Casket Girls

Discussion in 'Urban Legends & Folklore' started by McAvennie, Jul 16, 2017 at 3:17 PM.

  1. McAvennie

    McAvennie Justified and Ancient

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    Not often you come across a new Fortean story that you've never heard of, but I did today with the story of the Casket Girls and their introduction of vampires to New Orleans.

    So the story goes that in the 18th century there was evidently not an abundance of eligible women in New Orleans for the French colonists to marry and populate their corner of the New World. Boats of young virtuous women from France were selected, or applied, to be shipped over for marriage. When they departed they took all their possessions in large luggages of boxes known as casquettes - caskets.

    On arrival, after lengthy time at sea below deck, they disembarked looking gaunt, pale and in some cases vomiting blood. When their procession was followed by the unloading of their coffinesque luggage rumours swept New Orleans that they were vampires - or the wives of European vampires who arrived in the caskets.

    The women were allegedly holed up with the nuns in the Ursuline Convent until they were too be married of and legend states they are still there on the third floor of the building - which is conveniently closed to the public and has its shutters closed at all times…

    According to the story two paranormal investigators attempted to get into the Convent to do some snooping in 1978 but were found dead on the lawn (although nowhere online seems to corroborate any murder).

    Some interesting articles with more info, debunking, etc…

    http://gonola.com/2017/06/21/casket-girls-of-new-orleans.html

    https://ghostcitytours.com/new-orleans/ghost-stories/truth-casket-girls/

    https://teganweekly.com/2014/06/23/what-the-hell-is-in-the-attic-at-ursuline-convent/

    https://theyounghistoriantravels.co...st-haunted-place-in-the-french-quarterit-was/
     
  2. Frideswide

    Frideswide Princess (PeteByrdie Certificated)

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  3. CuriousIdent

    CuriousIdent Not yet SO old Great Old One

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    So we are to believe that this particular nunnery houses these several hundred year old, relatively young in appearance, female vampires? What a brilliant UL, and one I'd never heard of either. :D
     
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  4. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...

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    I, too, had never heard this particular New Orleans UL before.

    However, there's a troublesome issue at its very root that argues against its authenticity ...

    The most specific accounts among McAvennie's links state the Casket Girls arrived in 1727 or 1728.

    The current convent building to which the UL refers (with its shuttered third floor) is the second main building occupied by the convent, and it wasn't built until 1751 / 1752 (Wikipedia says 1752).

    OK - so the Casket Girls must have occupied the earlier (and first / original) main building at the convent site - right? ...

    That earlier building was still no more than a plan / design in 1727, which seems to have been the year the Ursuline nuns first arrived in New Orleans. It was not officially completed until 1734, and drawings of it date no earlier than 1733.

    It would seem there's no way the Casket Girls were housed at the Ursuline Convent site in the 1100 block of Chartres Street, because it didn't exist in habitable form until years after their arrival.

    See Also:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Ursuline_Convent,_New_Orleans
    https://www.oldursulineconventmuseum.com/timeline/
     
  5. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
    Wooden shack? Before the proper building was put there.
     
  6. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...

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    I'm still unclear whether the second building represented a massive remodeling of the first-generation structure versus a totally new structure. The Ursuline Convent Museum site provides vintage illustrations that seem to insinuate the remodeling theory, but others' text accounts insinuate it was all new construction.

    Either way - the convent building wasn't in place when the Casket Girls arrived.
     
  7. CuriousIdent

    CuriousIdent Not yet SO old Great Old One

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    That's not to say that they weren't housed anywhere else for a while, of course. Every legend grows and changes slightly over tier by word of mouth.
     
  8. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...

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    Agreed ...

    My point was that the ghost tours / stories of today seem to be framed with exclusive regard to a building the Casket Girls might never or rarely have seen, much less occupied. It makes little sense to point out heavy shutters or strange lights if the Casket Girls never actually lived there.

    The initial objective was to marry off the girls to foster the French colonization project. If the Casket girls were still living with the Ursuline nuns years later (when the building first became habitable) it implies they failed in this regard.

    This ties into another issue that's starting to bug me ...

    No legend can grow and change over time until and unless it exists ...

    I can't seem to find any solid evidence there was any local legend or tale of 'Casket Girls as vampires' prior to the vague and mismatched stories told to 20th century tourists. I can't help but suspect the whole vampire tie-in is a modern fabrication.
     
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  9. Xanatic*

    Xanatic* Justified and Ancient

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    Is that even how people saw vampires back then? This was before Stoker, Polidori and LeFanu.
     
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  10. CuriousIdent

    CuriousIdent Not yet SO old Great Old One

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    Good point. I mean doubtless there were Vampire legends pre-Dracula. But a scarily large amount of Vampire Lore (for want of a better term) comes from Stoker. While it is definitely a legend which came from Europe I think it is mostly from Eastern Europe. I can think of French werewolf legends, but not specific vampire legends.
     
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  11. MrRING

    MrRING Justified and Ancient

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    Looking online, it appears that the term casquettes in French means "cap" as in hat, and I can't find any other definition (though I'm no French language expert). Maybe they were hatboxes, and somebody in a later generation read a report in French and thought "Those freaky gals were coming over with casquettes - they must be vampires!"

    Also, Google Translate indicates that the French word for casket is "cercueil"
     
  12. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...

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    I've noticed the same lexical ambiguities ... From what I gather, the most common French term for a small case or jewelry / treasure chest at the time was 'cassette' rather than 'casquette'. It's difficult to locate references centuries later, now that 'cassette' refers to a tape format and 'casquette' refers to a cap of the sort worn by cyclists.
     

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