Family of Cyrille Charleston Pitre & Jean Cecile Mable Leonard
Cyrille Charleston Pitre was born 2 December 1894 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA, and died 15 November 1945 Iberville, Plaquemine, LA. Burial was 17 November 1945 in St. Philomene Cemetery, Pitre Family Tomb. Link to photo.
Wife Jean Cecile Mable Leonard was born 15 December 1898 Lafourche, LA, and died 26 May 1994 Iberville, Plaquemine, LA. Burial was 28 May 1994 in Grace Memorial Park, Plaquemine, LA. They were married 27 August 1915 Lafourche, LA. Link to photo.
Their children were:
1- Dibert Edward Jean Pitre b: 27 July 1916 Plaquemine, LA (baptism: 5 August 1916 St. Philomena's Church); d: 10 August 1980 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA; burial 12 August 1980 Greenwood Cem., #22 Palm, New Orleans, LA
+Beverly Richardson Harris b: 4 March 1917 2211 Burdett, New Orleans, LA (baptism: 29 April 1917 Christ Church Cath., N.O.); m: 8 July 1946 St. Andrew's Epis. Ch., New Orleans, LA; d: 23 August 1997 New Orleans, LA; burial 30 August 1997 Greenwood Cem., #22 Palm, New Orleans, LA
2- Cecile L. Pitre b: 28 July 1918 Lafourche, LA; d: 8 December 2007 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
Notes for Cecile L. Pitre:
Cecile started driving late in life. She was terrible, couldn't back up. She
wrecked the back and side of Buck's new truck when she tried to pull around it.
Cecile liked to gamble and fuss. She retired about 1988.
3- Preston J. 'Pat' Pitre b: 27 January 1920 Lafourche, LA; d: 7 December 2008 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
+Daisy Sanchez b: 25 June 1918; m: 3 January 1942; d: 4 August 2009 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
Notes for Preston J. Pitre:
Pat started in the air force as a private, then private first class (PFC), Corporal, Buck Sergeant, then Staff Sgt. He left with 7 medals. He went first to Army Camp Beauregard near Alexandria. Then scored well enough on a written test to be transferred to the air force. Went to Keisler AF Field near Biloxi, then to Chanoot Field in Illinois, then Camp Kearns in Utah for overseas training. Then Camp Patrick Henry in VA, to prepare for going overseas. Then Camp Shank in NY, then by boat 11 days across the Atlantic to Wharton, England, then Prescott, Scotland. To LeBourget, France; another French camp; Frankfort, Germany; temporarily back in England; home "in style" on the Queen Mary to Camp Kilmer, NJ then to Hattisburg, MS. He was there when his father Cyril died. Another serviceman had just returned to Plaquemine and told Cecile where Pat was. His wife was living in N.O. with her parents, and she contacted him in time to get back the night before his father's funeral. He left the service November 1945.
Extract from obituary: Preston Joseph "Pat" Pitre A retired welder and a member of Ironworkers Local 623, Baton Rouge. He was a member of American Legion Post 167 and was an avid hunter and fisherman.
4- Camille Maria Pitre b: 30 September 1921 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; d: 6 April 1981 Crowley, LA
+ Earl Baron b: 2 November 1911 Bellville, TX; m: 22 February 1938; d: 20 February 1990 Crowley, TX
Notes for Camille Maria Pitre:
Camille had rheumatic fever early in life. It affected her heart so that she was ill the rest of her life. She suffered from asthma and had a heart valve defect. She had open heart surgery at Touro in 1954, 1960 & 1966. Camille met Earl Baron when he came to the Plaquemine area from Texas to work for Humble Oil. Camille and Earl ran off with another couple to get married. They may have gone to Mississippi, since Camille was only 16 and needed her parents' consent. Cecile said that their father said that when he found out who gave them a marriage license he was going to kill him. The other couple separated because the wife didn't want to leave her family and go to Texas.
