Joseph H. Thibadeau – Captain, United States Army


Joseph H. Thibadeau Takes His Own Life in Washington, D.C.
Leaves Letter Alleging Conspiracy Against Him

WASHINGTON, December 18, 1903- Joseph Harney Thibadeau, 61 years old, who lived in Falls, Church, Virginia, near here, where he had a wife and children, was found dead in a room in the St. James Hotel in this city this afternoon.  He had committed suicide by shooting himself in the forehead, having stood in front of the mirror while doing so.  He left a written statement, declaring that he had no money, requesting that his funeral expenses be limited to $10, and that he be interred in Arlington, and naming as pallbearers’ former associated in the Paymaster General’s Office, where he was formerly a clerk.  He asked the soldiers of Maine, his native State, to bear the funeral expenses.  In his statement he says:

“So sure as the sun is poised in the heavens, the conspiracy conserved and planned for more than six months prior to this date to effect my undoing will, sooner or later, be revealed, it may be through death-bed confession, or other agencies will bring it about.  It will not long remain concealed, where ten or more persons are concerned in the planning.

“Prior to my coming to this city, four years since, I have been a citizen of Atlanta, Georgia, for thirty years, and being continuously engaged in business enterprises along different lines.  Much is said of a business transaction which was litigated at my instance ten years since.  After that occurrence, I continued my residence in Atlanta, and engaged in different lines of work.  When there I contemplated the construction of a line of railroad.  My friends who best knew me willingly volunteered to subscribe to a personal bond for me of $40,000 if needed.

“What made Volilaude inquire into my past life – a man who, through villainy and deception, robbed a confiding young man, as I have been informed by his bother in law, of quite $2,000 and now required to return that money in monthly installments 0 the man who, at this hour of noon, October 13, 1903, abstracted from the inside pocket of my coat an envelope containing $56 and a fraction, which fact is known to not less than ten persons connected with the Pay Department, and which has not yet been returned?  Can he truthfully deny these facts?

“I am astounded at what I overhear.  The Dreyfus case pales into insignificance with it.  I can not tell whether I am Hans or Yacob, or Jean Valjean, just from the French galleys.”

His statement ends thus: “Can it be possible that this course will be construed as an acknowledgement of guilt.  No! No! No! No! God, no!  I am guiltless of intentional wrongdoing.”

Joseph H. Thibadeau resided in Atlanta for a long while, and is well known there.  He is the father of Joseph F. Thibadeau, the popular superintendent of the Atlanta post office; R. T. Thibadeau, clerk in the money order department of the Atlanta post officer and Louis Thibadeau, clerk to a United States Army Paymaster.  He also has several other children, one of them being a married daughter in Rescas.

Mr. Thibadeau was well known in railroad circles, he having for more than 20 years been connected with the freight department of the Western and Atlantic Railroad.  He was also supervisor of the United States Census for the fifth district in 1890.  Mr. Thibadeau left Atlanta several years ago and went to Washington, in which city he has since resided.

Mr. Thibadeau was about 62 years of age and was a native of Maine.  He was a veteran on the Civil War, having served as a Captain in the Federal Army.  During his residence in Atlanta, Mr. Thibadeau had won hosts of friends.


Death of Major Thibadeau Explained by Strange Circumstance
Deceased Interred in Arlington Cemetery by Grand Army of Republic
With Full Military Honors
Statement of General Bates

Washington, December 20, 1903 – It has been definitely learned that Major Joseph H. Thibadeau, the former resident of Atlanta, who took his own life last Sunday afternoon in Washington, committed the act while laboring under the strange hallucination that there existed a conspiracy to oust him from his office at the Paymaster’s Department and that charges had been preferred against him.

Joseph F. Thibadeau, son the deceased, and the well known superintendent of the Atlanta post officer, had returned to the city from Washington where he attended the funeral of his father, and while there he made a thorough investigation into the causes that led to the suicide.  He was informed by the officials that Major Thibadeau was a thoroughly conscientious, honest and faithful official, and that there was not the slightest blemish on either his private or official character.

Brigadier General A. E. Bates, of the Paymaster’s Department, states that he noticed six weeks ago that there was something wrong with Major Thibadeau’s mind, but that he refused to take a rest from his duties.  A strange feature of the case is that Major Thibadeau did his work with perfect accuracy, while his mind was distorted with the fatal delusion.  After his death, an inspection of his books and accounts was made and not an error was found.

Mr. Thibadeau, the son, has received the following public letter from General Bates:

“I take pleasure in stating that the late Joseph H. Thibadeau, who was a clerk in this office from January 3, 1900, until December 13, 1903, when he ended his life by his own hand, was an excellent clerk, steady industrious and faithful in the discharge of his duties, much esteemed by his associates in the office and by his official superiors.  No charges were ever preferred against him as a clerk, his official record being clear in every respect.  So far as know to me, his private character was unblemished and it is believed that the act which ended his life was committed while mentally deranged; in fact, he had shown some decided evidence of mental derangement as much as six weeks before his death, so much so as to attract my personal attention.”

Another public letter has also been received from Major L. Knapp, chief of the correspondence and examining division of the Paymaster’s Department, who had direct supervision over Major Thibadeau.  It is as follows:

“J. H. Thibadeau, late clerk of the Paymaster General’s Office, was, to my knowledge, during his three years service under my charge, a most competent clerk, faithful to the duties placed upon him, and punctual and gentlemanly in all official intercourse, he was held in high esteem by his fellow-clerks.  Never has a complaint been entered against him; in fact, he has often been complimented for his strict adherence to duty, and it is with deep regret that I lose his help and association.”

By a request often expressed, Major Thibadeau was buried in Arlington National Cemetery at Fort Myer, Virginia, by the Grand Army of the Republic, and Mr. Thibadeau has received the following letter from Major A. B. Drum, Superintendent of the Cemetery, and also former Superintendent of the Marietta National Cemetery.

“While regretting the death of your esteemed father, who was my personal friend, I am glad he was buried in this great cemetery.  He was buried in full military honors, a troop of cavalry meeting the hearse at the gate and marching nearly a mile to the grave.  The Grand Army services were said, and the body was lowered when three volleys were fired and Taps were sounded.  The lot is numbered 1452 in the Southern Division of the Officers’ Section, and is beautifully located.  If I can do anything for you at any time, it will give me pleasure to do so.”

Major Thibadeau selected his own pallbearers as follows:  Major Louis Knapp, A. M. Salmon, Albert P. Eastman, Benjamin J. Such, M. L. Leonard, of the Paymaster General’s Department, and George G. Ross, of the Department of the Interior.  Rev. Mr. Davison of Falls Church, Virginia, was the officiating clergyman, Commander Jerome F> Johnson of Burnside Post, Department of the Potomac, conducted the Grand Army of the Republic ceremonies.  The firing party and bugler were from Fort Myer.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/13/1903
  • BURIED AT:   SITE 1452

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