Ghost Hunting: Bonding, The Ghost City Way

Ghost Hunting in New Orleans

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Our Conti Wax Museum Ghost Hunt

I believe in ghosts.

It might seem an obvious point to start with but, in all honesty, working for Ghost City Tours has only made me more aware of the fact that we are not alone.

Cue, my first ghost hunting experience at the former Wax Conti Museum with my coworkers.

The Musee Conti Wax Museum, where Ghost City held a Ghost Hunt, looking for paranormal activity in New Orleans

I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that when my boss, paranormal investigator Tim Nealon, started playing an exorcism recording to lure out the entity at the museum, I clapped my hands over my ears and whispered the mantra, "I am not here, I am not here, I am not here."

Yeah, I was that girl.

So, after that first jaunt into what I like to think of as the "real" paranormal world, you can imagine my enthusiasm when my General Manager, Gretchen, sent out an email saying that they'd decided to open up 1022 Royal Street for us to investigate.

A Photo of an alter at 1022 Royal Street in haunted New Orleans, Ghost City Tours
A Photo of an alter at 1022 Royal Street in haunted New Orleans, Ghost City Tours

They wanted us all to experience how our Local New Orleans Ghost Hunts operate, both for our own paranormal education but so that we could provide a better experience for our guests.

A Photo of an altar at 1022 Royal Street in haunted New Orleans, courtesy of Ghost City Tours

The thing is, I'd spoken with our guides, Michael Bill and Elaine, about the activity which transpires on the regular at the location.

I knew all about the little girl, Chloe, who enjoys the candy that the guides bring her as a thank-you for whenever she puts on a paranormal performance for guests.

Chloe's spirit, I wasn't worried about.

Then there’s a ghost named Johnny, who died in the 1850s by a gunshot wound.

Bleeding, he dragged himself from the scene of the crime two blocks away to the front steps of 1022 Royal. He died there, leaving no remaining evidence as to who had shot him or why he'd chosen 1022 Royal as his final destination.

Johnny I didn't fear too much either. After all, Michael Bill and Elaine commonly bring him cigarette lighters because he enjoys the flicker of the flame.

No, my internal fear stemmed from the so-called spirit named Samuel. Otherwise known as Belial, one of Satan's crew members.

A photo of wax figures from the former Wax Conti Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Upon entering the Musee Conti Museum, its wax figures greet you...

I remembered the stories of a doppelganger imitating Tim's physical body on the first night that he and Gretchen held their first paranormal investigation there.

I remembered how, not long ago, one of the guests on the ghost hunt awoke to find three slashes on his shoulder with no recollection of how they got there. The shadows; the dark, guttural EVPs that have been caught.

Yeah, I remembered all of that.

I went to the hunt anyway.

There's no "i" in "team," right?

The Hunt Begins

I'd been tasked with taking photos for our blog. For everyone else, though, the hunt was on.

Monique brought mini-muffaletta sandwiches with chips and salsa. The rest of us only brought ourselves. It was a mix of office staff—Brandon, Alex, Gretchen and Tim—and some of our tour guides, including Monique, Randy, John, Michael Bill and Elaine.

Put a bunch of tour guides and people with loads of personality in one place and you can imagine that it took us a while to get started.

But soon enough, Michael Bill and Elaine were showing us all of the proper equipment and I was trying to angle the camera for the perfect shot.

They went through the steps they take on a typical night, such as talking about the history of the building to guests, and how to properly use the ghost hunting equipment.

"It's a ghost hunting experience," Michael Bill told us, "But it's also an educational tour. How do I find ghosts? We can't guarantee activity, but guests learn everything about the property and also how to investigate a haunted location."

That’s when I felt it. A light brushing on the top of my head, as though someone had taken the tip of their finger and stroked my scalp along the part of my hair.

Instinctively, I shifted my grip on the camera and reached up to touch the top of my head. My gaze darted over my shoulder but my back was facing the antique bookcase.

