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Gary Theall Excerpts from the Abbeville Meridional
Concerning Animals

Compiled by Gary E. Theall


The Meridional 3-9-1878:

Mr. Newton R. Campbell, living in the lower part of this parish, a few days' since shot and killed a wildcat, measuring four feet six inches from the point of the nose to the tip of the tail.—The hide was presented to our sheriff, G. B. Shaw.

The Meridional 4-27-1878:

We understand that dogs are killing sheep belonging to Mme. Guegnon, a lady living just outside of Abbeville [Note:  present site of Hibernia National Bank].  Kill the dogs by all means.

The Meridional 4-27-1878:

We will bet our bottom nickel that there are enough dogs in Abbeville to out-number the population.  They are so poor they have to lean against a fence to bark.

The Meridional 8-10-1878:

A party of men in going through the sea marsh a short time since, roped a full sized coon, and thinking to have some fun was taking him to camp.  Before reaching camp, however they came upon a large and powerful alligator.  Thinking that they could have some sport right there on the spot, they concluded to have a fair and free fight between the coon and the alligator.  The coon was led close to the varmint, and by a sudden spring leaped as it was thought, into the jaws of the alligator; but no, it landed plumb on the upper jaw and there stuck, sinking its sharp and needle like teeth in the fleshy part of the nose.  The animal used every exertion to throw off the little tormenter, but it was of no use, the coon stuck to that nose like grim death .... After a contest of about half an hour the alligator began to slink away leaving the coon the victor.  His little, but his some pumpkins.

The Meridional 8-17-1878:

That delightful bird, the papa-bot is now plentiful in our prairies.

[Note:  The proper name for this bird is upland sandpiper, also known as upland plover; Bartram's sandpiper, Bartramian sandpiper, Bartram's plover, uplander, bill-bird, field plover, highland plover, pasture plover, grass plover, prairie pigeon, prairie snipe, quaily.  According to George H. Lowery, Jr., Louisiana Birds (1974):  "This species is well known in southern Louisiana under the French name of papabotte, which is one phonetic expression of the bird's call.  There is an old French idea that those who eat the flesh of this bird are imbued with extraordinary amatory prowess.  Possibly this belief, coupled with the alleged delicacy of its flesh, is the reason the papabotte was once killed in such great numbers.  At one time it migrated throughout the length and breadth of the state in great flocks.  Then, because of excessive hunting, it became extremely rare, so much so that doubts arose as to its ability to survive.  The timely passage by Congress of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, in 1918, which forbade the killing of a long list of migratory birds, was the salvation of this and many other shorebirds."]

The Meridional 1-18-1879:

Woodcocks are plentiful and are selling on the streets at fifty cents a dozen.

The Meridional 3-22-1879:

Why don't the town Constable begin killing off some of the vagrant dogs running around this town.  Let them be exterminated.

The Meridional 3-29-1879:

The water is so low at the mouth of the bayou Vermilion that cat-fish have to employ mud-turtles to tow them over the bar.

The Meridional 8-23-1879:

Now that the crop of Dogs has been thinned out, can't some one relieve us of the hordes of musical cats infesting this town.

The Meridional 8-30-1879:

Beat It—A lady residing at Cow Island in this parish wishing to "set" a hen went into the field adjoining her residence where some of her chickens had been "laying," and procured some seventeen eggs and placed them under the hen. When in the course of "human events" the chickens were hatched, lo, and behold there came forth four small sized al[l]igators. It is supposed that al[l]igators from an adjoining marsh had deposited their eggs in the field and she not knowing the difference placed them under the hen. And what is more strange the young al[l]igators follow the mother hen around the premises as happy as a Colorado Beetle in a potatoe [sic] patch. Hurra for old Vermilion. By jingo! Beat it who can.

The Meridional 1-31-1880:

Don't you think it would be a good thing to thin out the cat crop in Abbeville.  Who will begin the good work?

The Meridional 2-28-1880:

Can't something be done to rid this town of the horde of dogs now roaming the streets by day and making the nights hideous with their infernal concerts.  Constantinople has always borne the reputation of being the "Paradise of Dogs" but Abbeville can eclipse the city of Mosques or any other place in the amount and variety of its curs and whelps.

The Meridional 3-6-1880:

Dr. White has a curiosity at his office in the shape of a porcine monster, consisting of a pig with two perfect bodies with the exception of the neck and head which are united in one.  The creature is a curiosity and should be seen by every one.

