100 Years Ago in Bienville Parish – Marshal Boddie Receives Black Hand Letter

Black Hand tactics involved sending a letter to a victim threatening bodily harm, kidnapping, arson, or murder. These blackmail letters usually demanded something from the victim such as a specified amount of money or for the victim to perform a specific task.  

On September 19, 1922, Arcadia’s “efficient town marshal” John Boddie checked his mail at the post office as he did every weekday.  In that day’s mail was a letter addressed to the marshal.  The postmark stamped on the letter showed that the letter was mailed that same day in Arcadia.  There was no return address or any other markings on the outside of the letter.  Marshal Boddie opened the letter and found it to be a common piece of notebook paper.  The writing on the notebook paper and address were written with a lead pencil.  He began to read:

“John Boddie, you think you are playing hell around here, and we warn you to hand in your resignation and get out of town, you son—————.  Take heed!  Act now!”

Officers tried to determine who wrote the letter and warned that, if apprehended, he or she would face two serious charges; sending obscene material through the mail and for writing a threatening letter.  

As the news got out about the letter, the marshal slyly reassured the public that he would continue to receive his mail at the Arcadia post office.  The marshal was unmoved by the threatening letter and, despite the threatening letter, remained in Arcadia for the rest of his life.  He died thirty years later, on November 22, 1952, and is buried in the Arcadia cemetery.

Source: The Bienville Democrat, September 28, 1922, p.1.

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