No one else was looking at me and I immediately felt that awkward bubble of laughter threatening to escape, the sort of laughter that is rooted in feeling out of your comfort zone.

I forced myself to pay attention to Michael Bill and Elaine. They were here five nights a week - if whatever was in the house was that bad, I figured they would have called it quits by then.

Satisfied by my non-answer for whatever had touched me, I listened as Elaine explained the home's history.

We hold the hunt in the exterior courtyard and its neighboring dependency, which would have once been the main house's kitchen and its slave quarters.

A brick fireplace separated the two halves of the room on the first floor, which was rather common for the 19th century, and the walls were paneled with dark wood.

We learned that the property was once a hospital for a small period of time, it was built in the early 1800s, and how a small dig in the outer courtyard revealed a pit of bones.

John looking on in the background as Ghost Hunt Guru Michael Bill shows us one of the bones found on the property.

John does our New Orleans Haunted Pub Crawl, much to the delight of our guests. Michael Bill, who is also a Voodoo Priest, co-hosts our Ghost Hunt Experience as well as many of our other Ghost Tours.

"Maria, come here."

I looked past where Gretchen stood to see Tim motioning me over. In one hand he held the massive Roland audio recorder, which had the ability to hear a pin drop from a mile away; in the other, he extended out his headphones.

"Listen," he told me. Shifting the camera under my arm, I pulled on the headphones. There was Elaine talking; Randy making a sly quip; Monique's full-belly laughter; and then . . .

"So what?"

It sounded far away, beneath the blankets and layers of conversation, but so very close all at once.As though the female voice had emanated from a different plane but was interested in joining the conversation.

From the small snippet of her voice, I sensed distinct bossiness. As if this was a woman who in life had always gotten her way and who wasn't at all amused by our talk of ghosts and hauntings.

Her dry "so what?" was strangely apropos: here we were, ready to conduct a ghost hunt.

We were geared up on the anticipation of catching activity, of perhaps experiencing something otherworldly and unexplainable.

But for this spirit, whomever she was, she had already crossed over to the other side. The mystery of Death was already over for her. Old news, like a week-old, crumpled newspaper that served no purpose when the information was stale.

The Ghostly, Chosen Favorite

As a group, we were largely torn between wanting to hang out together, and to separate and go off in groups to begin the investigation.

Hence, for the first few minutes we wandered like headless chickens in the dark courtyard.

We couldn't see anything that wasn't less than a foot in front of us, and I flicked my camcorder on to provide some sort of light.

The darkness was disorienting. Above us, a skylight circled in the heavy cloud coverage; in the distance I could hear drunks shuffling on the street.

The lot of us (l-r): Randy, John, Michael Bill, Gretchen and Elaine.

"How was your tour last night?" said one of the guides.

Someone else asked, "Did you know that there isn't much evidence of an intelligent haunting at the Beauregard-Keyes House?"

Then, amidst the conversation, Tim posed the question: "Do you like any of the new people we brought with us tonight?"

Myself and Randy paused in our own conversation to watch Tim in the dim light. A smile breaking on his face, he turned to Gretchen and urged her to listen.

I looked at Randy. "Tim is literally the ghost whisperer," I said.

Perhaps it's the fact that he has been a professional paranormal investigator for over a decade that gives him a leg up on communicating with the spirits.

Or perhaps it's just that he's got so many other ghosts with him at all times, that new ones think to themselves, "I want to join too."

Gretchen's expression was one of acceptance, because since working for Ghost City she, too, has become something of an elite ghost whisperer.

"Hey, Alex, come here."

Alex was one of our new customer service representatives in New Orleans. But she went over to Tim anyway, her shoes moving silently over the bricked courtyard.

"Listen to this," Tim said.

Gripping the headphones in one hand, Alex commented, "I've always got one with me."

My curiosity piqued and I reminded myself to ask her about that later, but at that moment I could only wait as she listened to the EVP.

I saw the exact moment she heard whatever it was, because her expression crumpled and her shoulders shot back as though jolted with an electrical current.

"Want me to play it again?"

