The Great River

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The Mississippi River

The deepest place on the Mississippi river is located near Algiers Point in New Orleans. It is reported to be 200ft deep. In fact the first burials in New Orleans occurred along the banks of the Mississippi river.

The Claiborne/Lewis Tomb

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The Claiborne/Lewis Tomb
The final resting place of Eliza W. Lewis and her daughter Cornelia, both died from 
yellow fever on the same day. Eliza was the wife of the first American governor
of Louisiana, William C.C. Claiborne. The governor's brother-in-law, Micajah Green
Lewis is entombed here also, dying in a duel defending the governor's honor.

Beat the Heat in the Cemetery

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are planning to take a Cemetery Tour in New Orleans this summer, I would like to strongly suggest taking the tour during the morning hours. To quote the late Robin Williams in the movie Good Morning Vietnam,”It’s hot. Damn Hot! Real Hot!”

How hot you may ask? Well today 7/23/2015, it was 95 degrees and it felt like it 102. I have noticed over the years that most people find the heat unbearable in the Cemetery. To quote a tour participant years ago,  “It’s hot.. their dead …let’s go!”.

I also conduct cemetery tours during the afternoon hours. If you choose to take an afternoon tour,  I would suggest your wear light-colored, and comfortable clothing. Use sunblock and please follow the directions on the package. Most sunblock requires you to apply it 15 minutes before exposure to the sun. Do not wait until you’re in the cemetery to apply sunblock as I have seen so many people do. Sunglasses are also recommend. Don’t forget the water! I would suggest drinking a lot of water the night before, and consider bringing some with you on your tour.

I do my best to stop in the shade on my route to Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1. In fact, I stop at the air conditioned, Basin Street Visitor center to share some history about the city and also to inform you about some of the people entombed in the cemetery. You will also be able to used the restrooms. I feel it is even warmer in the cemetery than on the street. I want everyone to be safe and enjoy the tour. So lets all help each other out and look after each other. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and know what to do. I am posting the following link that I feel may help.

http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.asp

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, Ironwork

Once in a blue moon, someone on one of the many tours I conduct, will ask me about the fences that surround the tombs in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. I smile as I recall a story I heard while taking a cemetery tour in 2002. I was informed that the fences that surround tombs was for protection. Grave robbers broke into the tombs to steal clothing and jewelry from the bodies. If caught, these robbers would go to jail for stealing the valuables. However, the robbers found a loop-hole by just taking the bodies. It was not illegal to steal a body, as it was considered to be Gods property. They would take the bodies and sell it to medical students, leaving the valuables in the tombs. Eventually, spiked fences were put around the tombs in an attempt to prevent the thefts.  The tour guide explained, (as he pointed to the spikes on the fence) that the criminals were lazy and would not jump the fence with a corpse. As soon as the city officials discovered this problem, they changed laws making it illegal to steal a body.

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I honestly like that story. Imagine how you can take that tale and weave into an awesome story on a ghost tour. I came to understand over the years, that history itself is a story with three sides. Your side, their side, and then there is the truth, which I will never know.

Another side of the story is that these iron railings where most likely an option for the family tomb to resemble the homes in New Orleans. The railings, crosses, and gates within the cemeteries have varying designs. The ironwork in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, is cast and wrought iron. Cast iron is made from molten iron poured into molds. Wrought iron is created by shaping the iron in a blacksmith shop. You can find numerous examples within some of the cemeteries throughout the city. The railings in the cemetery may not have been for protection because of how low they seat and simple latches used.

I do like the first story because it is far more interesting. I honestly believe that the ironwork is but one of many options for the family tomb. I will let you decide.

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Tourism in St. Louis Cemetery No., 1.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Beginning March 1, 2015, the New Orleans Archdiocesan Cemeteries will require that all tourists must enter St. Louis Cemetery No., 1, with a licensed tour guide registered with their office. I am excited about this change because I hope it will stop people defacing the tomb of the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.

ernie2012MarieroachofferingmariesErnie2010 Marie Laveau's tomb

Hello world!

I am Ernest Sylvester, the host behind Ernie’s Cemetery History Tour, I have conducted tours since 2003. Having conducted Ghost, Voodoo, and Cemetery tours for Haunted History Tours longer then most tour companies have been in business. I am a native of Louisiana who was born in Slidell and raised in New Orleans, Georgia, and Florida. After returning home from active duty I attended Delgado Community College. I discovered the tour guide profession by chance one night after taking a Ghost tour because I did not want to babysit my niece. Curiosity about my family history in New Orleans and the surrounding areas has lead me to attend numerous seminars and read countless books. I love to share my diverse knowledge of the culture and unique history of the city’s most prominent figures and events which lead me to become a licensed professional tour guide.

I am starting this blog to share stories about New Orleans that I just do not have time to share on my two tours.ErnieCemetery02 ErnieCemetery001