Family of Henri Valery Pitre & Marie Lea Ayo
Henri Valery Pitre was born 27 October 1868 St. Philomene, Labadieville, LA (baptism: 30 January 1869 St. Philomene), and died 10 December 1920 Plaquemine, LA. Burial was 11 December 1920 in St. Philomene Cemetery, Pitre Family Tomb.
Wife Marie Lea Ayo was born 18 December 1876 Vacherie, LA (baptism: 4 January 1877 Our Lady Of Peace) and died 28 February 1962 Plaquemine, LA. Burial was 3 March 1962 in St. Philomene Cemetery, Pitre Family Tomb. They were married 30 December 1891 St. Joseph, Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA. Link to photo.
Their children were:
1- twins Pitre b: 1893 Lafourche, LA; d: 1893 Lafourche, LA
2- Cyrille Charleston Pitre b: 2 December 1894 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; d: 15 November 1945 Iberville, Plaquemine, LA; burial: 17 November 1945 St. Philomene Cemetery, Pitre Family Tomb
+Jean Cecile Mable Leonard b: 15 December 1898 Lafourche, LA; m: 27 August 1915 Lafourche, LA; d: 26 May 1994 Iberville, Plaquemine, LA; burial: 28 May 1994 Grace Memorial Park, Plaquemine, LA
3- Agnes Carrie Pitre b: 26 March 1896 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; d: Port Arthur, Texas
+Abdon Martinez b: c1896; m: Abt. 1919; d: Abt. 1943
4- Henry Gabriel Pitre b: 11 June 1900 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; d: 26 July 1949 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA; burial: 28 July 1949 St. Philomene Cemetery, Pitre Family Tomb
+Callie Elizabeth Bolnar b: 2 January 1901 Avoyelles, Plaucheville, LA; m: 5 February 1922 Avoyelles, Plaucheville, LA; d: 6 November 1991 New Orleans, LA; burial: 8 November 1991 St. Philomene Cemetery, Pitre Family Tomb
Notes for Henry Gabriel Pitre:
- Henry was in Port Arthur when he met Callie. (Her mother didn't speak English and her father didn't speak French.) He attended Port Arthur College to take business courses. At one time he was working in the Post Office in Port Arthur as a mail carrier. Doctors were afraid he would pass out and get run over. He would have little blackouts, drop his cigarette and stop talking for just a moment. As years passed the spells got longer and longer, more like seizures. Then he became ill, having suffered from the epilepsy for many years and was forced to retire. They returned to the Plaquemine area and moved into a smaller house behind the big one. The smaller house had been built about 8 years earlier, about 100 feet behind the original one for Elodie & Johnny. Possibly built from the boards of the other house Cyril & Mable had once lived in behind the original house. Callie arranged their living quarters in the back of the house, and she opened up a little grocery store in the front part of the house. Henry suffered from depression and eventually committed suicide by hanging himself. Henry was not allowed to drive or to go off by himself. One day he and Callie went into town. While Callie went to the grocery Henry said he needed to buy supplies for his chickens. Instead he bought some rope. When they returned home he went out to the barn, swung the rope over a rafter, tied the end around his neck and simply picked his feet up off the ground. Callie found him unconscious but alive. He died in hospital.
5- George Luke Pitre b: 17 November 1902 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; d: 25 May 1973 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; burial: St. Joseph's Cem., Thibodaux, LA
+Hortense E. Seely b: 20 January 1899; m: 1924; d: June 1976 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; burial: St. Joseph's Cem., Thibodaux, LA
Notes for George Luke Pitre:
- George had a distinguished military career. While attending LSU he was in the ROTC program, and graduated with a commission as a second lieutenant. He served in the army, then became a principal of a K-12 school. At the outbreak of WWII he returned to the army. This time he stayed until he retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Army. He served at the Pentagon after the war. In 1950 he and his staff were busy writing a detailed history of the war. After WWII, his wife and 2 sons joined him in Germany. He served in Korea in 1952-3. He retired in 1957.
6- Clotilde Pitre b: 18 January 1906 Lafourche, LA; d: 4 February 1994 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA
+Gustave Andrew Mire b: 11 November 1904; m: Abt. 1928; d: 1 July 1981 Plaquemine, Iberville, LA; burial: 3 July 1981 St. Philomene Cemetery, Pitre Family Tomb
Notes for Clotilde Pitre:
- One of Chloe's earliest memories was a lot of excitement when a neighbor was killed by lightning while he was plowing the field with a mule-pulled plow. They were always warned that a mule attracted lightning, so they were to keep away when the weather was bad. Everyone (oldest to youngest) went to the wake, the body placed in the parlour as there were no funeral homes. Chloe had been dressed in a white eyelet embroidered dress and her mother had sat her on the dining room table so she could dress some of the other children. Chloe found a pair of scissors and started cutting the embroidered designs in the skirt. Her mama was screaming "CLO-TILDE, what are you doing?" She said that she was cutting some feathers in her dress.