5- Jennie Pitre b: Abt. 1924; d: 26 May 1936 New Orleans, LA
6- Daisy Pitre b: 20 October 1925; d: 12 April 1988 Baton Rouge, LA
+P. A. Lejeune m: 31 January 1946
7- Cyril Charleston 'Buck' Pitre b: 11 June 1927; d: 9 September 2000 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
+ Delores Springer b: Abt. 1927; m: August 1946; d: 13 March 1961
*2nd wife of Cyril Charleston Pitre:
+ B. Roberts m: 15 December 1965
Notes for 'Buck' Pitre:
Buck had double pneumonia & meningitis when he was young. The doctor visited daily and several times told his mother he wouldn't live another day. She made him a little gown to be buried in and someone constructed a little box to become his casket. Cyril didn't believe he would die and told Mable something like "He'll grow up to be a big buck someday." That's how he got his nickname. Part of his treatment was a blood transfusion. The doctor drew blood from Mable lying on one bed and transfused it directly into Buck on another bed. There was no such precaution as blood typing. Cyril was in attendance but passed out when the transfusion began. Later in school, when other children noticed how dark his skin was they lengthened his nickname to Buckwheat. As a youngster he made a game of throwing a marble as high as he could. One day a marble came down and hit him right in the mouth, chipping one of his front teeth.
8- Freddie H. Pitre b: 9 March 1929; d: 9 March 2002 New Orleans, LA
+ E. Slaughter m: 27 June 1947
Notes for Freddie Pitre:
Extracts from obituaries:
Former Iberville Parish Sheriff Freddie Pitre died Friday morning after he was
injured in a traffic accident Feb. 22 and later suffered a heart attack, Sheriff
Brent Allain said. "I think of him as a second dad," said Allain.
"He took me under his wing from Day 1." The two men began their careers
with the Sheriff's Office on the same day in 1972, Allain said. Pitre
worked as the chief criminal deputy for the late Sheriff Jessel Ourso, and
Allain, who was 19, worked as a radio operator. Allain later served as
chief deputy when Pitre was elected sheriff in May 1978. Pitre served as sheriff
until he retired in June 2000.
Before his career with the Sheriff's Office, Pitre worked for 20 years at Kaiser Aluminum in Baton Rouge. He is a graduate of St. John High School in Plaquemine. Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said he always admired Pitre because he was a survivor. The two men had a joke they would share whenever they were together, said Ourso, the son of Sheriff Jessel Ourso. Pitre would say, "Mitchell, yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; and live for today," Mitch Ourso said. "He did exactly that." Pitre was a man who was easy to get along with and easy to work with, Mitch Ourso said. "Dealing with the common man like he did is what kept him elected," Mitch Ourso said.
Allain said he credits Pitre with bringing unity to the parish. Pitre served with loyalty to the people and loyalty to the office, Allain said. He remembered citizens by their first names, and he always put others first. "I'm grateful I knew him. In 30 years, not a cross word between us," Allain said. "I respected every decision he made. How could you not get along with your dad?"
He was a 1947 graduate of St. John High School and a graduate of LSU Basic Training Academy. He was a charitable minded man who dedicated and devoted his time, talents and life to the community he loved. He was a member of Elks Lodge 1398, Louisiana Sheriff's Association, National Sheriff's Association, St. John Fathers' Club, Plaquemine-Iberville Chamber of Commerce, Woodmen of the World, Istouma Boy Scouts, Iberville Chemical Council, American Legion, CHER Task Force, Families Against Drugs, DARE Program, Boy Scouts of America, Iberville Municipal Association, Louisiana Peace Officers Association, Magnolia State Peace Officers Association, Louisiana Wildlife Association, Ducks Unlimited, Po-Boy Hunting Club, National Rifle Association and Louisiana Sheriffs for Better Law Enforcement. He received many recognition awards that included some from the following organizations, Kiwanis International, Iberville Living Center, American Legion, Federation of Unions, U.S. Child Safety Council, Ascension Lodge 251 F&AM, Iberville Council on Aging, Plaquemine Jaycees, Plaquemine Lions Club and Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
9- William J. Pitre
+T. Mesa m: 14 October 1951
10- Muriel Pitre
+James C. Rhed b: 9 November 1928; m: 28 March 1958; d: 11 January 1995 Baton Rouge, LA
11- Harold J. Pitre
12- Arthur B. Pitre b: 7 July 1937; d: 28 July 2005 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
+G. Hebert m: 30 October 1954
13- Curtis Robert Pitre b: 23 May 1940; d: 4 April 1995 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
+ J. Hochstein m: 10 February 1962
Notes for Curtis Pitre:
For the wake and funeral, it seemed as though most of
Plaquemine was there as the line to sign the visitors' book was quite long.
Friends began entering long before the stated visiting time of 6 p.m.
