Granville Shaw - Sharpshooting Sheriff

Sharpshooting Sheriff
Granville Shaw
Acadiana Diary newspaper story by Jim Bradshaw (Advertiser Columnist) who tells about the Sharpshooting Sheriff Granville B. Shaw—who had a cool nerve and ready hand...
Sharpshooting Sheriff
Granville Shaw
Acadiana Diary newspaper story by Jim Bradshaw (Advertiser Columnist) who tells about the Sharpshooting Sheriff Granville B. Shaw—who had a cool nerve and ready hand...

I asked several weeks ago for information about sharp shooting sheriff GRANVILLE BERWICK SHAW of Vermilion Parish, who was given his badge at the tender age of 21 in part because of his ability with a pistol. He was sheriff for 14 years, served in the legislature, and was appointed interim school superintendent for a while. According to a family genealogy compiled by GLEN LAURENTS, Shaw was born in 1848 on Nunez Island, also known as Live Oak Landing, in lower Vermilion Parish. MRS. JUSTIN (Ruth) BROUSSARD has more details. According to the 1916 obituary in her scrapbook, Shaw "was a famous sheriff and at one time held the world's championship as a pistol shot. ...He was one of the most noted sheriffs of the southwest, ranking in reputation with such men as Curley Duson and Kinney Reed. He was one of the last of the old¬ time sheriffs whose tireless energy; cool nerve, quick and ready hand, and matchless coverage enforced the law at a time when Louisiana had not yet recovered from the evils of reconstruction. " According to another article written at the time of his death, Shaw "was an important factor in breaking up horse and cattle stealing in the coast parishes of Louisiana after the (Civil) war." This article says also that during his tenure he made a number of "daring and important arrests." According to Mrs. Broussard's information, Shaw's mother was REBECCA BERWICK MERRIMAN whose mother was MARY BERWICH whose father was THOMAS BERWICK for whom the St. Mary Parish town is named. Granville’s mother died when he was 7 years old, and he went to live with a married sister in Orange, Texas. He was a 16 year old student there when the Civil War broke out. He lied about his age and signed up to fight with Company B of Selby’s Brigade. He settled in Abbeville after the war and, according to the old newspaper clippings, represented Abbeville and won state competitions for sharp shooting in 1876 and 1871. He won the world championship in 1882, claiming as prizes two fine oil paintings that now hang in Mrs. Broussard’s home in Abbeville.

Granville married ZULMA MARIE BERNARD, daughter of JEAN BAPTISTE EMILE BERNARD of Fausse Pointe and AMELINA JULIE ALLOUARD of St. Martinville. Zulma was said to been an avid newspaper reader and forerunner of today’s news commentators. Family lore has it that she read the papers thoroughly, and then family and friends would come to visit her to hear the news and her views upon the happenings of the day. Celebrated though he was, Granville's quick hand brought a tragic result on at least one occasion. According to GLENN CONRAD's book, "New Iberia, Essays on the Town and Its People", “On June 7, 1874, Paulin Fontelieu fell victim to the custom of dueling. Fontelieu was in Abbeville attending a dance at the Veranda Hotel and was drinking with his close friend, Granville Shaw. Both men were crack shots. ...They became involved in a dispute, and it was suggested that they shoot it out. The duel occurred immediately and just in front of the hotel on the veranda. Fontelieu shot first and, in the darkness, missed his man. He had a cigarette in his mouth and, as he drew upon it, the bright head of the cigarette furnished a perfect target. Shaw fired and Fontelieu fell dead." Shaw died of pneumonia on Jan. 29, 1909, at the age of 60 years, 5 months, and 15 days. Sheriff JOHN B. (Buck) SHAW of St. Mary Parish was Granville's grandson. Buck's son, also named Granville, is an abstractor in Terrebonne Parish.