|Title||Van Arsdel, W.D.|
|Scope & Content||
In Memory of W. D. Vanarsdel by Ardis Cawthon from Pine Cones (Louisiana Polytechnic Institute student publication), Winter, 1933-34 Ruston, Louisiana. A report of an interview concerning W. D. Van Arsdel from Bossier Point (Koran) who was murdered for his money August 1, 1867.
IN MEMORY OF W. D. VANARSDEL
By ARDIS CAWTHON
About a month before Lucius Van died, I asked him if he remembered anything about the old white man who used to live out at the "Vineyard" before the War.
"Yassuh, yassuh, sholey I ' members him. Why, day white gen'man was my own papa. I reckon I'se de onliest one dat's left to 'member him now-day," said the wrinkled old negro. "What you say is on he tombstone?"
I drew a little notebook from my pocket and began to read, "In memory of W. D. Varnarsdel, born April 22, 1814 ...... "Sho' was. Yassuh, dat wuz he name. Dey calls us Van. do' fer short, and dey calls us place de Van Place, now' stead uv de Vineyard! He wuz one mo' fine gen'tnan, too. I kin jest see him like he tuster look. He wuz a thin man, he wuz, and he allus wear a wide black hat. In dem days, de mens didn't shave close like you all. No sir. Cap'n Van had a purty set uv beard, he did-black and shiny, and he wuz de alfiredest 'bacco chewer in No'th Louisiana. He sho' loved he 'bacco.'
"I guess he always carried a gun."
"Six-shooter, I reckon t'was. l fergits de kind. I knows one thing do, he allus toted a big raw-hide whip, but den he never, struck nobody cept dem dat wuz misruley." Old Lucius' eyes became focused on the shiny end of his hickory walking stick.
"Did Cap'n Van own many slaves, Lucius?" ?"'
"Oh, Gawd, I reckon so.De quarters wuz 'most as big as dis whole town. Yassuh.Dey wuz some old and some middlin', and lil niggers everwhar. But Ma, she wur de choices' one dey say. She ever wuz a big, healthy, purty woman, and de nigger boys wuz all a-hopin' de ole Cap'n would give her to dem, but de old Cap'n never said noth'n' !Den, when Ma wuz blossomin' -rowed, he just said, `Susie, you kin come cook fer me at de Big House!' Dat made misconvenience fer ole Lindy what had benn de boss' cook, but warn't nothin' fer Ma ter do, 'cept go head on. Dem wuz de way in slavery times, you know." Lucius paused in order on de fron' gallery restin'. I seed him when us passed. He head wuz restin' on a straight chair turned down Ma wuz washin dishes, and ole Lindy wuz in de backyard ironin! 'Long in de evenin' us seed some mens drive up on horses ter de front gate, and dar dey hitched but us thoughat warn't nobody cept some uv do mens from off de steamboats come out on bizness wid de Cap'n. Atter while de mens left, and us kept on er killin' caterpillars.
Dreckly, us heared Ma er yellin', and de bell er ringin'. Us Flewed to de house, and de mens in de woods comes er runnin' I Ii too. Ma she keeper yellin and er hollerin', louder an' louder, and when us got dare, I never seed such a mess.De safe wuz bus open, and papers wuz blowin' everwhar, and on de front gallery, ar wuz de ole Cap'n, bloodier'n a hog, wid de eves jest er blarin'. ey's killed him, dey's killed him, Ma keeper yeilin'. "llem two mens."
"But, Lucius, the inscription on the tombstone says there `` were three men."
"Wal, dat's whar de rub comes ill, Ma say she never seed ],,tit two mens. Ole Lindy say wuz three when she seed 'em leavin'. 'Course Ma couldn't see nothin' 'cause, one uv de mens stuffed a sheet in she mof and tied her ter de bed, and Lindy 'clared she ain't heared nothin' 'till Ma got de sheet outten she motif, and 'gin ter holler, and den de mens wuz ridin' off. .'Course, dey wuz tracks uv three, outside, and de ole Cap'n brothers taken dat, and de word uv Lindy which 'lowed dey wuz three. Ma wuz jubious "bout dat, 'do. What else de tombstone say?'"
"That's all except-'erected by his brothers, L. V. and A. W But Lucious, how much money did the murderers get from tile safe?"
"Nothin' Ole Cap'n wuz too smart fer dat He had he money sewed up in de undershirt."
to Lite a big corner from the new plug of "Brown's Mule" tobacco that I had given him.-
"Ole Lindy, she ever did raise trouble, 'do, fer Ma. She keeper sayin' as how she wuz goin' ter git even wid Ma fer gittin' her job, but Ma she laid low, and sez nothin', cause de ole Cap'n wuz allus good ter Ma--he even gived her money sometimes, but den Ma wuz good ter hint. She allus nussed him in case uv sickness. Us chillen uster bring in mullein an' cherry root fer her ter make he medicine."
"Didn't he have a doctor?"
"Dey warn't no doctor in twenty-five mile uv Doyle in dem (lays. and 'sides, de ole Cap'n warn't spendin' he money on no doctor. lie 'lowed ter save hit."
"Did he have a lot of money?"
"Dat's what I've heared 'em say. I 'members when de mens bro't in de safe-a big ole safe, hit wuz, and de Boss wuz proud in, hit. Ma uster say she seed heaps uv papers in dare, 'sides de gold and de silver money."
"Did anyone ever go out to see Cap'n Van?"
"Wal, vassuh, and uo'sir. Nobody from 'round Doyle ever comed to see de Cap'n. but some times de mens from 'way youde dey come. Mens what wore funny clo's, and, what dey uster say, come up Dauchite on de steamboats. I heared 'em say (tat Ole Boss belonged to dem-what you call em?-Dem rum-sellin' mens from down in de Big Waters, but I don't believe dat.Ole Cap 'n
ever wuz a man ter tend he own bizness, and 'Iowed as how other feller'd do de same. What else do de tombstone say?"
"Let's see.Where was P -Here we go--'W. D. Vanarsdel, born April 22, 1814, was murdered August 1, 18(7 for his money. . . . . "
"Dat wuz de awfulest day, I ever see. I 'members jes' like t'was vistiddy Hottest weather I ever seed. We wuz all laid by, and de mens wuz in dee woods gittin' stove wood and house wood fer de winter. Dreckly after dinner, Ma sent us lil niggers out to kill de caterpillars in de cotton.Ole Cap'n wuz layin' down
VanArsdel, William D.
Cawthon, John Ardis (Dr.)
Mt. Zion Cemetery
|Lexicon category||8: Communication Artifact|
|Lexicon sub-category||Documentary Artifact|