Alex nodded. Paused. Waited. Her shoulders caved this time, twisting as she yanked the headphones off.

"It was so distinct," she muttered as she stepped back. Her head snapped toward Gretchen. "Can I smoke out here? I need . . . I just need something."

After being given the thumbs up from Gretchen, Alex removed herself from the group and took a seat on one of the benches on the perimeter of the courtyard.

What had caused Alex to withdraw like that? When Randy and I were given the opportunity to listen to the EVP, it didn't take long to realize why Alex had reacted so strongly.

At the 1:50 mark, there was Tim's voice asking, "Do you like any of the new people we brought with us tonight?"

And then at 1:56, in a breathy and ghostly girlish voice, was the single word: "Alex."

Chills broke out down my spine as I peered past Michael Bill and John talking ghosts to where Alex still sat on the bench, her body drawn up against one side as though she was trying to make herself invisible to the spirits.

Michael Bill and Elaine always said that at 1022 Royal, the ghosts—Chloe, Johnny, and yes, even Samuel—are their coworkers. And as good colleagues often do, they were greeting us. It seemed they had a favorite.


Meeting Samuel: EVPS and Chirping MEL Meters

According to Elaine, the most haunted area in the dependency is the upstairs space - once the old slave quarters.

On a bright and sunny day, I suspected that the interior of the two rooms would be dreary at best. At night, with only the moonlight to guide us, the upstairs area was a maze of darkness and shadows.

The five of us - Brandon, Alex, John, and Elaine - retreated to the bed on the far side of the room to conduct an EVP session. There's something to be said for sitting quietly in an otherwise dead-silent room.

There was the rasp of our shoes sliding along the original hardwood floors; the creak of the mattress as one of us adjusted our position; the gurgle of someone's belly, followed by the apologetic, "Sorry, y'all. I'm hungry."

Call it stupid, but I felt as though it was us against the unknown. We were in it together, for better or for worse, and my nerves eased somewhat knowing that I wasn't alone on that bed. In that room. With Samuel, or Belial, or whatever else he often goes by.

The EVP session started out much like a speed dating trial run:

"Is anyone here?" Pause.

"Have we spoken to you before?" Pause.

"Is Chloe here with us?" Pause.

My head pounded fiercely, where my third eye would be. The sensation was oppressive, eliciting the sensation that I was caged in.

From what I'd heard, Chloe was a gentle spirit, and more prone to silly paranormal games. Michael Bill or Elaine would often set up all of the MEL meters on the property and "chase" her while she makes them beep.

The feeling I got upstairs, as we all sat on the bed, was darker in nature.

I voiced my concern, prompting Elaine to ask, "Are you with us, Samuel?"

The bed dipped beside me, and I could have sworn I heard someone gulp.

"Samuel, are you here? If you are, make your presence known now."

Elaine's voice was an order, a demand, and sure enough, the MEL meter sprung to life, chirping like a newborn bird. I swung my camcorder to my left, angling it so that the meter was in direct sight.

"Samuel, turn it off."

The spirit complied and the meter promptly shut up.

Torn between feeling impressed and the more inclusive feeling of fear, I sat perfectly still. The door to the upstairs cracked open and the night vision on my camcorder illuminated Tim's silhouette on the square screen.

If it were possible, the pressure on my head increased and I felt the incessant need to focus my camcorder on the meters again.

With Tim's presence acting like a beacon to spirits on the regular, I had no doubt that Samuel, or whomever had joined us, would not stray from the norm.

I was correct.

For the next twenty minutes (or longer, it was difficult to track the passage of time), Elaine and Tim took turns asking the spirit questions.

Some were taunting in an attempt to make him interact with us; others were formed out of mere curiosity. But one thing was certain: the ghost felt intimidating, like it could perhaps try to harm us. . .

Neither Tim, nor Elaine, thought it could.

"I think you just want to pretend you're tough. You aren't tough, though. You couldn't do anything to me. I don't believe in you."

Demons, Tim meant. He didn't believe in demons.

