Catahoula Parish

CATAHOULA PARISH, with its beautiful swamps, rivers, lakes, fertile bottomland and scenic hills was home to the Charles and Laura Jones family for approximately 60 years – from 1840 to around 1900. In 1905, the last surviving child of the couple, Cuthbert, died in South America. With the death of Cuthbert, the Jones family of Catahoula Parish was no more. (Concordia Sentinel photo)  

(54th in a Series)   

In 1905, the Washington Times headline on Page 20 announced: “Cuthbert Jones Dies in Peru: Famous Southerner Last of His Family.”  

“News just reached this city, through the State Department of the death of Cuthbert Bullitt Jones, in Lima, Peru, July 18,” the newspaper reported. “Mr. Jones is well known in Washington, and was at one time United States consul to Tripoli …”  

The paper reported that Cuthbert, “the son of the late Colonel Jones, of the Confederate army, who commanded a Louisiana regiment” during the Civil War,” had left Washington for Peru in 1897.  

“He was a native of Louisiana, but years ago left his native State for the purpose of terminating the famous Liddell-Jones feud, in which both General Liddell and Colonel Jones lost their lives” in what the paper called one of the “fiercest feuds known in the South.”  

Cuthbert was only 19 when he joined his father and brother Willie aboard the St. Mary steamer on the Black River south of Jonesville in mid-February 1870 and fired multiple shots into General St. John Richardson Liddell, killing him on the spot. The three were arrested in Harrisonburg, the seat of government in Catahoula Parish, and held in the Sargent House, home of 26-year-old Sheriff Oliver Ballard and his family.  

Two weeks later, as the three Joneses awaited a court hearing, a mob surrounded the Sargent House late at night and killed Col. Jones and Willie. Cuthbert escaped, went to New Orleans and boarded a ship for Europe along with his mother and remaining siblings.  

After serving as consul to Tripoli, Cuthbert returned to the U.S. in the early 1880s along with his baby brother Francois. They lived together in Washington, D.C. and you rarely saw one without the other. When the position of consul to Peru became open, Cuthbert applied and appeared to be on his way to getting the appointment in the Pacific Coast town of Callao when he drew opposition from a Louisiana congressman.  

That politician -- J. Floyd King of Vidalia -- had previously promised his support for Cuthbert but some in Louisiana, especially a New Orleans newspaper, vigorously opposed the appointment because Cuthbert was considered a fugitive from justice. He was wanted in Catahoula Parish, having never been tried for the murder of Liddell.  

When King began to feel the heat from some of his constituents, he withdrew his support and Cuthbert didn’t get the appointment.  

Furious, Cuthbert waged war on King in the newspapers, tried to get him to fight him with fists or in a duel and called him every vile name he could think of.  

The trouble grew worse when King was inaccurately reported to have said vile things about Cuthbert’s mother and General Liddell’s wife, who had been dead for a decade and a half.  

King refused to yield, however, on his opposition to the appointment. Cuthbert soon turned his rage toward the congressman’s re-election campaign. He led a fight opposing King’s renomination for the post and it paid off. King was defeated.  

But it wasn’t over, Cuthbert now faced an economic crisis. He still needed a job and it would be years before he would find a good one.  

‘NERVOUS LITTLE FELLOW’  

Yet before that happened, Cuthbert, with brother Francois at his side, launched one final attempt to draw King into a physical confrontation.  

Cuthbert was of average height but small, weighing only 145 pounds. King, on the other hand, was big and weighed 225 pounds.  

In early 1887, an article appeared in several publications:  

“A Washington sensation was created at the barbershop at Willard’s Hotel, when Congressman J. Floyd King, of Louisiana, and Cuthbert B. Jones, of the same State, had a personal encounter. It will be remembered that for two years Mr. Jones has been making a vigorous war upon King, and was the cause of his defeat for a renomination.  

“The trouble between the two men is of long standing, and found its origin in a family feud of a number of years ago.”  

“Last night, before Jones left the barbershop, he turned to one of the employees and asked if King owed any money there, and advised the shopkeeper not to trust him.  

“King, at the time, was in the shop, waiting his turn. Jones went over to where King was sitting and opened conversation with the Congressman by speaking disrespectfully of his father and mother, and using an offensive epithet about the person to whom he was speaking.  

“To all of this abuse King made no reply. Mr. Jones repeated his language, and said that he stood  ready to prove all that he had said. Still Mr. King remained motionless and silent.  

“Mr. Jones, becoming more enraged at the extraordinary manner of King, laid his hand in a semi-menacing manner upon the face of the Louisianan, with the hope of provoking him to resent the insults he was heaping upon him; but there was no response.”  

“There is scarcely any comparison between the two men in physical power. Mr. King is powerfully built man, weighing, perhaps, 225 pounds, while Mr. Jones is a small, thin, wiry, nervous little fellow, who will tip the scales at about 145 pounds.  

“Mr. Jones afterward said to a reporter that he had made every attempt to provoke King to a desire to fight to the finish.”  

