A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE MURDER OF A LOUISIANA WATCHMAKER; Two-page folded letter sent by the Justice of the Peace from Thibodeauxville, Louisiana to the Postmaster of Iberville. Louisiana A Justice of the Peace from Thibodeauxville.
A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE MURDER OF A LOUISIANA WATCHMAKER; Two-page folded letter sent by the Justice of the Peace from Thibodeauxville, Louisiana to the Postmaster of Iberville
A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE MURDER OF A LOUISIANA WATCHMAKER; Two-page folded letter sent by the Justice of the Peace from Thibodeauxville, Louisiana to the Postmaster of Iberville

A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE MURDER OF A LOUISIANA WATCHMAKER; Two-page folded letter sent by the Justice of the Peace from Thibodeauxville, Louisiana to the Postmaster of Iberville

Thibodeauxville: 1831. Unbound. This two-page folded letter measures 16” x 9.75” unfolded. The cover has no postmark nor rate mark, so it is likely it was carried outside of official post office channels. The letter’s paper is supple but it has developed splits along several folds, so quite fragile.

In this letter, the Thibodeauxville Justice of the Peace seeks information about two men, James Stewart and Joseph R. King, he has arrested for horse theft and the probable murder of a watchmaker: "There was a complaint . . . there were two men James Stewart and Joseph R King . . .of Suspicious Character that there were strong circumstances . . . they were guilty of Murder or horse stealing and probably both. . . . They started from Iberville with an old Dutchman a clock or watch repairer. . . . About two miles below Plaquemine the horse threw the Old man . . . and they took his horse . . . and Saddlebags [and threw] the old mans tools into the Mississippi. . . . The horse was found . . . and King and Stewart were arrested and are now in jail. I shall feel under obligations to any man that will give me information of the Old man whether he is dead or living or any other information that will serve to an expose the crimes which Stewart and King may have committed." Good. Item #008897

I could find no record that King and Stewart were ever brought to trial. Also, neither name appears on the historical list of Louisiana executions.

This does not mean that the pair were not convicted of murder. In the 1830s, Louisiana was one of three states (Alabama and Tennessee being the other two) that changed their laws to give juries the complete discretion to sentence convicted murderers to punishments short of death. Some (see Banner, The Death Penalty: an American History) have suggested that this was so that juries, which at the time were composed only of white men, could take race into account when they handed down sentences. Perhaps . . . but only two men were executed in Louisiana in 1831, one white and one black.

Price: $300.00