Urban legends are the tales of fiction that cloak themselves in truth, or at least the semblance of truth.
Little details that are true, could be true, might be true, sound true. They help put over the story. Some tales are horrific, some are funny, and some are tales that intrigue us so much, we secretly hope they are real.
Jacque Ste Germain - Descendent or Immortal?
Which brings me to our topic today - Jacque Ste Germain. Let's set the stage. Back in the early 1900s in New Orleans - some say 1902, some say 1904 - a gentleman comes to town. Mysterious, charming, amusing; a bon vivant known for hosting the crème of New Orleans at his home at 1039 Royal Street in the French Quarter.
Jacque Ste Germain kept his guests entertained with stories of his travels, of knowledge of events long ago - but he never enjoyed more than a goblet of wine at his parties. How strange, no? No matter, when such an elegant man, who claimed to be direct descendent of the Comte de Ste Germain, confidant of King Louis XV, was throwing the party.
One night in November, the police were called Royal Street. A young woman, allegedly a prostitute, claimed she was forced to jump from the house's balcony in order to escape Jacque's attempt to slash her neck and drink her blood. The police were astonished by this claim and couldn't believe a gentleman such as Jacque would do such a thing. Given the late hour of the incident, they told Monsieur Ste Germain to come down to the station in the morning to give his statement. And what do you know? He never came to give it.
The police then entered the house on Royal street and what do they find but bottles of wine mixed with blood, along with clothing with spots of blood. Apparently, they had a vampire in their midst all along and never knew it. Vampire Jacque had disappeared, leaving everything in his house behind him.
Now not everyone was convinced he was gone because in the 1930s, two women were attacked in the Quarter, their necks slashed and a man was seen fleeing the scene, scaling a 12 foot wall with ease. No doubt it had to be Vampire Jacque, right? Fast forward to the 1970s and a frenchman named Richard Chanfray comes on the scene, claiming he was the actual Comte de Ste Germain (though he never claimed to be Vampire Jacque). Could Jacque or Richard Chanfray be the Comte himself - noted alchemist to the King of France in the 1740s - roaming the world for the last 200+ years?
Is the immortal Comte still roaming the dark streets of the French Quarter? And thus, the urban legend was born.
Funny thing about Urban Legends, once you start looking at them outside of the story and from a factual basis, the threads of the tale usually start to fray. I spent quite a bit of time poking around online, looking for articles from The Times-Picayune for any reference to such an event happening in the early 1900s and I came up empty. You'd think such a tale would have been front page news, and yet no record. In fact, I couldn't find any contemporary references to Vampire Jacque anywhere or even when the story first started popping up. Maybe modern day Vampire Jacque is just good at hiding his internet history.
It doesn't hurt that this legend is set in New Orleans, one of the places on earth where we could picture vampires roaming the streets. Tourists still snap pictures of the house of Royal Street and tour companies still tell the tales to Quarter visitors who want chills with their Hurricane drinks. Like any good urban legend, the tale of Vampire Jacque has enough breadcrumbs of truth (his house, the real Comte de Ste Germain) to help bolster the story. This tall tale is one I think we can safely mark as fiction, even if we still entertain a sliver of doubt.