Mr. Adee to Baron Fava.

No. 148.]

Excellency: I hasten to send you, in accordance with the promise heretofore made to you by Acting Secretary Rockhill, the awaited report of the recent lynching of certain persons, apparently of Italian nationality, at Hahnville, La., which has just reached the Department from his excellency the governor of Louisiana.

I need do no more at this moment than invite your attention to the statement of the local judge and district attorney, who join in making the report in question, that while the results of the investigation so far are very unsatisfactory, no effort will be spared to find the guilty parties.

Accept, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.
[Inclosure in No. 148.]

Governor Foster to Mr. Rockhill.

Sir: I have the honor to submit herewith the report of the judge and the district attorney relative to the lynching of the three Italians in the parish of St. Charles.

Very respectfully,

Murphy J. Foster,
[Subinclosure in No. 148.]

Report of the judge and the district attorney to Governor Foster.

Sir: I am in receipt of your letter of August 11 asking me to advise you as fully as possible as to the lynching of the three Italians taken from St. Charles Parish jail, near Hahnville, on Saturday night, August 8, 1896. Mr. Robert J. Perkins, district attorney of this district, joined me at St. Charles court-house yesterday in a joint investigation of the matter, and we now submit what facts we have so far ascertained.

On Saturday, August 8, there were six Italians confined in the parish jail, (1) Joseph Venturella, (2) Salvatore Arena, both charged with the murder of Joquin Roxana, near Boutté Station, in St. Charles; (3) Lorenzo Salardino, charged with the murder of Jules Gueymard; (4) Connel Marini, (5) Joe Marini, his son, and (6) Liugina Marini, his wife, charged with being accessories to the murder; the five men being in one of the iron cells upstairs and the woman in a cell on the first floor.

The first two named, Venturella and Arena, had asked for bail through their counsel on August 3. After reading the evidence taken at the coroner’s inquest the amount of bond was fixed at $1,000. Salardino and the other three Italians were arrested Tuesday night as implicated in the assassination of Jules Gueymard, who was shot from ambush and killed that night at his store at Freetown.

The sheriff at once placed extra guards at the parish jail, owing to the excitement caused by the murder, but on Friday, having reason to believe that the excitement had quieted down, he removed the extra guard and left the parish jail, as usual, in charge of Robert Piene, the jailer.

[Page 404]

The jailer, Robert Piene, states that on Saturday night, between 11 and 12 o’clock, the gate leading into the jail yard was broken, and the barred window looking into his room on the lower floor was forced open by prying out four iron bars and leaving an open passage; that he saw a crowd of men outside who ordered him to open the door and pointed guns at him, threatening to shoot him; that he opened the entrance door; was afterwards ordered to get a candle and open the iron cell upstairs in which the five Italians were confined; that one of the mob called Salardino and the two men from Boutte, and after the three had walked into the passage, they said they did not want any more and ordered him to leave the jail at once; that he was so frightened that he went back of the jail through the fence to Jules Ursain’s house and remained there until daylight, and then sent a message to Sheriff Ory to notify him of the lynching.

Sheriff Ory states that on Saturday he left the parish jail in charge of the jailer and went home; that he was up Saturday night until 9 or 10 o’clock; that he saw no sign of excitement or anything to lead him to suspect that an attack would be made on the jail, and that he was informed of the lynching the next morning by a message from the jailer.

The coroner, Dr. Lehmann, could obtain no evidence before his jury of inquest to show who were the parties guilty of this triple murder. The verdict of the jury was that Salardino, Venturella, and Arena “came to their death by being lynched by parties unknown.”

None of the people residing in the vicinity of the court-house admit that they heard anything on Saturday night. Pascal Margeotta, himself an Italian, living within a hundred yards of the court-house fence, knew nothing of the occurrence until the next morning. The woman, Lugina Marone, who was in the parish jail on Saturday night, when questioned through an interpreter, only knew that Lorenzo Salardino on Thursday night had brought a gun to her husband’s house, telling him to keep it and not to speak of it or it would be the worse for him, and that she heard the next morning that Gueymard had been shot. This is about all that we have ascertained as to the killing of the three Italians. The results of the investigation so far are very unsatisfactory, but no effort will be spared to find the guilty parties.

The attack on the parish jail and the murderous hanging of the three Italians was the result of the intense feeling created by the murder of Gueymard. It was one of those explosions of mob violence which are a disgrace to our civilization; but the fact that the other Italians were not molested shows that the nationality of the three men had nothing to do with the action of the mob.

The registration lists of the parish do not contain the names of any of the three men as registered voters of the parish of St. Charles.

Respectfully submitted.

  • Emile Rost,
    Judge Twenty-first Judicial District of Louisiana.
  • Robt. J. Perkins,
    District Attorney Twenty-first Judicial District of Louisiana.