1) Circa 1998, Celestine Kavanaugh, CCVI (a St. Pat’s nun!) invited me to tour CHRISTUS Healths’ newest hospital, St. Michael’s, in Texarkana, AR. We ‘pended’ the night at the convent where the ninety-one year old bookkeeper was Marquerite Gaithe, CCVI, Daddy’s first cousin who grew up in the home with the porch next to our home on Arthur Avenue! Her father was the second owner and operator of what came to be called, ‘Adam’s Store!’ That night we dined, laughed, sang Irish tunes and visited into the night till about 9:30 pm! The next morning prior to our departure, Sr. Marguerite met me in the chapel after Mass and gave me three gifts that meant a lot to her; I gave two of the gifts to Constance Victoria and Ione Marie and the third to Mom. It was a 15 decade rosary which was given to Sr. Marguerite by her Godmother, ‘Old Mom’ Victoria Monlezun. Fr. Peters, part-time pastor of Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Arthur had given the rosary to Grandma Monlezun; it had been his Irish mother’s rosary. He was very fond of grandma and gave her his precious treasure the day she received the news that her son, your Uncle Alvin Joseph had been killed in the war. That day she had become what was called a ‘Gold Mother!’ Mom returned this treasured rosary to me in 2000 and I have placed it on the Monlezun-Broussard family wall in the living room on Arthur Avenue. Incredible links in life!
2) Dirt from The Ridge…Grandma Monlezun was born on the Chenier Ridge in Cameron Parish and when moving to Lake Arthur brought dirt from there to sprinkle among her flower and vegetable gardens and fruit trees and on subsequent visits to The Ridge, she would replenish her supply for harvest. We ate, as children, from that harvest year after year and I continue eating foodstuffs of that same dirt as we receive throughout the year turnips, lemons, limes, satsumas, kumquarts, oranges and foodstuffs from Ms. Renee’s generous parents, J.C. and Madge Reina of Grand Chenier! Mom enjoyed eating fruit if Daddy peeled it and that was 100% of the time! Hector peeled grapefruit from The Ridge recently giving me the succulent part and he ate the ‘bagazo’, the bitter part! He said, “All the bitter is in the peel, the sweet is on the inside!” Sounds like a country western song title!!
3) Mom received a beautiful poem prior to the birth of her first child, Lee J. on
20 January 1943 from Daddy’s godmother Mary Monlezun-Broussard;
Oh, what beautiful penmanship.
To Gertrude at Christmas 1942 –
You’ve a special grace, for a most holy reason,
It comes to you who is pregnant at this season.
All the Christmas carols that make us rejoice,
Give to your secret now, new exultant voice.
All the Christmas candles beams, will serve to guide,
Small, tiny feet, all wrapped into your pride.
Finding all wonders easy to believe,
You walk with Mary toward that Blessed Eve.
4) As most of us did, I would spend the night at Grandpa/ma Monlezuns when we were being grown up!! She and I made a lap quilt and scarf. I still use both treasures. We would watch the ‘Lawrence Welch (!)’ Show as Grandma would call it and the phone would sometimes actually ring and ring and ring, the old black phone with the short curly cord attached to it!! I asked Grandpa if he was going to answer the telephone and he replied, “Nope, I put the phone there for my convenience!!
5) Margaret Monlezun, wife of Junior, spoke fondly of… “I visited Mrs. (Antoine) Monlezun just about every day until they took her away at 104 or whenever!! She was such a good conversationalist! She would eat late… always meat, vegetables, a little eggplant, 2 or 3 figs cooked in a little syrup for her bread!! ‘You know, Marguerite, Grandma said, if I find a little plant, I always nurse it especially if in the winter, I water it and give it dirt and whatever it grows, I eat it!!’ ”
6) Inez Monlezun-Marx, age 87, is the daughter of Joachim Joseph Monlezun brother of Antoine Joseph Monlezun, my paternal grandfather and she resides in Crowley, LA. She shared the cutest of stories about Daddy, her first cousin, in that they were together for the first day in the first grade and their teacher Mrs. Miller asked their names. Inez reported hers and Daddy was weeping so much that he couldn’t say his! Sometime during the day Mrs. Miller, knowing they were cousins, asked Inez to take Daddy to her desk and let him sit with her for he cried the whole day long! She put her arms around him. She also shared that Daddy would sing on the street corner near Adam’s Store! He put out a tin can and would collect coins because he could sing! When Inez walked by Daddy would reach into the can and give her a nickel to buy herself some candy!!!
