We all know the tale of the black bayou witch. The dark voodoo Queen; The creole woman Marie Laveau.
How in the old city of New Orleans, she cast many her secret powerful spells. With black cat ears, dug up roots and mule bones aall sprinkled with dead man toes.
But have you ever really heard the tall Texas tale of the Voodoo Queen of Marshall, Texas. The Black' Cat Mama Couteaux?
IF YOU SHOULD WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT MAMA COUTEAUX. THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE IN MARSHALL WHO KNOW THE OLD URBAN VOODOO LEGENDS.
TO THIS VERY DAY IF YOU VENTURE INTO THE OLD SHACK OF EZEL'S BAR-B-QUE ON ALAMO STREET. THE ACTUAL PATRONS THAT GATHER THERE CAN GIVE YOU GOOD INFORMATION ABOUT HER.
BUT BEWARE, THEY DO NOT TALK VERY FREELY ABOUT THE SUBJECT TO STRANGERS. AND HUNTING FOR THE REAL TEXAS VOODOO QUEEN OR HER VAST TREASURE WILL COST YOU YOUR LIFE!
...AND FROM THOSE DAMNED TEXAS ZOMBIES SHE DID MAKE!
In the old black Powdermill Cemetery, or it might be Ebenezer Baptist Churchyard and is an unmarked grave. Only the faithful know where to find it for sure. And to those blessed beings that really know the secrets of real Voodoo and special Texas Hoodoo, all say... keep away.
Still many others in Marshall will insist her hidden grave lies behind Galilee Baptist Church on Johnson Street. And it is the unmarked grave marked only with three black large stones and voodoo hoodoo blessed and dressed offerings.
Others will tell you it can be found in a all white cemetery. And that's just to keep anyone from resurrecting her zombie husband who is buried with her from rising again.
My Mama told me once when I was very young that if you went to Whetstone Cemetery behind East Texas Baptist University. And precisely at 3:AM, you can hear a real zombie. You hear him moaning and scratching from the hard ground, impatiently waiting out his time for someone to dig him up.
Because here lies Black' Mama Couteaux. Many say she was buried with and a ax in her brain a bowie knife in heart. Her legs and arms burnt to ashes and scattered in the great Caddo lake.
Yet others will say... "You want to know the real truth! " "Be glad she's still buried... STANDIN ON HER UN HOLY CURSED HEAD!"
The city of Marshall, Texas was founded in 1841 as the seat of Harrison County, after repeated failed attempts to establish a county seat on the Sabine River since the county was established in 1839, and was incorporated in 1843. The Republic of Texas decided to choose the site of land granted by Peter Whetstone and Isaac Van Zandt after Whetstone had proven that the hilly location had a good water source. The city quickly became a major city in the state because of its position as a gateway to Texas on several major stage coach lines. The establishment of several "colleges"— schools offering little more than secondary education earned Marshall the nickname the Athens of Texas, in reference to the ancient Greek city state. The city's growing importance was confirmed when Marshall was linked by a telegraph line to New Orleans, becoming the first city in Texas to have a telegraph service.
By 1860, the city was the fourth largest city in Texas and the seat of the richest county. The county had more slaves than any other in the state, making it a hotbed of Voodoo Hoodoo anti-Union sentiment. At the time the faithful cried out to New Orleans to send them a Queen to rule their band of devotees. From the practices of conjuring the spirits and the dead they were told to them that soon a great priestess would be delivered to them.
When Gov. Sam Houston refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Marshall's Edward Clark was sworn in as governor. Marshall would also produce Texas's third Confederate governor, Pendleton Murrah. Marshall became a major Confederate city; producing gunpowder and other supplies for the Confederate Army, and hosting three conferences of Trans-Mississippi and Indian Territory leaders. The city also became the capital of Missouri's Confederate government-in-exile, earning it the nickname the City of Seven Flags—a nod to the flag of Missouri in addition to the other six flags that have flown over the city.
Marshall became the seat of civil authority and headquarters of the Trans-Mississippi Postal Department after the fall of Vicksburg. The city may have been the intended target of a failed Union advance that was rebuffed at Mansfield, Louisiana. Towards the end of the War Between the States, the Confederate States government had $9.0 million in Treasury notes and $3.0 million in postage stamps shipped to Marshall, possibly meaning that Marshall was the intended destination of a government preparing to flee from advancing armies.
