The Lebeau

A few years back I went down to New Orleans to visit my sister, who lived in Chalmette, which is in the next Parish just east of New Orleans. We stopped by for a quick visit on our way back from Texas but ended up staying there for eight days.

My wife and I had never been to New Orleans and my sister was only too happy to show us around. Obviously, on the first day there she took us to the French Quarter and showed us some of the hidden cheap places to eat where a shrimp Po Boy sandwich, the size of a foot ball, was only $4.75. We had a blast; the streets were practically empty due to few people being willing to travel after the 9-11 attacks. So, during the week we had the whole town nearly to our selves.

Now, just about anyone with even a hint of spiritual sensitivty who goes down to New Orleans will tell you that it is one seriously haunted spot.

My sister worked at one bar where she had ghosts blow out candles and they would play tricks on her like repeatedly turning out the lights while she was in the restroom; patrons would sit and talk to people who were not there and other bizarre occurrences like that would happen. These things are fairly common to the spiritually perceptive who live there for any length of time. But, even though I have had my fare share of the paranormal happen to me, I had never experienced anything quite like what was shortly to come.

The second day that we had been down there my sister brought us out to the Chalmette Battlefield (The Battle of 1812).

It is hard to explain the feeling I had while I was there but I can tell you that the sensation was like standing in the middle of history's past. It's almost as though you can actually feel the history in the air down there.

After we left the battlegrounds my sister said, " Oh! I have got to show you this". Less than two miles from there was a large Plantation house that was now owned by a well-known sugar company. On the way to the old plantation my sister began to tell us the history of the Lebeau house.

The Lebeau plantation house had been infamous for being the most haunted house in that area, every old-timer and kid alike knew the stories well. About 150 years ago, the Lebeau plantation had been the sight of cruel mistreatment of slaves by the Lebeaus. They would beat their slaves, sometimes to death, and then order the other slaves to bury the dead off in the fields beside the house. This murderous behavior continued until it seems that the spirits of the dead began to haunt the Lebeau family and one by one drove them all to insanity. Eventually, each of the Lebeaus committed suicide in turn (at least two of them were hangings on the 2nd floor).

Many more stories surrounding the Lebeau plantation house continued over the next century and a half. Among the most recent of them, was the story of the house having been rented in the 1970s, where a little girl was thrown from the fourth floor cupola window (evidently not thrown by a person). Needless to say, the house was never again rented after that.

Even though the property was bought for commercial use, the house itself was left intact. Because of the historical value of the Lebeau house, it is considered a protected monument and cannot be condemned. Even so, the new owners found plenty of good use for the rest of the property to store sugar tankards, flatbed trailers and other such things.

After they first acquired the Lebeau property, they put guard dogs out to patrol at night but each morning, employees would come to find that the dogs had mysteriously died during the night. They repeated this several times before giving up on the idea of having guard dogs because each time they put dogs out to patrol, the dogs would not make it through the night alive.

(There were many more stories I heard from the locals over the next few days but those two stood out in my memory for some reason).

After my sister finished telling us some of the history behing the Lebeau house we pulled up next to the property. The plantation's yard was completely fenced-in, with a wooden slat fence, a good six or seven-foot tall with sagging barbed wire at the top. Unfortunately, unless you were across the street or stood a good ways back, the fence blocked any view of the house from where we were parked. So, we got out of the car and walked over to the chained gate. There was an 8-inch opening between the front gates allowing me to see the plantation house. Below is a photo that I took a few days later from the same opening in the fence.

The house had a foreboding look to it and was as creepy as anything you might expect, but my initial reaction was, "We have GOT to get in there"! My sister burst out in laughter at that moment and said, "I knew it! I knew if I showed you this place you would want to go in there with me. I have been trying to get people around here to sneak in there with me ever since I moved here but everybody is too afraid". Then I replied, "Are you serious? Do you really want to do this"? And she said, "You know it". So we started making our plans on what to do.

