Last week’s column left L.P., the mysterious Frenchman who may or may not have died in Culpeper, as yet untraceable and me, consumed with the exasperation of the unresolved.  It was time to take a bit of my own advice, step back, absorb, breathe deeply and contemplate on available facts.  To that end, today’s note to readers will advance the story of L.P.’s account of his questionable relationships in Culpeper.
Apparently, much of L.P.’s misery is shrouded in the accusations of B.F. Showalter “of familiarity viz. criminal relationships with Mrs. M.S. Showalter, his wife.”
L.P. categorically denies any wrong doing. He writes for two pages about the lady, decrying his belief that she is badly abused by her husband and desperately in need of a friend and the support of her community.
“I endeavored to always be kind and courteous to her and knowing that she was unhappy, I extended to her my sympathy. Her husband has not only wrecked this woman’s honor and life, but he in the most cruel and brutish manner abuses her and on three occasions to my knowledge, has he threatened her life, when she dared to demand her rights. Citizens I could not write a lie at this awful hour: what I write is the truth! Right here in your midst, a helpless woman, a mother, a Virginia Lady, is slowly, systematically, cruelly tortured to death by her monstrous husband and children. She is kept a prisoner under constant surveillance and threatened if she shows any signs of resistance.”
Will you stand bye and see this woman thus abused? You are the sons of a noblest Commonwealth- out of?  the depths of death I ask you to stand by her see her liberated from this scoundrel. ……. This woman deserves to be free, yet she is kept a prisoner in her own home, she is denied the privilege to go before a Court and to make legal application. She has no one to stand by her……I leave her in your care.”
The entire letter has not been included here but excerpts enough to provide the gist. L.P. has a flair for the dramatic and I would do him an injustice to not include his final words.
“Farewell Virginia! Thy fair blue sky I love! Show me this last favor. Bury me honorably as I think I deserve it. A Frenchman, my grandfather fought for your independence- a Frenchman, my father and his brother fought for the Confederacy- a Frenchman, I, have always loved you and now I pray for you…..
                                                                                      Yours for the last time.”
There was a side note to “notify the British Embassador {sic} Washington D.C.”
Truth or fantasy, the letter exists. There are a few genealogical records for the Showalters indicating that they did indeed reside in Culpeper at the time of the letter.  One astute reader found a lawsuit in the Culpeper court records charging Mr. and Mrs. Showalter with forging a will. It had no bearing on L.P.’s letter and thus is not detailed here.
For now, I must put L.P. on the shelf with the hope that the rest of his story will be uncovered someday in the future.
Until next week, be well.

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