Monday, October 5, 2015

Scary New Orleans Legend

This is a Halloween type of tale that I haven't heard of before and found it while researching on GenealogyBank.com and thought I would pass it along for a fun read. 

Printed on Tuesday the 27th of January 1857 in the Easton Star out of Easton, Maryland
From the Home Journal
THE SEVEN LOST BRIDES
A LEGEND OF NEW ORLEANS
In the upper part of New Orleans, not far from the Mississippi river, stands an old house well known in that part of the city as “the haunted house.” It is said that no tenant can be induced to remain long in it; but all disturbed by supernatural sights and sound, speedily seek another dwelling. These nocturnal disturbances are sufficiently explained – to some at least – by the following legend:
Long time ago, long before New Orleans was a great city, and when the quarter now known by the name of Lafayette was occupied by cane fields and partly by the marshes, the old house – old even then – stood, as now, not far from the band of the river, and surrounded by blocks and squares of substantial buildings, as to-day, was the centre of plantation and was haunted only by sunny faces and merry voices. Its owner was an old gentleman- a widower- who had seven daughters- all beautiful, intelligent and amiable.
When the oldest daughter was of an age to marry, she was wooed and won by a young planter of the neighborhood, and for once the course of true love seemed to run smooth.
All parties were agreed as to the suitability of the match, and when the wedding night arrived, willing guests flocked from all quarters to do honor to the occasion. The old house was brilliantly illuminated, and the sounds of music and of dancing echoed through its chambers. In short, everything went merrily onward, and gay Louisiana never saw a gayer assemblage. But all the merriment was doomed to meet a strange and sudden end. Scarcely had the nuptial benediction been pronounced, when it was observed that the bride was missing. The evening passed on and she did not return. Wonder was followed by anxiety. Search first was made through the neighborhood, but all without success. All that night, and for days and weeks after, the search was continued with all that sleepless energy and vigilance which love could prompt, but all in vain; not the slightest trace was ever found of the missing bride.
Had she, in some sudden aberration of mind wondered into the boundless swamps, and perished miserably of hunger and exposure? Or had she some fearful and unbosomed grief, which had caused her to cast herself into the turbid waters of the Mississippi? Or had she, perchance, met and loved some person so far beneath her in station as to render an open union hopeless, and they had fled together in distantlands?
Such were some of the conjectures of the gossips concerning her fate, while others told scary stories of the dreadful and desperate deeds of the pirates of the Gulf, of late nights with terrified glances cast over their shoulders towards the door; whispering ghastly tales of the doings of demon huntsman, whose horn was often heard among the woods and marshes, and the baying of whose dogs mingled with the rustling of the wind among the leaves, as it struck upon his ear in the dreary hours of night, caused many a pious Acadian to hastily cross himself and utter au Ave Maria and a petition  for protection against the devil and all his angels.
It would be tedious to tell as to hear save in the briefest manner how one after another five more of the seven daughters disappeared in the same way each in their wedding night till one was left the most beautiful, the best beloved of all. A strange infatuation seemed to enchain all who concerned; and while, when each was lost, the same scene of frantic search, of wild grief, of despairing acquiescence was enacted, none ever dreamed of making the mysterious fate which seemed to hang over the family, an objection to the marriage of the younger girl. And thus it came to pass that the last daughter became betrothed, as the rest had been, to one well worthy of her, and in due time another large company assembled to grace the nuptials.
But on this occasion there was but little of merriment. The guests clustered together in groups of two’s and three’s, and in whispers spoke of the lost sisters. All seemed to feel as though they were shadowed by the wings of some dark and terrible misfortune hovering over the doomed house. No one was found bold enough to utter a jest, or to speak of gay or thoughtless word.
In the meantime all possible care was taken to guard the bride form the fate of her sisters. A chosen body of friends watched constantly over her, and never permitted her to be absent from their sight. Thus were matters situated when the hour appointed for the nuptial ceremony arrived.
But the final vows were scarcely spoken when the sound of a distant horn was heard and the thrill of terror struck to each heart.
It approached nearer and nearer, till at last the heavy tramp of a man, accompanied by the pattering sound of the feet of hurrying dogs were heard upon the veranda. All eyes was fixed upon the closed doors connected with  crash, and a gigantic huntsman, clad in green, and surrounded by a pack of huge and panting hounds stood upon the threshold. Fixed to their places, the spectators stared with glassy eyes on the terrible visitor, and a waited in speechless terror, his future movement. Fixing his flashing eyes upon the bride, with imperial air he raised his right hand toward her. With tottering steps she advanced and sank fainting in his arms. One blast upon his mighty horn, one yell from his ferocious pack, and the green huntsman sprang from the house, bearing with him the inanimate form of the doomed bride. Fainter and fainter grew the sound of the horn and the dogs, till they faded quite away in the distance, and then and not till then, did the beholders of this scene recover from the spell which had deprived them of the power of moving or speaking.

All those who were present at this supernatural abduction have long since mingled their ashes with the parent earth but the old house still stands a witness to the truth of the legend, and on stormy nights, the daemon huntsman’s horn and the laying of the tempest, may be heard sounding along the Mataric Ridge and through the swamps and woods adjoining’ and at midnight hour the ghost of the bereaved old father, yet wandering through the deserted chambers of the ancient house weeping and wringing his shadowy hands and repeating in agonizing tones, the seven lost brides.