Mary Miles Minter’s Alexandria roots

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The Garner House in Alexandria. This home was built by a captain’s widow – not by the captain himself. He had long been dead.

A beautiful home is for sale in Alexandria, La., for a bargain basement price. The 1908 house supposedly was built for a riverboat captain. It has five bedrooms, original molding and pocket doors. It’s available for less than $70,000. And it has ties to Mary Miles Minter.

Minter was a famous actress of the silent film age. She was immensely popular until her involvement in a still unsolved murder in 1920s Hollywood.

maryBorn in Shreveport at the turn of the century, Minter was the granddaughter of a Louisiana country doctor.  Her aunt and cousins are buried in Mansfield.  The cousins include the one whose name she swiped for her film career. Mary’s real name was Juliet Reilly.

I have no idea if Mary ever visited this house in Alexandria. She left Louisiana at a very young age although she was known to come back for visits. Most certainly, her mother and grandmother visited the Garner House.

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Inside the Garner home. Doesn’t it look like a doll’s house?

Sue Garner was Mary’s great aunt. She lived in and built this beautiful home at 103 Bolton Ave. in Alexandria.

In 1921, Garner told “The Town Talk” that she was interested in newspaper and magazine articles that mentioned Mary. Sadly, Garner died in her beautiful home in 1940. Her body wasn’t found until the next day.

This branch of the Garner family left no descendants (Mary and her sister didn’t leave descendants either). Sue Garner was the widow of a ferry boat captain – not quite a riverboat captain – who used to take people between Alexandria and Pineville. His name was James Garner. The couple had two sons. The eldest boy died young. Their second son, Nathaniel Branch “N.B.,” became a dentist and had his practice in the Bolton Avenue home that he shared with his mother at some point during his adult life.

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N.B. Garner was an Alexandria dentist who advertised frequently. Apparently gas was a big draw for those in need of painful dental work.

The Garners were a big deal in Alexandria society. The local newspaper devoted tremendous copy to their social visits and deaths. The reading of Mrs. Garner’s will got reams of copy.

N.B. Garner had an apparently ill-advised marriage. He wed a Shreveport widow named Mamie Luke, but they soon divorced. Mamie was ordered to pay the costs associated with their divorce. N.B. died in 1914 after struggling with health problems. He was only 42.

Interestingly, given Mary’s career-ending murder problems, N.B. also was connected to a murder case.

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Tony Curero immigrated from Italy and built up a grocery business only to die in front of the Garner House. 

In 1902, a murder happened within sight of the Garner House. Grocer Tony Curero (or Corea) was driving his horse and cart laden with fruits and groceries when someone came up to the wagon and shot him in the face. N.B. heard the shot and ran to the victim only to find him unconscious in the roadway. The man later died.

But back to the Garners. There were tons of mentions in the Alexandria newspapers of yesteryear about the Garners’ connection to Mary Miles Minter. I wondered, though, exactly how they were related.

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The Ragan-Minter-Miles family tree. Note: This is not a complete tree.

Sue Garner was born Susie Emilie Ragan on June 14, 1849. Newspapers record her son N.B. as being born on the family plantation in Sabine Parish that belonged to his grandmother Mary L. Branch on April 7, 1872. They moved to Alexandria when N.B. was 7.

There is also much mention of Sue Garner’s connections to the Shelbys of Kentucky. I don’t who the Shelbys were, but they must have been an impressive family. Mary’s mother later renamed herself Charlotte Shelby.

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Mary Miles Minter and her grandmother, Julia Ragan Miles. 

A Julia B. Ragan (Julia Branch, perhaps?) married Elbert Miles on Feb. 27, 1873, in Sabine Parish. Julia was Mary Miles Minter’s grandmother. She moved with her daughter and granddaughters to California for Mary’s movie career.

And there you have it. Julia and Sue were sisters. Mary and N.B. were second cousins.

juliamilesIt appears that Julia and Sue were close. When N.B. Garner got ill for the last time, Julia traveled from New York to Alexandria and stayed until he died. The newspaper dutifully recorded her visit.

Julia also visited in 1896. In fact, she visited twice in 1896, staying with her sister in January and October of that year.

Sue outlived Julia by more than a decade. She died in 1940.  A friend became alarmed when Garner didn’t answer the door and called the mayor who advised her to call a police officer. It was the officer who found Garner dead in her bed.

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Another shot of the interior of the Garner House. 

Interestingly, watchmen were assigned to watch the house night and day until relatives could arrive to take possession of valuables in the house. What did she have in there?