7) ANTOINE BROUSSARD PIONEER LAKE ARTHUR RESIDENT, DIES AT 95 (February 9, 1953)
Antoine Broussard, 95, long-time Lake Arthur resident, died at his home at two o’clock this morning following a two month illness.
He was born in Cameron parish in 1856. He married Aspasie Miller there in 1879 and they moved to Lake Arthur in 1905. Mr. Broussard was a retired carpenter at the time of his death. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary two years ago.
Funeral rites will be held Friday morning at 9 o’clock at a requiem Mass at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Arthur with Rev. W.J. Labbe, the pastor, officiating.
Interment will be in the Lakeview cemetery with the Segura Funeral Home of Lake Arthur in charge.
Surviving are the widow, three sons, Homer and Theogene of Lake Arthur and Philo Broussard of Winnie, Texas; three daughters, Mrs. Antoine Monlezun and Mrs. Paul Gaithe of Lake Arthur and Mrs. Ralph Dennery of New Orleans; 24 grandchildren; 46 great-grandchildren; one sister, Mrs. Debb Richard of Cameron and one brother, Jack Broussard of Port Arthur, Texas.
8) June 14, 1989 Jennings Daily News
MONLEZUN’S LIFE SPANS CENTURY
February 10, 1884 – June 12, 1989
Lake Arthur – This town recently lost the oldest member of its community, a woman whose lifetime spanned over a century.
Victoria Broussard-Monlezun was 105 years of age when she died Monday in St. Patrick Hospital of Lake Charles following a brief illness.
Born Feb. 10, 1884, in Grand Chenier, she was featured in September 1987 in the ‘Americans Over 100’ section of Caring Magazine. The article provided interesting information about her life.
A member of the pioneer Broussard and Miller families, she was born to Antoine and Aspasie Miller-Broussard. The family moved to Lake Arthur in 1900 when she was 16 years old.
After meeting her future husband in the post office, they dated two years before he proposed marriage. That occurred during an excursion with friends aboard a boat called the “Olive.” At first she refused his offer of marriage. However, when he asked, “Well, Victoria, will you marry me, or will you be an old maid?’ she quickly accepted his proposal.
They were married in the mission church on Feb. 22, 1909. She was 24, and her husband, Antoine, was 26. His father, who came to this country in 1886, was from the Basque country near Tarbes, France.
Her husband was referred to as a “hard-working carpenter and a jack-of-all-trades,” and began building their home on Iowa Street two years after they married- the home they would live in their entire lives. He and his three brothers built houses in a row in a one-block area.
An active church member, he helped to build the first church. After putting the tall steeple on, he climbed it and painted it. Monlezun became a member of the Ladies Altar Society of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in 1908.
There was no high school at the turn of the century, and Monlezun was fortunate enough to be able to complete the sixth grade. She was part of a group of 14 children-brothers, sisters and cousins-who walked two miles to school along a cattle trail.
A cattleman, her grandfather owned approximately 1,400 head. The family planted sugar cane and cotton, and had fruit trees. Once each year her grandfather took his orange crop to Galveston on the boat “Olive.” He returned with barrels of refined sugar and coffee.
Because her father believed girls should learn domestic chores such as cooking and sewing, Monlezun and her sisters, Theresa and Lucille, were not permitted to work in the fields.
Her father was also a musician and provided entertainment by playing the violin for their house dances.
