terrebonne parish

A double burial in Chacahoula

This is a story that starts with lunch on an October day and quickly turns sad. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Like a lot of Cajuns who tired of living hand to mouth, half brothers Joseph and Louis Bernard didn’t stay on the bayou where they were born. They found work as carpenters for the railroad in New Orleans.

On Oct. 2, 1928, they found a comfortable ledge in the yard of the railroad shed and tucked into their lunches. A switch engine backing a string of nine empty rail cars disrupted their meal. The brothers’ tools were on the tracks in the path of the switch engine.

It’s not clear which brother jumped down to retrieve the tools. All that’s known is the one who did slipped and fell – and his brother jumped onto the tracks to pull him to safety. The train was on top of them in a flash.

Joseph, who was 70, died immediately. Little brother Louis, who was 59, died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Their bodies were taken to the Catholic cemetery in Chacahoula for burial. Their markers are still there in the little bayou town.

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