Our plan wasn't exactly rocket science, we thought we would leave at around midnight and sneak in somewhere out of sight. Unfortunately, It rained each night for the next three days, so we could not go, but during that time I had a chance to talk to many people who had lived there their entire lives. I got many confirming stories about the plantation house and also the best and only method to sneak in, which was to hop the fence on the south side of the property back behind the VFW hall. On that side of property our parking would be concealed from view and so would our climbing of the fence.

The fateful night arrived with good weather and clear skies, so we all dressed in black, bought batteries for the flashlight and I grabbed a towel because I am brilliant and think ahead. Though, I had an $800 digital camera, I did not want to bring this with me due to the fact that we were about to break the law in a Louisiana Parish, where the police tend to frown on things like this. And having an expensive camera on your person while you are trespassing and dressed in black is a good way for you to loose an expensive camera by virtue of a Louisiana patrol man saying to you, "nice camera … it's mine now". (However, I did go back 2 days later and take pictures from off of the property).

Before we left, I told my sister and my wife the rules, no one was to vandalize anything even accidentally and no one was to take any souvenirs from the property, regardless of how tempting it might be. We were already on shaky ground breaking the law by trespassing and to top it off we were going out of our way to find proof of spirits that had allegedly killed both people and dogs. "So... No screwing around"!

Midnight rolled around and we started off on our journey into the surreal. On the way there my sister asked me what the towel I brought with me was for and I replied (just kidding with her), "A towel is your only defense against ghosts silly, if you don't have one your screwed". Well, she took me seriously for a moment and her eyes got real big and she said, "Really? Shouldn't we each have one then"? I just about lost it, because she actually wanted to turn the car around and go back and get more towels.

We arrived at the VFW hall and parked behind the building. We got out and crossed over a 50-yard patch of grass that led to the fence behind the sugar company's property. The fence was only six-foot tall chain-link on this side of the grounds and there was an area of barbed wire that had been pulled down to the edge of the fence, where you could tell that this was the spot that others had done what we were about to do. I got the towel out and triple folded it lengthwise and placed the towel over the barbed wire and the sharp points at the top of the fence. I helped the girls over first, then I flipped myself over behind them.

We were behind a tankard yard that had sugar tankards similar to the ones that tractor trailers pull, filled with liquid gases. But these tankards were stacked two high, one on top of the other, and made rows that sometimes changed direction, so it was like crossing through a maze with 20-foot high walls. Try and imagine this, it's the middle of the night in Louisiana, your trespassing on private property, while crossing through a 300-yard long field of sugar tankards, on your way to investigate a real haunted house. It felt like something right out of an X-files episode.

When we finally made it out of the tankard storage yard we came around the corner and entered what was originally the backyard of the plantation house. We all just froze in our tracks at what we saw. The moon was over the house with a haze that gave the moon a halo and the subtle illumination of this house just chilled our blood. The grass was a good 2 to 4 foot high all the way up to the back of the house, (which we were still a good 100 or so yards away from).

On the way up to the house we pushed our way through the tall grass as we passed 6 or so flatbed semi-trailers that the grass had grown high enough to partially obscure. The back of the plantation house had a porch running it's entire length, suspended about five foot off the ground. The stairs up to the porch had long since been removed or worn to nothing so I climbed the porch and went to each window and door to find a good opening to enter through. But the windows and door were boarded up tight and there was no way to enter from this side of the house with out causing damage. So I jumped down off the porch and we went around towards the front of the house.

Now I have to pause here and try and describe how utterly spooky this was and we had not even gotten inside yet. There was something up with this place that you could not put your finger on ... it just felt ominous and not just the house either, but the whole thing, the darkness, the moonlit illuminations of the grounds, even the quite seemed alive ... everything was foreboding. However, at this point we were more afraid of getting caught by security and getting arrested than we were of actually running into any Ghosts or ghouls.

When we got to the front of the house it had a porch just like the one on the back, I helped the girls up and then I climbed up myself and began looking for an opening that we could enter through. I finally discovered a floor to ceiling window to the right of the front door that had been broken into and boarded up repeatedly.

