Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Murder in Lake Charles, 1894

The following article was published in the newspaper here in 1894. I thought that the story was rather interesting and wrote in a strange style that gives many facts but doesn't finish the story out in a satisfying way. Deesport was located where the present day property of the Port of Lake Charles and the Stream property.
april 14, 1894
“Coon Howard”
A bloody tragedy was enacted Saturday night and Sunday morning near Lockport, 5 miles down the river, that found its equal in the shaded woods near Deesport. Matilda Howard, a colored woman, who resided with her family near Lockport left home in a skiff with her 11 year old son to go to w/s to sell fish her husband caught during the night. They never returned. While rowing peacefully along Hugh Earl Partoine with murder in his heart answered by a merry “hello” rowed his boat nearly alongside. After a few words of greeting with no intimation of his intention he leveled his revolver and sped a bullet through the mother’s head. Death was instantaneous, she fell over the side of the boat into rear where it floated. The echo had not died away when partaine fired a death dealing missile at the little boy whose small corpse sank in the water. The mothers body was recovered Sunday morning, the boy not until Tuesday evening. Partaine reloaded his revolver and with one last look at woman’s body still afloat, went to the landing where a path led to Howard’s home. He hung around all night, near daybreak he entered one of the rooms of the house which had a door leading to the gallery. He had hardly hidden himself, when R. G. Howard, a white man better known as “Coon” Howard as their house was on Coon Island, husband of murdered woman, walked out on gallery with one of his little boys. As soon as Partaine saw him from his hiding place he raised his pistol and fired. He was known as a dead shot but this time the bullet went well off its mark. Howard ran to the house of his mother-in-law, named Spencer. About 100 yards distant and yelled to young Spencer to bring him a gun. In the meantime, Partaine shot the little boy, Henry, through the wrist of his right arm. He fired at Joanna, 16 year old daughter, bullet struck side of her head, rendering her unconscious. She sank to the floor between a clothes press and the door. When Joanna recovered her faculties, she pushed the door shut with her foot. Parttaine heard the noise and returned with the fury of a maniac. The frightened girl ran to an open window where she stood at bay tearfully pleading for her life. He took deliberate aim and as she tried to escape through the window fired again. The bullet struck the young girl in the neck and loded in her shoulder. Partaine then possessed himself of Howards unloaded shotgun and made his escape. He entered his boat and rowed away; nothing being seen or heard of him until 4 o’clock Monday when he called at Peter Madison’s home near Deesport. Mrs. Madison was alone with only her baby girl. She was frightened for she had heard of the shooting. While preparing something for Partaine to eat, small son of J. A. Johnson called on an errand. He ran back out to his father. Then telling J. C. Valvender. Valvender hustled to town an informed the sheriffs office. Constable Harmon, Andrews, and Valveda (sic) returned. They went through the woods and espied Partaine sitting at the foot of a tree. Partaine rose and started to run. Valvende fired in the air with his revolver. Andews fired at him with his Winchester to halt. He stopped and turned with his revolver when Harmon and Andrews fired simultaneously. The fugitive sank to the earth. He died in the jail 9 o’clock Monday night. He confessed and was particularly anxious to know if Howard was hit, intimating Howard was the one he was after. Partaine had been fishing in this locality for some time. He was well known here having one time boarded at the Bilbo’s. He once wore long hair and was an itinerant photographer, and had an alias of Frank James. He was infatuated with Joanna but she had support of her family repulsing his advances.

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