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THE LAFAYETTE GAZETTE.
OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE PARISH AND TOWN OF LAFAYETTE. VOL. V: LAFAYETTE, LA., SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 1897. NO. ;. JUSTICE VINDICATED -The Last Act in the Awful Drama - Two Souls Swung into Eternity. E1iiest and Alexis Blanc Hanged by their Necks Till Dead. T'ie Last Confession of the Young Murderers, Writ ten and Signed by Themselves. Four Thousand People Present-Perfect Order Reigned Through out the Day. "Foul deeds will rise tlhough all the earth o'erwhelm them to man's eyes."' Ernest and Alexis Blanc, the murderers of poor Martin Begnand, were hanged yester day between the hours of 2 and 3 in the afternoon. People began to arrive in town Thursday, when an unusually large number of strange faces were noticed on the streets of Lafayette. Since the early hours of Friday it was clearly apparent that the crowd attracted by the hanging would be the largest ever seen in the town. ; The wall which had been erected around the Scafiold to comply with the law was of such i height that those who were not contented with looking at the unfortunate young Frenchmen before the fatal dlrop, climbed trees and roofs of hcuscs in order to be able to witness the end-of the awful drama which Wtas, about to be concluded. It is estimated that there were fully 4,oo000o people present. Every town from New Or leans to the Texas line w.as represented. So nmany were hanging in the trees on the court-house square that Alexis facetiously remarked that "those trees were full of fruits." Most of the people impatiently Waited for the hour of the e.ecution wh-ile others applied to the sheriff to let them visit the Illancs. but as that officer had his hands full with mtore serious duties he Could not always attend to the irisitors. With few exceptions the immense throng behaved well, occasionally some who had probably imbibed too freely of alcohol, made themselves disagreeable. At about i2 o'clock Sheriff Erotssard went to his office where he deputized the following cit Izent to assist him at the execution: 1). A. Cochrane, Aurelien Olivier. J. O. Ilroussanr, Alex D. Verrot, IIamp Benton, Aurelien Patin, Israel Prejean, Rodolph Roy, Geo. Melchoir, J. W. Broussard. The following gentlemen who were present took their oaths as witnesses: I). Doucet, J. T. MIl kern, Simeon Begnaud, Jean Begnaud. Leo Judice, Jean A. Begnaud. The sheriff re quested the witnesses to be at the jail at half past one o'clock, while the presence of the deputies was required th :re an hour earlier. Tfie night of April Ist was the last time Ernest and Alexis Blanc enjoyed the resto rative influences of balmy sleep. They were very cheerful; as much so as it was possible for two human beings to be, with such a dreadful fate staring them in the face. They recognized and cordially greeted all comers; even some persons they scarcely knew, they remembered and ad dressed politely. Sliowing that their men tal faculties were in perfect order, their pulse beat norioally, and there was not a quiver of the muscles. Nothing indicated that their animal instincts shrank from the ordeal they were shortly to undergo, while the moral part of their beings was not pro foundly affected as they indulged in some of the ghastliest jokes that ever fell from hu man lips. For instance when ques'tioned abosit their early training and the studies they preferred at school, Alexis expressed a preference for history and geography, which was in unison with what he said on a for mer occasion that his boyish ambition had beefi to be a marine and that the works of fiction which he remembered with peculiar gusto were those of Gustave Aymar which dealt with adventures among the Indian tribes of North America, while Ernest said that he had no particular penchant for any Study at school unless it was that of (with a laugh) gymnastics, but that he would ohrtly h'an an opporttnity to practice ntnastics in a sort of trapeze performance, a -erio-comedy in which he and Alexis ex pected to be the chief actors with a howling rabble as an audiefnce. They kept up a runining fire of badinage. Ernest dre* a picture, flot a muscle of the '·~pger twitching, representing a highway Am.a with a cocked-pistol and dirle, holding -d Z\ up) a poor chtap who was on his knees before them; This picture they showed to Mr. Simeon Ilegnaud, but upon this gentleman turning away with apparent disgust, they both assured him there was no intention of reproducing anything like a picture of their crime, and on