Marshall was occupied by Union forces on June 17, 1865. During Reconstruction the city was home to an office of the Freedmen's Bureau and was the base for Union troops. In 1873 The Methodist Episcopal Church founded Wiley College to educate free men. African-Americans came to the city seeking opportunities and protection until 1878, when the Citizens Party, led by former Confederate General Walter P. Lane and his brother George, took control of the city and county governments and ran Unionists, Republicans and many African-Americans out of town. The Lanes ultimately declared Marshall and Harrison County "redeemed" from Union and African-American control. Despite this the African-American community would continue to progress with the establishment of Bishop College in 1881 and the certification of Wiley by the Freedman's Aid Society in 1882.
But to the city came In spite of the hard times and its many woes the great prophecy was fulfilled. A old New World Creole voodoo woman named Black' Mama Couteau (or Couteaux) arrived on the scene. One day for no good reason some say she just arrived and set up shop. One dark stormy day, a High Holy Day, a Good Friday the 13th , 1838 to be exact.
No one really knew how old she was, but she was old. They who knew her well talked of her being the Great Grand Mother or even the great -great grandmother to the New Orleans Voodoo Hoodoo Queen the great Marie Laveau. Others said she was a evil black cat magic hexin woman from the swamps, who went to war-in with all the voodoos' and hoodoos in New Orleans at the time. And she was banished from the Old French Quarter for her evil deeds. With an army of Zombies that followed only her alone that only she could control. They descended on New Orleans from the yellow fever mosquito ridden Jefferson, Louisiana dark swamps. These two factions were said to have fought over voodoo hoodoo territory.
This Voodoo Hoodoo war fist took place in the open area's of Congo Square. The great voodoo war began at sunset. It lasted 32 days and nights. Over 100 hundred killed and many zombies sent back to hell through the Gates of Guinee.
Below is the image of a real leather Voodoo Hoodoo Gris-Gris bag said to have been made by Black' Cat Mama Coutreaux in the late 1800's, Marshall, Texas. Part of the private collection of Lisa Lee Harp Waugh.
Many think it originally was sold to someone from Couteaux directly for a very steep price.
The actual small deer hide bag contains many things. A wad of red hair tied tight with a yellow faded bow, a string of purple embroidery thread with 199 knots in it, and many other small crockery, metals, Ju-Ju Cat bone dirt and strange voodoo bead items of the time.
Black' Mama Couteaux was winning in the beginning. Sending great hordes of zombies to kill the followers of other lesser Queens of the time. They are said to have countered to this with many spells because they never really knew where Black' Mama Couteaux would strike next. Finally they all had, had enough. With the help of several other Voodoo Hoodoo King's and Queens from across the great South she finally defeated Couteaux.
As time in the voodoo zombie war went on, Black' Mama Couteaux never grew weak. One often heard fact was the woman use to like to mix things up with her fist and was known to physically beat grown men and woman including judges and polititons to the ground. And to say she pitifully lost the fight to that of possibly Marie Laveau's powerful secret "Black Magic Zombie Voodoo Dust" is an understatement. Many say it was because her husband to be, the handsome and dashing Rudolph Couteaux, was killed over a bet he lost at a local cock or dog fight. And this is what made her stop the war cold.
And from his untimely death she resurrected him to become his bride. She knew he had died from a real voodoo hoodoo curse. But what mattered most was bringing him back from the dead. With the help of Dr. John And Laveau they dug up his body on a rainy night when a full hurricane was tossing the city around like a cock roach on a old stick in a puddle. And on the weed filled shores of the black Bayou St. John at the foot of the Great Spanish Fort, she bite out his dead rotting tongue and made him into her zombie lover forever.
She fled the city that night, swearing unholy revenge on those that cursed her life. Many say that is where the curse of the New Orleans Devil Baby begin. And that it was her own daughter that it was cursed upon to be Mama of the infernal child by the one and only Black' Mama Couteaux. Laveau's followers in New Orleans might today tell a very different story, but sure as you can be certain, it was caused by Black' Cat Mama Couteaux.
Another old tale my Great Grandma told me was, Black' Mama Couteaux she was the real Creole Great Grand Mama of Marie Laveau. Not just her biological one but her teacher and mentor. And yes she alone taught her all her old close well kept secrets. They say the people that followed Couteaux had Laveau alone summoned to come to Marshall just to pry her dead body from her zombie husbands grip. You see she died old and sickly in his arms and at her death he grab her up and held her so tight parts of her burst from the pressure. No one could break his mighty hold. So Laveau was summoned to Texas to see what could be done.
