topic 1915 March 27

Writer: Helen Reulet Gravois Aunt Marie Marjorie La Maison Brul‚e


   My grandmother's big farmhouse burned down on Palm Sunday night, March 27, 1915.

   There had been a mission at church all week, and it ended that night. As it was a balmy spring evening Aunt Marie and her friends, about ten young men and women, who had walked to and from church, about a three-mile round trip, came in to rest on the big front porch, which was a favorite gathering place for family and friends. La Maison Brul‚e, as we have referred to it all our lives, occupied the place where Marjorie Reulet Granier's house now stands, on the back lane, which is now La. 643.

   The fire started in a small back room where a lamp had been left unattended. It was about 9:30pm. As the young people were talking and joking on the front porch, they heard an unfamiliar sound: a loud roar. Some thought it sounded like a train. One man went out in the front yard and saw flames starting to come out of the roof. He ran back and cried, "LE FEU! LE FEU! FIRE! FIRE!" At first they thought he was joking, but just then the flames burst out of the roof and lit the whole neighborhood.

   Aunt Marie cried out, "SAUVE LE MONDE!! - SAVE THE PEOPLE!!" They opened the doors and went in. It was quite a struggle to awaken the people who were sound asleep and make them understand that the house was on fire. After they got everyone out, they took the older people and the children to the neighbors.

   All the young men and girls went in the house to save as much furniture and clothes as they could. But since they were evacuating people from the front part of the house and the fire was spreading rapidly, they did not think of the kitchen, which was an extension in the back of the house. Unfortunately, all the dining room and kitchen furniture and foodstuffs were also destroyed, including two barrels full of sugar, a barrel of flour, several 50-pound cans of lard, and crocks of sausage and salt-meat from the past winter's boucherie.

   After grinding (sugar harvest) many families bought the year's supply of sugar and foodstuffs. Flour was bought by the barrel for home-made bread and other uses. Three or four hogs were penned in October and fattened with corn and killed in January to supply lard and meat for several months.

   The day after the fire, the family gathered the furniture that had been saved and moved to my grandmother's sister's vacant house (her sister and her husband, Augustin Amedee, had recently moved to Valcour Aime to farm sugar cane) which was the second house east of her house, where I was born later that year, and which stood exactly across the street from where I am living today.

   The fire smoldered for several weeks as the earth and moss-filled walls (bousillage) broke down and burned. A few days later, Papa, who was working at Cut-Store (the Falgoust Brothers store), ordered everything that was needed for the house to start over again. All these supplies were bought at wholesale prices. The furniture, etc. were replaced in a short time, but the house was lost forever. It was strange for them who had been living in a spacious 12-room house to be now living in a small 5-room house.

   Then summer came, and a hot summer it was.. It was especially hard for them who had been used to their large house shaded by pecan trees. But in time they adjusted. They cried for the loss, but they also laughed at some of the things they had done. It was good to be able to laugh. Everyone had been saved, they were healthy, and they could go on living.