Throughout history there have been those mysterious, misunderstood individuals who have left bafflement, oddities, and enigmas in their wake. They seem to come from nowhere to puzzle and amaze, only to disappear into the depths of history, to be forever ciphers beyond our understanding. One such strange individual called New Orleans his home in the early 1900s, and by some accounts was more than merely an eccentric, but also an immortal vampire.
The setting for this odd tale is the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the early 1900s, when one day a mysterious stranger came to town to take up residence at an opulent home at 1039 Royal Street. The stranger called himself Jacques St. Germain, and immediately made an indelible impression with his dashing good looks, charming demeanor, and obvious wealth. Indeed, he was known to splash about money as if it were nothing to him, and came to be known for holding lavish parties at his luxurious home where he would entertain high society’s rich and elite. It was not long before this stranger was the talk of the town, yet no one really had any idea of where he had come from, nor much about him at all other than that he spoke both French, English, and Spanish fluently, and that he was well-traveled, talking excitedly of his trips to far-flung places throughout the world but giving very little personal information about himself. It didn’t seem to matter though, as the handsome socialite was so rich and charming, beguiling even, that people overlooked it.
As time went on, Jacque’s eccentricities began to come through. He was rarely seen during daylight hours and it was noticed that during his conversations he would often slip into talking about events in the far past with such familiarity and with such a sentimental cast to his expression that it gave people the unsettling feeling that he had actually been present at these events, despite them lying sometimes centuries in the past. He also began to make bold claims that he was a direct descendant of the late Comte de St. Germain, who was a mysterious European adventurer, philosopher, and prominent member of high society in the 1700s, as well as a personal friend and diplomat of King Louis the XV.
This was all taken with a grain of salt, and most took it to be said in jest, merely entertaining banter, but there were others who noticed that Jacques actually did bear a striking resemblance to Comte de St. Germain, and seemed to behave very much the same as well. Rumors began to swirl, and before long there were whispers that not only was Jacques related to Comte de St. Germain, but that they were one in the same, this despite the fact that he had died in 1784. Nevertheless, there was speculation that Jacques had somehow achieved immortality, an idea bolstered by the fact that Comte de St. Germain always appeared to be around the same age in all of his portraits, about 40, which was incidentally exactly the same age as the mysterious Jacques.
On top of all of his other idiosyncrasies and his uncanny resemblance to his claimed ancestor, this led to suspicion that Jacques was perhaps actually an immortal, and had merely changed his identity from Comte de St. Germain upon moving to New Orleans. This was bolstered by the fact that Comte de St. Germain had often made bold claims that he was hundreds of years old and had found an elixir of everlasting life, on top of other bold and mysterious proclamations, with the famous Italian author, adventurer, and great historical womanizer Giacomo Girolamo Casanova himself once writing of Compte St. Germain in his memoir thus:
This extraordinary man, intended by nature to be the king of impostors and quacks, would say in an easy, assured manner that he was three hundred years old, that he knew the secret of the Universal Medicine, that he possessed a mastery over nature, that he could melt diamonds, professing himself capable of forming, out of ten or twelve small diamonds, one large one of the finest water without any loss of weight. All this, he said, was a mere trifle to him. Notwithstanding his boastings, his bare-faced lies, and his manifold eccentricities, I cannot say I thought him offensive. In spite of my knowledge of what he was and in spite of my own feelings, I thought him an astonishing man as he was always astonishing me.
Another oddity that Jacques shared with Comte de St. Germain was that, although he threw decadent feasts and seemed to revel in people gorging themselves on food in his presence, he never seemed to actually eat anything himself. He was said to merely talk and observe, sometimes drinking from a chalice of wine, but never actually eating any of the food on display. This oddly mirrors an unusual observation made of Comte de St. Germain by Casanova, who said of him:
The most enjoyable dinner I had was with Madame de Robert Gergi, who came with the famous adventurer, known by the name of the Count de St. Germain. This individual, instead of eating, talked from the beginning of the meal to the end, and I followed his example in one respect as I did not eat, but listened to him with the greatest attention. It may safely be said that as a conversationalist he was unequalled.
All of this led to people half-jokingly suggesting that Jacques was not only immortal and actually Comte de St. Germain, but possibly even a vampire, although some people seem to have steadily grown to accept this as more than just a joke. Jacques St. Germain of course got wind of the rumors and seemed to get great amusement from it, enjoying stoking the gossip by neither admitting or denying anything. It all seemed like a game to him, and only served to fuel the fires of the rumors.
This might have been where the whole story ended, with Jacques St. Germain merely remembered as an eccentric rich playboy, if it weren’t for an odd incident that struck a few months after coming to New Orleans. One evening a woman was witnessed to drop to the street from one of St. Germain’s upper floor windows, with onlookers saying she had jumped. The woman, a prostitute, survived the fall but was described as being absolutely terrified by something she had seen up in that house. Things got even stranger when she was questioned by police, during which time she claimed that the reason she had jumped was because St. Germain had tried to ferociously bite her neck, causing her to fight him off with all of her might and fly into a panic, jumping out of that window to escape.