Jones said, “I was not armed and never carry any weapons. King has injured me and the good name of my family, and all I ask is the opportunity to reaping satisfaction. I have tried every possible way to cause him to resent the abuse I have given him, but he is too much of a coward to meet me.”  

Cuthbert’s menacing manner toward King and refusal to let the matter die were actions that he learned early on in his life by simply watching his father, whose was known for his explosive temper and who, once offended, would never forgive.  

JONES-KING FINAL CONFRONTATION  

The day after the confrontation, the Indianapolis Journal reported:  

“The disturbance in the barbershop {in Washington D.C.} on Tuesday evening between Cuthbert R. Jones and Representative J. Floyd King of Louisiana has made a breezy topic for conversation at the Capitol, the hotel lobbies and the clubs.”  

The paper then presented King’s response to Cuthbert’s verbal assault upon him at the barbershop:  

“While I was being shaved, Cuthbert R. Jones, accompanied by a man whom I took to be his brother, came into Stewart’s shop and soon began conversation with each other in a loud tone about my defeat for a renomination to Congress. To this I made no response.  

“When I had been shaved and arose from my position, Cuthbert Jones got up from a chair eight or ten feet distant, on the arm of which he was sitting, and looking at me, uttered for some moments the most offensive and brutal language, such as a would-be assassin would employ when seeking an opportunity to commit murder under the disguise of the law, he and his friend meanwhile occupying advantageous positions some twelve or fifteen feet apart.  

“Discovering that I could not be caught in the villainous trap they had laid for me, they retired. I kept my eye all the time on both.  

“In the height of his frenzy Jones held his stick in his left hand and threw his right on his hip, possibly into his hop-pocket. Under these circumstances, being menaced by such deadly purpose, had I been armed I should have felt justified in destroying him. He was at no time nearer than eight or ten feet from me. I am a law-abiding man, but the law imposes no restraint in protecting myself.  

“Jones’s hostility to me is due solely to my opposition to his appointment to a consular position. That opposition was because, I was informed by most reputable and distinguished gentlemen, acquainted with the facts, that he was a fugitive from justice on account of the assassination of General Liddell, of my district, by Jones’ father, his older brother and himself, the two former being lynched for their crime and the latter flying for his life. He has never yet ventured to return.  

“It is a pretense on his part that it is due to his mother. I long ago denounced that statement as false over my own signature through the Associated Press.”  

CUTHBERT DIES AT AGE 45  

This final confrontation between the two men resulted in no violence but not because Cuthbert did not do his best to provoke King to fight. But afterward, both Cuthbert and King had more important things to do – finding jobs.  

During the late 1890s, Francois Jones got a job as a diplomatic minister for the United States in Buenos Aries, the capital of Argentina. In 1900, he returned to the U.S. to visit friends in Virginia and according to one account, to marry. But when crossing a creek swollen by mountain rains, the force of the raging waters swept away the horse, the buggy and Francois. The buggy was immediately destroyed and the horse drowned nearby.  

Francois’ remains were found months later in a cornfield along the Rivanna River.  

News of the death of his last remaining family member reached Cuthbert in Peru where he had failed to get the appointment as consul due to J. Floyd King’s opposition. But Cuthbert found employment there with U.S. investors.  

For a while, Cuthbert represented these businesses in a mining operation and in the development of a railroad. He reportedly made a lot of money. It is assumed that Cuthbert was buried in Peru.  

He was the only male in his immediate family not to die a tragic and brutal death – his father and brother Willie were shot to death and his brother Francois was battered, bruised and broken up in a raging stream before drowning.  

For much of his life, Cuthbert was the topic of multiple newspaper articles.  

Presumed drowned after his father and brother were shot to death in Harrisonburg in 1870, news of his arrival in New Orleans was a sensation. He described his miraculous escape from the mob while awaiting the arrival of his mother and siblings from Europe.  

Hiding in an upstairs room of the Sargent House, Cuthbert had hung from a window ledge for possibly as long as eight minutes while the mob searched for him. Later, when his pursuers left the room, he pulled himself back inside and managed, in the dark of the night, to walk through a crowd of townspeople in making his escape to a hideaway north of town before secretly boarding a steamboat heading for New Orleans.  

When he later left New Orleans with his mother and siblings, he instantly became a fugitive from justice for the killing of General Liddell. Yet most everyone felt that he was drawn into the feud by his father, Col. Jones, a bullying and violent man who caused the Liddell family untold grief for years. Several people in Harrisonburg, including the sheriff, his family and others, had hidden Cuthbert from the mob and aided him in the journey to New Orleans concealed in the hold of a steamboat.  

He learned several languages in Europe, returned to the U.S. in the mid-1870s and was soon appointed U.S. Consul to Tripoli, Libya. Later came the controversy over his appointment to a similar post in Peru and the conflict with Congressman Floyd.  

Cuthbert, like Francois, never married.  

With his death at age 45, the family of Charles and Laura Jones ceased to exist. None of the couple’s children had children of their own and with Cuthbert’s death, the Joneses of Catahoula Parish were no more.  

(Next Week: The Series Finale)  

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