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Spirit of Acadiana: The Bobby Dunbar Mystery, Part 1

Still Talked About 99 Years Later
Bobby Dunbar
Posted at 9:40 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 07:20:08-04

OPELOUSAS, La. — It happened nearly 110 years ago in St. Landry Parish and his kidnapping was one that haunted a nation. “My dad was the subject of, back in the early 1900s, of what was termed as ‘the trial of the century’, says Gerald Dunbar.

But backstory is needed. 109 years ago, four-year old Bobby Dunbar, son of Lessie and C.P. Dunbar of Opelousas, wandered away from a family outing near a Lake Swayze in St. Landry Parish, and disappeared.

"He was last seen going up the hill to the railroad trestle," says Gerald, "and so speculation was that he was taken, that he’d been kidnapped."

A nationwide search began; the wealthy CP Dunbar hired a private detective; and 10 months later in Mississippi, a boy is found living with a tinkerer, a boy whose description matches that of Bobby Dunbar.

"After 10 months, they found a boy that fits the description.:

The tinkerer said the boy was really Bruce Anderson… the son of a family friend. But the Dunbars were pretty sure Bobby Dunbar had been found, and the city of Opelousas threw a party. But the party didn’t last long. "This woman shows up--Julia Anderson-- who says that’s not Bobby Dunbar; that’s my son, Bruce," adds Gerald.

A trial is held, and Judge Pavy awards the boy to Dunbars, and legally at least, Bobby Dunbar has come home.

"From the Anderson side, they believed that Bobby was kidnapped by the courts and awarded to the Dunbars," adds Gerald.

"So, what you have now is the lost child, Bobby Dunbar, and the child that grew up as Bobby Dunbar. Ok?"

End of Part One.

For Part Two, click here

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