of the most popular women in New Orleans history, Marie Laveau, voodoo queen,
is also one of the least understood. Myths about her life and death. In fact,
there is disagreement even as to where and how she died and where she is buried.
From the writing of local historians two Marie Laveaus emerge; one is a free woman
of color born in New Orleans in the mid 1790's. The other is a woman considerably
younger than the first and believed to have been the elder Marie's illegitimate
daughter. The first Marie Laveau married
Jacques Paris, carpenter and free man of color in 1819.
Several years later she
was calling herself widow Paris, although Jacques Paris did not die for a few
more years. Meanwhile, she is known to have lived with Christophe Glapion who
migrated from Santo Domingo, also a free man of color. Reportedly they had fifteen
children. In 1827 a daughter was born, named Marie Laveau Paris (carrying her
mother's widowed name). Her father is unknown.
Marie Laveau and her daughter were said to look remarkably alike, with regal bearing,
black curly hair, golden skin, and a penetrating look in their eyes. Both were
quadroons and worked as hairdressers for a trade.
They both also reportedly performed
voodoo rituals and dispensed voodoo curses and cures. As the elder Marie Laveau began
to fade from the voodoo scene in pre-Civil War New Orleans,
her daughter is believed to have stepped in and taken over
as voodoo queen. Since the daughter looked and acted so much
like her mother, people who didn't know about the relationship
believed that Marie Laveau had magical powers of eternal youthfulness.