I did, however, and was quick to send up a prayer to the High Heavens to keep me safe. But bravery is a handy thing, sometimes drawn from alcohol and other times drawn from adrenaline.

When I opened my mouth to speak, I was bolstered by the latter: "Are you friends with the owner of this house?"

At that moment, Elaine and I heard what sounded like a distinctive knock. And Tim immediately lifted his headphones to tell us, "When you asked that . . . there was a male's voice that said, "It's me.”

The MEL meter was beeping incessantly, only hushing when Elaine would order the spirit to make it stop or when she blatantly said, "The beeping is annoying, Samuel. Turn that thing off. Now."

And after that? Silence. The oppressive feeling in my head released and I inhaled the musty, humid air through my nose.

With the camcorder as my eyesight, I panned to the left. Panned to the right. Not that I had expected to, but I saw nothing. Through the night vision, all I saw were a collage of gray and black shadows, as well as the Colgate-whites of my coworker's eyes.

Were they all just as shocked as me that we had captured so much paranormal activity during our session? I wanted to ask them what they thought, especially those who hadn't been on a ghost hunt before, but there was something telling in the silence.

It was as though we all agreed that Samuel's presence had riled us, but that it was best not to speak of him in case he decided to reappear again.

I can't say that I was all that upset at the realization that Samuel had taken his leave for the night.

Ghost City Says Goodnight

By the end of the evening, at around 2AM, we were all mingling in the courtyard. The living, I mean - though it's a good possibility that the dead were with us too.

We'd given up the pretense of investigating the location as we had for the last three hours, and decided simply to talk.

Funny how you can take a bunch of paranormal enthusiasts, give them the green light to investigate until their heart's content, and yet they choose to talk to each other instead.

Irony at its finest.

We were looking up at the sky from the exterior courtyard, where lots of paranormal activity occurs, including disembodied voices and phantom footsteps.

But as we stood around talking, I had the sliver of realization that this was why we'd banded together tonight.

Sure, there was the hope that we'd catch ghostly activity at what I largely consider to be one of the most haunted places in the French Quarter, but in reality getting together was a way for all of us to hang out.

I wanted to hear all about the new stop Michael Bill had added to his tour; I wanted to talk to John about his passion for travel; I wanted to listen as Monique discussed how New Orleans was her favorite haunted city.

In the dead of night, the New Orleans Ghost City Crew had come together to find ghosts . . . and yet we found each other instead.

(Did you feel slightly nauseous at that cheesy last line? Good. Mission Accomplished).

Till next time. Stay Spooky, y'all.

Also: We should have gotten a photo of the group of us.

Our Andrew Jackson Hotel Ghost Hunt

Room 208. Otherwise known as the most haunted guest room at the Andrew Jackson Hotel, which is located smack dab in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter.

For months, Ghost City Tours has been preparing for the first-ever public ghost hunt to be held at this historic and haunted hotel—July 7th and 8th or 2017 will prove illuminating in more ways than one in discovering what, if anything, is roaming the halls of this nineteenth century building.

But for now the stairs were creaking under the feet of Ghost City Tours’ paranormal investigator and Voodoo priest, Michael Bill. He and fellow investigator, Elaine, had agreed to stay the night at the illustrious hotel as a preliminary overnight ghost hunt.

Backed with MEL meters, K2 meters, spirit boxes, voice recorders and ot her ghost hunting equipment, Michael Bill and Elaine were strapped with whatever they could possibly need to detect the spectral presences at 919 Royal Street.

The sun still shone brightly overhead as Michael Bill lugged the equipment up the outdoor stairwell. The U-shaped balcony led him past other rooms, until he stopped at 208.

Eagerly he stepped before his door, key in hand. The door didn’t budge.

Michael Bill attempted another go round, but still nothing. He was supposed to stay in Room 208, right? He called the office, wondering if perhaps he’d gotten the rooms confused. But no, he had the right of it.

Slinging his backpack full of heavy equipment up his shoulder, he went in search of one of the housekeepers for help.