The coroner found papers on a bedside table and placed them in a satchel that he delivered to the court. A judge authorized attorney John W. Hawthorn of the law firm of Hawthorn, Stafford and Pitts to open the bag. Inside it was a will. It all sounds very Agatha Christie.

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The Garner family plot in Pineville’s historic Rapides Cemetery.

By the time Sue died, her children were both gone, and there were no grandchildren. She left her estate to her niece Hazel Minter Jordan (Mary’s cousin) and Hazel’s children, Joseph Lafayette Jordan and Charlotte Shelby Jordan. Hazel was Julia’s granddaughter by a daughter who married and quickly died after bringing Hazel and the original Mary Miles Minter into the world.

Mary’s mother traveled to Alexandria for the funeral. Mary did not make the trip.

 

 

 

 

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Louisiana and the Titanic

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Sara Compton of New Orleans?

I was wondering the other day if there were any Louisiana connections on the Titanic. I found one but don’t get too excited.

A Miss Alice Compton of Lakewood, N.J., and New Orleans was reported by the Asbury Park Evening Press as rescued along with her mother. Alice’s brother, Alexander, perished.

The only problem is that there wasn’t an Alice Compton on the Titanic. Alice was Sara Rebecca Compton (the newspaper got her name wrong). She died in Miami in 1952. I can find no indication that she ever lived in New Orleans so that probably was just something else that the newspaper got wrong. More likely, the newspaper meant to say New York, where Sara was born.

But don’t take my word for it. The Times-Picayune went out and questioned the Comptons of New Orleans in 1912. According to the paper: “None of the Comptons who live in New Orleans know the family of the same name that was aboard the Titanic and are unable to account for them or to say who they are.”

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Sara’s brother died in the Titanic sinking after ensuring that his mother and sister got into a lifeboat.

The search for the Titanic victims’ New Orleans roots didn’t end there. A Sen. C.C. Cordill of Louisiana wondered if they were connected to the Comptons of Tensas Parish. Apparently a daughter of Judge Stacey married a Wilbur Compton of Botnay Bay plantation in Tensas Parish. The marriage produced a number of children, including brothers who became prominent businessmen in Mississippi and had families who were rumored to travel abroad.

Despite the sleuthing and speculating, the Comptons of Titanic were not from New Orleans or Tensas Parish. Sara’s father was born in New Jersey. His mother was born in New York, not Tensas Parish. The Comptons of Titanic were not descended from Thomas Wilbur Compton and Emma Stacy of Tensas Parish.

So it’s doubtful Sara was of New Orleans just as it’s doubtful that a New Orleans shipyard telephone operator named Rosemary Eller ever set foot on the Titanic.

hospitalEller emerged in 1944 claiming to have been born Helena Yates and rescued from the Titanic. Her story was that she was rescued from the ship, taken to the New York Baby hospital and later unofficially adopted by the Starks (or Stark or Starke or Starkes) family of New Orleans.

Here’s the problem: There was never a Helena Yates on the Titanic. The only Yates aboard was a gambler, and he seemed to have been a con artist who lied about being on the Titanic. Regardless, if he was onboard, he probably wasn’t toting a baby.

But back to Rosemary.

From reading the historical records, it appears that Rosemary didn’t know she was adopted until both her parents were gone. What probably happened is that she was orphaned – or abandoned – at a young age. Somehow, she found her way to New Orleans into the arms of a family who had recently lost a child.

Maybe her birth mother dropped her at the foundling hospital with a fantastic story about the Titanic that was written into the hospital records. Who knows.

Here’s the story of Rosemary Eller.

Rosemary was taken to a foundling hospital in New York on April 23, 1912. Supposedly, a nurse brought her in and said she was a survivor of the Titanic. The shipwreck would have been the talk of New York at the time.

Already, though, the story starts running off the tracks. The Titanic, obviously, sank in April 1912. Eller later claimed she was six months old when the Titanic sank. When she died, her birth was recorded as Sept. 27, 1910. So she was actually a toddler when she was taken to the foundling hospital – not six months old.

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St. Vincent’s Ferrer Church, where Rosemary was allegedly baptized as Helena Yates.

In 1915 or so Rosemary was baptized as Helena Yates at St. Vincent’s Ferrer Church (this is all according to Rosemary).  Interestingly, the foundling home baptized other children at St. Vincent’s before putting them on the Orphan Train. Hmmm … By 1920, Rosemary was living in the household of John and Mary Burke Starks in a rented house at 1110 Felicity St. (it’s now a parking lot) in New Orleans.