- Chloe attended college and taught school for a couple of years before she was married. She met Geese there. When she was about 45 she went back to work for the state at the Capitol Annex building. She retired 20 years later..
- Chloe also worked as a film extra. In "Hurry Sundown", in opening scene, walking through hospital, she's in the background walking down a corridor in Spedale Hosp. in Plaquemine (about 3 seconds). She was also in "Band of Angels" with Clark Gable & Yvonne DeCarlo.
- Chloe and Geese's hunting camp was used for most of the scenes in LA for "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman". Geese had actually bought an old slave quarters house and converted it to a camp on a piece of property off I-10 at the Gros Tete exit. When the film crew discovered it they used it for almost the entire movie, redecorating the inside to change it for many different types of buildings. Sometimes it looked like a house, sometimes a church or the school. Geese used to cook outside in an old hollow tree stump. The filmmakers copied that in the film. When someone in the movie meets Jane Pittman on a pier, that's the family's old rickety wooden pier. The family was paid $75 a day and were allowed to watch the filming and to eat with the cast and crew, but they didn't get any mention in the credits even though Bayou Pigeon did.
7- Bridget Estelle Pitre b: 2 June 1908 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; d: 10 February 1996 Port Arthur, Jefferson, TX
+Jake P. Landry b: 21 February 1906; m: Abt. 1927 St. Philomene, Labadieville, Assumption, LA; d: November 1974 Port Arthur, Jefferson, TX; burial: Greenoaks Cem.
Notes for Bridget Estelle Pitre:
- Bee attended college. Bee met Jake when she was teaching in a little country school near Labadieville in 1926. She married and moved to Port Arthur where Jake was a mechanic for the city buses. After Bee was married she reluctantly took a job cooking for some priests. She did that for 20 years.
8- Elodie Pitre b: 5 April 1911 Thibodaux, Lafourche, LA; d: October 2000 Port Arthur, Jefferson, TX
+John Richard b: 24 August 1908; m: Abt. 1929; d: 2 August 1989 Beaumont, Jefferson, TX
Notes for Elodie Pitre:
- Elodie was given the nickname Snooks after a comic strip character, Baby Snooks. Growing up she had a job weighing sugar cane at Trial Plantation and French Plantation. Her dad worked with her. Her husband Dickie joined the Marines after high school then served in the Reserves for 6 years. During the Korean War he was recalled for 18 months, serving 13 months in Korea.
Notes for Henri Valery Pitre:
Henry was the eldest son of Leandre Pitre and Odille Vicknair, born 9 months after their marriage in 1868. He may have been born into tough times but he was sent to school and learned to read, write and speak English as well as his first language French. When he was 23 he married 15-year-old Lea Ayo. (The Ayo were originally French, not Acadian. Her 2 x great-grandfather Mathurin Ayo had been a petty officer on board "L'Amitie", one of the 7 ships which brought the Acadian exiles from France to Louisiana in 1785.)
Henry and Lea had 7 children over the next 20 years, and during 1899 bought a house on what is now Hwy. 308. (They didn't move in until Chloe was about 2 weeks old as they had to wait for the previous owner to die.) All the family plus Lea's parents lived in the 4-bedroom house that was originally only 4 rooms (2 large and 2 smaller). The interior walls were constructed by "studs" raised, then having lattice-work type pieces attached. These were filled in with a mixture of horse hair, mud, water, and dried moss. This made a sort of plaster that they could whitewash (a lime mixture which dried white.) In back of the 4 rooms was a very large rectangular room, with a fireplace, used as the dining room. There was a long dining room table, lots of chairs and a beautiful sideboard. The sideboard was solid mahogany, marble-topped, with a large mirror, a small shelf on either side, a drawer used for the better tableware (Roger's heavy silverplate), and doors underneath. The outside was covered with cypress siding and a tin roof. The original supports were tree trunks or stumps. (The house along with 100 acres was sold in 1973 to Jack Wise for $35,000.) [In late 2004, the house was moved to the LSU Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge. An article about the house and its restoration appears in 'Market Bulletin' , June 9, 2005. You can read this article by going to the 'Market Bulletin' website on http://www.ldaf.state.la.us/divisions/marketing/marketbulletin/on-line-issues.asp and then clicking on the issue for June 9, 2005. The article starts on the back page (p. 12) and is continued on page 10. The article includes a reference to a pencilled inscription on a doorframe: "Peace and Victory, Monday Nov. 11, 1918" and "Clothilde Pitre broke her leg Mon. Jan. 28, 1918."]