The Meridional 5-8-1880:

Reports having been pretty extensively circulated here on Sunday, to the effect that a large bear was committing depredations in the neighborhood of Perry's Bridge and had taken up a retreat in Darby's woods, a big hunt was promptly organized.  Monday morning an early start was made for the scene of action.  After beating around for some time the hunters came to the conclusion that the bear too had gone hunting—a safe place.

The Meridional 9-4-1880:

A couple of gay and festive drummers, while rather high spirited drove a horse here so fast that it died a few minutes after their arrival.  The animal was a fine American mare and a perfect beauty.

The Meridional 11-27-1880:

More ducks for the poor people of the town; they say that the sugar-makers monopolize all the game for syrup and sugar.  Let's go then, that does not count, hunters; make us at least a small part of your hunt; there is wealth in the town also something which can tempt you and pay you for your effort.  Ah, it is not for play that one says, Duck Gumbo begins to be a bit rare.

The Meridional 7-9-1881:

Of all the Southern birds the mocking bird is by far the most attractive, notwithstanding the inelegance of its plumage it is the most remarkable bird we have; its habit of imitating the voices of other birds are astonishing.  It will sing for hours at a time on the ever or on the top of a house chimney, and flying up and down alternately, it will pour out its sweetest strain on the evening air.  This bird in the dead of the night also sings, and, at such time, it is the more remarkable on account of the stillness that pervades nature, we have often listened to its sweet strain, at such hours especially in the last two years, and we have now an inveterate hate for all boys and men who indulge in persecuting these harmless birds.

The Meridional 8-13-1881:

Some of the town dogs are somehow or other stepping out or trotting out of their sphere.  A couple of them one day this week impelled by an irresistible impulse, gave chase to one of the little boys of Mr. Edgar Dutel, had not Mr. Dupre Blanchet come to the little fellow[']s rescue in time, very serious consequences might have resulted.  There are more dogs than children in our corporation, and cases of Hydrophobia have been lately signaled.  Destroy the dogs by all means, protect your little children; we want no vicious dogs.  They slip into people's yard at night, steal all they can lay their dirty mouths on, some of these canines must be destroyed, by any means.

The Meridional 10-15-1881:

Mosquitoes are pretty bad on the prairie, especially early in the morning before the heat of the day and in the afternoon late.  Horses appear to be annoyed a great deal by them.  They collect in droves of fifty and sixty heads in order to protect themselves.  This last week the thing was general all over the prairie.  There has been so very little rain this year that these insects were scarce on the prairie, but since the last rains; it seems they have bred rapidly in the grass and flat ponds.

The Meridional 11-12-1881:

During the storm last Wednesday week six head of horned cattle, in the neighborhood of Mr. Desire Leblanc's were struck by lightning, and killed on the spot.  They all lay within a circumference of a few feet.  They had instinctively huddled together at the approach of the rain, as they generally do in such circumstances on the prairie, and they were killed whilst thus standing.

The Meridional 11-19-1881:

Wholesale Destruction of Bats.—A large quantity of bats, were killed in the loft of Mrs. L. Abadie's corner building last and this week.  The implements of destruction, which dealt death amongst them were brimstone, spirit of turpentine and carbolic acid.  How efficacious all these remedies are we do not pretend to know; but we are under the impression that nothing short of destruction, with sticks or of powder and shot will rid that house of the detestable inmates.

The Meridional 11-26-1881:

Terapins [box turtles] migrated during the last spell of weather, from one pond into another.  They must be charmed with the change.  The poor amphibious had great sufferings to undergo during this year's spell of drouth.  They readily adapt themselves to any emergency—during a drouth by burying themselves into the bottom of ponds and fast for months, and as soon as fresh water strikes them they issue out and freely wade about in the water in quest of food.  Thus they are a terror to small frogs, crawfish, small geese, ducks, etc.

The Meridional 5-27-1882:

The mad bull which had been for such a long time the terror of our town and the neighboring country was finally killed on Friday last the 19th, to the great content of all and specially the urchins of the town.

The Meridional 6-10-1882:

On last Monday a sad scuffle scene occurred between a monkey more or less tame and his keeper and owner, in our town.  The monkey that for years had amused the public with his pranks in every way and more specially with the chosen goat when he cut his most jolly capers.  But on that day, last Monday monk did not happen to be in a good humor and as his keeper approached him he cast aside all caresses and with a malicious and ungrateful vim made for his owner and keeper biting him severely on the left hand which is now doing well.  This uncalled for assault and battery was followed by a surgical operation in the way of dental extraction, which the native of the isles stood like a little man.

