I came across this story while researching Gibson, Louisiana, deaths. I found it an amusing account of an elopement.
I came across this story while researching Gibson, Louisiana, deaths. I found it an amusing account of an elopement.
An assortment of deaths in Gibson, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, from early newspapers:
The Times-Democrat: Sept. 20, 1895
Thomas Bloomfield, colored, while attempting to get on a moving train yesterday at Gibson, La. had both legs cut off. He was brought to this city and taken to the hospital, where he died at 7:30.
The Times-Democrat: March 1, 1898
Information reached this city last night of the death at Gibson, La., of Mrs. Annie E. Knight, one of the oldest and most lovable residents of Terrebonne parish. Mrs. Knight was the widow of the late James McClellan Knight of Terrebonne, whom she married in 1844. She was born in Henderson, Union county, Ky., and was the daughter of James Alexander Jarvis, who emigrated from Kentucky to Louisiana in 1837. Mr. Jarvis soon acquired the Jarvis plantation on Bayou Black, near Gibson, which still remains in possession of the family.
When Mr. Jarvis left Kentucky his daughter was a student at St. Vincent Convent, near Henderson, where she remained until 1841. When her education was completed, she removed to Terrebonne parish, where she has resided continuously since.
Mrs. Knight was the mother of 10 children, seven of whom survive her, two grown sons having died recently. Seven years ago she was attacked by an incurable disease and has since been a confirmed invalid, tenderly nursed by her youngest daughter, Miss Laura, and other children. Throughout her long illness Mrs. Knight bore her sufferings without complaint, always interesting herself in the affairs and comfort of those around her and showing a rare example of Christian fortitude and resignation.
The Times-Democrat: Feb. 27, 1899
L. Lacassagne was drowned in Bayou Black near Gibson, La., yesterday.
The Times-Picayune: Jan. 28, 1900
Gibson, La. – Mrs. James Canning, a highly respected resident of this neighborhood, died yesterday at her late home on Hope farm, and was buried from the Roman Catholic church this evening. The deceased, who was a native of Ireland, was 56 years of age and leaves a husband and six children to mourn her loss.
The Semi-Weekly Times-Democrat: July 9, 1901
Gibson, La. – Your correspondent was misinformed last night as to the party who killed young Ed Thibodeaux last evening. The gun and hat of Gilbert Dedrick Jr., colored, were found this morning where the killing occurred and as Dedrick is missing, it is supposed he is the guilty party. Hounds from Lafourche were put on the trail this morning and tracked the murderer for several miles through the swamp until a heavy rain caused them to lose the trail. The killing is shrouded in mystery. The remains of young Thibodeaux were taken to Thibodaux for burial this afternoon.
The Times-Democrat: April 21, 1902
Gibson, La. – Judge F. R. Richard, aged 54 years, for many years a prominent businessman of this place, and for several years judge of the Eighth Judicial Court of Terrebonne parish, died here at 5 o’clock this evening of heart trouble. Interment will take place tomorrow evening in the Roman Catholic Cemetery.
The Times-Democrat: May 8, 1904
Richaud – At Gibson, on Tuesday, April 26, 1904, Burton Lawrence, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Richaud, aged 3 months and 4 days.
The Times-Democrat: Jan. 24, 1905
Gibson – A white man who worked for Clark’s show that left here this morning called a colored man’s house yesterday saying he was sick and wanted a bed, which was given him. He died today without disclosing his identity and will be buried tomorrow at the expense of the parish, in the Catholic cemetery. Inquest was held over the body and it was found that he came to his death by excessive drinking.
The Times-Democrat: Feb. 8, 1905
Mrs. John Walther died this morning, aged 34 years. She leaves seven children, ranging in age from 12 years to six days, besides mother, brother and sister.
The Times-Democrat: Sept. 5, 1905
Gibson – H. L. Soulis, a merchant of Gibson, died this morning after an illness of about one year. His remains were taken in charge by the Masons of Gibson and after services at the residence were sent to New Orleans by an evening train for burial in the Masonic Cemetery as he was a member of Ocean Lodge No. 144, A.F. and A.M., of New Orleans. He leaves a wife and one brother, as well as numerous friends to mourn his death.
