Episode 003: The Lost City of Frenier

In 1915 a vicious hurricane cut through Southeastern Louisiana causing massive destruction in its ravenous wake.  The storm surge topped 12 feet and the hurricane’s devastating winds swept through at 145 mph, leaving almost 300 dead.  Yet nowhere was the storm’s wrath more apparent than the small settlement of Frenier.

Located on an isthmus between Lake Pontchatrain an Maurepas, Frenier was so isolated that there were no roads into or out of the community, no electricity or modern medical care.  The people of Frenier’s only connection to nearby New Orleans was by railroad.  So when folks got sicks they were either forced to wait for a train or go to visit their local voodoo healer, a woman by the name of Julia Brown.

Julia had been a part of the small swamp community for many years, helping her neighbors overcome illness and broken bones, often even serving as their midwife.  She had become such an integral part of their lives that many even referred to her as Aunt Julia.  Unfortunately one day the relationship began to sour and Julia no longer felt her or her religion were being respected by the neighbors she was helping.

After her husband Celis’ death, the voodoo practitioner began to isolate herself at her home on the edge of the swamp.  She’d sit in her rocking chair, fiddling with knots in black yarn while singing ominous songs about the destruction of Frenier.  “When I die I’ll take the whole town with me,” she sang in French Creole, “when I die.”

Locals feared the worst from Julia’s song.  Did she indeed have the power to destroy the town or was she was merely taunting them with the possibility of their destruction?  

Find out this week on Southern Gothic.