Mr. Begnaud's advice they tore it up. They answered all questions quickly and intelligently. When urged to lie down so as to get as much rest as possible to prepare for the or deal they had to go through the next day, they insisted on sitting up and chatting until after I o'clock in the morning. Even after retiring they spoke and joked with each other until exhausted, when nature threw around them the mantle of charitable ob livion. They told the sheriff t-* arouse them at 5 a. m. which he did, but they begged to be allowed to sleep a little longer and they dozed off until 5:3o. They did not break bread until they received holy communion at 8 o'ciock' Then visitors began to arrive and the scenes of the day before com menced. They were perhaps a trifle less full of levity, but they still indulged in humorous sallies. Their color became a little heightened towards noon, but they yet displayed that marvelous composure they manifested from the time of their arrest. At one o'clock Father Knapp, a Iomini can friar, who is holding a mission here, came in to render the last sad uites of con solation of mother church. The father, who is exceedingly handsome, made the scene the molre impressive. ilis stalwart figure, clothed in cossack, his classic fac beaming with kindness and humanity, will long be remembered. The silent moving of the lips as if impelled by inward prayer, asking, doubtless, the Great Jehovah to par don the youthful criminals and temper the morbid crowd was noticeable. When Father Knapp arrived the prisoners were about to take a bat h, which they did with.icrupulous care, washing their feet and bodies in a tub. They put on neat garments which Sheriff Broussard had provided for them, and when dressed they were a very handsome pair of young men. ieii'g offered collars they refused to _put them on, Alexis saying that lie did not want to place any obstruction in the way of the rope. A short while after Father Knapp entered the cell and remained with them. At I:45 Sheriff lIroussard read the death warrant. They listened to that document with perfect cUomposure. Under the tutelage of Father Knapp their faces lost sonic of their levity, although Ernest frequently smiled while talking, and Alexis' cyes maintained tLieir glitter and his voice its uual vivacity, the only evidence of any unusual strain was an occasional gulling on the part of Alexis as though a lump formed in his throat, while Ernest was observed to moisten his lips with his tongue. At 2:04 the march to the gallows began, in the following order. Ist, the holy mlan Sheriff Broussard. of God. 2d, Sheriff Broussard with Alexis. 3l1, Ernest with )Deputies.Israel Prejean and Alex 1illaud. The two brothers walked up the stairs with a firm tread. When they reached the summit of the scaffold they knelt when they were blessed by Father Knapp who recited the act of contrition with them. Ernest then in a clear, well modulated voice, addressed the crowd in chaste French the substance of which was the caution to young men to avoid evil books which might have a tendency to start them on the down gradeofa criuminal career, ash it had done for them. lie counseled them to follow strictly the tenets of religion anrl the advice of their parents. As soon as Ernest concluded his remarks, Sheriff Broussard adjusted the fatal n.)ose around Ernest's neck and then he placed it around Alexis'; he quickly covered the brothers' faces with the black caps, tied their legs. and before many were aware of it, the engine of death was set in motion and two lifeless bodies were launched in space. The drop fell at 2:5o and at 2:14 all muscular tremor had ceased, both necks being dislocated by the fall. They un questionably lost all sensation the mo:ument the drop was sprung. The slight bodily movement of the bodies foi four minutes after being mechanical. The last mech anical spasmodic movement of Alexis was a stiffening of the right arm. At :23, 13 minutes after the drop fell Coroner A. R. Trahan, Drs. Webb and Mouton, prg nounced Ernest and Alexis Blanc dead and the bodies were lowered, placed in coffins and carried to the court-'house where, upon examina tion by I)r. Trahan and his assis tants, it was ascertained that their necks had been dislocated. With the exception of the detach ing of a plank, which the Sheriff immedia'tely replaced, there was nothing to mar the harmony of the dismal scene. Thousands were admitted to view the bodies as they lay in front of the court-house in their white covered pine coffins. The discolo ration of their faces had commenced to pale and to assume the waxen hues