By Judge (Ret.) W. Peyton Cunningham Sr.
Editor’s Note: Articles from “NATCHITOCHES, Translations of Old French and Spanish Documents” by Germaine Portre-Bobinski, 1928. The documents, from which these translations were made, are filed at the Natchitoches, Louisiana, Courthouse. These papers are in their original form, lack capitals, correct punctuation, spelling and grammar.
August 10, 1734
In the year 1734, the tenth of August before noon, we, Jacques de la Chaise, representing the Governor of this province at the Natchitoches post, were notified to-day at about seven o’clock in the morning, that there was a corpse on the bank of the Red River, on Sr. Becquee’s land. We were notified by a negroe woman, called Jeanneton, belonging to us. The corpse was half in the water and half on land.
So we went there to witness and to take away the body, accompanied by the Sieur Duplessis, our clerk. Rev. Father Vitry, missionary Jesuit priest of the parish of Natchitoches, and four men were also called as witnesses owing to the absence of the surgeon, who had been notified, but answered he was sick and couldn’t be present. After the witnessing and indentifying we found that it was the body of Jacques du Bois, Mr. de St. Denis’ blacksmith. We found near the ear, three wounds equally distant from – (a word torn out). In addition to this, we found the eyes bulging and unusually swollen. We did not notice any other wound on the rest of the body, which led us to believe an alligator had attacked him while he was bathing, since we found the body nude.
After all the above formalities had been fulfilled, we had the aforesaid dead man buried in the graveyard of the said parish of Natchitoches by the Rev. Father Vitry. In witness of which we wrote and signed the present account to be used and shown for such end as might be needed. Done at the Fort St. Jean Baptiste of Natchitoches, the said day, month and year as above. Pierre Vitry, S.J. De la Chaise Written by me, P. Duplessis, Clerk, Notary The above account has been given and sent to New Orleans in September 1734.