The Times-Democrat: Jan. 13, 1906
WALTHER – At Touro Infirmary, in New Orleans, at 11 o’clock a.m., Philip Walther Sr. of Gibson, a native of Alsace, aged 83 years, 7 months and 20 days.
Funeral at Gibson, La., Saturday, Jan. 13, 1906, at 3:30 p.m.
He leaves to mourn his loss four sons, Henry, Charles, John and Phillip Walther Jr., all of Gibson, 32 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
The Town Talk – March 29, 1912
A deplorable accident occurred near here (Gibson). Two small boys were victims of the mishap. One was instantly killed and the other was fatally wounded.
Two sons of Albert Hebert were playing with a Winchester rifle, unaware of the fact that it was loaded. Suddenly the weapon was discharged. One boy was killed outright and the other received fatal wounds.
The Times-Democrat: July 24, 1913
Mrs. D.C. McIntire Sr. died in New Orleans at Hotel Dieu Tuesday morning at 8 o’clock after an illness of two weeks. Her remains were brought here Tuesday evening and interred in the local cemetery. Mrs. McIntire was 55 years of age and had been a lifelong resident of Gibson. She leaves the following relatives: Eight sons John D.C. Jr., James, Claude, Andrew, Fred and Dewey, and one daughter Mollie, also a sister Mrs. G.H. Penderavis of Houston.
The Times-Democrat: Aug. 10, 1913
Gibson, La. – Evalture Foucheaux, aged 78 years, a highly respected citizen of this place for the past 33 years, died Thursday at 5 o’clock at the home of his daughter, Mrs. R. L. Carlin, after an illness of about two weeks. Mr. Foucheaux leaves the following children, besides a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren: Thomas, of this place, Joseph of Franklin, Richard of Houma, Ernest of Lockport, Mrs. Paul Larrieu of Rockdale, Tex., Mrs. Robert Larkin and Mrs. Robert Carlin of this place.
Weekly Town Talk: Aug. 19, 1916
Gibson, La. – The body of Henry J. King was found yesterday morning in the woods near his residence with a gunshot wound in his neck. His gun with one barrel discharged was found near him.
The verdict of the coroner’s jury impaneled by the acting coroner, Philip Walther, was King was killed accidentally. He leaves a wife and several children, besides two or three brothers. He will be buried in the Sycamore cemetery today, Rev. G. L. Tucker of Houma officiating, assisted by Oak Grove Camp 118 Woodmen of the World, of which he was a member.
The Daily Review: Jan. 21, 1925
Mrs. Louise Rose Roddy Picou, wife of Alfred Picou of Gibson, La., died there recently. Deceased was 77 years and two months of age. Her loss is mourned by a husband, seven daughters and three sons; the daughters Mrs. A. E. Bourgeois, Mrs. J. G. Roberts of Morgan City, Mrs. A. L. Chandalier, Liberty, Texas, Mrs. D.C. Shriner, Houston, Texas, Miss Grace Picou, Houston, Texas, Mrs. R.A. Veret, Gibson, La., Mrs. Alice Fandall, Gibson; the sons Mr. A. J. Picou, Donner, Mr. John Picou, Gibson, Robert Picou, Chicago.
The deceased had a sister in Lafayette, one in Homer and a brother in Homer. She had 34 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
I dug further into the death of Paulin Benoit, my g-g-grandfather’s brother.
It turns out that Paulin and Joe Benoit were at a ball celebrating an upcoming marriage in Lafourche Parish when Paulin – who apparently liked to fight – got into a tussle with Texon Vicknair. According to one witness, Texon said he was tired of being made a buffoon, which spurred Paulin into action. Paulin punched Texon. A knife was drawn. Paulin ended up dead. Joe Benoit was injured.
Unfortunately, Joe Benoit was too ill to testify. I would love to have heard his account if only to get a better sense of him.
