This family article and others are included in the Jean Baptiste Gauce Miller & Anita Vidrine Family book.
OSMIN VEILLON - AURORE FONTENOT
There is a moral and philosophical respect for our ancestors which elevates the character and improves the heart…..(by Daniel Webster)
Osmin (Ozeme) Veillon and Aurore Fontenot (About 1872-1936)
Children: Eraste, Andraste, Mathilde, Maxile (Ti Oncle), Amy, Oratia (Ti Tante)
Much of the account of the early married life of Osmin and Aurore comes from stories told her granddaughter, Marie Vizinat Morgan, who slept with her many years after she became a widow and moved from her farm into the village of Point Blue.
When Osmin and Aurore married, they Homesteaded in the golden prairies on land near what later became Point Blue village. One could apply with the government for any amount of arpents, but all the land granted had to be farmed. So they decided on 80 arpents. They were given tools to till the soil. Animals - a cow, horse, pigs, few chickens and the rooster were given by friends and relatives. Their first home was a crude shed with a fireplace and dirt for the floor. Space had to found in the shed for the animals until a barn could be built. Blocks and logs were used to sit on. Many stories were told about Indian families camping at the edge of the woods for a while in tents then moving on to another location. There was never mention of any hostilities experienced during their many contacts with the Indians.
Later a nicer home made of cypress boards on pillars with a shingle roof was built with a front porch on the south side. A door from the porch led to the-large main bedroom with a fireplace and two small bedrooms at the back. At one end of the porch was the long dining room with a second fireplace used also as a living room with a small kitchen adjoining it. At the other end of the porch was the staircase leading to the "grenier" (attic). The back porch had a shelf holding a bucket of water with a ladle for drinking, a small wash basin with towel handing on the nail on the-post for drying hands.
Storage closets were unheard of. Quilts and bed linens were folded and stacked against the wall on a lattice back chair placed backwards. Clothing was folded in the armoire. A board or picked fence enclosed the small yard with its narcissus, sweet magnolia, and gardenia. On the other side of the fence one or more china berry trees was used to shade the company's horse and buggy or for climbing or enjoying a swing. The folks then made frequent use of the rocking chairs that had the cow hide seats on their porches. Doors on the south side always remained open even during winter months when the fireplace had a blazing fire. The wooden doors and "fenetre" (windows) at the back remained closed in winter.
Aurora in. her youth was not: afraid of anything. She tackled any and all jobs around the farm. She'd swing a burlap sack over her shoulders to gather corn, cotton or vegetables from the fields. She cooked, made her soap, churned butter, grinded corn and would hoe like a man. Cotton was spun, corded, and, woven into cloth in the homes.
Ailments from cuts, burns, or snake bites were simply treated by a prayer (taught to Marie, but she's forgotten it) over the ailment. Family, relatives and neighbors came for treatment, and then left with a "cordon" (string) around the ankle, arm or neck. Coal oil was used to treat sores.
The typical long full camisole type dress Aurore wore was often black or black and white print because when relatives died a period of mourning began - only black clothing for months then black and white for another six months and-no parties - no dances.
The underwear Aurore wore was limited. As she walked about the yard she lifted a foot dog-fashion to meet her needs or stooped in the field, the barn, or over a board elevated and anchored in the corner of a fenced area. Corncobs were handy for the cleaning. In later years the outhouse (prevet) came into being with one or two holes and sometimes a lower hole for children. The empty cartridge wood box held the corncobs and much later a discarded Sears catalog was used.
Aurore was a pleasant, likeable person full of "joie de vie". Marie remembers her words as she was near death. "I believe in good times. You have cared for me well. Now the day after I die I want you to go dancing and have fun."
In her later years she neglected her personal appearance. The few teeth left were stained from tobacco. She very seldom washed her oily silver streaked long hair that she tied into a "catogen" (bun).
Another granddaughter observed when she was older; I don't recall her doing any housework. She depended on the granddaughters to do it when they visited. The place was neglected and outside domestic help did not exist.
All Aurore's adult life the spittoon rested by her rocker to receive the constant spitting from continuous tobacco chewing unless- she was close to the fireplace. A row in the field was reserved for her tobacco plants. Carefully in harvesting she laid the chosen leaves to dry in a shed at the barn piece by piece with stems up for months turning them now and then as they cured. Then each leaf was laid perfectly flat by rubbing them over the other real smooth. Then she rolled them into a hard tight roll, tied it securely all around using her foot as anchor. A few days later as they cured and shrunk she tightened the string again. After about a year the "caraute de tobac" was ready to be sliced real fine for pipe smoking or in chunks for chewing.
