According to Leuce’s testimony, on or around January 25th, 1923, Lillian leaves on the pretense of going to her Brothers house, but actually goes to her Aunts house, who had a phone, and calls her ex-husband. What? Here we find out, that Lillian has been married before and at this point, in 1923 she’s only 20 years old, as her 21st birthday will be in July. Leuce testifies that she had called her ex-husband to convince him to take her back, but he refuses her, saying that he was enrolled at LSU, was dedicated to graduating his courses and did not have time for her. Yet it was he who brought her home that night, at midnight. Leuce continues to say that after that incident, Lillian continued to go to dances and didn’t come home until the next day, there were people who had seen her in the company of other men, alone together at times, in cars or walking the street. The relationship is at an end and Lillian finally tells Leuce she wants a divorce. Leuce agrees and says, “absolutely, even if it would cost me five hundred dollars, I’ll do it!” Lillian replies ” it won’t be long before you’ll be paddling for two and I for one!” She packs her bags and moves back to her parents house. She comes back one more time to get her things and half of the community property. During this time little Marguerite is staying with Leuce’s mother, Cornelie Landry. Leuce continues to hear the rumors of Lillian being seen with other men. Then on June 10th, Lillian shows up at Leuce’s house and tries to convice him to take her back. Leuce refuses her, but agrees to let her see the baby at his mothers house. Lillian goes to Leuce’s mothers house with a friend who has a car, and when she gets there, Cornelie lets her see the baby, but not inside, she refuses to let Lillian in her house. Lillian then takes the baby, gets in the car and leaves, basically kidnapping the baby. Leuce testifies that she did this, not out of love for the baby, but to receive alimony from him. On June 16th 1924, Lillian files for Separation of Bed and Board, custody of the child and alimony of $5.00 per week from Leuce. Leuce then counters with his own custody claim, listing all of the offences and happenings that prove in his mind, that Lillian is unfit and is doing this for the monetary gain of the alimony. The Judge decides to give temporary custody back to Leuce’s mother, until the full custody hearing can take place and grants the separation. A trial is set for July 29th, 1924. Lillian has 5 witnesses testifying on her behalf, Leuce has 15. Lillian’s side tries to prove that Leuce was mean to her at times and actually slapped her once in the presence of her sister and parents. When the sister and parents testified about that particular incident, there were conflicting statements, basically ending with the fact that if Leuce would have slapped Lillian in front of her father, that there would have been a fight between Mr. George and Leuce and that fight never took place. Testimony was given that Leuce and Mr. George had a good relationship and were actually working together fishing at night. With that story being ambiguous at best, Lillian’s side rests. Leuce’s side brought on witness after witness testifying about seeing Lillian in the company of other men and boys around the community and being seen at several dances, either unescorted or in the company of other men. Well, it was obvious that poor Lillian didn’t have a chance against overwhelming odds. The trial concluded with a divorce being granted and full custody being given to Leuce and his mother. I’m sure Lillian was devastated and embarrassed. I have no information on what Lillian did after that, all I do know is that about one year later…….Lillian was dead! At just 23 years old Lillian Thibeau Landry’s life was ended, very tragically. She is buried in the same cemetary most of my ancestors are buried. Etienne, Cornelie, Leuce and even little Margurite now lies only about 50 yards from where her mother lay reposed. When I was a child, we would visit the cemetary sometimes when we visited Leuce, my father would go to pay his respects to his Granfather and Grandmother and he would walk us over to Lillian’s grave and show us the picture that is on her tombstone and remark how she might have been our grandmother had things turned out differently. (Leuce remarried a wonderful woman named Lucette Many, my grandmother, who was loved dearly by every one who knew her.) My father also told us that Lillian had gone to Texas after she divorced Leuce and had murdered someone in a bar there and was executed, hanged by the neck. He said he had heard, that she was the first woman executed in Texas. The stories in the family are mixed about the actual murder Lillian committed. I have heard that she stabbed a man. I have heard that she stabbed a woman. My mother says that she heard that Lillian hit another woman over the head with a bar stool. Whatever the true story is, I guess we’ll never know, unless maybe one day, a Thibeau relative will see this blog and comment on what they’ve heard or maybe have a document. I tried for days to find a death certificate or any factual information on this but can come up with nothing. I searched all of the executions in Texas and cannot find her name among the rolls at all. I have read however, that back in those times, the counties carried out their own executions, and that sometimes, it may be just a few hours between the sentence by a Judge and hanging at the end of a rope! I was always kind of fascinated by this story, and have visted the cemetary several times over the years, just recently in fact, when little Margurite died, My Aunt Hazel. I had an Uncle die recently as well, and every time without fail, I seek out Lillian’s grave, and I am still mesmorized by that beautiful face and wonder what it would have been like if she were my grandmother. Little Marguerite went on to have a wonderful life, playing softball was a passion of hers and retired from The State of Louisiana after a long distinguished career. I also heard, that if you go out to that graveyard at night…Lillian can be seen wandering around, looking for a dance partner….Bwaaahhhaaaahhaaa!!
