According to New Orleans history, Madame Lalaurie was one of the most celebrated French-Creole socialites in the city during the 1800s. Her husband was a Dr. Louis Lalaurie. The couple was wealthy, influential, and widely admired.
However, the Lalaurie home held terrible secrets, and for generations after, came to be considered one of the most haunted houses in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It appeared that, upon discovery of her sadistic nature, Madame Lalaurie came to be hounded by enraged citizens and was eventually evicted from the city itself.
One of the first events to occur was the death of a young African American slave girl of about eight years old. According to a neighbor, Madame Lalaurie was chasing the girl with a cowhide whip, when in order to escape her cruel mistress, the girl ran up to the rooftop. The poor girl later lost her footing and fell to her death. The neighbor noted that a little later, the broken body of the child was buried in a hastily-made shallow grave. For her actions, it was said that Madame Lalaurie only incurred a fine. As the girl was a slave, not much was done to punish Madame Lalaurie for her actions. Although the sheriff made a show of selling the rest of her slaves, Madame Lalaurie's relatives managed to bid for them and to stealthily sell them back to her.
As the narrator proclaims, "to the people's credit...public suspicion and indignation steadily grew." In fact, not a few of the couple's friends began declining dinner invitations to the Lalaurie home. Public indignation still grew "when one day, the 10th of April, 1834, the aged cook,— she was seventy,— chained as she was, purposely set the house on fire." Rumor had it that Madame Lalaurie's chief cook was always kept chained to the stove. Meanwhile, the fire led to a discovery that was to so repulse certain influential people of the city that Madame Lalaurie never recovered her reputation again.
At the height of the fire, many men rushed into the Lalaurie mansion; their aim, of course, was to help anyone who might still be inside the house. However, the men soon discovered such horrific evidence of Madame Lalaurie's cruelty that before day's end, the people of New Orleans began to "hoot and groan and cry for satisfaction." The worst discovery was of a slave who "had a large hole in his head; his body from head to foot was covered with scars and filled with worms!" Others were found chained down with heavy irons, and some were already dead from their horrific injuries.
As the people of New Orleans clamored for justice and vengeance, Madame Lalaurie (with the help of her black coachman) managed to get into her carriage and to escape the clutches of the enraged crowd. Undaunted, the people chased Madame Lalaurie's carriage through the city and tried to overturn her carriage. However, the carriage was going too fast for the stampeding crowd. Madame Lalaurie eventually reached the shore of the lake and was able to escape in a rented schooner.
Maddened by its failure, the crowd chased down Madame Lalaurie's carriage, broke it to pieces, and then killed the coachman and the horses. For the rest of the day, the people of New Orleans ransacked, defaced, and destroyed the Lalaurie home in revenge for her cruel acts:
The place was rifled of jewelry and plate; china was smashed; the very stair-balusters were pulled piece from piece; hangings, bed-ding, and table linen were tossed into the streets; and the elegant furniture, bedsteads, wardrobes, buffets, tables, chairs, pictures, "pianos," says the newspaper, were taken with pains to the third-story windows, hurled out and broken...the debris was gathered into hot bonfires, feather beds were cut open, and the pavements covered with a thick snow of feathers.
Accordingly, neither Madame Lalaurie nor her husband ever showed their faces in New Orleans again. By the actions of the people, the infamous couple had been well and truly evicted from the city.