Her decision was simple. She said bury them both standing on their heads and they will never rise from the grave to bother anyone.
If you never have heard of a real Voodoo funeral then you do not know the real visual horrors that are set before the innocent. The Couteaux's funeral took 6 days to prepare. With Laveau preceding as Mortician, Clergy and Voodoo Queen all at once. Laveau dressed them both in their finery, with love and care as a special large coffin was made to hold them both.
The funeral was set and the corpse and living zombie were lwered head first into a deep pitt. Posibbly an old dried out dusty well. Laveaus is saidto have stayed in town for the entire time of the funeral and the next day she and the house that was once Couteaux's was nothing but ash and cinders.
From all over the United States the news of her untimely demise was mourned. On the day of her voodoo burial rites it is said to have thundered and lightning and rained from midnight to midnight. Many say it was the tears of the lost inconsolable Voodoo Hoodoo Gods crying for her soul. Other say it was God in heaven crying tears of great Joy and relief because Mama Couteaux was finally dead. Many hundreds of Zombies across the nation were said to have just frozen and fallen destroyed in their spots when she died the great curse of curses of hers forever broken.
How To Make and Control a Real Zombie is often disputed. You see in the first step of Zombification special powders are made and the person is cursed before their deaths. Then the corpse is dug from it' grave on a moonless night. A ritual of indescribable infernal actions takes place in the graveyard. The soul of the person is called out then imprisoned in a bottle or large clay human shaped pot. As the body become animated by that of the Ghede and the powers set forth by Baron Samedi, it is held down in it's coffin by several strong white hooded men. The voodoo Priestess alone must bite out the tongue to gain power over the soulless creature. And by doing this it will always do the bidding of the last person who has it's tongue in their mouth.
Many who owned zombies keep the dried tongues in the jars so that when sold the zombies new master must put the tongue in their mouth to gain the complete power to control the zombies actions totally.
To raise a voodoo army that none else can command all the tongues of the dead at reanimation must be swallowed whole by the actual zombie maker alone. That way insuring complete control over all the zombies they made. They will only be set free when the zombie maker dies or the tongue is cut from their belly's. Black' Mama Couteaux was said to wear a belt and a long necklace under clothes with over 1600 dried tongues attached. These of her zombie army were therefore bound to follow only her control. We also must consider here that her army may have been larger for it is not really known how many tongues she had actually ate and swallowed over the years also.
Black' Mama Couteaux's zombie husband to be Rudolph was said to be a handsome but skinny and overly lanky fellow. But always well dressed with a tall top hat and a beard like the good President Lincoln's. This her "Creole man" was at least 45 to 50 years her junior in appearance. But he cared for her and caressed her publicly like she was a mere girl of marrying age. Many frowned on this for such public displays were not the norm of the period or so the actual sorted stories go. But no one would say an open word or even in hushed circles in fear of what magic retaliation she would put upon them.
"He's took her out on his bended arm, showed her off day and night like an expensive gem glittering in the light, with white cotton gloved hands." My Grand Ma said. "They say and he never looked at another woman." " And his fine store bought clothes were always just too finely pressed for any a live freeman of color." "He never spoke a word or made a sound or blinked his eyes." "No one ever saw him eat or drink." "And many more around say they never saw him sleep." "He would stand in the front yard guarding his Queen rain or shine, 102 degree heat or the cold of winters icy deep freeze, night and day." "And always he smelled to, too overly perfumed, of lavender and rose so sweet."
The clue was always the sweet smelling lavender and rose smell my old Grandma said. She would stop her story and tell me oh so low. As if God or the Devil would not or should not hear her ... "That sweet sickening smell! "That cursed black blood and cat gut stench perfume." She would say, ." That's to cover it up!" "You knows." "To cover up if someone be dead for a real long time." "And that's when everyone around you knows, they was a full cuss-ed real Texas zombie." As she'd often would tell me with her half Louisiana half East Texas drawl. " I knew a woman who had a real Zombie baby once," she said to me. "But I swore to tell no one anything, and by that I said to much." And with this she would chuckle.