of death. During the afternoon the bodies were taken to the Catholic church and were given decent burial. Too much credit cannot be ac corded Sheriff Broussard, who, in the conduct of this case from the inception to the end, carried out every detail so successfully. His dealings with the large crowd were characterized by firmness and good-humor. The law prohibited Deputy Sheriff Mouton. a public hanging and he performed the execution in private, as far as it was humanly possible to do so. The wall surrounding the scaffold was z4 feet higi, the upper halves of the bodies of the criminals being visible A great load has been lifted off the shleriff's shoulders. The following is a literal trans lation of a portion of the manu script given by the lBlancs to Mr. Thomas fouton. It was wr itten by Alexis and signed by both. It is a full history of the crime acd a sketch of the murderers: JtuNDAv, Feb. 28, 1897. At this mom-nt I am incarcerated in the jail at Lafayette. Through the bars of nmy cell I am able to see only a small spot of the green earth. The weather is beautiful; the sun lights the town with its golden rays, none of which shine on me, confined in my dismal cell. But why are we here, without hope and with the scaffold as the only alternative? It is because we have committed a crime, the penalty of which we must pay with our lives. A few years ago, it .vas in Paris, France, that our beloved mother breathed her last after a long and painful illness. Poor mother ! -How she must have suffered, if from her heavenly abode she looked down upon us and followed us through our lives. We were left alone on earth, two unhappy or phants with no parents to guide us. We were then, one x6 and the other 15, years old. By the sale of a few household articles we realized a little money. Considering our position ,ve decided to leave France as we had no reason to remain there. We journeyed through Bel gium, visiting Brussels, Bourges and Anvers, and finally boarded a steamer bound for New York where we landed on the 24th of August, 1893. Immediately after our arrival there, the love for adventure took possession of us and having enough money we departed for St. Louis, passing through Norfolk, Cincin nati, Indianapolis and Louisville, arriving at St. Louis, where we soon spent all our money. Bein4 penniless, we entered upon a life of privation and misery. For two months we had little to eat and sometimes nothing at all. After several efforts to secure employ ment, a farmer near St. Louis gave us work and a home; we -remained there all wminter. \Vith the ap proach of spring, our adventurous spirit again took possession of us, and not having been paid in money we did not care to remain where we were. Therf we pacRed our be longings and left for New Orleans, and a month later reached that city, having suffered much from cold and hunger. But in that French city, we r ce;ved not much more hospitality than in the American cities, and we crossed the river and cointinued our journey having nothing in view but the procurement of employment. It is in this way we arrived at thl home of old Col. Boudreaux and for two years we worked on his plantation following the pursuits of farming. It was a life of tranquil ity, sweet and honest, which we re gret having discarded to follow the evil promptings of ambition; ,the love of fortune, and the desire-sr gold which the devil suggested. us through the leaves of a book e titled the "James Boys." It was by reading this book we were lead to steal. Why work in the field ? Why walk behind a plow ? And at the end of the year receive not enough to buy clothes to put on our backs ? To rob one of his gold in a single night appeared to us much easier. The birds had eaten the crops and we were discouraged. Then to put our new plan into execution we bought two revolvers and made two poignards of files. After being well armed we decided to rob Martin Begnaud and eight days afterwards we were on our way determined to execute our project. For two days we hesitated, but the third, (the day following the election) April 22, 1896, we fully succeeded. That night we arrived at Scott at 9 o'clock. All was calm and quiet. Nearly everybody in the town were asleep, with the exception of those in Simeon Begnaud'J saloon. It was yet too early to begin our work and we sought refuge in the tall grass along the railroad, watching the movements of all those who were in the saloon. Shortly after the doors of the saloon were shut and everyone went home. We saw Martin Begnaud going toward his store. The time to act had come. It was then or