huntress series. Bones is in New Orleans quite a bit. I love the voodoo/vampire queen. The entrance to her “home” is under her tomb….love it! Thanks for sharing your photos.

  8. Thank you for this post!
    I was in New Orleans a few times.
    It was always my favorite city.
    I remember that cemetary and the ‘Voodoo Queen’s’ tomb.
    What a place! The food is magnificent!
    Love it.