The Meridional 6-17-1882:

Chicken cock fighting seems to be in vogue, several of our young gentlemen have each a thoroughbred and it is no unusual thing to see them watching as it were a minute-pugilistic contest, we admit that it is good sport, but don't you think it a little too cruel to be carried on in this christian and intelligent community.  Now do you think that our good people would allow a regular prize fight in our midst,  no they would not because it would be a violation of the law of God as well as that of our county as it would also be obnoxtious [sic] to a genteel and law obeying people.

The Meridional 7-22-1882:

We observe on the streets of our town a flock of young turkeys, numbering we believe thirteen, (unlucky figure) fast reaching the age of gastronomical maturity.  Would it not be prudent for the happy owner to take them in or ill-luck might befall him and some of the young feathered tribe might come up missing between now and Christmas.

The Meridional 7-22-1882:

Had it not been for milch cows many a family in our neighborhood would have to spend a great deal more money for the support of his family.  The breed of cattle here is a cross with the Dorham and Bramah with our creole stock, our cattle have the advantage of the acclimatation and of the cross with blooded stock, and the consequence is that there are pretty good milch cows.

Le Meridional 7-22-1882:

[Translated from the French by Gary E. Theall.]

Do you have some dogs?  Keep them at home or pay the tax levied by the law.  In default of that be sure that your canine friend will disappear with a gun shot.

The Meridional 12-9-1882:

During the last heavy rains crawfish were to be seen traveling all over the public roads.  They were most of them females with big families of small crawfish attached to the appendages with which these insects are invested on the under part of the tail.  Last year about this season the same phenomenon was noticeable on the thoroughfares, and the winter was mild.  We accept the present recurrence as the sign of another mild winter.  We may be mistaken nevertheless, but we have  reasons to believe that the sign will hold good.  Time will tell, for we are as it were only at the threshold of the cold season.

The Meridional 6-16-1883:

It seems as though our town was not healthy for the thrift of geese.  We remember a period not very far back when flocks of geese would parade the main thoroughfares of our place.  Such sights have disappeared perhaps forever, still we have been pleased to notice of late two gozlings [sic] following their adopted mother a grey hen, and these are the only geese about our town, they ought to be respected by everybody.

The Meridional 6-23-1883:

We were serenaded last Tuesday night by a choir of several hundred voices.  Let us bear in mind that it was a vocal serenade.  The voices were a diversity of tones, there was the basso, contralto, soprano, in fact all the different voices which the musical vocabulary recognizes and accepts.  At intervals the singing would cease entirely, but, the stop was very short, the cause of the interruption would be the tramping of a horse or a cow that would disturb the water in the pond and, after a cautious peep of the singer, one big fellow would according to the programme we suppose, take up a note, and then, the whole assembly would catch the inspiring sound and the concert would go on ahead.  We had not been notified before hand of the premeditated vocal essay.  We listened a good while to the choir and finally we went to sleep at the music of the Frogs.

Le Meridional 10-27-1883:

[Translated from the French by Gary E. Theall.]

The German carp has been introduced into our bayou by our all paternal government, and even some people of Lafayette parish have procured some for their fishing ponds and marshes which are not dried up.  This carp populates rapidly and is a fish much sought after.

Le Meridional 4-12-1884:

[Translated from the French by Gary E. Theall.]

An Embarrassed Cat.—This week we saw one morning a cat in a sad embarrassment; excited by hunger and by an enticing odor, he had put his head into an empty can which had previously contained some dish to his taste, and he could not withdraw from it; thus muzzled and blinded he walked to the right and to the left, meowing in the most plaintive manner.  Some charitable soul eventually grabbed the tin and extracted the poor animal, who upon seeing the light again ran off to his home, emitting cries of joy and swearing, we suppose, that he would not go there again.

The Meridional 3-21-1885:

Wednesday a special meeting of the Police Jury was called to enact a law prohibiting geese, sheep and hogs from running at large.  Unfortunately only two turned up and no quorum could be had.

The Meridional 6-6-1885:

The mocking bird, the sweetest warbler of our sunny clime, should have our sympathies, on account of the many robberies that are committed by the naughty boys, of their affection for man, and his habitation and also of their melodious voice, a voice which has time and again held the writer of the present article entranced as it were by its sweet warbling.  We are grieved when we hear the plaintive voice of the mother of a brook wailing over the loss of her young ones, but the more so when we know that the birds stolen away are so many songsters less in our bowers.  It is remarkable that the mocking bird always builds its nest near and makes the habitation of man, its abode, on account we suppose of the immunity from the encroachment of birds of prey.  We hope that boys may in the future become more merciful and not trouble birds' nest[s] anymore.  They do not know those little chaps that the law protects the birds.