never. We walked hurriedly to the store, but we ar rived too late, the door having al ready been closed. We knocked at the door. Martin Begnaud came and asked, "who is there ?" -It is Ernest Blanc. us," we responded; then entering the store we bought a pack of to bacco, stating that as we worked all day we could not come earlier. We conversed upon different sub jects before an opportunity pre sented itself for an advantageous at tack, he being behind the counter. We were about to leave when the idea came to our mind to a-,k him to show us some rat traps, for which he had to come from behind the counter, and now the op portunity . for which we had long awaited came. tie showed us the traps, and after explaining how to use them he leaned against the counter. His back was turned to us and when he turned around he found himself facing the revolver and dagger of Alexis. He was so surprised that he leaped towards us in a vain effort to disarm us. "Do not mr-ve. If you do von are dead," Ernest replied pointing his pistol closer to his head. Paralized by the fear of being shot or pierced with a dagger, hc remained quiet. It was then that Alexis shut the door which was opened. We then told him: ':Now, Martin, all that we want is that you open your safe in order that those crisp bills may pass from your safe into our pockets." WVithout saying a word he walked to that small piece of iron furniture, whose contents have excited more titan one human mind. Five minutes later the safe was opened and it was with some difficulty as he trembled very much before he found the combination. It was then, without fu ther to do about the money, we began to tie his hands and to entwine his body with calico to make him more se cure, and after conducting him to his room we tied his feet and made him sit on his bed. I remained near the bed, thie pistol in my hand watching every mnovement of the un fortunate I)risoner, while Alexis ransacked the safe with as much sangfroid as a banker does his own. Despite the gag Martin could speak distinctly and it was at this moment that he said: ''\Vhy do you treat me in this manner? HadI you asked me to give you some money I would have done so." But I replied, "You are saying this because you are canght." Alexis then said he had to tell him where were the keys of those two little drawers. Martin replied: The keys are in one of the opened drawers, anti furthermore, one of drawers contains only private papers while the other contains some gold." Alexis returned to the safe and found but one key which opened the drawer containing the gold; he searched for the other Key, but could not find it, but being satisfied with the money he had found, he believed Martin's word that the other drawer contained only pa pers. After waiting impatiently near the bed about fifteen minutes I walked over to where my brother was to see if he had finished rifling the safe. I noticed on the floor near the safe two sacks tilled with money while Alexis' pockets were puffed with bank notes. \Ve were discussing the manner in which we would tie him so that he could not give the alarm before morning, when he saidi: "Do not destroy my account books nor my private papers, with out which I cannot make a living." In the silence of the night this sonoirois voice appeaied probably stronger than it really was and im pressed us with a feeling impossible to express, anti we rushed to his room and I (Ernest) stabbed Mar tin who was sitting on his bed. How msany tirmes I stabbed him I know not, nor did I ever know. All that I remember is that Martin uttered a smothered groan after the first plunge of the dagger, which was certainly mortal. Without losing any time we walked out of the house and fled along the rail road track to our cabin. After ar riving, the first thing we did was to bury the money, and conceal our bank-notes and weapons, and we burned all clews. The next morn ing when we heard of the crime we were with Col. Boudreaux in his orchard picking Japan plums. The old colonel was stupefied. WVe feigned to be equally affected. A short while after we were Informed that the sheriff would arrive on the scene with blood-hounds to track the murderers. WVe had not thought of blood-hounds before and this information caused us some un easiness, and the consequence was we remained in our cabin all day. At four o'clock in the afternoon the dogs, after trailing around the store, seemed to take a trail along the railroad which they followed to the place where we left the track the night before. We were very much relieved when we felt sure that the dogs had