1868 Murder Over A Pipe

Photographs and memories: Reports tell of a murder in Terrebonne

Bill Ellzey
Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 11:14 a.m.

“I beg leave to inform you of another atrocious murder, which was committed on Saturday night at ten o’clock, at a democratic ball which was given at Mr. Eloi Theriot’s plantation, twelve miles from Houma, in a sugar-house.”

So began a letter to Republican Louisiana Governor H.C. Warmoth, written in 1868, but reconsidered during Congressional investigations nearly 10 years later.

“It appears that a colored orator named Gordon, and a white man, named Davis, who came from New Orleans some three weeks ago to go round the parish making speeches for the democrats, with some men from Houma, went out to Theriot’s on Saturday evening to hold a meeting.

“After the speaking was over they had a ball (dance), and, after dancing a short time, a young man from this town, named Anatole Lagarde, stepped up to a colored man, a radical, who was smoking and quietly looking on, not dancing, for he buried one of his children a few days before.

“Lagarde knocked his pipe out of his mouth, when Alfred Crump, the man who was killed, said to Lagarde that the pipe was not his, but belonged to another colored man, and … asked him a dollar for it.

“A few words ensued, when Lagarde deliberately pulled out his pistol and shot Crump through the heart. Crump bent forward and fell dead without a word, and poor fellow, leaves a wife and three children to mourn his loss.”

The writer of the Aug. 31, 1868 letter, Terrebonne parish Judge Alexander Johnston, knew the victim personally:

“There never was in history a more cruel murder then the one mentioned. The deceased was a quiet, inoffensive man, and industrious to his family.

“I can assure you of this, for I had him in my employ in Houma over six months, and he was a sober, steady man. There was no altercation between him and Lagarde, and, in fact, I don’t believe they knew each other.”

Johnston said he had feared just such an incident. “Now, sir, this is just what I have (expected) for some time. The democrats are hiring speakers to go through our parish and address the colored people, and get up those balls at which they have whiskey, (and such) in abundance…

“I saw a subscription ~ is a few days ago, where two of our large planters had subscribed $250 each, and many other smaller sums, for carrying on the fall campaign, to give just such balls, and pay their speakers, etc.”

Johnston had handled the case as parish judge. “I issued warrants for Legarde as soon as I heard of the murder, and sent the deputy sheriff right off to Thibodeaux, where we supposed he went after he committed the horrible deed.

“I am afraid we will have more of such unless you will, in your executive capacity, give us some positive instruction to prevent such bloody deeds in future.

“The description of Lagarde is as follows: He is about eighteen years old; slim form; about five feet four or five; curly black hair; clean face, rather sharp; dressed in black. We will do best we can to arrest him.”

Two other reports of Crump’s death also were included in the published record.

Patrick O’Harra, who published a weekly newspaper in Houma after the Civil War, corroborated Johnston’s account of Alfred Crump’s death in most particulars:

“I was intimately acquainted with him, and knew him to be a peaceable, quiet, and inoffensive man. It seems that … Scott Gordon and … Davis went into the parish of Terre Bonne in the service of the democratic party.

“While there they went to Bayou Delarge … (and) invited this Alfred Crump to go to the meeting. As he had lost his child a few days before, he refused to go.

“They prevailed on him that evening to go to the ball. … While standing there one Le Garden came up to him and knocked his pipe, which he was smoking, out of his mouth.

“Crump remarked that the pipe cost him a dollar, and made some other remarks in reference to the act, whereupon Le Garden drew his revolver and shot him. They were standing so close together that the powder burnt Crump’s shirt.”

Another report was written by R.W. Francis: “on Saturday last, August 29, 1868, a young man, well known to me, by the name of Anatole Legarde, shot and killed a colored man by the name of Albert Crump, at the canebrake, in the parish of Terre Bonne, while at a public meeting of colored men.”

Nothing in the published account of Crump’s death, or the list of similar crimes reported from all over Louisiana, indicated whether Lagarde was ever captured and tried for Crump’s death.

Original article

One Comment

  1. The Incredible Transition of Dr. King | FunnyThing says:

    […] 1868 Murder Over A Pipe […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.