When the elder Marie Laveau died in 1881, the younger Laveau
was fifty-four years old and soon thereafter dropped from
sight. Her death is given as 1890. The tomb of the elder Marie
Laveau is supposedly located in St. Louis Cemetery #1 on Basin
Street in the vault of "Famille Veuvee Paris nee Laveau.
People today still place flowers there and mark x's in chalk
on the vault as assurance of favors to be granted.The tomb
of Marie Laveau the second is given as in St. Louis Cemetery
#2 on Iberville Street in the vault of the Desdunes family.
A few years ago black historians researching the issue placed
her in a different tomb a few feet away under the name Mrs.
There are countless stories
about the power of Marie Laveau as a voodoo queen, sorceress,
healer, and psychic, but none of these are documented historically.
Voodoo, brought to New Orleans by African slaves and immigrants
from Santo Domingo and Haiti, has been practiced since the
1700s. Even today some people have voodoo altars in their
homes and participate in voodoo rituals.
The voodoo queen, unlike the voodoo doctor (male) was in charge of ceremonies
and dances in the 1800s and held a powerful position in black, quadroon and white
society because of her reputed ability to use the occult.
The profession of hairdresser
gave both Marie Laveaus access to the private lives and secrets of the women's
hair and dispensing ample advice. Some of the Laveau magic may have been common
sense and homespun psychology. In time
the name of Marie Laveau became distorted. Mothers threatened their children that
she would put a curse on those who didn't behave.
She was thought of as an evil
witch, capable of causing unimaginable trouble. But there are also reports of
her as a nurse. Others mention that small children went to her home every Saturday
morning for the brown sugar sticks she would hand out.
When Marie Laveau discontinued voodoo after the Civil War, Malvina Latour took
over as New Orleans voodoo queen for another twenty years, but she never gained
the notoriety of her predecessor. The cult began to disintegrate, and in the past
ninety years there has been no acknowledged queen.
Whatever the truth may be about Marie Laveau, the concept remains of a strong,
independent woman who earned the fear and respect of an entire city.