During the early years there were always one or two uncles who would become unemployed (probably Lea's brothers) and they would come to live at the house. Lea never complained although she was sometimes cooking for up to 13 people 3 times a day. Breakfast would be pans of cornbread and coffee milk fixed in a large pot. Lea milked the cow before the children were out of bed. She'd boil the milk first then pour in a pot of coffee, then some sugar. (George always wanted the corners of the cornbread as they were the crispiest bits.) She would then pour the coffee into cups and carry them on a tray to everyone still in bed.
Lea's 1st cousin (once removed) Gustave V. Ayo and wife Emelie Trosclair (Fiet) lived nearby. There was a picket fence around 'cousin' Fiet's property. Fiet was a sweet old lady and she gave the children mandarins and oranges. She was remembered as having bumps on her face.
Henry was a farmer and did some bookkeeping as well. Henry's early death at the age of 52 must have been quite difficult for everyone. (Most of the men in our direct Pitre line of descent died in their early 50's.) He had proved to be a respected member of the community as he was President of the Lafourche Parish School Board at the time of his death. A resolution was passed by the remaining board members honoring him, saying he was "a noble and patriotic citizen and (to) his family a loving and dutiful father." He was buried at the St. Philomene Church Cemetery in what was to become the Pitre family tomb. Lea lived another 41 years and finally passed away at the great age of 85. But even at that age her death was so sudden that she died before last rites could be administered. She said she wasn't feeling well, sat down in a chair, and asked someone to go to the kitchen to get her a glass of water. She died right there before they got back. She was also buried in the family tomb.
- 1 June 1900 Census: Henry Pitre 31, Lea 23, Cyril 4, Agnes 3 (Henry, but not Lea could read, write, and speak English.)
- April 1930 Census: Lafourche (ED11, W5) by French Plantation: Mrs. Henry Pitre 52 widow (Owned house, value $1000; went to school during the year, can read/write); parents Gustave Ayo 82 & Mrs. Gustave Ayo 74 midwife (married at 20 & 16 respectively; neither can read/write); Preston Pitre 10 grandson (school/read/write) [Widow Emelie Ayo 72 lives next door]
- School Board Proceedings: Thibodaux, Louisiana, December 20, 1920:
The Lafourche Parish School Board met this day in special session with the following members present: Saigner, Percy, Price, Toups and Sampay. The secretary having informed the board of Mr. Henry Pitre's sad death causing a vacancy in the Presidency of the Board; Mr. P.R. Percy, on a motion duly made and seconded was unanimously made President. On the motion of Mr. Toups seconded by Mr. Sampey, the following resolution was adopted by a rising vote: RESOLUTION - Whereas, our Heavenly Father, has removed from this earthly sphere all that was mortal of our late and revered President, Hon. Henry Pitre and Whereas, by his unswerving loyalty and devotion to the cause of Public Education he had endeared himself to the children, the teachers and the people of the Parish, therefore: Be it resolved that we the members of the Lafourche Parish School Board deplore the death of our noble and upright friend and associate in that the Parish has lost a stalwart champion of the School System, the State a noble and patriotic citizen and his family a loving and dutiful Father. "He was a friend of truth, of soul sincere; in action faithful and in honor clear; who broke no promises, served no private ends; sought no title and forsook no friends." Be it resolved that we tender to his grief stricken family our sincere sympathy and we bid them take consolation in the thought that his soul has been ushered into a happier realm. "Where the faded flowers shall freshen, Freshen never more to fake; Where the shaded sky shall brighten, Brighten never more to shade. Where the sun blaze never scorches, Where the star beams cease to chill, Where no tempest stirs the echoes, Of the wood or wave or hill. Where no shadow will bewilder, Where life's vain parade is o'er, Where the sleep of sin is broken, And the Dreamer dreams no more." Be it further resolved that a copy of these resolutions be sent to the family and published in the Official Journal and that a special page in the minute book be set aside for the inscription of these resolutions. The board then adjourned out of respect to the memory of their deceased President.
Last updated: 29 December 2007