lost the scent. After staying one week without being sus pected and making believe that we had received some money we left on the 12:4o train for New Orleans with the stolen money strapped around us. Immediately upon our arrival in New Orleans we bought valises and going to a hotel soon re lieved ourselves ot our belts. The next morning we left for Atlanta, thence to New York where we rested several days befotr taking our departure for Europe. After sit days of traveling we arrived at Southampton, England, and the next day we were at Havre, France. \Ve purchased new cl thes and lived several days there indu!ging in the best of wines and the finest of French cooking. Dressed as Alexis Blanc. Princes, and loaded with gohl, -we madle our triumphal ent:ailce into Paris, where we lIved as million aires, rode fine horses, vi:itinig all the theatres, and continuing to in dulge in good wines and associating with pretty women. S-oorr tired of this life of dissipation we again de sired to travel. After visiting Belgium and England we boarded a steamer for Nsw Y'orK City ar riving there on the t2th of July. We had already spent the greater portion of the $3,000. Then we commenced our journey across the United States, visiting Chicago, St. Paul, Helena, Portland, Sacre mento, San Francisco, Los Angelos; El Paso, Salt l.ake City, Ogden; Omaha, Council Bluffs and St. Louis. In the latt r city we spent the remainder of our money. Each one. having ten dollars, we took the Frised line on foot, pass ing through Missodri, " Arkansdd, Indian Territory and Texas, and followed the Texas Pacific as far as Mexico, where we rested a few days. All along the route we tried to get work, but failed. There wad nothing for strangers to do. It id in this manner that we reached Lafayette on January 2, 1897. Knowing so many people there we thought it would be easy to find employment. We knew that we were risking our necks, but being so miserable, did not care very inuch. The day after our arrival at Col. Boudreaux's we received a visit from the sheriff whd arrested us and conducted us to prison, and being interrogated by Sheriff Broussard and others, we confessed our clime, and the same day we were conveyed to New Orleans for fear of mob law. \Ve remained in the city a month and a half and on the roth of Feb ruary, 1897, we were brought to Lafayette for trial. The trial was fixed for the 17th of February but postponed to the 25th. The trial lasted two days and half a night and we were condemned to hang after eloquent pleadings of our attorneys. \Ve are new awaiting the day of our execution, thinking that it is hard to die so young, but God's will be done. To Mr. Thomas Mouton, March 3, 1897" ERNEST BL.ANC, A. Ir.,AxC. Buy your iana:ing, window shadds and curtain poles from Mouton & Hopkins. Thie Grarndst Re*MeIyr Mr. R. B. Greeve, merchant, of Chilhowie, Va., certifies that he had consumption, was given up to die, sought all medical treatment that money could procure, tried all cough remedies he could hear of, but got no relief; spert many nights sitting up in a chair; was induced to try I)r. King's New Discovery, and was cured by use of two bot tles. For past three years has been attending to business, and says Dr. King's New Discovery is the grand est remedy ever made, as it has done so much for him ahd also, for others in his community. Dr. King's New Discovery is guaranteed for coughs, colds and consumption. It don't fail. Trial bottles free at W\m. Clegg's drug store. The People's Cotton Oil Mill closed a very successft-.,season last \Vednesday at 12 o'clock. For five months the mill was run day and night with very few stops. The officers ha!d stock-holders of this t'onmpany have every reason to but pleased with the first season of their mill. Not only thoses who Sre pecuniarily interested in this enterprise but every resident of the town has been bene(ted by il.e operation of this manufacture. I he sum of $350 has oeen paid weediy in s:alaries and wages alone, to say nothing of the money dis bursed for sced. The cotton seed oil mill has been a source of con sider.able revenue to our people ant it should gratify everyone interested in thie welfare of the town to know that it is art assured success. Managcr fl;iossat informned The' Gazette thait it iS the i'ntertion of the comnpany to enlarge the ware hcoumcs so that enoughli seed may be' had to enab'te a rfunger rut, nex* season. If you ilCedl any printed station-' cry, we would like to furrrtish yott with some of it. Your smiling countenance is al-' ways agreeable to L.eon .oaw, y G(ive Iimn a cm}.