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The Lafayette gazette. [volume] (Lafayette, La.) 1893-1921, April 03, 1897, Image 1

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-The Last Act in the Awful
Drama - Two Souls
Swung into
E1iiest and Alexis Blanc
Hanged by their Necks
Till Dead.
T'ie Last Confession of the
Young Murderers, Writ
ten and Signed by
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
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
'ยท~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
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
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
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,
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
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
\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
\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"
A. Ir.,AxC.
Buy your iana:ing, window shadds
and curtain poles from Mouton &
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*
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}.

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