My father was about five years old when his family moved from Terrebonne Parish to Vermilion Parish in Louisiana.  The Theriot family came to live on a farm just north of Abbeville on the Vermilion Bayou, and Grandpa was a tenant farmer.  Their immediate neighbors to the north were a Meaux family, with at least four generations living on the place, which belonged to Onezime "Jim" Meaux.  One of Mr. Jim's grandchildren was named Didier, who was younger than my father.  (Didier was still living on this farm after he married and the first three of his children were born there.)

From my father I heard stories about how he used to seat little Didier on the front of his saddle when he took his little pony out for a ride.  And Didier grew up to be an excellent horseman.  This I know, because he became my father-in-law.

Then there was Mr. Jim's father who was named Dosite Meaux.  Mr. Dosite'd had a very rough life.  He was born in Lafayette Parish, but had moved down the bayou to Vermilion Parish after he married.  He raised cattle and small crops, and his wife was a seamstress.  They had a very large family.  In those days, poor farmers who could not afford to build fences planted hedges of Cherokee roses to keep their animals close to home, and stockmen allowed their cattle to graze freely all over the outlying prairies.  When they needed meat, they went out and butchered an animal right out in the open.

One day, Mr. Dosite butchered a cow out on the prairie and sold the meat to a butcher in Abbeville to be resold.   Oops!  It wasn't his cow.  It belonged to a Mrs. LeBlanc.  Dosite was accused of being a cattle thief and was tried twice in a court of law and was declared innocent both times.  But wait!  That was at the time that the Vigilante Committee was at the height of its power, and they ran old Dosite off to Texas, anyhow.  His wife filed for a divorce, charging him with abandonment, and records at the courthouse show that she received a settlement of $205, which was a right smart amount in those days.  

By the time Dosite returned to Louisiana, he was an old, blind man.  He exercised by walking up an down between two large trees, using a rope tied to each tree to guide himself.  And for refreshment he drank cool well water sweetened with a bit of sugar cane syrup.  My father told me that he had been blinded when he and some friends were fighting some Indians in Texas.  He was hit between the eyes with the butt end of a rifle.  This I cannot verify, because, as I have said before, Dad knew how to embroider a story really well.

Now back to "Jim" Meaux.  He was an upstanding member of society, loved by all who knew him.  He was a hard worker, and according to my Dad he was a short, stocky man with very blue eyes and very bowed legs.  Dad said he got that way because he always rode his horse.  Everywhere he went, this man rode his horse.  He was also one of the first rural mail carriers in Vermilion Parish.  He was commissioned by the United States Postal Service, and I have the original copy of that document.  We know, too, that he got older, he was hard of hearing, because we have some of his receipts for batteries for his hearing aid. 

His son, Alphe, was my husband's grandfather, and I have pictures of him with his wife and family.  He was quite a handsome fellow.  My youngest son looks a lot like him.  I believe he, also, did small crop farming and raised cattle.  One day, he was found dead on the side of the road, apparently having suffered a heart attack.  

And my father-in-law was about the sweetest, kindest man in the world.  Closer than that to a saint, I do not expect to meet in this world.  

24 July 2001

Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA

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