Marshall's "Railroad Era" began in the early 1870s. Harrison County citizens voted to offer $300,000 bond subsidy, and the City of Marshall offered to donate land north of the downtown to the Texas and Pacific Railway if the company would move to Marshall. Black' Mama Couteaux's magic spell is said to have made T&P President Jay Gould accept the offer which at first he refused 6 times. By her insistence and black magic he finally located the T&P's workshops and general offices for Texas in Marshall. The city benefited immediately from a population explosion. And so did Black' Mama Couteaux. She sold her voodoo hoodoo wares and tall black Texas style zombies, powders, and snake poisoned teas. She would sell chicory flavored love potions and "Hate Me Not" liquorices flavored juice to all that wanted them. She made woman bare children, and men more viral. She made the strays tow the line and ruled the city with the strong grip that only she could.
Couteaux often would embroidery special VE-VE's on her red silk laced multiple petticoats and those of young woman who came to her for her needed great help. A Veve or Vévé (also spelt as beybey and vever) is a religious symbol commonly used in all of voodoo. It acts as a "beacon" for the loa (also spelt lwa) - a type of spirit or ghost, and will serve a loa's representation during rituals. In the past, it was believed that the veve derived from the beliefs of the native Tainos, but more recent scholarship has demonstrated a close link between the veve and the cosmogram of the Kongo people.
According to Milo Rigaud's book, Secrets of Voodoo (c1969; City Lights, NY), "The veves represent figures of the astral forces... In the course of Voodoo ceremonies, the reproduction of the astral forces represented by the veves obliges the loas ... to descend to earth." And wearing one on your under garments helps protect you from all that could harm you.
Every Loa has his or her own unique veve, although regional differences have led to different veves for the same loa in a few cases. Sacrifices and offerings are usually placed upon them, And they must be special made and hand done on a dark night while sitting in cemetery atop a fresh grave of a virgin.
A veve is usually drawn on the floor by strewing a powder-like substance, commonly salt, baking soda, rice, cornmeal, wheat flour, bark, red brick powder, or gunpowder, though the material depends entirely upon the ritual. In Haitian Vodou, a mixture of cornmeal and wood ash is used. In Texas Voodoo they use salt rats blood and white flowers from a grave.
And if you had the money she would sell you her secret recipe special black magic spell to kill a man quick, or make a woman your eternal love or sex slave.
By 1880 the city was one of the South's largest cotton markets. And so Black' Mama Couteaux went into the fine dress and petticoat making business. She began to make and start selling handmade voodoo wedding dresses for all the fine rich ladies who needed to marry quick. These gowns and undergarments with handmade fine white laced trims are still hidden away in someone's attic today. These haunted Wedding gowns are said to make a man marry you when he sets his eyes on you. They are embroidered with white stitched VEVE's and are often seen yellowed on the aging garments cursed stained fabrics.
The city's new prosperity became apparent with the opening of J. Weisman and Co., the first department store in Texas, and with the installation of a single light bulb in the Texas and Pacific Depot, Marshall became the first city in Texas to have electricity. Black' Mama Couteaux was said to be the first woman of color to have it in her fine home. A supposed gift from a wealthy client and maybe by Weisman himself.
This is the only known thought to be reported image of Black"Cat Mama Couteaux.
MAMA'S GRAND WHITE VOODOO HOODOO MANSION IS SAID TO BE IN THE LOCATION OF WHERE THE WEST SIDE, AND NORTH SIDE COMBINE IN MARSHALL. SOME WILL SAY IN TOWN THAT MAYBE IT WAS CLOSE TO GEORGE GREGG STREET OR AROUND THERE. NO ONE KNOWS OR WOULD DARE TO TELL IF THEY DID!!! IT WAS OFTEN TOLD TO BE THE FIRST HOUSE ALSO TO HAVE INDOOR PLUMBING AND ELECTRIITY IN THAT AREA. ALL THIS BEFORE IT WAS BURNT TO THE GROUND AT HER DEATH.
Prosperity brought out elements which led to some nationally known crimes being tried in the city, including the trials for the attempted murder of Maurice Barrymore. During this period of wealth, many of the city's now historic homes were constructed. Black' Mama Couteaux's was a fine built mansion and it is said to have been given to her by a man who she saved from hanging. She also is said to have made many a man a millionaire. As well as gathering a mass fortune of her own. Which they say her treasure is guarded and buried in the ground of her old estate guarded by no less then 50 zombies. Though all that is left of the great house is a blood stained voodoo cursed memory of where her the great evil Couteaux once lived!. No one would ever dare to dig.