I found these records at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. The university has the early criminal court records as well as coroner inquests for Lafourche Parish. It’s a treasure trove!
Texon was found not guilty. Here are the witness statements, which I transcribed. In some instances, I couldn’t decipher the chicken scratch.
Saw when his uncle Paulin (Benoit) came in contact with and struck one another.
That was last Saturday night.
When asked in what parish, stated in the parish of Lafourche.
It was on the gallery of the house of Mr. Neuville Hebert.
It was between 9 and 10 o’clock p.m.
His uncle Paulin struck the accused first with his fist, a little after that the accused responded with a knife or dagger he saw in the accused’s hands.
The two licks were nearly simultaneous.
When asked whether he had heard words between his uncle and the accused , at the time, he states that he did not.
He happened to arrive there just when the first lick was given.
When asked whether he saw whence the accused took the dagger or bowie knife, he states he did not and only saw the same, when he was in the act of striking.
It was a little dark on the gallery at the time. When asked whether he had heard the accused warn Paulin that he would strike him with a knife replied that he did not hear him say so. The blow with the fist did not knock down the accused. Paulin was a little more robust but not as tall as accused. Paulin was about 24 years of age.
After the accused struck Paulin, Paulin started towards the road and called upon the accused to come on the road. After Paulin struck he made two or three steps and fell.
He states that he did not see what became of the accused afterwards, so he at once followed after Paulin. When Joe Benoit saw that his brother was struck, he stood in his place. He struck the accused with a stick. The stick was a bout ½ inch in diameter. The accused was not knocked down by the lick.
Witness has had the stick in his hand. It is not very heavy.
He believes Joe Benoit struck the accused twice with his stick.
Joe Benoit was stabbed by the accused.
It was on the same day and place the other difficulty occurred.
He does not know whether the accused stabbed Joe Benoit after he had struck accused once or twice. He caught a glimpse of the knife or dagger the accused used. The blade was about 4 inches long – could not say whether it was a pocket knife or dagger. Witness is certain Paulin died of the effects of the wound then received.
Witness is certain that the accused now in court inflicted said wound.
The wound was in the left breast about 4 inches below the armpit.
Does not know whether Joe or Paulin Benoit was armed that night.
Does not know the cause of the difficulty between the parties.
Joe Benoit was smaller than Paulin but stouter and lower than witness.
Joe Benoit is younger than Paulin B.
Witness only became acquainted with accused on the night that act was committed.
Witness knew of no reason to expect a dispute between the parties.
The stick with which Joe Benoit struck accused had a ball of tar at the end.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY QUESTIONING
Witness states that Paulin died immediately. He believes he died starting up and falling down dead. He is certain in that he died from the effect of the wounds inflicted by accused.
Was on the gallery of Neuville Hebert’s house in the parish of Lafourche … last Saturday. Arthur Naquin leaning on the ? on my right and Paulin Benoit on my left side. Arthur Naquin called out to Zenon Vicknair. Accused answered: “Present. I am tired of being made a buffoon of.” Paulin Benoit got up sparring with his arms and went forward towards accused and struck him with his fist. Accused came forward and then went back to the upper part of the gallery. Witness heard strikings with a stick on accuser. He saw no knife nor did he see accused stab nor did he afterwards see the wound.
About three minutes after he saw Paulin strike accused, he saw Paulin dead in the yard.
Did not hear Paulin make any remark nor call out for the accused to go out on the road. He does not know the cause of Paulin’s death. Paulin is slightly shorter than accused but not taller. Paulin struck the accused with his fist, but did not knock him down.
Did not hear accused warn Paulin that he would cut or stab him with a knife.
Did not hear a word.
This difficulty occurred in the parish of Bayou Lafourche in the house of Mr. Neuville Hebert last Saturday between 10 and 9 o’clock p.m.
All he saw was Mr. Benoit who struck accused with his fist. That is all he saw. He followed Mr. Paulin Benoit in the yard and was by his side when he fell. When he reached him he was falling dead. Does not know what killed Paulin Benoit.