His wife was having the attendant redo and smooth down Curtis' hair. She
said nobody ever saw his hair because he was always wearing his Saints cap.
Curtis had felt bad for about a month, then complained of severe heartburn.
He had a doctor's appointment the afternoon he died. His wife found
him dead on the kitchen floor, having suffered a massive heart attack and
probably died instantly. Masses of flower arrangements had been sent with
many cards. Curtis was entombed at the mausoleum in Grace Memorial Park.
Family and friends entered first, then the casket was brought in. American
Legion members lined the walk. There was a short service from the priest, then
an American Legion representative spoke, followed by a gun salute.
Extracts from obituary: He was a retired Dow Chemical maintenance supervisor, with 29 years of service, and a U.S. Navy veteran. He was a member of American Legion Post No. 167, Plaquemine.
14- Judith Elisabeth Pitre b: October 1944 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA; d: 30 November 1944 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
15- twin girl Pitre b: October 1944 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA; d: October 1944 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
Notes for Cyrille & Mable:
[I’m very grateful to my cousin Lana Merliss for taping and writing up notes from discussions with many family members. Above & below is my distillation of that information.]
Cyril was the oldest of Henry and Lea's children, born 1894 in Lafourche. When he was 5, the family moved into the newly purchased house on Hwy. 308. In the summer after he'd turned twenty he married 16-year-old Mable Leonard. (This line of Leonards were originally French. Her 3 x great-grandfather Jean Baptiste Louis Leonard had come from Liege in the Low Countries and married in 1730 at St. Louis Church (now Cathedral) in N.O. to another French immigrant, Anne Coudray.) Mable's family lived in the same general area as Cyril's but on the other side of the bayou. [Bayou Lafourche used to be much larger, big and deep enough for paddle wheelers to move up and down.] Her father worked on White's Plantation (about 2 miles past the church going south on the right side of Hwy. 1) and her mother was a cook there. Cyril and Mable may have met at a Saturday night dance.
When Cyril & Mable were married they lived in a smaller house behind the main one (purchased by Henry and Lea in 1899). The children arrived quickly and in only 14 years they were a family of 10, so Cyril moved the family to Plaquemine in 1929. (Grandmother Philomene was a midwife who actually delivered many of her own great-grandchildren including the first 7 of Cyril & Mable. The others were delivered at Plaquemine Hosp.)
When one of the girls was only about 4 years old she visited school with an older sister. She kept up with the older children so well, that the teacher told the family she could stay. When the teachers told her to bring a birth certificate, MaPete told her to tell the teachers that her mother didn't speak English and couldn't understand what they wanted. This was to get around the age requirement for entry to school, and it worked. The teachers had to speak French to manage the children but the lessons were in English. On the playground everyone spoke French.
When Cyril came home for lunch, he liked red beans, but he wanted them cooled off so he wouldn't burn his mouth. When MaPete forgot to put them on early enough and they were still too hot when Cyril sat down to lunch, he would get mad. But when he fussed, MaPete would soon shut him up. When she would start fussing back, he would come out with something like "OK, Ma, I'm through. I won't say anything else." When he took the money to do so, Poppa drank straight whiskey, Cream of Kentucky. Cyril was very even tempered, and never did the correcting of the children. MaPete really took care of things. She had so much work to do, yet didn't expect or ask for much help. The only chore the sons remember doing regularly was putting wood in the house. They had 2 cows, a son milked one and MaPete the other. She worked very hard rearing her family: sewing, gardening, washing, milking cows, cooking, killing hogs, etc. Once Mable and sister-in-law Chloe decided to make crawfish bisque. Someone brought them each a sack of crawfish. An hour later Mable had finished, Chloe hadn't even started. Mable acted like Chloe and Bee's second mother. She also made Bee's school clothes.
Cyril smoked, drank beer, didn't fish but loved to hunt. He trained a bird dog and a rabbit dog. He was also a real Yankees baseball fan. One of the girls used to listen to the game on the radio, taking down the stats in shorthand while he was working in the sugarcane fields, then reading the notes back to him at night. The radio worked only part of the time, but the children knew not to walk between Cyril and his radio when he was listening to a ballgame. He also liked boxing and other ball games. He'd get so excited, he would have never lasted through a TV game! He was tall, and turned gray early with a bald spot on the back of his head.