She did so, using her own key to open the door. She flashed a smile, noting that perhaps her key was just the magical one. It could have been true, if the same thing did not happen to Michael Bill shortly later again. His key, a new one, would just not work.

A prayer slipped from his tongue as he removed his treasured wooden cross from around his neck, and placed it to the door to grant him entry.

It broke, just like that, snapping in half in his hand, while the bottom half of the cross dropped to the floor. Unease slithered through him. From the very first moment that he’d approached his room for the night, an overbearing sensation had settled over him that someone was watching.

The moment Michael Bill touched his wooden cross to the door, it snapped in half–accident or warning? For the rest of the night, our investigators experienced the sensation of being watched . . . as if something was not so inclined to welcome them with wide open arms.

Immediate. Threatening. Whatever was on the other side of that door in Room 208 at the Andrew Jackson Hotel did not want him inside. But who? What?

The spirits were hiding within, and it was a toss up on whether they would want to be discovered during Michael Bill and Elaine’s overnight investigation.

Ties to the Andrew Jackson Hotel

The Andrew Jackson Hotel, where Ghost City Tours held a Ghost hunt

A few months ago, I wrote up an article about the haunted Andrew Jackson Hotel. I dug deep into the property’s history, determined to reveal the hotel’s secrets—and for the most part, I succeeded.

For years, stories have circulated as concrete fact among local tour companies:

At 919 Royal Street there stood an all boys’ school during eighteenth-century Spanish Colonial Louisiana, they say, before a nasty fire swept through the city in the dead of night and lit the school aflame.

Five boys were the alleged victims of the devastation, and whose ghosts are said to still play pranks and alert guests of the Andrew Jackson to their spectral existence.

The spirit of Andrew Jackson is also said to haunt the corridors of the hotel, stumbling into guests and reminding them that he once went to trial at 919 Royal Street, once the old Federal Courthouse, and has apparently decided that camping out at the Andrew Jackson Hotel is his preferred haunting spot.

Tour guides are quick to call the Andrew Jackson Hotel one of the most paranormally active places to stay in New Orleans, thanks largely to the two ghost stories above.

But there’s a simple problem: those particular ghost stories aren’t true.

But the truth is: the hotel is haunted.

Ghost Hunting at the Andrew Jackson Hotel

Michael Bill and Elaine returned to the hotel and to their room after their ghost tours that night.

It was after 10 p.m., and they’d already set up their equipment. Later, they’d comb through that material in search for any significant paranormal evidence.

Little did they know what surprises were in store for them that night, as they sat and held EVP sessions with the dead.

Communicating with Sara

Seated together in the guest room, Michael Bill and Elaine held voice recorders in hand as they settled in for an EVP session. They started off with what they knew of the haunted history of the hotel:

“Is anyone here with us?"

“Are the ghosts of the little boys who died in the fire here with us now?"

“Did the fire ever happen?"

The questions peppered the air, which was deathly silence since the AC had been turned off—no way did they want it interfering with their recordings.

After some minutes of questioning in a silent room, Michael Bill and Elaine opted to play back some of the recordings, in case something had been said by a spirit that could not be picked up by the naked ear.

Imagine their surprise when they heard the distinct sound of a male calling the name “Sara,” as if hollering at her from afar. Michael Bill and Elaine turned to stare at each other, excitement lining their smiles.

Sara. Who was Sara? The supposed ghost of a female caretaker who has been spotted by guests on the stairwell and on the second floor? A former mistress of the property?

One by one, these questions were posed to the spirit, who seemed to have joined the ghost hunting party. With each question that was voiced, the MEL meters blinked to life, pulsing with bright red flashes to alert the living that they were not alone . . . the dead had joined them.

“Turn the meters off, please.” The questions continued, only this time, not only did the meters burst to life but the AC flicked on, whirring as it kicked into gear.

“Have you been here awhile, Sara?"

Blinking lights; whirring air. The room seemed to soak up the energy of the spectral visitor, and the temperature matched that too.

