Count Vinci to Mr. Adee.


Sir: Referring to the note of this royal embassy bearing date of the 1st instant, I have the honor herewith to transmit to your excellency a copy of the report which has been received by me from the Chevalier Romano, in charge of the royal consulate at New Orleans, relative to the investigation held by him concerning the lynching of five Italian subjects, which recently took place in the State of Louisiana.

Feeling fully persuaded that from a perusal of said report and of the inclosures which accompany it your excellency will become more fully convinced that a lynching was never more atrocious, and that it assumed this criminal form in order that these foreigners whose business was thought to interfere with that of the residents of Tallulah might be put out of the way, I avail myself of this occasion to reiterate to you, honorable sir, the assurances, etc.,

G. C. Vinci.
[Inclosure No. 1.]

Report of the acting consul of Italy at New Orleans to the royal embassy at Washington.

Mr. Chargé d’affaires: I have the honor to inform your excellency that I reached New Orleans on the evening of the 29th ultimo. On the day following (July 30), with the assistance of Mr. Papini, I perused the documents relating to the lynching at Tallulah.

Having thought proper to go to Vicksburg, in which city I had learned, from the inquiries made, that the persons lynched had friends and business relations, I left on the evening of the same day and arrived at Vicksburg in the night.

The next morning, July 31, assisted by the Chevalier Piazza, our consular agent in that city, I found out one Giuseppe Difina, or Diffina, son of the late Matteo Difina, or Diffina, of Cefalu, Palermo. This Giuseppe Difina, or Diffina, was a brother-in-law of the Difatta brothers, and I took his sworn testimony. I also took that of Saverio Romano, son of Andrea Romano, deceased, of Salerno. This Saverior Romano was well acquainted with the men who were lynched, and had relations of friendship and business with them.

I secured, at the same time, a copy taken from the records of the district court of [Page 453] Madison Parish, in which Tallulah is situated, of the applications made by the Difatta brothers to become American citizens.

From the five aforesaid documents it appears that Francesco Difatta made his first application for American citizenship November 8, 1895; that Carlo Difatta, whose real name seems to have been Pasquale Difatta, made his June 28, 1899; and that Giuseppe Difatta made his on the same day. The last-named person, however, made his application under the name of Siha Deferach. It appears, moreover, from the aforesaid documents, that Giovanni Cerami had been in America but a few months, and that Rosario Fiducia, although he had been many years in America, had, during the four years that he had lived at Tallulah, not expressed any intention of becoming an American citizen, and that both he and Cerami were considered as Italian citizens.

The Italian citizenship of all the five lynched persons does not, therefore, seem doubtful, since, while it appears, until evidence to the contrary is furnished, that two of them had never applied for American citizenship, in the case of the other three who had done so the period of five years had not expired which is required by the Constitution of the United States for the obtainment of full citizenship by means of a second application.

the lynching.

From all that I have learned here from persons who had frequent relations with Tallulah, and who had visited that place after the lynching, it took place in the following manner. These particulars were furnished by Dr. Robin, who went to Tallulah for the purpose of attending Dr. Hodge, and by Mr. A. B. Dunn, a lawyer, who likewise went to Tallulah on the day after the lynching, and heard the details from the people of the village, from the sheriff, and the district attorney. The statement of the latter, in the form of a letter, is inclosed:

The village of Tallulah has from 500 to 600 inhabitants. Exclusive of the colored population, the male population consists of from 60 to 70 persons. At the time when the unfortunate occurrence took place this population was somewhat increased, because the grand jury was in session, and some men had come there from the neighboring towns for that reason.

The Difatta brothers had two stores at Tallulah. The sketch which is herewith inclosed shows where they were situated, the place where the quarrel occurred, and where the five Italians were arrested.

The behavior of these men had always been good, and, although they were of a vivacious temperament, they had never had any difficulty with anyone during the four years that they had resided in the village. The Difatta brothers enjoyed a certain degree of popularity there, especially Francesco, who frequently associated with the most prominent persons of the neighborhood and drank and played cards with them.

They carried on the grocery business and the sale of alimentary substances with a certain degree of success, and on this account they were regarded with secret animosity. The incident which gave rise to the quarrel that had such a tragic ending was, indeed, provoked by a goat belonging to Francesco Difatta. This goat was in the habit of climbing up on the balcony of the doctor’s house, and, as he finally became annoyed thereby, he shot the goat.

Francesco was grieved and remonstrated with the doctor the next day, but their conversation, although heated, had no serious consequences.

The one who started the quarrel was not Francesco, but his brother Carlo, alias Pasquale. He took the killing of the goat more to heart than Francesco did, and when the doctor passed by his store he came out and spoke harshly to him and finally gave him a blow with his fist. Carlo was not armed either with a pistol or a knife.

The doctor then drew a revolver and fired, hitting Carlo in the forehead. Carlo fell, and the doctor put his foot on him, because he was unable to fire any more shots from his revolver. He opened it in order to see what was the matter with it, intending to fire a second shot at Carlo. Then it was that Giuseppe Difatta, who saw from the balcony of his house the danger in which his brother was, fired a shot at the doctor from a gun loaded with bird shot, hitting him while he was standing in the attitude above described.

