Acadiana Genealogy, Uncategorized

A Christmas-time drowning


The Weekly Times-Democrat on 29 Dec. 1893

Jennings, La., Dec. 22 – Passengers on the trip of the steamer Olive from Mermenteau to Grand Cheniere, Dec. 20, bring news of a very sad accident that occurred in Grand Lake, 30 miles south of here, during the heavy windstorm of Friday night, Dec. 15.

When the Olive reached a point in Grand Lake one half mile east of Grass Point, the crew and passengers were horrified to find floating in the water the dead body of a woman, who proved to be Mrs. D. Thibodaux, of Mermenteau, who had left home some days previous on a visit to friends at Cheniere Pardieu, 40 miles south of her home. The party consisted of herself and husband, a Mr. Miller, Widow Thibodaux and her three little girls, who had made the trip in a skiff, as has been the custom among the old residents of the river and lake country.

The same day the corpse of Mrs. Thibodaux was found in the lake, a hunter, A. Nunez, came across her husband, D. Thibodaux, on the east shore of Grand Lake, about three and a half miles from where his wife’s body was recovered. Mr. Thibodaux was half starved, his feet terribly swollen from exposure and he was in a half dead condition, having been four days and nights alone on the bleak lake shore without food or shelter, and exposed to several days of cold, windy, frosty weather. His sufferings had been greatly increased by his continued wanderings in vain search for some trace of the rest of his party.

He was taken on board of A. Nunez’ boat, and after receiving all possible care was able to give an account of the terrible ordeal through which himself and companions had passed.

The party had left Cheniere Pardieu on the return trip to Mermentau the morning of the 15th in their skiff, and went along without hindrance until the wind rose about 2 p.m. to a high gale, and they were compelled to land near the south end of Grand Lake to await calmer weather. About sundown, the wind calmed and they pushed out into the lake. All went well until about 10 p.m. when the wind suddenly rose from the west and blew a gale. The skiff was running about half a mile from the west shore and the lake became very turbulent in a few minutes, so that the skiff became unmanageable. In spite of every effort to keep the boat clear with her head to the wind she soon began filling with water. Not long after the boat filled and swamped, throwing all the party but Mr. Miller in the water. Thibodaux caught his wife and attempted to swim toward shore supporting her. Soon he became worn out with exertion and beating of the waves and lost hold of his wife, who could not have survived many minutes in the rough sea. It is remarkable how Thibodaux managed to weather the stormy lake, but in some way he managed to swim and float until he touched the east shore.

The searching party this week found Miller in the skiff on shore, frozen to death or drowned, it cannot be told which. Up to date the bodies of Widow Thibodaux and children have not been found.

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