Even with the AC turned off, the temperature dipped, dropping much cooler than the initial 78 degrees. The AC switched on in response to another question, and yet the temperature burned hotter than before.

Room 208 was alive with the spirits of days long ago, but Michael Bill and Elaine had no clue as to who Sara was or her relation to the hotel. They only had a name.

The MEL meters soon slipped into silence, the AC unit stayed off, and the investigators were left to wonder if Sara’s spirit was no longer interested in them.

Thomas the Young Ghost

Michael Bill and Elaine questioned if there had ever been a fire at the Andrew Jackson Hotel during its days as a school.

In the first go around of historical research, Ghost City Tours had proved that the fire of 1788 or 1794 had never touched 919 Royal Street.

But that hasn’t stopped guests from reporting the spirits of boys pulling pranks on them during their stay at the hotel.

Guests have come forward to management to explain that their TVs have switched on and off by themselves; others have heard the distinct sound of children’s laughter, even when there are no children staying at the hotel.

And even once or twice in the past, a guest or two has claimed to see the apparition of one of these ghostly boys.

Michael Bill and Elaine were skeptical, having matched up the history to the hauntings themselves, but in the course of their overnight investigation, the hauntings became only more confusing.

You see, Room 208 was visited by a specter named Thomas.

His childish voice came through the reworked spirit box - one that has eliminated all other noises on the radio airwaves - and so did the eerie laughter of children who were nowhere in sight.

“Are you one of the little boys who died in the fire, Thomas?"

No sound. At least, not at first, but then there was a distinctly chilling statement: “we are hiding."

It sounded like a group of children, not just one soul.

“Where?” Michael Bill and Elaine asked desperately. “We can’t find you if we don’t know where you are - can you give us a hint?"

“Come and find us . . . in the back house,” came the reply.

The next day, Michael Bill investigated to see if there was anything still in the back of the house - a barn, a shed, anything.

Today, the exterior of the hotel’s courtyard contains a shed generally used to hold items for the hotel - but in 1896, just a few years after the Old Federal Courthouse (and the School) were torn down to be replaced with the current building, there was indeed a barn, which appears in map records all the way back to the 1780s.

“In the back of the house?” they asked each other as the voices came through over the headphones.

And then there was one last EVP, which can only make one wonder what happened to the boy named Thomas and his companions: “Save us."

The Truth about the Hauntings at the Andrew Jackson Hotel

When I first visited the Andrew Jackson Hotel to write my article for Ghost City Tours, I had the luck of being escorted around by Assistant General Manager, Cody McLain, who has since become a great friend to Ghost City.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t forthright in asking about the hotel’s hauntings. In particular, I wanted to know about good ole General Andrew Jackson himself.

McLain’s response was much the same as we ourselves thought within the company: sightings of Andrew Jackson’s ghost were probably nothing more, and nothing less, than wishful thinking.

Just because a location is named in honor of somebody does mean that their spirit has stuck around in the Afterlife.

But what about Sara and Thomas?

I returned to the historical records, and what I found could shed some light on Michael Bill and Elaine’s preliminary investigation.

Andrew Jackson Hotel History

The Elusive Fire of 1788 and 1794

Take a walk around the French Quarter and you might find yourself thinking, “You know, this doesn’t look all too French around here.” And you’d be right - the architecture is not French, for the most part, but influenced heavily by the city’s Spanish descendants.

By 1763, the Spanish had purchased the Louisiana Territory from France; at the time of the Good Day Fire in 1788, the city was Spanish in name, although still French at heart. In the course of a single night, nearly 900 buildings of some 1,000 burned down to the ground.

Legend has it that the Spanish Boys' School at 919 Royal Street was one of the fire’s victims, but this isn’t true - after much digging into Spanish Colonial Records, I (re)discovered some pertinent information: it was not the building on 919 Royal Street that was caught up in the flames, but another property entirely.