An important part of their upbringing, religion was taught at home in French. Nightly prayers were recited in French as they knelt before their parents at bedtime. In order to attend Mass, every three months, the family traveled by sulky to a home 17 miles away.
Her mother’s sister was her teacher. Monlezun remembered the first poem she learned. Her mother made a new dress for her recitation. After a round of applause, she was awarded a big gold star by the superintendent.
Monlezun said she had no secrets to a long life. That she attributed to a “combination of health and happiness and turning to God for prayer and guidance in everything.” She stated, “I disciplined myself to do what is best, even if I didn’t want to do it.”
She did not use air conditioning and she hung her clothes outside on the line until she was 99 years old. Her family insisted on getting her a clothes dryer which she did not like to use because “it wears the motor out.”
At 101 she was still canning figs and pears, baking “the best oatmeal cookies ever.” She brought her custard to anyone ill and in need of comfort. She sewed by hand, often making quilts and pillows for her grandchildren, until she was 102. At 103 she was still reading newspapers and the Reader’s Digest every day. As that time she requested a native plant from the Grand Chenier area, a palmetto. A reminder of her childhood, she wanted to plant it in her yard.
She had many memories of her childhood. One of them was of her great-grandmother “smoking a stone pipe in front of her fireplace.” Monlezun was five years old. Another was of paddle boats “coming up the river bringing ice and, every six months, a visiting priest.”
During the last two years she listened to the news daily. She was also doing a little gardening – weeding and sometimes planting- and grew sassafras roots and leaves for colds. Monlezun drank the water in which she boiled her home-grown okra to “keep the blood moving smoothly through the vessels.” Although people may laugh and shake their heads, the magazine article state “Research from Louisiana State University (LSU) has since shown okra has properties of reducing coronary thrombosis.”
She ate corn flakes and milk every night, but never a heavy supper. And she had never drank carbonated beverages. Milk was the only cold liquid she drank-daily and in large quantities. She had a “live-in homemaker who mostly ended up chasing her around, trying to keep her still so she doesn’t break anything.” However, her physician was not worried about normal activities. According to him, her bones looked like those of a 50-year-old.
Wanting to be self-sufficient, she and her husband raised rabbits, sheep and chickens, and had fresh cow’s milk. “They never wasted anything or threw it away, including old clothes. One granddaughter still has a dress made for her when she was two years old-out of a nightgown which belonged to Monlezun’s father.
Preceding her in death were her five siblings, her spouse (who died when he was 89) and her four children-Beulah, Clyde Joseph, Lee Joseph and Alvin Joseph. She was the oldest living Gold Star Mother in Louisiana, having lost a son in a foreign war in 1944.
A) MRS.VICTORIA BROUSSARD MONLEZUN…
A lifelong resident of South Louisiana, died Monday evening, June 12, 1989 at St. Patrick Hospital in Lake Charles following a brief illness. She was 105 years old.
Mrs. Monlezun was born February 10, 1884, a member of the pioneer Broussard and Miller Families of Grand Chenier. She moved to Lake Arthur at the age of 16. Since her marriage to Antoine Monlezun in 1909, she has lived in the same home on Iowa Street in Lake Arthur. She was a member of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. At the time of death, she was the oldest living Gold Star Mother in Louisiana, having lost a son in a foreign war in 1944.
Mrs. Monlezun is preceded in death by her husband, Antoine Monlezun, and by her four children, Mrs. Alvin (Beulah) Pitts, LTC Clyde Joseph Monlezun (Ret), Lee Joseph Monlezun, and 1st LT Alvin Joseph Monlezun. She is survived by 13 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
B) Dominique MONLEZUN (18 Apr 1845-29-Jun 1928)
Married 10 Mar 1873
Louisa Thomasine PETERSON (06 Mar 1855- Abt. 1884)
Dominique was 27 almost 28 when he married. Louisa was just 18 when she married.
She died between age 28-29 years old. Dominique died at age 83. They were married about 11 years. He lived as a widower for 44 years. Louisa gave birth to 5 children (1 daughter followed by 4 boys)
1) Anna ‘Josephine’ MONLEZUN-Murray lived to be 76 years old…was 10 when her mother died
2) Joachim Ezador MONLEZUN lived to be 84 years old.