Her adoptive father died just before Christmas 1920. He had been a farmer and an ice dealer. He and Mary had many children, including a little girl named Mary Rose who died in 1913. It wouldn’t have been surprising if they adopted a child to fill that terrible void. Mary was past childbearing age by the time Rosemary joined the family.

Interestingly, the 1930 census lists Rosemary’s birthplace as New York. At that point, the Starks, minus John, were living at 2622 Magazine St.

In 1944, Rosemary made the noise about being a Titanic survivor. The story made a small splash and then disappeared without a followup.

Rosemary moved to California and died there, in Oakland, in 1962. She left behind three children and six grandchildren. Her obit listed her as a loving mother and a dear brother. Poor Rosemary.

Hopefully, she was able to discover her real story even if it wasn’t as glamorous as being rescued from the Titanic.

A disappearing Shreveport

From death and mayhem, I thought I’d visit some of Shreveport’s lovely old homes. Most of them are gone now, but I enjoy looking at pictures of the grand old ladies that once were found in and near downtown. The landscape changes so quickly.

Houses burn down. They’re torn down. They simply disappear until ghosts get lost trying to revisit home.

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The Zeigler house

On a bluff overlooking the Red River, the S. J. Zeigler house once stood. How beautiful is it? I can imagine standing on the widow’s walk and taking in the river views.

birdseyeThe Zeiglers apparently bought the house in 1881 from W. P. Ford. Ford had purchased the property from the Leonards. It seems likely that the Leonards built the house.

In 1901, Louie Ogden and her cousin Helen Kendall were driving in a trap with a couple of gentleman when the rear seat collapsed just outside the Zeigler home. Poor Helen was knocked unconscious. Fortunately, she recovered. She and Louie were guests of Mrs. W. C. Vance on Fannin street.

Interestingly, the 1900 census lists the Zeiglers as boarders. They also liked going by initials. They’re listed as S.J. and H.M. with sons Sam and Howell and someone named Vinnie.

In reality, S.J. was Samuel Jacob. He and his wife, Sarah, had five children. Only two lived to maturity.

Their daughter Sadie died age 9 at the Zeigler house in 1891. Another daughter, Susie, died aged two years, one month and 23 days in 1917. The family later made its way back to South Carolina.

If you visit the house site today, you’ll find the Chateau Hotel.

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1608 Fairfield Ave. back in the day

If you go to 1608 Fairfield Ave. today, you’ll find a rundown office building. A century ago, you would have found this fabulous mansion. I would have wanted a room in the tower.

John and Toinette Scott lived here. John was listed as a planter in the 1917 Shreveport telephone directory. Census records show them living in that giant house without any live-in servants or children. John’s sister married into the Youree family and lived nearby so they wouldn’t have been too lonely.

The home was demolished in 1947 after becoming a funeral home. An advertisement was placed in the newspaper for anyone interested in beautiful woodwork, mantels, bevel plate, glass doors, stained glass windows, oak, wainscoating or inlaid flooring.

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The shell hints at the planned grandeur 

One of the saddest houses to stand in Shreveport was a shell of a building that was never completed. Walter Page started to build an enormous house on Jefferson-Paige Road. He stopped work on it when his son John died. A storm hit the property in 1917 and the shell later was razed.

The house was known as Page’s Castle. The Shreveport Journal described it as “two stories with a four story octagonal rotunda, surmounted by a dome and observation deck. From the hilltop house spread a sweeping lawn with thousands of rose bushes.”

Page came from a wealthy family that moved from Tennessee to Louisiana and bought tremendous acreage for cotton. Supposedly, in an attempt to lure his son from the drinking and fast cars of Nashville, Page began work on Page’s Castle. He envisioned a resort similar to Delmonico’s with ducks, roses, a fish pond and race horses. A storm heavily damaged the dream project in 1917. Then news of John Page’s death quickly followed, and the dream died entirely.

More likely, the storm created problems with the construction, and the rest of the story is just romantic nonsense. It appears that John Page died long before construction on Page’s Castle even began.

howellhouseThe Howell house stood at 819 Spring St. It was built by John Howell and evolved from mansion to apartment building before a fire destroyed it in the 1930s.

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This picture doesn’t do the Hicks mansion justice. 

My personal obsession is the Hicks home that stood at 416 Travis St. This antebellum mansion endured for years as modern structures rose around it.