Despite this rather dramatic testimony, St. Germain laughed it off, and was a well-respected member of high society by that time, and the police told him that everything could be worked out the following morning. No one thought at all that he could have been guilty of what he was accused of, and it was thought that the woman, a lowly prostitute in their eyes, was on drugs or insane. The authorities explained to him that his coming in for questioning was merely a formality and that everything would quickly be sorted out. St. Gemain then pleasantly and politely accepted, wished the officers a good evening, and closed the door. It would be the last anyone ever saw of him.
When the next morning came around the police patiently waited for St. Germain to arrive but he never did. Still not thinking him guilty of anything other than a poor choice of prostitutes, they nevertheless went to his residence to see what was going on. The house was found to still hold most of St. Germain’s belongings, large amounts of valuables, and all of his furniture. The second floor of the residence was supposedly murky and heavily curtained, and as the police pushed into the gloom they allegedly made a macabre discovery of numerous bottles containing a mixture of wine and human blood. Of the missing St. Germain there was no sign, and he would indeed never be seen again, disappearing into the night to leave raging rumors and all of that blood behind.
With this strange and rather grim discovery, coupled with the sudden and mysterious disappearance of Jacques St. Germain, the rumors of immortality and vampires quickly went from a sort of joke to very serious indeed, and the legend took off as those who had looked at these ideas with skepticism suddenly were faced with the realization that something very weird was going on indeed. People were now convinced that not only were Comte St. Germain and Jacques St. Germain one and the same, but that he was an actual real-life vampire.
Many things went into such wild reasoning. Why did they look so exactly alike? Indeed, there were also many similarities in both their personas and demeanors. Both were eccentric, rich ladies men with a penchant for engaging conversation and spinning fantastical yarns, and both were well-learned world travelers. It seemed too much to be a coincidence. Why was he seen almost always in the evening hours and why was he never seen eating anything at his own luscious feasts? How was it that he knew such details about events hundreds of years before and why did he speak of these things as if he were there seeing them with his own eyes? Why was he so secretive with his personal information, and most importantly of all, why did he have bottles and bottles of blood in a darkened room? No one had a clue, but it all added up to paint a very odd picture.
This theory was further fueled along by the fact that, although Comte de St. Germain is considered to have been a real person, his actual history is rather murky and ill-defined, making him quite the mysterious figure indeed, ripe for fitting him into all of the madness. Very little is known about the man himself, where he came from, or even when and where he was born or what his true name really was. This is partly because he changed identities and titles so often, but also because he was a social chameleon and considered to be a very skilled and accomplished liar in all things. One Lady Jemima Yorke once said of him.
He is an Odd Creature, and the more I see him the more curious I am to know something about him. He is everything with everybody: he talks Ingeniously with Mr Wray, Philosophy with Lord Willoughby, and is gallant with Miss Yorke, Miss Carpenter, and all the Young Ladies. But the Character and Philosopher is what he seems to pretend to, and to be a good deal conceited of: the Others are put on to comply with Les Manieres du Monde, but that you are to suppose his real characteristic; and I can’t but fancy he is a great Pretender in All kinds of Science, as well as that he really has acquired an uncommon Share in some.
Put this all together and it is very difficult to pin down any concrete information on him at all, making him almost like a literary character rather than a real person, and allowing people in retrospect to make up all kinds of wild tales about him as they see fit. There were also the many accounts of Comte de St. Germain being very skilled in many areas of the arts and sciences, far beyond what would be expected from someone having lived only one lifetime, him declaring himself to be hundreds of years old, as well as much testimony that he was an actual alchemist. There are quite a few unverified accounts of him turning metal to gold or creating perfect diamonds from impure ones, and even when he was officially alive there were rumors were that he had used these powers to prolong his own life, perhaps indefinitely. Indeed, there were many who claimed that over the years he had not noticeably aged at all. This caused rumors that he had never really died at all, only moving on to take on another identity, perhaps even to New Orleans.
Combine this with the enigmatic nature of Jacques St. Germain, all of the striking similarities, the mysterious crime, and his subsequent vanishing, as well as the bottles of blood, and you have a perfect storm for the creation of an eerie legend. Now it is quite possible that Jacques St. Germain was just what he seemed to be, merely an odd, rich fellow, nocturnal because of his hard-partying lifestyle, and that he had certain kinks such as biting women’s necks and drinking wine mixed with blood, his freak flag flying high. Maybe he was afraid that he would be arrested and that was why he skipped town, and his resemblance to Comte St. Germain was just a coincidence, but where’s the fun in that? Stories of ancient immortals and vampires are much more interesting, and this has caused the legend to grow.
In the end, although it is all a fascinating story, there is little to actually verify or substantiate any of it, which has indeed allowed it to become the pervasive legend it is today. Everything else has been obscured by murky history and countless retellings, making the truth evasive. The only thing we really know for sure is that both of these men were real and that they shared many similarities in both appearance and character. Other than that we are left to wonder just who Comte de St. Germain really was and what connection he had to the mysterious Jacques St. Germain, if any. It is probable that this is all merely coincidence and misunderstanding colored by exaggeration, misinterpretation, and myth-making, but what if there really was an ageless vampire who made his way from the Old World to the New, to come calling at New Orleans? What if Comte de St. Germain really was an immortal, whether because of being a vampire or through some magical elixir of life? What if is he is still out there now?