Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Murder of Sheriff Bernard McGuire

Contributor is Lora Peppers:
Sandy, thought you would like to add the account of Bernard's death I just found in a Bastrop, LA newspaper. It seems he was Marshall of the town of Lake Providence when he was killed. As far as I know, he is the only town of Lake Providence Law Enforcement official to die in the line of duty. Also, when the DAR indexed the cemetery in the 1950's, they read his age as 27 years old.

Morehouse Clarion, January 16, 1880, Page 2, Column 3
The Lake Providence Murder.
The course pursued by the citizens of Providence toward the crew of a coal boat which anchored at that place is frowned upon by all good citizens everywhere. It seems that the crew of the coal boat and a potato boat went out into the town and, after drinking to drunkenness, some of the crew became noisy, and threatened "to take the place." Their boisterous demonstrations brought to the front City Marshal McGuire, who demanded the surrender of the drunken roust-a-bouts. Jim Brown, who was the noisiest and most demonstrative, and the Marshal clinched and the two pistol shots were heard. The Marshal was killed. The frightened crew then ran to their boats. In a few minutes a crowd of armed men went to the river, arrested the whole crew, captain and pilot. They were taken to the Mayor's office, placed in line on benches, and as their names were called, the brother of the Marshal began firing, fatally wounding three of the helpless prisoners. This was done after the drunken crew had surrendered to the city and civil authorities.
We are sorry that such an impolitic step was taken by the people of Providence. Defiance of law impugns its authority, and correspondingly engenders a disrespect for those whose duty it is to administer it.
The criminal code of Louisiana is sufficiently broad and severe to cover all such crimes as that committed upon the Marshal of Lake Providence. For a set of exasperated men to set aside the legal authorities and inflict summary vengeance upon a supposed criminal, is the work of heathens rather than the act of a civilized people. Such deplorable outrages reflect not only upon the people of one community, but they injure the people of the whole State. No stranger will be favorably impressed with Louisiana when he hears of the Lake Providence murder. Who knows but that very affair may turn scores of emigrants from the shores of our State? Alas! such occurrences are too often repeated.