This having been done, Giuseppe withdrew into his house, and Carlo, having got up, concealed himself in a neighboring house.

The story was immediately spread abroad that the Italians had killed Dr. Hodge. The crowd rapidly increased and quickly went in search of Carlo and Giuseppe, while the sheriff, with others, went to Francesco’s store, where were young Cerami and [Page 454] Rosario Fiducia. That they had taken no part in the quarrel is shown by the confession made to Mr. Dunn by the sheriff, viz, that when he went to arrest them Cerami was in front of the store with his back to the street. All three were taken to jail.

Meanwhile the crowd found Giuseppe in his house, and, after looking for Carlo for some time, they found him in a neighboring house. He was there struck in the stomach. Both were then dragged to the slaughterhouse for swine and were there hanged.

The mob, intoxicated with blood, then repaired to the jail, took out Francesco Difatta and Rosario Fiducia, and hanged them in the court-house yard. Before Francesco was hanged he said, “Gentlemen, do you wish to kill me? I have always thought you were my friends.” Not yet satiated, the lynchers returned to the jail, took Cerami, and hanged him also.

Many residents of the village of Tallulah were the perpetrators of the lynching. Everybody knows the names of the principal lynchers.

Accept, etc.,

[Inclosure 2.]

In the year 1899, on the 31st day of July, at Vicksburg, Miss., before us, Camillo Romano, secretary of the royal embassy at Washington, assisted by Mr. Giovanni Brunini, advocate, employed in the capacity of chancellor, appeared Mr. Giusenpe Diffina, son of Matteo Diffina, deceased, a native of Cefalù, Palermo, who, having made oath in due form of law, deposed as follows:

I have resided in America for more than nine years and for three at Milliken Bend, La., which village is 5 miles distant from Tallulah, where the lynching of the Difatta brothers took place. I had a fruit and grocery business there, and I abandoned it because I was advised to flee, as my life was in danger. I am a brother-in-law of Francesco, Giuseppe, and Carlo Difatta, having married their sister. Carlo Difatta’s real name was Pasquale Difatta. The three brothers were born in Cefalù, where their mother, Teresa Difatta, née Scotola, still lives. Francesco and Giuseppe Difatta had been in America about six years; Carlo, alias Pasquale, about two years. I know that Francesco Difatta took out his first papers about four years ago. As to Carlo and Giuseppe, they told me two or three months ago that they also intended to take out naturalization papers. I do not know whether they carried out their purpose. As to the other two men who were lynched, viz, Rosario Fiducia and Giovanni Cerami, the former had been at Tallulah about four years, but he had previously been in Louisiana, in what place I know not. Giovanni Cerami was a native of Tusa, Messina, and had been in America only a few months. Rosario Fiducia has a brother in Cefalù, viz, Pasquale Fiducia, son of Niccolo Fiducia, deceased, and he also has a wife and three children there. Giovanni Cerami likewise has a father and mother and brothers living at Tusa. Of the lynching and of the reasons which led to it I know nothing, not having been on the ground and having myself been obliged to flee. Rosario Fiducia also has a sister named Rosaria, who is married to Vincenzo de Pacla, of Cefalù, who now resides at Indianapolis, Ind.

We have put the foregoing statement in writing, and, having been read, it has been ratified by the witness and the chancellor, with us, the undersigned.

[l. s.]
Giuseppe Difina.

[l. s.]
John Brunini.

[l. s.]
C. Romano.
[Inclosure 3.]

In the year 1899, on the 31st day of July, before us, Camillo Romano, secretary of the royal embassy at Washington, on a mission for the investigation of the lynching at Tallulah, at the office of the consular agent of Italy at Vicksburg, Miss., assisted by Mr. Giovanni Brunini, advocate, employed in the capacity of chancellor, appeared Saverio Romano, son of Andrea Romano, deceased, of Salerno, who, after having made oath before us in due form of law, deposed as follows:

As to the nationality of the men who were lynched, I know that Frank Difatta had taken out his first papers; of the others I know nothing. As to the reasons for the lynching and the manner in which it took place, I can say nothing of my own personal knowledge, not having been on the ground; but from what was told me by a person who went to Tallulah on the day after the lynching on business for me, viz, Mr. A. B. Dunn, and also from what was told me by the undertaker who buried the [Page 455] bodies at Vicksburg, it would appear that in the quarrel between Dr. Hodge and Pasquale Difatta the doctor was the first who fired a shot with a revolver. Pasquale, alias Carlo Difatta, was hit in the forehead; at least so I was told. As to the good conduct of the persons lynched, nothing could be said against them; they never had a difficulty with anyone. It is true that Francesco Difatta fired, four years ago, at a negro who had come to his store at night for the purpose of stealing, but he was discharged by the court.

We have drawn up the foregoing statement in writing, and it has been read and ratified by the witness, the chancellor, and by us the undersigned.

[l. s.]
Saverio Romano.

[l. s.]
John Brunini.

[l. s.]
Secretary of the Embassy.