07 April 2014

The Story of the Sensational Shooting in Springfield, part 1

I was so excited when I first read the account in the paper of someone in my family tree involved in a shoot-out and following trial that I did a little jig in my family room. I have been slowing chipping away at my brick wall ancestor, James Trotter. I was doing some research on what I know which is my third great grandfather Samuel Thomas Trotter. Samuel is married to Emme Irene Facundus both of whom were born, raised and married in the same area. I was doing a search on Newspapers.com for the Facundus name. It does not appear to be a very prominent name anywhere in the country but Louisiana. As I found out an interesting crime and trial put their name in the papers and on the map.

It all unfolded like a play. As I was gathering facts from the story, I ended up creating a page that was similar to a characters page in a playbill.

George Walker Father of Eugene Walker, paymaster of Southern Pacific Road, Father-in-Law of Ed Johnson,
Eugene [Gene] Walker “Bud”
a popular and plucky young Orleanian, shot five times by Charles Facundus, Shoots Walter Facundus twice, brother-in-law of Andrew Johnson, used Johnson’s shotgun to shoot Walter, abt. 30 years old, married with no children, clerk at Southern Pacific Road, son of George Walker, married to former Miss Johnson, sister is married to Dr. Powlett, other sister is married to Ed Johnson, Recovered at the Hotel Dieu, indicted by a Grand Jury for shooting with intent to kill,
Kelly Walker Wife of Eugene Walker,
O. A. Johnson Father of the Johnsons,
Edward [Ed] T. Johnson
Beaten by Facundus brothers, lives in Springfield, has 2 year old son, brought Walker a shotgun, arrested by Sheriff Miller, married to Eugene Walker’s sister, son-in-law of George Walker, Held in Jail in Amite City, release to sick wife Aug. 5th, returned Aug. 6th, indicted as accessory to the shooting, brother-in-law of Dr. Powlett
Mrs. Edward T. Johnson Witnesses the fist fight, sister to Eugene Walker, has 2 year old son, pregnant at time of shooting, reported sick Aug. 5th,
Miss Alice Johnson Witness of shooting, sister of Ed Johnson, testified in trial, boards at Eugene Settoon’s home,
Andrew G. Johnson Brother to Edward T. Johnson who was beaten, owns Johnson, Greban & Co. [dry goods],
John Turnage witness from own home, brother-in-law of Edward Johnson, said Johnson handed Walker the shotgun,
Rose Simeon 16 years old, sister-in-law of John Turnage,
Eddie Simeon Testified at both trials of Walker and Johnson, 14-year-old boy at time of shooting,
Walton Facundus [Sketch] Brother to Charles, Shot twice by Eugene Walker, carpenter, had knife in gunfight, married with six children, in bed 30 to 40 days, was not at Sunday School,
Charles [Charley] Facundus
Brother to Walter, Shot Eugene Walker five times with his pistol, carpenter, arrested by Sheriff Miller, built house for George Hartman, son Charles Facundus Jr.  about 8 years old, indicted by a Grand Jury for shooting with intent to kill, lives in Shell Settoon’s home, Sunday school teacher,
Charles Facundus Jr. at scene just before shooting,
Henry Smith Witness at church, sawmill hand, lives 200 yards from church, married to Mary, brother-in-law of John Turnage,