It was built at the conclusion of the Civil War with logs shipped from St. Louis. The original owner was Daniel Smith, but the deed soon passed to Col. F. M. Hicks. Hicks lived there until moving to Texas for his health. His son Samuel B. Hicks then moved into the home with his bride Mamie.

The home came down in the 1950s to pave the way for a skyscraper.

The death of Bertha Neason

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Bertha with the killer and his accomplices. 

Bertha Michelsohn Neason spent the night of her murder in April 1920 at the Aubudon Tea Room in New Orleans. She was drunk and in the company of a college student with a troubled past.

turtleback

A recent book on New Orleans between 1900 and 1920 speculated on the location of Turtle Back (or Turtleback) Road. 

She would meet her death on Turtle Back Road near the Orleans Canal. Dubbed the million dollar queen, she was wearing six rings worth thousands of dollars at the time of her murder. Her love of expensive jewels led to her death – and one has to wonder if the jewels in question were actually real.

Teen-aged friends Felix Birbiglia and Charles Zalenka went to the gallows for shooting Neason to death in a plot to steal her jewels.

But, first, there was a shared pop bottle of whiskey and a drive through the West End and Spanish Fort. As she tried to sneak a kiss from a 17-year-old Felix, Charles slipped him the gun through the front seat of the car. At the wheel was Charles’ cousin Robert Burns.

Felix shot poor Bertha twice and then knocked her in the head.

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The 1925 city directory shows the Birbiglia family at this address in New Orleans. 

Felix was a business student at Spencer Business College with a fiance, Helen Clements. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gaspar Birbiglia, operated a saloon at First and Rampart streets. They lived nearby.

Although his mother insisted that the family was prosperous and there was no reason for Felix to steal let alone murder, there were earlier indications of problems. While serving in the Navy, Felix forged a pay check and was discharged.

Charles was a boilermaker’s helper. His father worked for the railroad.

Bertha worked for a department store at one time and lived with her parents at 2401 Dryades street. Her husband, Emanuel Neason, was a sailor who was apparently out of town at the time of the shooting. A first husband, Charles Herrick, lived in Chicago, where she divorced him.

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The scene of the hangings. 

In 1921, the hangings came.

Felix went to the noose first. Unfortunately for him, the noose slipped and he strangled to death. It took him 28 minutes to die. As he strangled, he muttered “Christ have mercy on my soul.”

Before his death, Felix asked to be buried at St. Joseph’s. He then gave a statement on behalf of himself and Charles.

“We go without any malice toward anybody,” he told reporters. “At times, we have had some bitterness. All that is gone now. We do not want to leave any enemies here.”

Charles shook hands with everyone in the death chamber before mounting the platform. He left behind a bride, whom he married in jail.

The murder of a Louisiana sheriff

Recently, we were in Asheville, where we made the trek to Grove Park Inn. The hotel is in a stunning landscape and boasts an incredible great hall with huge fireplaces and logs the size of a not-so-small child. It was Christmas so we wandered the halls looking at gingerbread houses from the hotel’s annual contest.

While looking at an exhibit devoted to one-time guest F. Scott Fitzgerald (he would come to stay while Zelda was in a nearby loony bin), I turned around and encountered an exhibit devoted to the Pink Lady.

The Pink Lady is the Grove Park Inn’s ghost. Supposedly she plunged to her death from an upper floor to the Palm Court in the 1920s. I diligently searched for an account of the death in newspaper articles and came up empty. So it may just be local legend with no basis in fact.

However, it got me to thinking about Louisiana murders in the 1910s or 1920s. Murder is so much cozier when there’s some distance isn’t it?

I didn’t find a Pink Lady, but I did find the curious case of Helaire Carriere.

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Sheriff Swords met his end when he chased a violent backwoodsman.

Carriere’s trial for murder of St. Landry Parish Sheriff Marion Swords was a sensation in 1916. The fact that the jury at first couldn’t agree on whether to send him to the gallows only added to the frenzy.

Newspapers in those days were fairly sensational. One newspaper described Carriere as an illiterate backwoodsman who killed a man, broke out of jail and subsequently terrorized St. Landry Parish. Supposedly, “all of St. Landry” knew where Carriere was but only Sheriff Swords was brave enough to venture out to the cabin where he was hiding.

A gun battle broke out in a corn field near the cabin. The sheriff was killed. A Deputy Cachere was hit by the bullet splinters in the face. And two other men were wounded. So he shot the sheriff and he shot the deputy (get it?).

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Carriere was soon caught in a deserted mill.

