Recently, the story of a mysterious Frenchman, the alleged son of a royal nobleman, was investigated after the accidental discovery of a handwritten letter in the Culpeper County packet of archived arrest warrants for the year 1893. The letter, signed by the author as Lewis Philippe E__ Jerome Bonaparte Edgar De Duphane, eluded to royal family connections, the assassination of a Russian Czar, family members who had fought during the American Civil War and an accusation of improper conduct supposedly perpetrated by the writer upon another’s wife.
The Frenchman was decidedly despondent and declared that he would end his life rather than endure continued misery. The investigation was closed for the lack of more detail, particularly the name by which this fellow was customarily known.
While researching another matter altogether and perusing in the same courthouse the criminal cases for the 1893 period the name Showalter leapt from the page. Showalter was the name of the man who accused the Frenchman of inappropriate behavior toward his wife. Following the line across to the second page the name of the complainant was apparent: Edgar Duphane. Could this be the mysterious Frenchman, with a name that could now be further researched? Edgar and Duphane were the last two names in the six-name signature at the close of his letter. The investigation was back on the table and the anticipation was tantalizing.
In the 1893 letter to the Citizens of Culpeper County and the Commonwealth composed by the man we now know as Edgar Duphane there were several references that have now been exposed in greater detail.
What has been discovered?
Ø The Frenchman living in Culpeper, Virginia in 1893, whose full name we can now verify as Edgar Sydolph Jerome Rodabert de Duphane, was born in Toulon, France about 1861 allegedly to Count Henri Charles de Chambord and Anna Lamar of Savannah, Georgia: more about Count Henri later.
Ø He was educated at Woolrich and Oxford-both in England- and rose to the rank of captain in her Majesty’s Royal Navy by 1882.
Ø Records indicate that he immigrated to the United States in 1884-85: sailed on the “Carroll” out of Nova Scotia and landed in Boston, Massachusetts.
Ø Two of his “French” relatives did indeed serve in a military position during the American Civil War, although the documented specifics differ somewhat from statements in his letter as to the nature of the familial relationship and which cause they supported.
Ø Edgar Duphane was engaged in a dispute with B. F. Showalter and was both a plaintiff and a defendant in the court records.
The review of at least six different newspaper articles, a marriage record, and a visit to the Find-A-Grave website not only substantiate Duphane’s claims as stated above but also add more definition to the life of this fascinating character.
More about the Frenchman who lived in Culpeper County
Ø Despite the bleak tone of his missive to the Citizens of Culpeper, Duphane did not die in Culpeper County in 1893 or at any other time.
Ø However, he did relocate to the Shenandoah Valley and was employed as a music teacher.
Ø In 1898, he married Sadie Hopkins of that same county.
Ø Edgar Duphane died in Washington, DC in 1901
Ø There is no record of Edgar Duphane having any descendants.
Stay tuned for the final chapter.
Until next week, be well.