Billy the Kid of Pointe Noir
Remember the American epic outlaw heroes, Frank and Jesse James and the
Cole Younger gang? What about Billy
the Kid and his gang? The one thing
they had in common were newspapermen like John Edwards of
One must ask what was going on in
In the early 1880s, southwest
Thibodeaux, a thirty-one year old farmer from Pointe Noir, near
Octave wasn’t good at his profession because according to Acadia Parish
courthouse records, Octave was charged no less than four times for larceny
Octave and many of his friends and neighbors perceived what he was doing was a great and noble cause. Some regarded Octave as a kind of Robin Hood, borrowing from the rich that could afford it, and giving to the poor. Octave was also very much like Billy the Kid of the Wild West; he didn’t know when to stop his life of crime. Billy desperately tried living up to the romanticized character, which the newspaper reporters were portraying.
Fear is a great motivator of change. According to family stories once Octave was released from prison he immediately resumed his unlawful stunts in the cattle business.
According to oral tradition one day a train killed a cow that belonged to Octave. “It was one of my best milk cows,” said Octave with an impish grin as he reported the incident to the Southern Pacific Railroad. The railroad wasn’t buying any of it. In fact, they flatly refused to reimburse him for the cow, stating the cow had no business on railroad property. Octave swore to the railroad officials that they would pay one way or another, and it would cost much more than the price of a cow.
Unlike Billy the Kid and Jesse James, Octave didn’t have anyone to embellish his stories. The newspapers were writing their articles and printing the unvarnished, hard hitting truth. They weren’t interested in creating a larger than life character. They just wanted the crimes to come to an end.
It is uncertain just how it was determined that the Thibodeaux brothers caused the train derailment. As Ms. Gercie D. Daigle, a local historian and resident of Church Point said, “There was no CSI in those days.”
Hugh Geiger, a
twenty-six year old fireman from
Auguste Thibodeaux’s court date was
Like Billy the
Kid when Sheriff Garrett urged him to go south to
Leesburg friends informed him that Sheriff Lyons and a deputy from Acadia Parish
was there searching for him. In the
distance a bell buoy was clanging hollowly the way it does when the sea kicks up
and the air becomes damp and heavy.
The deputy actually arrested Octave, but he wasn’t certain of his identity.
One of Octave’s friends helped by convincing the deputy he had the wrong
man. Dark clouds were boiling and
churning, and somewhere behind them thunder began grumbling.
Suddenly a bolt of lightening zigzagged across the southern sky.
The deputy pulled his hat down tight and decided he best go find the
sheriff and when he left, Octave and his friend had a good laugh at the deputy’s
expense. The outlaw immediately
headed back towards
Jaunice, a friend and relative of Octave, allowed the fugitive to hide out at
his house a few days before traveling to the
He went out
back into an open field taking his
Finally, after a long stand off Octave stood his rifle on the ground, placed his hat over the barrel, and motioned for them to come closer so they could talk. When the deputy got within hearing distance; Octave said he would surrender if they paid him for his rifle. Octave later said, “I got the money before they got the gun.” Octave knew he would not need money where he was going; he gave it to the Jeanis family.
By this time nearly everyone was happy to have Octave Thibodeaux’s reign of terror come to an end. Most thought his early crimes were justified but when it escalated into violence they turned against the once benevolent outlaw hero.
headlines of The Crowley Signal dated
representative with the Crowley Signal interviewed Octave while he was
behind bars in his jail cell. The
journalist asked how he managed to escape from jail.
Octave took great pleasure in describing the events of his great escape
and how he played the trickster when he baited Deputy Anding at the parish jail.
Beginning on the first day of his arrival, Octave remained in his bunk
pretending to be sick and not going out into the corridor with the other
inmates. Anding didn’t hesitate; he
immediately checked on Octave and was content to learn his prisoner was sick.
This went on all week. Octave
knew from past experience at
Early Sunday morning Deputy Anding went upstairs, gathered a few prisoners to go downstairs and retrieve water for the main prison population, and as he did Anding left the door unlocked. Octave knew it was human nature to be complacent, a force of habit to leave the door unlocked since the prisoners were locked in their cells from the night before. And as they say, the rest is history.
Like many of
the outlaws in the Wild West, Octave made sure the reporter spelled his name
correctly. He was quick to point out
the error in an article of the St. Landry Clarion dated
A gallows was
was dismantled and stored at
Ernest and Alexis Blanc admitted they were enamored with Billy the Kid, and were fascinated with the articles in the yellow or dime novels, which portrayed the outlaw and the Wild West frontier as being mysterious and exciting.
Thibodeaux served out his time in prison then moved his family to