Le Meridional 11-21-1885:

[In English.]

A lady who lives in Abbeville has a very handsome and intelligent parrot.  Its plumage is brilliant, and though young, it speaks many words, and sometimes forms sentences of its own accord.  It will say "good-by" whenever any member of the family puts on a hat to go out of the house.  It says:  "How do you do?" and "Are you very well today?"  It used to tease the dog by whistling for him; but the dog understands now that the whistle is a mere trick, and he no longer answers the call.  The parrot and the dog are such good friends, however, that they eat out of the same dish.  If Polly thinks that the dog is getting more than his share she says "Hold on there!" and begins to scold.

The Meridional 9-11-1886:

On last Saturday night one of our citizens, living near the bayou, heard the dishes rattling on the supper table, and striking a light he looked and found a good-sized opossum helping himself to the scraps left from supper.  Mr. Opossum was soon dispatched and the next day graced the table in a quite different capacity from what he had intended.  Our friend says he will be glad to see the experiment repeated.

Abbeville Meridional 7-2-1887:

Charbon [anthrax] is reported in Prairie Greig settlement, and several animals are said to have died with the disease.

Abbeville Meridional 9-22-1888:

A family living near the church of St. Madeleine owns a very bright parrot.  Every evening the bells of church ring the "Angelus," and recently one of the little girls of the family was taught to recite the appropriate prayer at the sound of the bells.  The parrot watched her carefully, and the other evening at the first sound of the chimes, dropped to the bottom of the cage, put down his head, and said the first few words of the prayer.  He has kept this up ever since, and is adding other words of the prayer as the little girl teaches them to him.

Abbeville Meridional 5-18-1889:

Raccoons of late have been playing sad havoc with the chicken roosts on the bayou a short distance above town, almost making a clean sweep of the poultry in some places.  This sudden and unexpected visit of these midnight rovers is attributed to the dry weather, which has, no doubt, driven them to the bayou in search of water, and on their return make it convenient to visit some of those tempting chicken roo[s]ts.

Abbeville Meridional 7-6-1889:

Vermilion is one of the few chosen spots upon which the Almighty bestowed his generous gifts with a lavish hand.  Our climate is as lovely and salubrious as that which exists under Italy's famed beauteous skies.  Our soil is of unrivaled fertility and a wide range of adaptability.  Our people are honest, industrious and law-abiding, and even the animal kingdom is enterprising and energetic.  You may smile at this, but we are reliably informed by Dr. C. J. Edwards that a short time since he saw upon the plantation of Mr. F. D. Légé, about four miles from Abbeville, a female dog who has adopted five little motherless pigs, which she faithfully suckles and is endeavoring to train them up in the path which all respectable pigs should follow.  Now, when the very dogs in the parish are taking such a lively interest in the welfare of the community, don't you think we are bound to succeed.

Abbeville Meridional 8-24-1889:

Fine deer.—The recent storm in forcing the waters of the bay all over the Sea marsh compelled a large number of deer to seek a refuge on higher land.  Many were killed and found to be in prime condition.  Mr. J. M. Beauxis, had the luck to secure one by a long range shot.

Abbeville Meridional 3-22-1890:

Ancient poets told of music that moved even inanimated creation.  The catholic choir of Abbeville has not yet moved the pillars of the church, but it has had such effect on Father Méhault's old cow that she actually opened the door which was partly closed and walked up St. Joseph's aisle, keeping time with the strains from the choir gallery as she went.  Mr. C. D. O'Bryan has a mare with a horn, but what is a mare with a horn compared to a cow with an ear for music!

Abbeville Meridional 8-9-1890:

Considerable excitement was caused last Tuesday, by the appearance on the streets of a dog acting in a very strange manner.  He began biting right and left, until stopped by a shot from constable [Euphemon] Leblanc.  It being the opinion of those who saw him that the dog was mad, all the dogs bitten by him were killed.

Abbeville Meridional 8-16-1890:

Alligators Protected.

Fashion's mandate that purses, reticules, traveling bags and footwear must be made of alligators' hide, has made alligator hunting an industry in Louisiana and Florida, and the monsters are rapidly being exterminated.  So marked has this destruction [been] that the police jury of Plaquemine parish, La., have been compelled to prohibit the further killing.  It seems that alligators feed largely on musk rats, and since the lessening of the number of the former, the rats have increased enormously, and have seriously damaged crops.  The jury prohibits the killing of alligators in the bayous, marshes, canals, or on any portion of the land or body of water under penalty of $25 fine, and imprisonment of not more than one month for the first offense.—New York Times.