In April 1788, less than three weeks after the devastating fire, real estate mogul Don Andres Almonester y Roxas offered to Don Andres Lopez de Armesto the use of a different property—a small house, he wrote - as a substitute for the school that Spanish educator Armesto had only just lost.

Where that previous school was located is slightly more confusing to uncover, as the Notarial Archives only show one other property where both Almonester and Armesto are listed together: that property is 841 Bourbon Street, only a block or so away from the Andrew Jackson Hotel, which, in 1786, was turned into Charity Hospital.

A photo of 841 Bourbon Street from the early 1900s, which is located in the French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans Louisiana
Although not the property that may have caught fire in 1788, 841 Bourbon Street remains a possible candidate for the Spanish Boys School from the 1700s, before later becoming the site of the first Charity Hospital. (Source: Historic New Orleans Collect, Vieux Carre Historical Survey)

Although not the property that may have caught fire in 1788, 841 Bourbon Street remains a possible candidate for the Spanish Boys School from the 1700s, before later becoming the site of the first Charity Hospital. (Source: Historic New Orleans Collect, Vieux Carre Historical Survey)

We know that then-Governor Miro ordered the property exchange to be made, and so the school boys were shuffled into a thirteen-by-twelve foot building to commence with their studies, until a new building - some $6,000 in estimated costs - could be constructed. That “new” building was and is where the Andrew Jackson Hotel stands today.

Which leads us to the major question: if the five boys did not die in a fire at 919 Royal Street, is it possible that they are still haunting the property?

Considering the paranormal evidence Ghost City Tours received from our preliminary stay at the hotel, it seems to be the case that the spirits of those boys who lost their lives perhaps continued with the school, their souls attached to their classmates who survived or perhaps even to their teachers, like Don Pedro Aragon.

Over two centuries after the fire, their souls seem to be caught in the In-Between - playing pranks on hotel guests, hiding from adults - but still begging to be saved.

Although the question remains: are they asking to be saved from the conflagration that probably stole their lives, or something more sinister altogether?

Contacting Sara’s Spirit

Along with Thomas and the other school children, the most active ghost that night at the Andrew Jackson Hotel was definitely Sara.

She answered Michael Bill and Elaine’s questions readily, energizing the MEL meters into action, and turning the air conditioning unit on and off.

But according to the audio EVP, it was a male’s voice who called out her name, not necessarily Sara who answered our investigations.

I’ll be honest, this makes me wonder if it was Sara herself interacting with our ghost hunters, or another entity or spectral visitor completely.

But if it was indeed Sara, who was she?

Rosaria Messina D'Alfonso Cangeloise

No Saras were matched to any of the owners’ wives in 919 Royal Street. The search raged on - until I stumbled across a particular 1940 Census record, in which a Rosaria Catherine “Sara" Cangeloise was listed as living adjacent to 919 Royal at 934 Royal Street.

She was roughly 42-45 years old at the time, and had lived at the property since 1907. She never married but lived with her family until the house was sold in 1948 after her father’s death.

Who did she live with?

Sara was one of nine children, four boys and five girls. Both of her parents had immigrated from Cefalu, Sicily, just before the turn of the century.

At the time of the 1940 census record, the Andrew Jackson Hotel was functioning as a hotel - although perhaps not necessarily the Andrew Jackson itself - and it’s quite possible that Sara worked just across the street from her home. The census lists her as employed, but does not list where.

Even if she was not a housekeeper at the hotel, the fact that Michael Bill and Elaine heard a man calling out Sara’s name would make sense, as paranormal activity can often form because of residual energy, in which a single event can be replayed over and over again on a different spiritual plane.

There’s one thing that’s for certain: the Andrew Jackson Hotel remains one of the most haunted hotels in New Orleans, and it seems evident that the property’s ghosts are more than willing to engage with the living.

As for ourselves, we’re desperate to learn more about Sara . . . and to discover once and for all why Thomas and his companions need saving.

If you’re planning a visit to New Orleans and would like to stay at this haunted hotel, please visit their website.

We hope to see you there!