He was wounded in the left side by a stab with a knife or a dagger. He did not see any arm. The wound was bleeding. The wound was about 0-4 inches below the armpit on the left side.
I did not see any arm on Paulin’s body. Did not see any arm. He examined him as soon as he fell. Did not see Joe Benoit strike the accused with a stick. The blow Paulin struck accused did not knock him down.
Paulin Benoit was about 24-25 years old. Paulin was about of the heighth of witness but a little stouter. He was not quite as tall as accused.
Did not hear accused warn Paulin that he would strike him with a knife.
Does not know what was the cause of the difficulty between Paulin and accused.
Witness states that Paulin Benoit has a good character, that he was rather quick and always ready for a fight, that he has had a difficulty with said Benoit. That he has known of Benoit having had several difficulties, but that Benoit although quick to get into a fight, had to be provoker. Witness acknowledges that at the time he had a difficulty with him, witness was in the wrong and busted up Paulin himself. They were joking and Benoit had misunderstood witness. Benoit did not refuse to fight but they did not fight.
Was present at a ball at Mrs. Louis Oncale about a year of 1 ½ years ago when a difficulty occurred between Paulin Benoit and accused. He at the time did not see of the Benoits make fun of the accused.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY QUESTIONING
He does not know of Paulin’s ever having fought.
Mr. Paulin Benoit struck witness.
Witness heard Paulin had struck others but did not see it.
Does not know much about the case.
When he heard the fuss he went towards it but all was over when he got there. It happened on the gallery of his dwelling house. He was in the house at the time. There was a ball at his house. The ball was intended to celebrate the wedding of Armogene Gros with the daughter of Baptiste Noel.
When he got to the steps he heard the words: He is a dead one.
As he was the owner of the house, he went to see and saw that he was dead. After the body was carried in the house, they examined the body to see where the wound was. The wound was in the left side. Between 3 + 4 inches below the armpit. When the clothing was taken off he did not see any arms but he knows that his arms had been previously taken off in the yard.
That he was told so by one who gave witness the scabbard of a small dagger. He was told by Emile Naquin that some one else had taken the dagger out of his hands.
Was not present when the dagger and scabbard were taken off the body of Paulin. He was told this by Emile Naquin who went into the house and gave him the scabbard. The scabbard was 3-4 inches long. He returned the scabbard to one of the brothers (Felia).
Accused was on the gallery when witness arrived. I cannot say how long he stayed there.
As soon as I arrived there and heard called out: “There is one dead.” I went out into the yard. When he came back on the gallery, accused was gone.
It was maybe a quarter of an hour afterwards.
He heard previous to the difficulty that they were tantalizing accused. Could not say whether it was Mr. Benoit or who, but there was a company of them. He heard two or three times: “Let him come here and we will break his jaw.”
He cannot say whether accused was invited to the soiree. He did not occupy himself about this matter, supposes he was invited as he was present. The wound attended to was about ¾ to 1 inch in width. The wound must have been caused by a knife or dagger.
Joseph Furci (Furcy) Bergeron was the son of Franklin Bergeron and Marie Adelina Josephine Benoit Bergeron. Furci committed suicide in 1900 just two weeks after his wedding.
I pulled the inquest to find out more.
The inquest included written statements from Furci’s brother, Aurelien, and a neighbor. I didn’t learn much more than I already knew, but there were a few interesting new details.
It appears that Furci and his wife lived with Furci’s mother and brother. The gun used in the suicide was borrowed from a neighbor to protect a brother named Silvain (what was that about?). Silvain died 18 years later of the Spanish flu.
Furci asked a different brother, Aurelien, to borrow the gun in order to protect Silvain. So it appears that Silvain either really needed to be protected or Furci planned his suicide hours in advance.