Category: Local History
Tales From The Grave Continued
Little Marguerite was born on August 6th, 1922. I’m sure the household was happy and busy, with all the neighbors and relatives coming to visit and wishing the young family well. Leuce had bought a small house for the start of his family just 6 months prior in February. The bliss was short lived though, as Lillian starts to develop quite a wanderlust. Just a few months after little Marguerite was born, Lillian was getting bored with motherhood and married life and started going to the local dances at night. Leuce went with her the first few times, but, not being that much of a social creature, started not wanting to go. Lillian, wouldn’t be so easy to keep home. She started going to dances with her mother and father at times and then later by herself, with a few young men who would give her rides. By January of 1923, just a mere 5 months after her baby was born, Lillian abandoned her little family and stayed away for three months. In Leuce’s own words during his testimony in the custody trial he said; “Lillian deserted us when the baby was only a suckling at 5 months old and stayed away for 3 months”. Leuce had to bring Marguerite to his mother’s house, so she could take care of the baby while he worked. Now, let me say that I’m not attempting to lay all the blame here at Lillian’s feet. We don’t really know how she was being treated by Leuce, I could tell from reading the testimonies that Leuce was really in love with her. I don’t think the feeling was mutual on Lillian’s part. I know that my grandfather had a hell of a mean streak in him and could be downright cruel at times, so with that being said, I don’t think that Lillian was a bad person……maybe just a little on the wild side!The Landry family, Leuce is the first male on the right behind his Mom and Dad. During her time away, Lillian had been staying primarily at her parents house. Leuce had visited with her there several times and finally convinces her to come back home. At this point, Leuce takes a job in Baker, La. at a sawmill. I guess he thought, besides it being a good job, paying $4.00 per day, it would also get Lillian away from her dances and her wayward friends. He moves the family to Baker. Lillian was certainly not happy getting back to the dutiful wife and mother routine and within a couple of months, according to Leuce’s testimony, “due to Lillian’s constant complaining and wanting to move back home, I quit my job and moved us back to Ascension Parish”. They basically moved in with Lillian’s parents, even though they still owned the little house that Leuce had bought. Leuce stays between Lillian’s parents house and his own house, while Lillian stayed full time at her Mom’s. Leuce then develops an abscess on his leg that requires surgery. Lillian uses this opportunity to take a job in Gonzales, La. working for a Professor. She said, since her husband was laid up and couldn’t work, that she would. Do you think this is quite a bold move for a woman in 1923?Lillian took the baby with her sometimes, but her mother kept her most of the time. Lillian stayed in Gonzales for three weeks. Leuce was incensed that his wife didn’t stay to nurse him back to health and went back home to his parents where, he says, he could be taken care of. After recovering, Leuce convinces Lillian, to quit her job in Gonzales and come home. Lillian tries to convince Leuce to move to New Orleans. I’m sure the excitement and bright lights of New Orleans, drew poor Lillian like an insect to a Bug Whacker! But Leuce would have nothing of that idea, so Lillian goes by herself, abandoning her little family again. Leuce goes to New Orleans to find her and finally does, in the company of three boys as he puts it, he then convinces her to come back home for the baby’s sake. She does, but doesn’t speak to him for three weeks. Stay tuned for the conclusion….coming soon!
Tales From the Grave
Who is this ravishing beauty? A silent movie star? A pretty Flapper girl who danced the Charleston on Broadway? Actually, she was my Grandfather’s first wife, Ms. Lillian Thibeau. She was born a little Cajun girl, to Mr. and Mrs. George Thibeau on July 6, 1902 in Ascension Parish Louisiana. Mr. George was a hard working man, farming and fishing to scratch a living for his wife and children. I assume that Lillian had a fairly normal upbringing in her small town community, and somewhere along the line became a lover of dancing. This would cause her a little trouble later on in life, especially after she met my Grandfather, Mr. Leuce Jean Landry. Everyone called him Leuce, pronounced Lay-oose. Leuce was born in Ascension Parish as well, to another Cajun family headed by Etienne and Cornelie Babin Landry on November 24th, 1897. Etienne was another hard working man, a farmer by trade as was much of the Acadians who settled in Ascension Parish. Leuce worked on the farm along with his brothers and sisters until Uncle Sam called and took him on a faraway journey, in a little adventure called World War One. I don’t know a whole lot about Leuce’s Army life, other than he was a Bugler and a cook. I also heard a story about his return trip home, the ship that was transporting the soldiers ran out of provisions, so they had to resort to cooking and eating the Mule teams that were on board and when that ran out they resorted to eating any rats they could catch, along with trapping seagulls and anything else to stave off starvation. That may harden a man a little, I suppose. When Leuce returned home, he of course returned to the farm and from what I hear in the family folklore, he and his brothers liked to drink a little and get somewhat rowdy in the local watering holes. From there I didn’t know much about his life up until I was old enough to remember visiting him with my parents. My first memories are when I was about 5 years old and we drove from our home in Cutoff, La to his home in Dutchtown, La. He was an old gray headed man, sitting in a chair by a window, with a blanket on his lap and a can, like a green bean can or something you’d buy in a store with the label taken off, with paper napkins in it. He would go through these coughing jags and then spit into his can. Later when I was old enough to understand, I was told he suffered from Emphysema. He would always say to the young children entering the house “come give Paw Paw some sugar!” Well, I can tell you, after watching him spit in that can, you had a lot of reluctant kids scrambling for an exit or an excuse! But, we were all forced to go up to the scary man and let him kiss us and then we would run like the wind back outside and very rarely went back in. Later in life, my parents and I moved next door to him, and I lived there for 2 years as a teenager. During this time, I tried to get to know him better, but he wasn’t much of a conversationalist and I as a teenager, had my own self interests, so not much came from our visits and I didn’t find out a whole lot about his life prior to my knowing him. Then, by the wonder and awesomeness of the internet, while doing some genealogy work on my family tree, I ran across the actual court case for child custody, between Leuce and Lillian, over their only child and my Aunt, little Marguerite (Hazel). The results of my findings in the next post……..stay tuned folks!!