Manchac Swamp also known as Ghost Swamp is a wetland just northwest of New Orleans, Louisiana. The swamp is known for its murky waters and eerie looking trees. The marsh is also home to alligators that creep around on strangely colored waters while waiting for prey. Scary snakes infest the dark surroundings. Broken logs can be seen floating in the swamp. The woods are remnant of the now abandoned lodging towns of Ruddock, Frenier and Napton. Locals consider the swamp haunted not just because it has direct ties to the Rougarou and Cajun werewolves, but also the black magic and voodoo practices that were passed down from generation to generation. One of the most popular stories is about a voodoo priestess named Julia Brown whom according to the legend cursed the swamp before the time of her remarkable death.
The Ghost Swamp: Who is Julia Brown?
According to townsfolk, Julia Brown lived near the end of the swamp and worked in the town of Frenier. Brown was good to the residents and in return, the people respected her. She helped mothers during childbirth and aided in the curing of illness and infections that were difficult to treat and manage. Based on circulated stories, Brown, a good spirited person changed when the village took her for granted. People became ungrateful of her kindness, which led to her to practice voodoo and curses that terrified the neighborhood. She was known for making hand gestures that no one could understand and staring at others with an intensity that would terrify a holy man.
According to reports, residents of the town heard Brown singing lyrics that had everyone concerned. She predicted terrible things to those people who wronged her. One of the most infamous of Brown’s prophecies was about her own death and taking everyone to die with her.
Some claimed that Julia Brown didn’t leave a curse but only a prediction to warn the townsfolk. Her voodoo practices were only for healing of the sick and wounded.
Census records show that Julia was born in Louisiana around 1845 under the name of Julia Bernard. In 1880, she married Celestin Brown and changed her name to Julia Brown. Based on a statement from the modern New Orleans Voodoo priestess, Bloody Mary: “Brown served as a local healer and she was not a revengeful type of person”. She also emphasized that Julia was usually seen singing on her front porch with her guitar. One of the songs had lyrics that went like this “One day I’m going to die and take the whole town with me.”
The Faithful Day of the Ghost Swamp: September 29, 1915
A tremendous storm approached the coast of Louisanna. The once prosperous towns of Ruddock, Frenier, and Napton were swept away by a massive hurricane on September 29, 1915. The very same day when Julia Brown was to be laid to rest in the town of Frenier. The storm was Category 4 with 145 mph sustained winds. According to reports, about 300 people died during this terrifying hurricane that traveled inland from the Caribbean. By October 1, any rescuers that arrived could see those entire communities were no more. A few of the survivors claim to see people screaming for life as they were swallowed by the swamp during the powerful destruction.
A newspaper in 1915. The New Orleans Times-Picayune documented Julia Brown’s funeral on the day of the storm:
“Many pranks were played by wind and tide. Negroes had gathered for miles around to attend the funeral of ‘Aunt’ Julia Brown, an old Negress who was well-known in that section, and was a big property owner. The funeral was scheduled …, ‘Aunt’ Julia had been placed in her casket, and the casket, in turn, had been placed in the customary wooden box and sealed. At 4 o’clock, however, the storm had become so violent that the negroes left the house in a stampede, abandoning the corpse. The corpse was found Thursday and so was the wooden box, but the casket has never been found.”
The Ghost Swamp: Haunting Experience in Manchac
Many tried to rebuild the town again, but most simply abandoned the island that once was Julia’s isolated home. The reputation of the Manchac Swamp became a hot spot for paranormal activities and was featured several times in paranormal TV shows.
Visitors and locals report spooky tales of moans and screams from an unknown woman’s voice. Cries from the victims of the old hurricane are mentioned that can still be faintly heard in the distance. However no one can be found. Residents even say the night air rings to a song similar to what Julia Brown played on her guitar about her strange death.
BoobalooTheStink posted a story on Reddit describing his terrifying experience with what he believes is Julia Brown cackling in the Manchac Swamp.
Whether or not the Ghost of Julia Brown haunts Manchac Swamp is perhaps best left to anyone who has lived there or have experienced her ghost. The only thing that is certain is the legend of Julia Brown has left either a curse or a warning to the inhabitants of Manchac swamp.