Here’s what witnesses, including Aurelien, told the coroner:
Edmond Dies, sworn says: I live 3rd neighbor from deceased. About 8 o’clock on night of 19th, Aurelien Bergeron, brother of deceased, called me and asked me to lend him my pistol to go and protect his brother Sylvain who was away and expected home during the night. He did not tell me it was for any other purpose. I gave him my pistol that was 5 cartridges loaded in it. At about 2 o’clock Charly Francis’ wife called at my home and told me that a man was dead. I walked over with my brother-in-law Albert Bonvillain to where the man was dead and I saw him near the well with my pistol near him. I did not notice the pistol wound in his head. The deceased mother Amelie told me that Furcy had shot himself.
Aurelien Bergeron, sworn says: I live with my mother in the same house where my deceased brother Furcy lived. My brother told me go to Edmund Dies and get his pistol to go and protect my brother Sylvain who was away. That was about 9 o’clock last night. I did so and Dies loaned me the pistol and I went as far as the Thibodaux Bridge to meet my brother Sylvain and did not meet him and I came back about 10 o’clock and put the pistol in a back room. I told my mother where I was going to put it and I suppose Furcy heard me and during the night he got up and went out of the house. His wife during the night missed him from the bed and she told her (?) mother about it. They all got up and came to look for him and I saw him lying by the well. It was dark and I touched his face and found it cold and we saw a pistol near him. We saw he was dead. That was about 2 o’clock this morning.
And here’s the inquest record:
Father Andrew Souby was known as a pioneer to the Catholics along the bayous of St. Mary Parish. He was the pastor in Morgan City as well as Amelia. He was greatly beloved and remembered to this day.
I thought Father Souby baptized my mother. He didn’t since he died in 1938. Maybe he married my grandparents. Regardless, I’ve heard his name my entire life even though he died long, long, long before I was born.
In 1971, “The Daily Review” of Morgan City wrote about Father Souby. I’ll share from the writeup:
Father Souby was born in New Orleans on Oct. 21, 1871. He studied the classics and philosophy at Jesuit College and graduated with the highest honors of his graduation year.
The year of his graduation also marked the year of his trip to Italy, where he studied theological studies. He was ordained in 1894 by the archbishop of Genoa.
Father Souby’s first church was in Baton Rouge. By 1894, he was assigned to Morgan City.
Four years later, he headed to Bayou Boeuf and Amelia, where he would remain for years and earn the respect of his parishioners.
Margaret Mary Songe wrote the newspaper a remembrance about Father Souby.
Margaret Mary was the daughter of Ouralien and Alice Duplantis Songe. The Songes settled in Morgan City as a young married couple and soon welcomed their first child. Unfortunately, the child died as an infant.
The only means of getting the baby’s body to the cemetery was via a railway box car. Ouralien Songe got into the box car for the journey. To his surprise, Father Souby joined him for the heartbreaking trip to the cemetery.
Margaret Mary remembered Father Souby as not just compassionate but also a faithful catechism teacher. He would visit his parishioners at their homes. He always stood on the doorstep with his hat in his hand waiting for an invitation to come inside.
My grandmother’s grandmother used to forget how old she was. It wasn’t senility. She just didn’t have to constantly type in her date of birth to unlock passwords, fill out forms, etc.
It’s my guess that birthdays weren’t that big of a deal 100 years ago. If you read the “Little House on the Prairie” series, then you remember Laura marveling over the tangy lemonade and sweet cake at Nellie’s birthday party. These were novelties to her so birthday parties must have been a rare thing on the prairie.
Back in the day, people didn’t have baby books and Facebook timelines. They didn’t even have birth certificates.
My father-in-law was never quite sure when his birthday was. He was born at home, and no one ever filled out a birth certificate for him. Complicating matters, his mother died when he was young. He finally looked at his baptism record, but it was smudged. So he arrived sometime in September 1918. No one remembered what day.
I was thinking about birthdays when I found an obit for Cleonise Estelle Rousseau Bergeron, who was married to Jean Baptiste Bergeron.
Cleonise was born Oct. 4, 1818, and died at age 88 in 1907. She had six children and outlived half of them.
The Lafourche Comet dutifully reported her death and noted that she was 94 years old. She most certainly wasn’t that old. No doubt, her family knew she was of an advanced age and just how advanced that age was got exaggerated.