Tobacco was also used to control chicken lice. The leaves were layered under the hen in the nest.
Money was scarce. Eggs as a food was a luxury because they were used as cash to buy staples in the village store such as flour, coffee or rice.
Cotton was king then as a source of income. Cotton picking late August through September knew no age limit. All would take to the fields; dump their filled burlap sacks on the porches or in a room made empty for the season, or in the barn until ready to load the wagon for the trip to the local cotton gin where at the peak the line of cotton-filled wagons was half a mile long.
Sugar cane was grown on a small scale - a small horse-drawn mill made the syrup. Chewing sugar cane and drinking cane juice was enjoyed. Corn was grown mostly for animal feed and for meal. Grinding corn and making cornmeal was a regular chore.
Herds of .cattle were kept in the woods and often driven home at sundown on horseback along the-narrow dusty path. Marie remembers how when one head died others would get around the dead animal and form a circle - those from far in the pasture came running too. All would get on their "knees" that is, bend forelegs. There seemed such a sad note in the leading bull's bellowing, and then all would answer bellowing as if crying.
When the mattress came into use in the area they were first made of corn shucks enclosed in homespun with slits on a top for a daily shuffling of the shucks to freshen it. Soon-moss gathered in the woods was also used for mattresses. Both covers had to be washed in the spring which meant emptying and saving chucks and moss to refill when covers were ready. Later feathers saved when chickens and ducks were plucked and cleaned to eat were used for bolsters (very wide pillows the size of double bed) as well as mattresses. The wings of the fowl were opened and held down with the heavy black pressing wrought iron for several weeks to use for fans or dusters.
Sheets were of creamy white striped or checks blue and whites in homespun cloth. Except for spun blankets, only quilts were used to keep warm in winter. Warm bricks under the quilts kept the feet warm. A mosquito net was used on all beds
People then lived close to nature. Chickens-roamed free in and out of Aurore's house. She kept nests in some bedrooms and in boxes placed in the corner of the shelf over her fireplace. The droplets that fell in the house were allowed to dry then simply swept away.
Broom straw was grown to make brooms. A scrub brush (mop) was made of corn chucks forced through a series of holes on a board with a handle. Crushed bricks were used in scrubbing floors.
Of the six children born of this union, all became farmers. None received any formal education. The second to the oldest, Adraste, filled with ambition and determined to better himself, moved to Vile Platte after he married and became a self educated (limited) merchant and later a car dealer. Osmin always looked forward to Sunday when the Adraste family came for a visit. Sunday, April 8, 1912, Osmin died suddenly of a heart attack as Adraste and his family was arriving for the usual visit.
One of the best remembered relatives is 0smin's brother Uncle Blanc (Alphonse) who lived many years with the Adraste family to help farm. He never was observed wearing shoes in his lifetime. So tough was the sole of his feet that he actually teased hot coals in the fireplace with bare toes. Once when he made a deep cut with his plow, he just took a handful of salt, packed it on the cut and kept on working. It healed. Many a night he gathered the young ones to tell scary ghost stories.
The oldest son, Eraste, also will long be remembered as an unusual character. He was thin, with a dark complexion from outdoor living and had high cheek bones. He traveled on horseback with bare feet most of the time. He chewed tobacco, ate with his knife, and. used the fork to pile his food on the 'knife (later we found out this was accepted in some cultures). He took a sip of cold black coffee every, time he passed by the coffee pot and he loved his nip of whiskey. 0n horseback he would take to the woods or go to the village to the bar to pass the time. Once after a few drinks he forgot his horse tied by the post at the village bar and walked several miles back home. In contrast, the wife, Ti Lise, was tall, dignified, and neat as a pin, kept a clean and attractive home and reared a family of four children without much help from Eraste. She was deeply religious and one of the few church goers around, although most said their prayers, rosary, and had an altar with crucifix and statues. Ti Lise would fetch her horse on Saturdays in readiness to hitch the buggy before dawn the next day for her and the children to go to mass.
Adraste would never give his wife money - so in her middle years she'd scheme to never let him sleep with her unless he paid her! When he got sloppy and usually under influence of alcohol, they occupied separate beds, but she remained charming to the relatives and he was still likeable-to us.