Yes, and we would suggest that the police jurors pass a similar law for this parish, to prevent the garfish from eating the poor unfortunate creatures.  Rats!

Abbeville Meridional 1-17-1891:

Great Jerusalem!  Is there no town ordinance to prohibit hogs from roaming at large in this burg.  If the constable would come up this way now and then he would soon get rich selling hogs.

Abbeville Meridional 3-7-1891:

The snakes are beginning to come out in good style.  Last Monday while riding along the road near town we counted no less than 8 dead ones, from the deadly conger eel and moccasin to the harmless king and garter snakes.  For fear that some facetious confrere may endeavor to make merry at our expense we will add that these snakes were real ones and that they were not in our boots.

Abbeville Meridional 4-18-1891:

Rather a queer freak of nature is reported as occur[r]ing on Levy Derouen's place at Grosse Isle.  A turkey hatched out a brood of young ones in which was one turkey with two well formed heads and another having three fully developed legs.  The monstrosities of course did not live long.

Abbeville Meridional 7-25-1891:

Friday evening last one of our citizens had rather a narrow escape from the horns of a vicious cow, which he had been requested by a fool driver to head off.  The first pass the brute made demolished the open umbrella which was used to parry her assault; the second lunge she was fortunately caught by the horns and held with some difficulty until timely assistance arrived.  He says it may be perplexing to "take either horn of a dilemma," but not half as much as being compelled to grab the horn of a wild cow.

Abbeville Meridional 9-5-1891:

Squirrels are becoming quite bold and in their quest of food supplies make raids on the pecan trees in the suburbs of town and the shot gun has to be called into requisition to repel them.

Abbeville Meridional 5-6-1893:

Dony Foutz, shaved his whiskers off and had his hair cut short and old Ned, his faithful old dog stopped him at the barn door, and after a good deal of moral persuasion Dony convinced him that he was himself.

Abbeville Meridional 5-13-1893:

Some time ago Ned Bergman elias [sic] Nathan Sawdust, bought a pair of puppies for which he paid an extravagant sum.  This week his sporting genius has recieved [sic] a sudden shock which threatens to abate its growth.  Polly, his 2:21¾ roadster [horse] was seized with a jealousy fit at the attachment of her master to the little pets and, true to her asinine instincts, she kicked one of them into eternity Tuesday evening just as the fiery orb was dropping into the great West.  We sympathize with Mr. Bergman in his untiring efforts at raising blooded stock in this section and hope that the remaining dog will be spared of Polly's heels.

Abbeville Meridional 2-10-1894:

Great complaint is made throughout the country of the ravages committed by the common barn rats which favored by the dry, mild fall and winter, have propogated [sic] in the fields until they have become a veritable pest.  They swarm in countless thousands in the rice and corn fields and have burrowed in the rice levees in such a manner as to render them almost useless.  The oldest inhabitant fails to recall a time when they were so plentiful.

Abbeville Meridional 7-21-1894:

While out hunting Wednesday afternoon in the vicinity of Henry, Messrs. Herman Elijah, Adolph Bartels and John Morgan, found one of the largest wild cats that has ever been killed in this parish.  The hounds that gave chase to the animal were three of the finest fox hounds in this country.  The cat was killed upon the S. B. Henry's cane plantation.

Abbeville Meridional 4-10-1897:

We agree with the Morgan City Review that in framing the game law the Police Jury should have prevented the killing of the mockingbird.  A heavy penalty should be imposed on any person destroying this sweet and only songster of our State.

Abbeville Meridional 4-17-1897:

Small terrapins are fashionable now and we hope our ladies will not be slow to fall in line with the fashionables.  At the present moment, Parisian ladies of the swell set are wearing on golden chains a little animal not much larger than a beetle, but looking like a turtle.  It is the Japanese dwarf terrapin, which heretofore was considered only valuable from a culinary standpoint, but which has suddenly been torn from its peaceful and unnoticed place by the fad of several Parisian ladies, who attach a gold band and chain around its shell and allow the harmless animal to crawl around the neck and shoulders of their dresses.

Abbeville Meridional 5-8-1897:

A large black bear was killed by some hunters on Outside Island in the marsh last week, the young cub with her was captured and is a pretty little fellow fat as a butter ball.

Abbeville Meridional 8-13-1898:

Abbeville is sadly in need of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.  Every day some dumb animal may be seen being brutally treated upon the streets.

Abbeville Meridional 9-9-1899:

Several of our town boys went hunting Sunday and killed plenty of time.