The house on Hwy. 308, bought in 1899, by Henri Pitre & wife Lea and approx. 100 acres of land was sold in 1973 to Jack Wise, real estate attorney in Thibodaux, for approx. $35K. The land is between Labadieville & Thibodaux. An uncle had cared for it until his death. Once he caught a guy with a dragline collecting and selling the dirt off the levee. Each of the 12 children received about $400, 1/12 of their father's share.
The house had cypress siding on the outside, a tin roof, doors & windows on front and sides, and a front porch with posts. The 3 rooms across the front left to right were a son's bedroom, a large living room and Grandma Cattoon's room. Behind them were 3 more rooms: Grandpa Cattoon's smaller room, a large storage room (which also contained the stairs to the attic), and Grandma Lea Pitre's room. There also used to be a porch, dining room and kitchen with pantry. The kitchen extended the "long way" back behind Grandma Pitre's room. The dining room was behind Grandpa Cattoon's room and part of the storage room. The kitchen, with a kerosene stove, was behind the dining room. There were 2 fireplaces, one being on the north side (in the son's bedroom). Grandma would put 2 "firebricks" in the fireplace during the day. At night she would sprinkle a little water on them, wrap them in cloth, and put them under the covers. There was a swing on the front porch outside Grandma's room. There are indications that storage areas were marked off under the house.
There was no indoor plumbing, running water, or electricity. They used lamps and candles for light. The outhouse was to the left out back. They had chamber pots (porchams) to use at night. The well was out back to the south side. There were some nice pieces of furniture in the family rooms, including a piano, a big mahogany table that sat 10 or more, and a pretty mantlepiece with an old wind-up clock. In Papere's room there was a corner piece of furniture for hanging clothes. In Grandma's room there was a bed, an armoire, a washstand with marble top with a bowl and pitcher in it. In Grandma Cattoon's room there was a bed, a sideboard with drawers and a mirror, a washstand with marble top with a bowl and pitcher on top and a bottle of Holy Water. She sprinkled the Holy Water when it was needed. (One of the daughters said that when she was a child and bad weather came up in the night, Ma Pitre would get all the children up, dress them and sprinkle Holy Water.) The son's room had a dresser with a square mirror, a bed, and a chamber pot. Grandpa Cattoon died in his little room in the back of the house. A neighbor, who often performed the same task, washed and dressed him there. He was waked in the living room. The funeral home brought a coffin to the house and he was then taken to the church for his funeral and burial.
There were 3 plantations right together, The Myrtle Grove, the Star, and the Enterprise. They were living on the Enterprise Plantation in 1939. The "big house" featured a spiral staircase and had wrought iron columns. The walls were so thick that the kids could climb into them and run around and play in them. Hay was stored there after it was no longer lived in. The older boys played poker upstairs. One night, while they were playing cards, they heard a noise on the stairs. When they investigated, it turned out to be a horse coming up the stairs. The boys left the upstairs area by sliding down the banisters. That house has since burned down. Later, they lived closer to town (Plaquemine) on a plantation they called The Island. They were living on the Evergreen Plantation when Cyril died (called Poppa by the family). Cyril (Buck) had left home at 17 to join the Navy. He was away when his dad died. By chance he ran into a fellow from Plaquemine who had been home the summer before and told him that he was sorry to hear about his father's death. Buck said, "You are mistaken, my father's not dead." But the other man said he had been told on that visit home. Eventually about a year's worth of mail caught up with him including letters about his father's death.
Later they moved to the plantation they called The Island. This is where MaPete and 9 of the children moved in 1945 following the death of Poppa Pitre (Dibert was in the navy, two others were married, three had died.) The family had been living on 'The Island' on Bayou Jacob Rd. in an overseer's house provided by Poppa's employer, the Wilbert family. "The Island" was so named because it was surrounded in front and one side by Bayou Jacob and on the other side by another bayou. On his death, they naturally had to vacate, but the Wilberts offered to sell them their choice of houses in town. MaPete chose the one at 400 Church St. Dibert and Cecile probably worked together to fund the purchase.
kneeling (l to r): Preston (Pat), Harold, Cyril (Buck), Dibert (Dub);
3rd row: Daisy, Grandma Pete, Cecile, Muriel;
4th row: Freddie, Arthur B., Camille.
(Curtis wasn't present because he was away with the Navy.)
Last updated: 7 March 2010