New Orleans is full of scary stories and creepy local legends. Particularly vampires… Vampires have always been considered monsters and inhuman until Anne Rice’s novel was adapted into a movie in 1994. Interview with a vampire, portrayed vampires as having a conscience, forever changing how we see vampires. 

In this story, we discuss the legend of the Casket Girls. This led to some of the earliest beliefs that vampires settled in New Orleans. 

La Nouvelle-Orléans was founded in 1718, which is French for New Orleans. French colonists first founded it and it was the capital of French Louisiana before becoming a part of the United States. While New Orleans existed as a French colony, it struggled with many of the Native American tribes, they had an interest in the land, particularly, the Natchez tribe. Around 1729, the Natchez launched a series of attacks on the French resulting in Fort Rosalie being overrun. 

230 French colonists were killed and the Natchez settlement was destroyed. 

Concerns of the population arose, so the French began sending women of childbearing age to marry and help populate the colony. 

These young women were selected from orphanages and convents and guaranteed to be virgins. Though in some versions of this story, you’ll hear these young women were well-to-do and sent with dowry. 

The trip across the ocean was rough. The young women were chained all together and endured the journey in the ship’s hold. 

Once they arrived everyone noticed how pale they were. They appeared sickly, with blood-shot eyes and their skin would blister if exposed to the sun. 

These women also arrived with large wooden boxes resembling caskets but were named à la cassettes, which translates to girls with luggage. 

The caskets apparently carried the young women’s belongings. It is said this is where their title comes from….The Casket Girls. At this time, the word casket simply meant a trunk, it didn’t mean a coffin… Yet… 

After arrival, the women were sent to the Ursuline Convent, where the nuns would teach the young women and prepare them for marriage. The women and caskets were brought were to be on the 3rd floor of the Ursuline Convent. Their small coffin-like wooden boxes would be stored at the foot of the young women’s beds. It was instructed that they would not be opened until the young women were married. 

As the women were married to the local men, it was noticed that the women were forced into unwanted marriages and mistreated severely by their husbands and others were unwed and forced into prostitution.

Once the French King was notified of this he demanded the young women be returned to France. 

The Ursuline Convent nuns would then go back to the 3rd floor where the casket-shaped chests were stored. Till this time the 3rd floor had not been opened, the doors and windows sealed shut.

When the nuns went back to the 3rd floor for the chests, they found that they were all empty. They searched the entire third floor for the women’s belongings from the chests. They were never found.

Rumors began to circle the area… The pale women had brought an evil with them or others whispered they were vampires themselves. 

The nuns began to believe this group of women to be vampires disguised as sickly young women who wanted to be married. The nuns fearing for the convent’s safety threw the women out and had the third floor sealed off, bolting the doors with silver screws and nails to seal the windows shut. The Pope blessed the screws and nails used.

This tale doesn’t just end here… It is said that in 1978, two paranormal investigators were curious if the 3rd floor contained vampires or if they could capture anything paranormal from the convent. They were not granted entry, so they climbed the wall and set up a camera.

The next morning, authorities found the bodies of the two men with their throats torn open and bodies drained of at least eighty percent of their blood.

That particular story… I can’t find any facts on it. It may not be real, possibly an Urban Legend based on the Casket Girl Lore. Or could there

 information on this. 

 possibly be Vampires in New Orleans?

In 1984, it is said that 9 people were murdered in the French Quarter. All had their throats ripped out, once again there is very little

While New Orleans has a long history for all things Vampire, we have yet to see actual proof. These days, many members of Vampire elite societies reside in New Orleans. As a matter of fact. NOVA is the New Orleans Vampire Association, which is a non-profit organization for self-identifying vampires. Founded in 2005 it provides support and structure for the vampire as well as other-kin subcultures.

Perhaps we will never know if the legend of the Casket Girls is true or whether Vampires were brought to New Orleans.  But these days… The Casket Girls are immortalized… Obviously, every time we tell their story, we breathe life into them as well as performances, such as the modern gothic vampire ballet performance of the Casket Girls.

Were the Casket Girls of New Orleans truly vampire smugglers or simply weak and ill women due to their long journey? 

I think… We will just leave this to the realms of the unexplained…