The security there had found it humorous to place only a single 8-inch wide board nailed diagonally over the small opening. But their real genius was in having broken several bottles and left the glass shards on both the inside and outside of the window to discourage any would be ghost-hunters. Fortunately, just like Ford Prefect in HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy, I never go anywhere without my trusty towel. I pried the board loose and placed the towel down over the glass and we each slid in through the small opening on our bellies.

Once inside the house it was nearly pitch black, so I shook the glass off the towel and used it to obscure the light from the flashlight. I wanted to make sure that no illumination could be seen from the outside of the house (fearing security was going to catch us at any moment).

The house was laid out with ten large rooms on the bottom floor. Five on the front half of the house and five on the back, each identical in size to each other's pair. The architecture of the house was absolutely stunning, even though the house had been mostly gutted on the inside. The ceilings were close to twelve foot tall and the molding was still partially intact, the rooms were spacious and with a little imagination, you could envision how glorious this house would have looked with period French and Federal furniture.

However, the reality was that the house was dark and creepier than a horror movie, with bare plank floors, missing plaster and holes in the walls.

After taking a good look around the room we entered into, I went into the room off to the right of where we came in, (the south-east corner of the house). In there, I discovered a huge hole in the floor, big enough to fall through, so I told the girls not to move around unless they were by my light and warned them to be careful where they walked.

As we explored further and were commenting on the architecture and other points of interest, we came through two more rooms and ended up in the center of the house by the back door. Just as I began entering that room, I saw a bright flash of light out of the corner of my eye. I instantly turned the flashlight off and froze dead in my tracks. I was certain that the light I had seen was a flashlight beam coming from the outside and security was rushing in to catch us.

I was not facing the same direction that the girls were, so I only saw the light out of the corner of my eye, whereas, they saw it directly and said, "what the hell was that", and I said, "shush"!

While we were standing quite and motionless for fear of security, my sister motioned for me to look up. When I looked up I saw tiny red and white lights moving between the cracks of the floorboards from up stairs. They were no larger than a pencil tip and they would stop for a moment and then move and then be gone, and another would appear, etc.

After a short while we realized that security was not coming because I quietly went from the front door to the back door and peaked out of the cracks and saw that no one was out there. At that point the girls said, "did you see that swooping light"? I told them that I had seen a bright light out of the corner of my eye and thought it was security with flashlights coming. Both my sister and my wife said that it was a bluish white light and it moved in a large swooping motion.

All the doors and windows were boarded up so the light could not have come from the outside. And my flashlight was pointed down at the ground with a towel wrapped around it, to conceal the light to a five-foot area. So the light could not have come from my flashlight either. Then I said "did you see the little lights between the floor boards'? And my sister said "Yes, I'm the one that pointed it out to you", but my wife said that she had not seen them.

We went through the rest of the rooms and had made a full circle back to our starting point when we realized that we had not seen a staircase leading to the upstairs the house yet. So we started a systematic search for the staircase, starting from the room where we came in, following the same path as before.

About half-way through we came to the center of the house again by the back door. As we all entered the room we heard the distinct sound of black men with southern accents calling to each other like they were working in the yard (slaves). We instantly shut off the light and froze, knowing for certain that we were busted this time and that security was going to come bursting in. But I went over by the dumb waters next to the back door and peaked out into the yard where we heard the noise coming from and again there was nothing.

At this point things started getting a bit more creepy feeling but we were still more afraid of getting caught than the possibility of ghosts, so we continued our search and covered the western half of the house. When we got by the front door again we heard children laughing and playing out in the yard. They sounded like they were in the front yard no more than 30-foot or so from the front door. We new that was not normal because of how far we were from any roads and this side of the house was maybe three hundred yards from the VFW hall (plus it was close to 2:00 AM at this point). But what happened next was creepy enough to make us want get out.