From the corn field, Carriere fled to a deserted mill near Lake Charles. It took a month to find him. Another shootout ensued. One newspaper account had Carriere mortally wounded, but he survived. There would be no cheating the gallows.

“The New Orleans Daily States” brought in an artist to assess Carriere’s character. Artist Napoleon DeRemont – a student of European universities – looked at a picture of Carriere and concluded that he was lazy, a dreamer, of ordinary intelligence, bossy, passionate, nervous and of questionable ancestry.

DeRemont concluded: “Judging by his eyes, he was not born to be a servant. To digress from a straight character study, I would remark that Carriere typifies the fourth of fifth generation of those rollicking, carefree adventurers who came from France and Spain to the new world to seek quick fortunes and remained to drink, gamble and scratch the surface of the eart for bare livelihoods. Loose of morals were those men and strange mixtures of blood …”

Carriere hung for the crime. He was hanged in Baton Rouge – supposedly at “high noon” – in 1917.  He was all of 33. Afterward, a funeral was held, also at “high noon” at the “little Catholic Church” in Opelousas. Friends brought shovels to cast dirt into their friend’s grave.

In an odd footnote to the story, an Athens Simien was accused of slashing his wife’s throat in the same cabin in Pott’s Cove that Carriere hid in until Sheriff Swords found him. The woman died.

 

 

The murder of little Walter Lamana

walterfuneralIn 1907, a horrible crime captured the attention of New Orleans newspaper readers (and newspaper readers across the country).

On June 8, 1907, little Walter Lamana was lured away from his home at 624 St. Philip Street with a promise of candy and held for a $6,000 ransom. He was strangled to death within a few days and dumped in a swamp. The motive for the kidnapping itself seems to have been tied to an Italian crime mafia that was causing problems in New Orleans at the time.

Little Walter was only 8. He was born in New Orleans on May 17, 1899, to Pietro (Peter) Lamana and Carolina Favalora. He had a twin sister, Olivia Mariana. He also had brothers Frank, Joseph, Charles and John and sisters Ida and Stella.mrslamana

Walter’s father was an undertaker. This being the early 1900s, he was known as the Italian undertaker.

Little Walter was last seen at 7 p.m. on a Saturday in the stable that adjoined his parents’ home. He was discovered missing when he was called to dinner and didn’t appear.

Peter Lamana thought his son might have jumped onto a tallyho driven by his older son John to the West End resort. But a search turned up no sign of the child.

A few days later, the mailman brought a ransom note written in Italian. A reporter dispatched to the Lamana house found the mother upstairs sobbing and neighbors downstairs talking about reprisals.

The crime was blamed on the “Italian ‘Black Hand,’ which organization has for the last three years threatened and terrorized the ‘Little

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Leonardo Gebbia would die for the crime; his sister avoided the noose

Italy’ of the Crescent City.” Nine Italian residents were arrested, including Nicolina Gebbia, who initially refused to say much because she was in love with “Frank,” another implicated Italian. 

Police “sweated” the suspects to get a confession out of them. A man named Ignazio Campigciano was taken into the woods by police and vigilantes until he confessed and implicated four others.

According to Ignazio/Ignacio (the spellings weren’t consistent in newspaper reports for any of these names), the boy cried and begged to go home. Frightened by the noise the child was making, one of the kidnappers strangled him to death. The body was bundled into a blanket and taken to the swamp near St. Rose.

ignazioSix were indicted: Ignacio Campisciano, Callegero Gendusa, Leonardo Gebbia, Anthony Costa, Nicolina Gebbia and Mrs. Ignacio Campisciano.

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Ignacio was thought to have been the killer according to some reports. The Gebbias were brother and sister.

Initially, little Walter was laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery in an unmarked grave. His body was placed into a snow white casket a year later and moved into a tomb.

 

By this time, defense attorneys were trying to save their clients from the gallows as the case proceeded to trial. One theory raised was that Walter was still alive and the body found in the swamp wasn’t his.

 

 

This theory angered Peter Lamana, who said his wife was distraught enough without having to hear this. Peter also was angered that influential women in New Orleans circulated a petition to save the life of Nicolina Gebbia.

 

“Any woman who signs such a petition cannot have the love or

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Peter Lamana later went missing temporarily and was thought to have been murdered after a chopped up body was found floating in the river. It wasn’t his corpse.

tenderness of a mother and is without sympathy for one who has been robbed of the only thing in life she cared for the most. I don’t think that there are many women in this city who will take a hand to save that wretched woman from the gallows. She knew that my child was in the hands of her lover, and that her brother was one of the conspirators. If she is a human being, why did she allow them to take it away and kill it? She could have saved its life by telling the police where the child was. When I spoke to the Gebbias, they sympathized with me, said they wished they knew where the child was and came to my house to spy,” Peter Lamana told a reporter.

