The history of Bayou Dularge … and the recipe for living a long life

From the Oct. 8, 1972 “The Houma Daily Courier”

 

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“The story of Bayou Dularge is truly the story of its residents. In this story, therefore, a glimpse of the type of life spent on the banks of Bayou Dularge will be sketched through the memories and tales of some of the folk of that community.

Mr. Ellis Brunet Sr. was born in 1897. He started school in a one-room schoolhouse where Andrew Pere’s house now stands. In 1904, Mrs. Emile Marmande was the schoolteacher. In 1906, the school was transferred across the bayou to the Marmande’s low-by field, on the south side of Lily Porche’s present property. The Brunet family lived nearby.

That year, Ellis’ teachers was Miss Julie. Miss Kate Hennesy taught him the following year, she was succeeded by Miss Fanny Knowblack.

dularge4Automobiles were very scarce then. One day the children were startled when they heard a strange noise coming down the road. The teacher, Miss Fanny, said ‘Automobile’ and the children ran to the road to watch the contraption drive by.

It was the children’s lunch time when the automobile made its return trip. Just then a fan belt broke on the car right in front of the school. Instead of going home for lunch, Ellis remembers watching the driver, a Mr. Bocarge, who was a surveyor from Houma, as he repaired the car. Ellis had never seen anyone fix a car before and was very interested. The bell rang when lunch time was supposed to be over, but since he lived so close to the school, he ran home for a bite to eat and then ran back to school.

Not too long after this incident, Ellis’ family moved to Grande Caillou, where they lived for three years. Mr. Cletus Brunet was a sharecropper for Jean Caillouet, the owner of Ashland Plantation. The Brunets were a family of 8 children: Elodie Brunet Hebert, Ellis Brunet, Stanley Brunet (deceased), Victoria Brunet Vidal, Aglaya Brunet Champagne, Ernest Brunet, Adelie Brunet Fanguy (deceased) and Morris Brunet.

Olympe Theriot was three years old when her family settled on Dularge. Her parents moved from Grande Caillou with a wagon drawn by horses, going across a dirt road on Bayou Guion. They used to hold dances in their house, tear down the partitions and invite all their neighbors who knew how to play instruments. They would dance all night until everybody would get tired. Those who lived too far away were invited to spend the night.

To clean their floors (before brooms and mops and such were on the market) they would break up bricks and scrub their floors with the pieces.

One of the games they used to play was Pain-Pe-Po, in which they had to sit in a ring and put their fingers in the center of the circle. They would then give the password. Other folks might remember this game.

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Charles Bourg, who is now deceased, and his brother Sylvere operated a general merchandise store in Houma. They would go down Bayou Dularge on Monday in their horse-drawn buggy to make deliveries and to take orders for big items, such as washtubs, hats, shoes and whatever else the people might need. They would have to sleep down the bayou and come back to Houma the next day. On Wednesday, Charles would fill the orders for the bayou residents and on Thursday he would make the deliveries from the beginning of the week. The brothers kept this route for a number of years. Charles died at an early age in 1931.

Horace Theriot was born on February 4, 1894, on Bayou Dularge. He went to a one room school, where Andrew Pere lives now. Horace started school in 1900. For the seven years of his schooling, he had to walk a mile bare-footed in the mud. Each day he carried his lunch and a bottle of water.

At the age of 15, he got out of school and went to work in the field with his pair of mules. He was then drafted for World War I, but had a medical discharge. He then went back to farming and raised corn, sugar cane and cotton.

In 1923, he married. For 22 years he worked as a clerk in a store for C. X. Henry at Folgout’s Canal. He also worked for Bishop Caillouet for 3 years and 3 months. He used to serve people their groceries in his freight boat. Later he went to work at a shrimp factory.

He retired at the age of 65, but remains very active. Each year he plants a small garden, cuts his own grass and has some beautiful orange trees.

Joseph Dover Sr., better known as Papa Joe, is 98 years old. He was born March 12, 1874.

dularge3Joseph’s father, James, was an Englishman from around Liverpool. James came to the Dularge area when he was around the age of 21. He had volunteered in Virginia to serve in the Civil War. It seems that the reason he decided to stay down here was that he was searching for something better. James married and had two sons, Joseph and John. John never married and died as a bachelor at the age of 88.