The city's most prominent industry, pottery manufacturing, began with the establishment of Marshall Pottery in 1895. They say Black' Mama Couteaux had a secret hand in that and was given many stone clay jars to keep her many souls locked away in. All a gift to her from a secret friend and her house was said to contain over 1000 small zombie bottle human shaped jars made special for her alone. the jars or small human bottles were said to have in each the spirit of someone who died in Marshall. Many families would come to Black' Mama Couteaux and ask that their loved ones ghosts would be put in the clay bottle jars so they would not come back as zombies.
Black' Mama Couteaux never used voodoo hoodoo dolls except for very important matters. Her spells were usually magic potions and strange colored powders. Red, Blue, yellow orange or black and all the colors of Gods Rainbow twirled into one. Some Gris-gris's were for making a man love you, while still others to cure the curse of gout. There was even a special powder to make a black baby white or a white baby black while still in a mama's belly. And this spell came with a steep price.
If you saw a thick dark VEVE, where no light reflects, made of black as ash powder on your doorstep, Carefully poured in a pattern of 9 X's circling it and a red clay zombie bottle broken in pieces. Then by all means your personal affairs need to be in great order. And you better had have gotten your good Sunday clothes clean and finely pressed and picked clean of lint. This of course because your funeral was two days away.
The many stories of the time say she made zombies of whole families. From infants to the elderly and all manner of mammal, fish and fowl and in between. She'd even threaten to Zombify a person with their only salvation being to justly pay her a fine large fee monthly or weekly whatever they could afford or not to.
Despite the prosperity of Black' Mama Couteaux and the industrious railroad era, poverty continued to be a big problem in the city among all the races, but tensions between whites and African-Americans continued to worsen as segregation just happened to occur in the great city. Black' Mama Couteaux was an exception to all the rules. Rich, affluent and so said to be the only woman who could hold her head higher then all the fine ladies. Be they black or white in Texas. And it was only because everyone feared her wrath.
The rural areas of Harrison County saw greater interaction between white people and African-Americans. There, whites and blacks being neighbors was commonplace. And Black' Mama Couteaux's great two story house sat in the middle of both. Even though the areas surrounding Marshall were somewhat integrated, racism was still apparent in everyday life. The fact that several plantation owners divided up sizable tracts of land and gave them to their former slaves may also have contributed to these tensions. Black' Mama Couteaux always walked between the two groups never cowering to any tensions or racial slurs.
Only once did a man make offense to her and after that he would be her zombie slave. Many tell that she had an army of zombies 150 strong. All made from the wealthy sons of those that died in the war. A fine payment they said she received every month from their grieving family's.
Black' Mama Couteaux was said to go dig up the fresh corpses nightly raining or even on black moonless nights. And from even the not so fresh dead she made her ju-ju's and death powders and make them all into Zombies of some type. She would then extort large amounts of monies from the families. This she did by turning up at the door with the families dead relative completely zombified. And in acceptance of their kind payments she would bargain with them making up contracts to let their enslaved loved ones go free and be buried in peace. But it might take 10 years or longer unless she received the payment in cash on the first of the month.
She then sent the Zombies far north where they worked for nothing but to turn to dust as their bodies wore away.
Many more stories are around about Black' Mama Couteaux in East, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. And I would love to learn them all. A few they tell me that should never be told too.
They say when you live in Marshall, Texas if you call her name to help you. Unless she likes you, and on a Blue full moon night, you'll be dead by dawn. Or so the Texas Voodoo legend goes.
But to here them talk all hushed and scared at the old Ezel's Bar- B- Que. No one talks about her ever or they deny she ever lived. Or that she ever walked the dusty Streets of old Marshall, Texas. But they say her ghost still haunts the place where her great Zombie House once stood. And even if you dare to come round here and speak that evil name ... you will die!
About Lisa Lee Harp Waugh
Born in 1958, a true child of the city of Marshall, Texas Lisa Lee Harp Waugh is often call the First Lady of Necromancy. As a otherworldly traveler she explores both sides of the thin veil between life and death. Her nightly journeys into the dark world of Necromancy brings her closer each day to solving the mystery of death.
With early morning paranormal conversations with those that have died before us. Waugh investigates the secrets of the pas present and future of us all.