3) Paul ‘Emile’ MONLEZUN lived to be 87 years old.
4) Theodore Joseph MONLEZUN lived to be 86 years old.
5) Antoine MONLEZUN lived to be 88 almost 89 years old…was between 2 and 3 when his mother died.
May 15, 2009
Gravesite of Louisa Thomasine Peterson-Monlezun (06 Mar 1855- Abt. 1884) Cypress Point, Louisiana
As viewed by Anna ‘Bernadette’ Monlezun-Pontón and Constance Victoria Monlezun Darbonne. great-granddaughters of Louisa. Then, it was cleared of branches, swept and a prayer was offered in thanksgiving for her life, loves and sacrifices. The bricks go into the ground at least six down. I gathered cuttings from the very large and very old gardenia bushes which encircle this sacred ground; they are being tended and are growing tall and straight! I will return for another visit at a later time.
1) While continuing to go through 47 years-plus of paper on Arthur Avenue, I came across a medicine jar in Mom’s sewing kit! Inside folded ever so sweetly were two pieces of paper written by Mom’s hand. “Grandpa’s (Antoine Monlezun) last words in the hospital (d. March 29, 1971). “ ‘I have lived a clean life. I have never harmed anyone and given justice to all. I am ready to go. I worked for everything I have. I believe like this: 2 words Heaven or Hell.’ ”
Also in the bottle is his hospital arm band penned Dr. Sabatier.
Wonderful, I say; he definitely netted it out!
2) MONLEZUNS; mid 1850's; Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana
Submitted by Kathy LaCombe-Tell
Source; NOLA MAE ROSS American Press Writer
Publication Date: 10/27/1991 Submitted July 2004
Generations of Monlezuns have made their mark
When the Monlezuns left the Basque country of southern France near the Pyrenees in the mid-1850s, France was undergoing almost constant revolution from Napleon's time through the Franco-Prussian War and was still ruled by monarchs.
So, the Monlezuns left their home near the Forest of Monlezun and
headed for the land of freedom. Among them was a young boy,
Dominique Monlezun (sometimes spelled Moalisin, Moleson, Molisier) the ancestor of a large family in Jefferson Davis and Calcasieu parishes.
About the same time, from the Pyrenees, came a young lady named
Louise Thomasine Peterson.
The two families landed in New Orleans in 1866 but soon made their way to the southwestern section of Louisiana, where Louise Thomasine Peterson and Dominique Monlezun were married in 1874 in a Lafayette church. The couple settled near the Vermilion Parish line in Jeff Davis, across from present-day Lake Arthur. They had five children, Josephine, Joachim, Emile, Theodore and Antoine.
The four sons, like their father, were carpenters and built many
of the early Lake Arthur homes which are still standing. They build their own homes in a row on Iowa Street.
Josephine Monlezun became Mrs. John Murray and moved to Westlake.
They had five children, Mrs. Lillian Bourlon of Mission,
Texas, and four others, Wilma Fruge, Pat, Dewitt and Quentus, all
of whom are deceased. Grandson Bobby Murray lives in Westlake.
Dominique's oldest son, Joachim, married Adele Boutte and they had five children, Rita Monlezun Broussard of Lake Arthur, Enez Marx of Crowley, and three now deceased, Alice Gaithe, William Monlezun and Mary Broussard. Three grandchildren, all of Lake Charles, are Patrick Broussard, Irene Coco and Catherine Singer. Two others are Sister Lurline of New Orleans and Sister Magdalen of New Hampshire, both Marionites of the Holy Cross. Adele Harrington of Beaumont is another grandchild.
The next son, Emile, married Adeline and had four children, Mrs.
Freeman (Louise) Bertrand of Lake Arthur, Eddy Monlezun of
Beaumont, Lucy St. Martin of Lafayette and Claude, deceased.