Mary Smith married to Henry, at church at time Walker came up to them with shotgun, saw Johnson give gun to Walker,
Hon.  J. S. [Shell] Settoon witness of shoot-out, competing store owner, oldest brother, member of legislature 1888-1890, indicted as accessory to the shooting,
L. V. Settoon brother of Shell, helped Walter Facundus into his home after he was shot,
W. J. Settoon another brother of Shell, helped Walter Facundus into his home after he was shot, testified at trial, saw walker shoot Walton Facundus, saw Johnson had shotgun to Walker, at Dr. Pickett’s when heard the first shooting,
M. E. [Eugene] Settoon “Doudy” 4th brother of Shell, testified in trial, saw Johnson bring the gun, saw Walker shoot Facundus, Alice Johnson Boards at his home,
John Bradley Testified that Walker was planning on attacking the Facunduses.
Sheriff Miller Arrested Charles Facundus and Edward T. Johnson, of Livingston,
Sheriff McMichael Amite City Jail,
Deputy Sherrif Jo Lovitt Amite City, accompanied Ed Johnson to attend his sick wife in Springfield,
Judge Robert J. Reid [Sketch] Of Amite City, preliminary trial, Trial of Walton Facundus,
Judge William Duncan Attorney for Charles Facundus & J.S. Settoon,
Judge S. D. Kemp Attorney representing Eugene Walker and Ed Johnson in first trial.
Duncan S. Kemp Son and partner of Judge S.D. Kemp, attorney for Walker and Johnson.
Joseph A. Reid “Joe” [Sketch] Attorney for Eugene Walker and Ed Johnson, works with Kemp & Kemp,
District Attorney Bolivar Edwards
Prosecutor in Charles Facundus Trial,
Dr. S. L. Powlett Treated  Eugene Walker at Edward T. Johnson’s house and Walter Facundus in his own home, owns drug store, wife is Eugene Walker’s sister, parish coroner, brother-in-law of Walker and Johnson, indicted for selling whisky at drug store, store is vandalized by gang after trial, 70 years-old in 1894, high Mason, Pythian and Odd Fellow,
Dr. J. B. Pickett attended to Walton Facundus at Walton’s home, from Springfield,
Dr. Hollister also attended to Eugene Walker, from Ponchatoula,
Dr. Hamilton Lewis latest to be in charge of Eugene Walker’s recovery,
Dr. McCorkle Walton’s physician in Springfield, from Ponchatoula,
George Hartman House was built by Charley Facundus,
First Walker-Johnson Jury Foreman S. A. Garrison, W. T. Mixon, J. D. Barnett, Eli Courtney, J. W. Collins, W. S. Jones, Robert Anderson, E. G. Durbin and L. W. Moore, Louis Sevecque, Elijah Sibley, and William Peak
Second Walker-Johnson Jury E. Y. Brashear, E. C. Curtis, A. R. Lavigne, J. E. Bentley, Prosper Vicknair, John Harris, Elihu Wilkinson, S. Tomholder, S. Milton,
Mrs. Davidson Walton Facundus supposedly went to her house and asked for a gun before being shot. Facundus testified in the second trial that he went into Mrs. Davison’s home to put up a ball he had been playing with and not for a gun.
Wallace Davidson Son of Mrs, Davidson, affiliated with Facunduses,
Louis Shanks Owned field adjacent to the shootings, grows peas, corn, sugar cane or potatoes, in house at time of first shooting, helped carry Facundus into home after he was shot,
Mr. Steele Reporter for the Daily-Picayune, seems to be sided with the Johnson-Walker side of dispute.

