Marie Catherine Laveau was a Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo renowned in New Orleans. Her daughter, Marie Laveau II, (1827 — c. 1895) also practiced Voudoun, as well as Voodoo. She and her mother had great influence over their multiracial following. “In 1874 as many as twelve thousand spectators, both black and white, swarmed to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain to catch a glimpse of Marie Laveau II performing her legendary rites on St. John’s Eve (June 23–24).
Very little is known with any certainty about the life of Marie Laveau. It is believed Laveau and her surviving daughter had the same name, her daughter being named Marie Laveau II according to some historians. Scholars believe that the mother was more powerful while the daughter arranged more elaborate public events (including inviting attendees to St. John’s Eve rituals on Bayou St. John). They received varying amounts of financial support. It is not known which (if either) had done more to establish the voodoo queen reputation. Marie Laveau ll was believed to have three children whom she shipped off to the Dominican Republic after threats were made to burn them alive. Marie’s husband, Jose Huerta, had raised the children on his own to keep the vodoun tradition within his family. The last recorded descendants of this family is Victor Delgado-Huerta (born 1999) and Melenie Delgado-Huerta (born 2003). Both still practice vodoun but have not been given higher titles by the International Voodoo Society.
Of Laveau’s magical career, there is little that can be substantiated, including whether she had a snake she named Zombi after an African god, whether the occult part of her magic mixed Roman Catholic saints with African spirits, or whether her divinations were supported by a network of informants she developed while working as a hairdresser in prominent white households and in a brothel she ran. She appeared to excel at obtaining inside information on her wealthy patrons by instilling fear in their servants whom she either paid or cured of mysterious ailments.
According to official New Orleans vital records, a certain Marie Glapion Lavau died on June 15, 1881, aged 98. The different spellings of her surname may result from a casual approach to spelling, and her age at death from conflicting accounts of her birthdate.