BARTHÉLEMY, a Parisian youth who accompanied Robert Cavelier de La Salle on his last and fatal expedition and who afterwards defamed him; fl. 1687.
After the murder of La Salle on a branch of the Trinity River in what is now the state of Texas, Barthélemy was one of the group under the leadership of Joutel, La Salle’s faithful companion, which started on the return trip to New France via Henri Tonty*’s post at the mouth of the Arkansas River. Although Joutel mentions that Barthélemy was left behind somewhere on the Arkansas, the boy must have made his way to the fort, because a “Relation” based on the report of Jean Couture, the commander of the post, contains Barthélemy’s statements.
The boy apparently said that his chief, La Salle, “was so enraged at his failures that he did not approach the sacraments for two years; that he nearly starved his brother Cavelier*, allowing him only a handful of meal a day; that he killed with his own hand ‘quantité de personnes’ who did not work to his liking; and that he killed the sick in their beds without mercy, under the pretence that they were counterfeiting sickness in order to escape work.” Parkman terms this a “ridiculous defamation.”
AN, Col., C13C, 3, f.118, “Relation de la Mort du Sr de la Salle, suivant le rapport d’un nommé Couture à qui M. Cavelier l’apprit en passant au pays des Akansa, avec toutes les circonstances que le dit Couture a apprises d’un François que M. avoit laissé au dit pays des Akansa, crainte qu’il ne gardât pas le secret” (translation in PAC Report, 1899, Supp., 21–23). Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), III, 91–534. V. W. Crane, The southern frontier, 1670–1732 (Durham, N.C., 1928, and Philadelphia, 1929), 42–43. Parkman, La Salle and the discovery of the great west (12th ed.), 408–9, 430.