Amite City, LA Stronger Jail
Centerville Seat of Livingston Parish, jail, location of courthouse.
Springfield The residence of the Facundus brothers and location of shootings, population approx. 150.
Thomas Sawmill The only industry in Springfield.
Hotel Dieu Located in Ponchatoula and where Eugene Walter is taken to heal from his wounds.
Old County Courthouse In Centerville, the little courtroom, which is about 20 by 30 feet, was crowded with members of members of the bar, the principals in the affair, the witnesses and quite a number of spectators. One-third of the room at the North end is cut off by a wooden railing, and behind this sit the judge, clerk, D. Leftwitch, and his assistant, M. Cooper, and the lawyers. The interior is the same as that usually seen in a country courthouse, whitewashed walls and wooden benches forming the main features.
Louis Shank’s Field Adjacent to shoot-out and through which Walton Facundus tried to escape from Eugene Walker when he had the Shotgun. The field was planted with peas, potatoes, and corn.

July 18, 1894 Ed Johnson makes a remark about the house that Charles Facundus built.
July 19, 1894 Fist Fight between Facundus brothers and Ed Johnson.
Sunday, July 29, 1894 Shoot-out between Facundus brothers and Eugene Walker.
August 8, 1994 Shell Settoon received anonymous letter from New Orleans says that 40 men would come up from the city to take him and Facundus out to the woods and kill them.
October 5, 1894 Eugene Walker and Charles Facundus are indicted by a Grand Jury for shooting with intent to kill. Ed Johnson and J. S. Settoon are also indicted as accessories to the shootings.
October 9, 1894 9:30 a.m. The trial against Eugene Walker and Ed Johnson begins.
October 12, 1894 10:00 a.m. A mistrial is declared with 7 jurors for acquittal and 5 for conviction. Court then adjourns till April.
Friday, November 9, 1894 Dr. Powlett’s Drugstore is demolished by a gang of people. A note left at the scene reads, “Nov. 9, 1894. W. L. Powlett: You are hereby notified to leave this parish, as if it is prohibition, and we will not have whisky sold any longer in any part of it. Also, you are not any friend to any church or society. You are the cause of all the hell of your neighborhood. Your life is in our hands and we will take it for the debt. Thirty days will fix up your business—if not, death, hell and destruction will move you. A FRIEND.” The relatives of Dr. Powlett set a $1000 reward for the identification of the parties who were guilty of the vandalism.
April 10, 1895 Several trials are held with concerned parties in the feud. The biggest of the group being the trial of Charles Facundus and Shell Settoon who are acquitted.
June 24, 1895 Charles Facundus is involved in another shout-out with Edmund Rabie following a fist fight between Rabie and John Turnage.

Charley Facundus
Walton Facundus
Ed Johnson
Eugene Walker
Scene of Shooting of Eugene Walker
The shooting of Walton Facundus
The Old Courthouse
Livingston Parish Jail

The scene is set in the small town of Springfield, Livingston Parish, Louisiana. Growth within the community not only brings more people but also new businesses. The established store owners and their families take exception to the new competition and sides are taken between the new residents and businesses and those that were previously established.  There are four stores, two owned by the Settoon brothers, the newest one by Andrew Johnson and a drug store by Dr. Powlett. The Facundus brothers are carpenters by trade and buy all of their supplies from the Settoon brothers’ stores. This brings us to the current conflict.

The Facundus brothers cut down a number of trees about 300 yards from the store of Ed Johnson completely blockading the roadway. A grand jury indicted them for blocking a public roadway.  The brothers proceeded to build a barn on the road blocking access to Johnson’s store, Shell Settoon was Parish overseer of roads and had cleared trees to open an older unused road to divert the traffic.

While in the store owned by Andrew Johnson, Ed Johnson makes a remark that a house that Charles Facundus built for George Hartman was crooked. The next day Charles and Walton Facundus approach Ed Johnson about his comment and a fist fight ensues. At one point Johnson is pinned against a tree and according to some witnesses the brothers give Johnson a drubbing. Mrs. Johnson hears the commotion and come to assist Johnson back home.

As days went by, both parties’ tempers wore off and the matter had almost been forgotten. The day of the shooting, Eugene Walker came to town by buggy to visit with the Johnson Family. While on a walk with Edward Johnson and his two-year-old son, Walker saw Charles Facundus on the other side of town. Johnson left for home with his son and Walker approached the Charles and asked what had previously happened with Johnson. The conversation turned heated and Charles Facundus and Eugene Walker began to fire five shots apiece at each other. Charles benefited by the presence of a tree and none of Walker’s shots hit their true mark instead embedding in the tree. Walker was not as fortunate and all five of Charles’ shots found a part of Walker’s body, although none inflicted a fatal blow.

The Daily Picyune reports that, “There is one point, however, on which all unite and that is in praising the remarkable display of nerve made by Walker. Little as he is, weighing only 90 pounds, he made men weighing twice as much as he does run before his empty pistol.”

The gunshots brought more witnesses to the scene as well as Walton Facundus and Edward Johnson who was carrying a shotgun. There is a disagreement as to how Eugene Walker obtained Edward Johnson’s shotgun but the result was that Walker was unable to shoot Charles Facundus. Charles had retreated to his brother’s home after emptying his pistol and shot from the porch twice at Walker with his own rifle.

Walton saw Eugene with the shotgun and threw his hands in the air and said, “I’ve got nothing, I am not in it”. Walker feared being shot again by Charles and took aim and shot twice instead at Walton Facundus, who was running away through a field, and hit his mark. Witnesses at the scene say that Eugene Walker believed he would die of his afflictions and wanted to take a Facundus brother with him to the grave.

