Have I ever blogged about cousin Henri? I can’t remember so I’ll just blog about him now.
Henri Camille Montet was my granny’s cousin in that iffy, Cajun way in which the family tree is simplified by just calling someone a cousin when you can’t remember the exact connection. In fact, Granny’s grandmother and Henri’s father were brother and sister. So, they were third cousins. I think.
Henri was a great favorite of my granny even though they were 25 years apart in age. Apparently they loved to attend church fairs together. My granny always did love a church fair.
Since he died long before I was born, I never met Henri. But I certainly heard about him. He was an only child, and death was a constant visitor in his life.
When he was less than a year old, his father and grandfather died within weeks of each other on the family property in Assumption Parish. The grandfather was 65, but his father was only 24. It’s possible the same illness took both of them.
Henri’s mother was of sturdier stock. She never remarried and lived to be 95.
Henri’s brides weren’t as fortunate. He married twice. Both of his brides died within months of the weddings. His first wife, Olimpe, died seven months into the marriage. His second wife, Rosalie Emma, died fourth months after saying I do.
After that, Henri was a confirmed bachelor so I was shocked to discover he fathered at least one child. Baby Hesta – born to an African American woman named Bertha Thomas in a neighboring parish – died of the Spanish flu in 1918 at just a few months old. Henri arranged for the baby’s burial. His name is on her death certificate, which is the only reason I know Hesta even existed.
Henri built a career as a justice of the peace in Assumption Parish. He also was a member of the Police Jury. He moved in with two unmarried sisters in his final years and left them what he had when he died in exchange for taking care of him.
Now I wish I’d asked my granny how she and Henri became such good friends (since they didn’t live in the same town). Apparently he showed my country girl granny the big town of Napoleonville when she was a young girl and took her to the church fairs. Later, after she married and started raising her six children, they kept up a correspondence. Henri’s letters always encouraged my granny to come visit and take in another church fair.