 

Peter Lamana later made repeated visits to the state prison in an attempt to see Campisciano, Mrs. Campisciano, Tony Costa, Giandosa and the Gebbias. He was always turned away and then briefly went missing after quarreling with his wife.

It was ultimately decided that Leonardo Gebbia lured little Walter away from home by offering him candy. Leonardo handed off Walter to the kidnappers and later ordered his death.

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Mrs. Ignacio Campisciano (who, oddly, is never referred to by her own first name) and Nicolina Gebbia. Mrs. Ignacio is holding the baby.

Or maybe it was Tony Costa, “a worthless loafer … of Little Italy,” who took the little boy by the hand and led him away from his home by promising him ice cream. Then Walter was placed into Stefano Monfre’s wagon. The newspaper accounts vary.

 

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Tony Costa, who died in prison.

At the Gebbias’ trial, testimony was given that Leonardo went to the home of the Monfres the Sunday before the abduction and that Leonardo told Mrs. Monfre to go away while he talked to her husband in the street. The night the child was abducted, the Monfres’ horse and wagon were gone until the next day. Mr. Monfre himself later vanished.

Ignazio Campigciano (again, an inconsistent spelling) testified at the Gebbia trial that another man related to him that Leonardo Gebbia told the fellow kidnappers that the jig was up and the kid needed to be murdered because the case was attracting too much attention. He also denied that the child was ever at his house and insisted that he only saw him after he was dead.

Nicolina told the courtroom that her boyfriend, Frank Lucchesi, was in the business of stealing children for ransom. She said Lucchesi worked with Campigciano and that she was afraid of her boyfriend.

The jury returned a guilty verdict within minutes for the brother and sister. The judge himself seemed stunned at the guilty finding for Nicolina Gebbia.

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Little Olivia, with her sister, always seems to have been cross when her picture was taken. She was said to have looked very much like her twin brother. 

Walter Lamana’s father reacted to the verdict by clapping his hands and giving the mailman a steel fork from the dinner table. “I had intended to put out their eyes with this,” he told the mailman. “I would have killed them.”

Leonardo hanged, insisting his innocence and clutching a rosary until the very end.

The consensus seems to have been that the child was hidden in the Campisciano home in Pecan Grove and that Mrs. Campisciano coolly told neighbors that the child was just a visitor and that he was crying because his pet animal was lost.

At trial, the child’s mother wept at the sight of his Buster Brown breeches and called the defendants “dirty wretches” and “hounds.”

Tony Costa died in prison. Nicolina Gebbia avoided the gallows but went to prison.

Ignacio Campisciano, his wife, Mary, and Cologera “Frank” Gendusa were released from prison in 1918 and told to leave Louisiana. Their children were brought to them at Angola, and they reportedly immediately left for New York.

A body in the river

The Town Talk – Sept. 7, 1896

New Orleans – Peter Lamana, the New Orleans undertaker, made his appearance at his home here last night, much to the delight of his friends. He is the father of the little Italian boy, Walter Lamana, who some months ago was kidnapped and murdered by a band of Italian murderers.

Peter Lamana had been absent ten days from home, and his wife not hearing from him supposed that he had been foully dealt with and notified the police.

Peter Lamana, when questioned by the reporters as to where he had been, told them it was none of their business. To other parties, however, he stated that he had been to Chicago and St. Louis to buy some mules. It is supposed that he and his wife had had a spat, and for that reason he did not keep her posted as to his whereabouts.

When the police started an investigation as to his whereabouts, they heard that he was last seen in Baton Rouge on Aug. 28th, when he paid a bill at the hotel where he stopped while there.

What first lead to the belief that Lamana had been murdered, was the fact of the finding of a body in the Mississippi river in a cypress box. Persons on the steamer J. E. Trudeau yesterday say (sic) a box floating in the Mississippi river, near Jamestown, in St. James parish, and had it towed to shore. When the box was opened, it was found to contain the dead body of a man who had evidently been murdered. The deceased was a large man, and the murderer, in order to get the body in the box broke the legs and cut off an arm of their victim in order to squeeze the body in the box. The body was partially decomposed and had on a sweater and blue trousers. He was a large, dark complexioned man. The identity of the body has not been ascertained, although the authorities are working to try and clear up the mystery.