We got back to the room where we started from and thought that the staircase might have been torn out at some point. So we started the search again but this time we were concentrating on looking for a hole in the ceiling that might have been a staircase at one time. We followed the same path as before but this time when we got to the room on the north-east corner, we heard the unmistakable sound of a heavy metal doorknob turning and latching, followed by a loud screeeeeech sound, as if a door that was swollen from moisture was being opened.

Once again we immediately assumed it was security right outside as we all froze, but then the air temperature dropped to freezing in the corner where I was standing. And I thought, "wait a minute, all the doorways are boarded up from the outside". At this point I was not fooled into thinking this came from outside and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. My sister and I both noticed the cold but my wife was still in the other room trailing behind us.

I moved toward the center of the house by the back door where the interior door could be swung open and closed (the outside doorway was boarded but the inside door swung free, however it had no hardware on it other than the hinges it was connected to the wall with). I slowly swung the door back and forth to see if it could have made the squeaking sound we had just heard when all three of us heard three very loud knocks on the ceiling above where my sister was standing. I yelled "F%$# You"! Because I thought it was my sister messing with me, but she said, "that wasn't you"? We all looked at each other and headed immediately for the window that we crawled in. When we got outside our blood pressure began to normalize and we jumped down off the porch and headed toward the backyard. We all started talking, saying, "Did you hear this? Did you see that? And then we started saying, "where the heck is the staircase, because it sure wasn't inside"?

When we came around to the back side of the house again we noticed for the first time that there was a stair case leading up to the second floor on the outside, hidden by a facade that looked the same as the rest of the house. At this point my sister and I climbed up on the back porch but my wife refused, she said she would keep a look out. My sister and I climbed up the staircase but found that it was boarded off as it turned at the landing and went up the other direction.

We tried everything under the sun to get that board loose but we didn't have any tools and that board was on there pretty good. As we were trying to figure out how to get up to the second floor, where the hangings took place, my wife said, "Guys? I'm hearing some really weird stuff out here and I think we should go". We said wait just a minute as we tried futilely to get past the barricade. Then my wife's tone changed with an urgency and said, "I mean it guys, we should be leaving. NOW!" So we hopped down off the porch and joined her, but as I started walking into the high grass again, I could hear footsteps coming toward me (it sounded real close, like 10 foot or less). I said, "do you guys hear that? Do you hear those footsteps"? And my wife said, "yes, that's what I've been trying to tell you guys".

So we quickened our pace and ignored the footsteps (there was no one there) and went back into the tankard field, where we began to feel a bit more at ease. As we approached the fence by the VFW hall, we passed by a small wooded area that was actually not too terribly far from the house on the other side. With about a hundred yards to go we began to hear the most hideous screaming that sent us all running for the fence. We heard, "Heeeeeeeeeeelp! NOOOOooooooo!" in a woman's voice or maybe a child's. Over and over again the screaming continued and we practically crapped our selves. It sounded like multiple screams, as one would trail off another would start up and get louder and it kept repeating. We got to the fence and I hurried the girls over but I was so disturbed from the screams that it took me three tries to get over the fence before I made it. We ran to the car and drove off saying, "that did not just happen"!

When we got about two blocks from my sister's house, she asked me to stop at the gas station so she could get a soda. When she got out in the light I noticed for the first time that we were all covered in bristles and burs. I laughed because my sister had a bunch in her hair and looked like a wreck. When she came out of the gas station she was laughing and I said, "what's so funny"? She said, "There was an old-timer in there that took one look at me and said, "Well, you either been out huntin gators or you just got back from the Lebeau place ... Well? Which one is it"? She answered quietly, "the plantation". And he asked, "Did ya see em"? She just nodded and he whispered with a big smile on his face, "so have I"!

That there is the coolest ghost story I have ever heard and I lived it, and if I never visit another haunted house again it will still be too soon.

Do you notice the faces is in the picture above? I see two large faces, one full torso and several smaller faces. Also, look above the cupola below what looks like lense flare ... do you see it?

Below is a close-up of the area above the cupola, I have adjusted the red green and blue color hues to distiguish what can be seen; the center picture had only the brightness and contrast adjusted .

Is this all just lense flare? You be the judge.