At the turn of the century, people outside of New Orleans viewed the city through the eyes of journalist and author George Washington Cable. His writings portrayed a tropical European city nestled on the banks of an American river still teeming with the literary, artistic, and social developments of a late Renaissance. In his own romance with Louisiana, Cable came upon many stories written by its denizens. While Cable assisted some authors in finding places to publish their works, there were many stories he kept for himself. Much of this collection can now be found in Strange True Stories of Louisiana.
“They are mine by right of discovery,” writes Cable. “From various necessities of the case I am sometimes the story-teller, and sometimes, in the reader’s interest, have to abridge; but I add no fact and trim naught of value away. Here are no unconfessed ‘restorations,’ not one. In time, place, circumstance, in every essential feature, I give them as I got them—strange stories that truly happened, all partly, some wholly, in Louisiana.”
Strange True Stories of Louisiana is Cable’s compilation of seven unusual, factual accounts of life and history in the area. They include tales of two French sisters who made the dangerous trek to the unsettled lands of North Louisiana at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Focusing on New Orleans, Cable adds the story of “The ‘Haunted House’ in Royal Street,” which spurs the imaginations of ghost hunters more than a century after its original writing. There is also a diary account, in its first published form, of a Union woman trapped behind the battle lines during the Civil War.