The word nutrition was unheard of yet, they managed to eat well and keep healthy. All farms had their "verger" (Orchard) in the chicken yard so chickens could keep fruit trees free of worms and bugs - citrus trees, pears, plums, peaches with the mulberry tree (or a Chinese tallow) for children climbing. Seasonable trips to the woods provided muscadines, crabapples, blackberries, or persimmons. Much of the fruit was eaten by children while still green, but few stomach aches resulted.
The pond in the pastures and the ditches alone the road provided craw fishing. Men folks hunted for birds and ducks. Wood to burn in the fireplace and in the black iron cook stove had to be gathered by wagon load in the woods, then sawed in logs or chipped in pieces.
All children had chores around the home. The boys milked the cows, ground the corn, chopped and stacked wood for the fireplace and cook stove. Coal oil  lamps had to be filled. Often the cows ate bitter weeds from the fields. The milk was bitter - sugar and coffee or syrup added could not remove the bitter taste but it was "drink it or else…"
Families belonged to a neighboring group for a boucherie on Saturdays. The animal was killed with a machete (mallet) or hammer. The animal was suspended under a tree a few days then butchered and divided amongst participants. In the home it was cooked fresh, some dropped along with the milk in separate containers from a rope into the well to keep cool, some the pork was salted or smoked for tasseau, sausage, and bacon.
Often milk leftovers in the home were stored in a screened "garde manger" (buffet), or in a screened box placed in center a well ventilated room suspended from the ceiling. The milk fat was skimmed from the bowl and churned into butter. Clabbered milk was often added to the popular bowl of bread or cornbread and milk sweetened and often flavored with coffee or syrup. At times the curd of the clabber was removed by draining the clabber in a thin flour sack suspended to make cottage cheese. Bread making was common using flour kept in wooden barrels and sifted to remove weevils. Tediously, rice was selected grain by grain to remove worms and weevils before cooking.
Rows in the field near the house were cultivated to grow beans, watermelon, peanuts, potatoes, and some vegetables. But it was not long before each home had its small fenced-in garden for lettuce, beets, turnips, mustard greens, tomatoes, onions, snap beans, peppers and the like. Many vegetables were preserved by drying.
The usual Sunday meal pattern when all the adults and cousins came was gumbo with rice in winter and chicken stew in warmer weather with always one piece of meat per person. The chickens were usually skinny and killed, plucked, and cleaned a few hours before the meal. A popular salad was boiled beets and potatoes seasoned with salt and vinegar. Adults ate first then the children. Often children were served together in one large pan each with a spoon and sat around it to eat. Cooking in the wood store was often replaced by the fireplace in winter. A thick crusted cornbread was cooked in a covered black cast iron pot with legs. Hot ashes and red coals were placed on the cover and under it. Sweet potatoes baked covering with hot ashes were always plentiful.
Strong black coffee dripped using a sac in a grey granite coffee pot and sweetened in the pot rested on the cold wood stove or by the side of the chimney ready for those who wanted a frequent sip. For: company a small amount was served warm from a tray in usually stained cups.
Many good dishes were served that had no meat. The granddaughters remember the meatless Fridays and in Lent for Catholics:
Soup Maigre is a meatless soup with leeks, cabbage leaves, greens, perhaps few peas, beans, potatoes, tomatoes (sometimes) and a handful of rice.
Potato stew was thick and dark, varied by adding boiled eggs or salmon.
Gumbo d'herbe was made of several greens as mustard, beet tops, and parsley; boiled, and then chopped fine with liquid thickened with flour and served over rice.
Riz a la Graisse was cooked rice browned in a small amount of fat.
Tomato Sauce was sweetened and served with omelet or boiled eggs.
Added later were the "Crème a la glace" suppers. Ice cream frozen in the crank freezer covered with burlap and with a person sitting on top of the freezer. It was served in milk (or cereal) bowls and eaten to our hearts content as a meal. Pop corn balls (with cane syrup) were popular during night visiting.
All food served was usually eaten. Everyone worked or played hard enough to get a good appetite. One had no choice - eat the things served or go hungry.
The sweet best remembered is the praline aux beigne (sesame) made with syrup and poured and served in greased corn shucks.
Aurore lived a long healthy life without the care of a doctor. Perhaps it was her yearly tonic containing that "rust" powder to make it rich in iron that kept her blood strong. She died peacefully in here eighties of old age.
 Coal oil is a specific oil shale oil used for illuminating purposes. It is sometimes confused with kerosene or lamp oil, but coal oil is obtained from the destructive distillation of cannel coal, mineral wax, and bituminous shale, and hence called coal oil. (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_oil, November 8, 2009).