Joseph married Eva Toups (now deceased) and they had 8 children: 6 boys and 2 girls: Stanley, Georgeanna (deceased), Joseph Jr. (deceased), Elmer, James ‘Bob,’ John and Margaret.

Papa Joe never served in the war, but 14 or 15 of his descendants have served in the service.

Growing up, Joseph Dover experienced such magnificent arrivals as the invention of the match (yes, that stick that makes fire!). He worked on the railroad which brought the first train to Houma. He was one of the first to see electric lights lit in Houma. He remembers seeing everyone in Houma gathering to see the smudgepots go out and the lights go on.

Joseph saw the first automobile to arrive at the depot and watched it demonstrated on Canal Street. People lined up to see the car unloaded and then driven up and down the street. He remembers when the first train came to Houma; the people had all come in their buggies to witness this great invention. They had unhitched their horses because they knew the animals would be scared. Still it was the people who became scared when they saw the huge machine coming toward them.

Papa Joe saw the first steamboat that came to Terrebonne Parish; he saw the first sawmills, where he used to whipsaw the logs. He also witnessed the wooden roller sugar mill turned by 2 oxen (sugar was made in open kettles at that time). He witnessed the changing of the musselloaders to firearms, to pin guns, and then to breach loaders.

He remembers when mules went down to meet the barges and freight boats; the mules pulled the barges into Houma. This was called Cardel. The trail of the buffalo still remained in his days. He remembers the beaten buffalo paths. History says that the buffalo used to come out west to feed out on the coastland at a certain season. Three of four months later they would all go back at the same time.

Papa Joe and his father got their start in life by running a mule freight. Their land was bought in 1901. Joe’s house still stands along with some other property  and his sons’ homes.

They hauled all the sugar from the country mills to the depot in Houma. At that time Papa Joe worked for Haley Minor, the man who used to own Southdown. Papa Joe then worked for the Lottingers who lived below Dulac; he worked there as a sharecropper. He later worked for C.P. Smith in the lumber business. Joe had his own nail maker; before that they used pegs.

Papa Joe saw the first store in Houma – Dupont’s, at that time a one room store. He saw the first bank, which was a hole in the Davidson’s store on Main Street. Papa Joe was the first person to make a loan at the bank when he borrowed $65.00.

He was one of the first children taught by a parish paid teacher, Mr. Larpentier. Just recently, Joe saw the sixth generation of the Larpentier family when Carroll Larpentier was then doing the family tree and went to see Papa Joe for some information.

One more of his growing up memories was that at one time people couldn’t grow corn next to the woods or timberland, because the bears would come out at night and eat it. When folks would go for a day in the woods to get lumber, they would have to tie their lunches to trees because alligators would carry away whatever wasn’t high enough out of their reach.

For entertainment, when he was still a young boy, every night after supper, Joe would go to any of the neighbors and have a corn husking party. They believed in helping one another. They would husk corn for anybody for a cup of coffee; in those days, money wasn’t much good for anything.

On Sunday evenings, folk would pass time by shooting (pat-go). After paying a small fee, a person would have his choice of a target. If he were a good shot, he would aim for the center; if not, he could choose another mark. The prize was usually 35 pounds of choice meat. Contestants had to sit in a chair and use a crossbar to rest the muzzelgun on to aim.

Papa Joe lived through all the big storms, through the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878-1906, and through the small pox epidemic.

He was born when Grant was president and lived to see the terms of office for 19 of the 37 presidents.

After his wife died in 1947, Papa Joe stayed for a while with his son John and his family on Dularge. Then he lived alone in the house next door to that of his son. There he lived alone for 10 or 12 years, doing his own cooking, washing and housekeeping. He also made a big garden until the age of 95, when he had a slight stroke and had to discontinue his big garden.

He recently left his home on Dularge to visit with some of his family and to be around the younger generation. He is still young in mind and spirit and has the memory of a much younger man. He has 20 grandchildren, 19 living and one deceased; 30 great grandchildren and 2 adopted great grandchildren; 6 great-great grandchildren. He says his remedy for living so long is that whenever he doesn’t feel well, he takes 3 drops of kerosine (koal-oil) in 1 teaspoon of honey.

 

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One thought on “The history of Bayou Dularge … and the recipe for living a long life

  1. Great Historical information . Wish i could buy this documentary in a book to read and pass on to my family.
    Raphael Champagne

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