No Spark of Malice: The Murder of Martin Begnaud

Overview

No Spark of Malice is the riveting tale of the impact Martin Begnaud's murder and the ensuing trial had on his large and prominent family, on the Acadians--or "Cajuns"--of southwest Louisiana, and on the village of Scott Station at the end of the nineteenth century.

On April 22, 1896, the forty-five-year-old Begnaud was brutally murdered in his general store in rural Scott Station, Louisiana. He was bound, gagged, blindfolded, stabbed more than fifty times, and robbed of several...

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Overview

No Spark of Malice is the riveting tale of the impact Martin Begnaud's murder and the ensuing trial had on his large and prominent family, on the Acadians--or "Cajuns"--of southwest Louisiana, and on the village of Scott Station at the end of the nineteenth century.

On April 22, 1896, the forty-five-year-old Begnaud was brutally murdered in his general store in rural Scott Station, Louisiana. He was bound, gagged, blindfolded, stabbed more than fifty times, and robbed of several thousand dollars. Such sensational events were not supposed to occur in hamlets like Scott Station, and word of the gruesome crime circulated quickly through the largely Acadian parish and all of south Louisiana.

Two men were soon arrested for the killing. But the evidence against them was purely circumstantial, and as the suspects insisted on their innocence through months of harsh treatment, some observers began to believe the true murderers were still at large. Ten months after Begnaud's death, the initial widespread shock and hysteria reemerged when the teenage Blanc brothers, Ernest and Alexis, were arrested for the crime. Polite, educated, and popular, the Blancs were orphans from France who had worked on a local plantation.

To relate vividly the effects of this defining event, William Arceneaux sets the story against the back-drop of Acadian history from the 1604 establishment of a French colony in the Canadian maritime provinces to le Grand Derangement, the ruthless expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia during the French and Indian War. He also examines the arrival of the Acadian diaspora in the then-Spanish colony of Louisiana and the eventual creation of a "New Acadia" among its swamps, marshes, river valleys, and prairies.

The aftermath of the murder of Martin Begnaud resulted in one of the most electrifying trials in the history of the American South. There was high courtroom drama, frontier-style, with a cast of unforgettable characters, and the fate of the Blanc brothers received international attention. By intertwining a suspenseful account of a murder and its repercussions with a thorough analysis of the history of the citizens the crime most affected, No Spark of Malice provides insight into a fascinating yet overlooked people, place, and era.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Readers expecting a straightforward account of the grisly murder of Martin Begnaud in 19th-century rural Louisiana are in for a surprise. Two brothers, Ernest and Alexis Blanc, murdered Begnaud on April 22, 1896 in Scot Station, LA. The brothers were 20 and 19, respectively, and had come to America as orphans from France. They were subsequently hanged for their crime. But there's more to the story than that. The author, himself an Acadian we know them as Cajuns, is Begnaud's great-great-nephew, and the incident was told to him by his mother. In recounting this story, he provides background information about the cultural history of the Acadian people and explains how they ended up in Louisiana after their expulsion from Nova Scotia. At the same time, he gives the reader the Begnaud family's genealogical history. While this well-researched and well-written book may have strictly regional appeal, libraries where there is an interest in genealogical stories or the cultural history of the Cajun people should consider purchasing.--Michael Sawyer, Northwestern Regional Lib., Elkin, NC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807124475
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

William Arceneaux is president of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and author of Acadian General Alfred Mouton and the Civil War, winner of the Jefferson Davis Medal. He lives in Baton Rouge.

LSU Press

William Arceneaux is president of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and author of Acadian General Alfred Mouton and the Civil War, winner of the Jefferson Davis Medal. He lives in Baton Rouge.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
Book I The Murder 3
Book II The People 33
Book III The Return 69
Book IV The Family 91
Book V The Arraignment 129
Book VI The Village 147
Book VII The Trial 191
Book VIII The Brothers 219
Epilogue 256
Notes 269
Bibliography 313
Acknowledgments 333
Index 337
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2000

    Truth...Not Fiction...Youth of two brothers Lost

    Excellent story of late 1800's in Cajun Louisiana. Ties in with wonderful history of the area and how the Cajun people came to be in Southwestern Louisiana. Intrigue is woven with actual truth and history of the BEGNAUD family. But also relates to what goes on with our youth of today and how they think murder is so insignificant for profit and gain. Human nature NEVER changes.

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