Eugene Walker was taken to the home of Edward Johnson and was treated by Walker’s brother-in-law Dr. S. A. Powlett. Walton Facundus was taken to his home by the Settoon brothers and was examined by Dr. Pickett. Neither man was expected to live through the night. Walton with a shot through his lung seemed to be more severely injured. Sheriff Miller reached Springfield shortly after the duel and placed Charles Facundus and Edward Johnson into custody as a precautionary measure to prevent any further shedding of blood.

Both Eugene Walker and Charles Facundus are indicted by a grand jury for shooting with the intent to kill. Ed Johnson and J.S. Settoon we also indicted for accessories to the shootings. J. S. Settoon was also indicted for trespassing on Ed Johnsons’ property behind his store.

The Trials
The two shootings are treated separately in court. With witnesses, victims and shooters testifying at each other’s trials.

The first trial against Eugene Walter and Ed johnson, the testimonies account for the actions of those involved but they are not allowed to mention the earlier duel. The case ends in a mistrial, 7 for acquittal and 5 for conviction. This is a blow to the Facunduses and Settoons because it will permit Walker and Johnson to testify in the case against Charles Facundus and J.S. Settoon. Had the accused been convicted they would not have been permitted to testify. At the end of the trial Charles Facundus and J. S. Settoon swore an affidavit against Walker for carrying a concealed weapon.

Between trials, Dr. Powlett’s Drugstore is demolished by a gang of people. A note left at the scene reads, “Nov. 9, 1894. W. L. Powlett: You are hereby notified to leave this parish, as if it is prohibition, and we will not have whisky sold any longer in any part of it. Also, you are not any friend to any church or society. You are the cause of all the hell of your neighborhood. Your life is in our hands and we will take it for the debt. Thirty days will fix up your business—if not, death, hell and destruction will move you. A FRIEND.” The relatives of Dr. Powlett set a $1000 reward for the identification of the parties who were guilty of the vandalism.

The trial of Louisiana vs. Charles Facundus and J. S. Settoon had the same result as the first trial. Both were acquitted by a hung jury. The state relied mainly on the testimony of Eugene Walker and could not support the testimony because there were not as many witnesses to the shooting.

There were several other cases connected to the feud. Both Charles Facundus and Eugene Walker were indicted for carrying concealed weapons.  Both men plead guilty. Shell Settoon was charged with trespassing on a piece of property behind Ed Johnson’s store. When the case was called it was proven that “the trespass was in the nature of his duty.” Shell, a former member of the legislature, was appointed overseer of the roads in the Parish and he was clearing trees from a lesser used road. The Facundus brothers were also indicted for willfully obstructing a roadway when they built a barn in the road leading to Johnson’s store, they were also acquitted for the crime. Elias Rogers and James Martin were charged for trespassing on Walker’s land and were later acquitted. James martin filed a civil suit against Ed Johnson for trespass.  Besides pleading guilty to carrying a concealed weapon the Facundus brothers were acquitted of all charges.

In April of 1985, a second trial was convened for Eugene Walker and Ed Johnson. After two days of trial both men were again acquitted for the shooting of Walton Facundus. After the trial ended, Eugene Walker and Charles Facundus were sentenced for their crime of having a concealed weapon. Walker was sentenced to one day in the Livingston Parish prison and a fine of $10 plus the costs of court, amounting to about $30.

Charles Facundus left town the night before sentencing and forfeit his bond of $1000.

The Aftermath
Dr. Powlett moved to Ponchatoula and leaving his practice and drugstore in Springfield.

In June of 1895, Charles Facundus is involved in another shooting. Edmund Rabe, age 23 of Chicago, was taken to the charity hospital after being shot in the back, the bullet having severed Rabe’s spinal cord and penetrated one of his kidneys. Rabe said that he was fist fighting with John Turnage and the shot happened while they were rolling on the ground. He did not see Facundus shoot him but knew he had done it. Turnage was a witness in the Walker-Facundus duel in 1894.  Turnage and Facundus claim that Rabe was reaching for a gun during the fight. Turnage tried to run away and Rabe leveled the gun on him and the gun accidently went off hitting Turnage’s hat. Rabe then turned his pistol on Facundus and others standing nearby. Rabe shot his gun twice in the direction of the group with one shot hitting the ground near Facundus and the other near a  young daughter of Judge Kies. Facundus claims he ran to his home retrieved his gun and then returned shots at Rabe. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Charles Facundus.