The third son, Theodore, and his wife Blanche lived in Lake Arthur and had four children, J.T. Monlezun Jr. and, Mrs. Herbert (Lily Mae) Riquelmy, both of Lake Arthur; Louis Monlezun of Lake Charles and Milton Monlezun, deceased.
The last son, Antoine Monlezun, married Victoria Broussard, granddaughter of Eugene Miller of Grand Chenier.
Their grandchildren (children of Lee J. Monlezun Sr.) are Dominique of Lake Arthur; Robert, a draftsman with Marathon Oil in Alaska, and six others, all of Lake Charles, Dr. Lee J. Monlezun Jr., Dr. Charles J. Monlezun, Mrs. Hector (Bernadette) Ponton, Mrs. Victor (Constance) Darbonne, Malcolm Monlezun and Mrs. Pierre (Ione) Broussard. Two other children, Alvin and Veronica drowned in 1965.
Antoine, helped build the first church in Lake Arthur, Our Lady
of the Lake, including the tall steeple. He climbed to the top
and painted it. He also built his home before he married Victoria
Dr. Lee J. Monlezun Jr. has just remodeled that home. “It was
built almost 100 years ago,” he says, “and looking at the
cypress it was built from, the tremendous size, it boggles the
mind to think of how he got it out of the swamps. He had to cut
down a tree, trim it into a log and, using horses and slides,
pull it from the swamp. He used what he called a ''passe par
toute'' saw, meaning roughly, 'it will pass through anything.
“Grandpa Monlezun had 15 acres of swampland where he cut the cypress trees. Some of the boards are as much as 16 inches across.”
Malcolm J. Monlezun, a Lake Charles anesthetist, recalls that
his grandfather Antoine, in addition to being a carpenter had
several other businesses. “He drove an old Chevrolet truck on
which he carried dynamite that he bought and sold to be used to
blow up stumps. He also built vaults for graves and then made
the crosses on many of the graves in St. Anthony Cemetery in Lake
Arthur.” Another grandson, Dr. Charles Monlezun of the Institute
of Behavioral and Biofeedback Therapy in Lake Charles, is often
called family historian. “My grandparents, Victoria and Antoine,
had two sons in World War II. Clyde Monlezun was in the army and
later retired as an army colonel in Sequin, Texas. Another son,
Alvin, who graduated from LSU at 21 during World War II with a
degree in commerce, plus ROTC experience, went right into the army...he was killed in his foxhole in Belgium during the first part of the Battle of the Bulge on Oct. 10, 1944, before the push
forward to Bastogne and is buried in Belgium.”
A fourth sibling was Beulah Pitts, who resided in Dallas, where her two sons live today.
Victoria Broussard Monlezun lived to be nearly 106 years old and
gave several taped interviews during the last few years of her
life. One interview in McNeese State University archives, conducted by Mrs. Lloyd Barras, gives a clear picture of her life as a child.
She was born in and Grand Chenier and told how she and friends
would pull Spanish moss from trees and make monster costumes with
it. Victoria was still gardening, canning and keeping house until
she was 103. She grew sassafras roots and other “leaves” in her
yard for colds and she drank the water that she boiled her home-
grown okra in to “keep the blood moving smoothly through the
It was during a taped interview by her grandchildren that the 104-year-old Victoria suddenly said, ''I buried my wedding dress.''
Everyone was shocked. ''Grandma, you didn't bury your wedding
dress!'' ''Yes,'' she said. ''I did. It was being eaten up by moths and there was no use keeping it. So Antoine and I put it in a can and buried it in the back yard.
The Monlezuns are a musical family. Grandmother Victoria brought a musical inheritance from her Broussard ancestors, of which Doug Kershaw and his brothers are also descendants.
When her son Lee J. Sr. graduated in 1936 from Lake Arthur High,
where his voice teacher was Elmo Sonnier from Scott, he was
auditioned and granted a music scholarship at LSU. For the audition he sang ''Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes'' and ''Little Man, You've Had A Busy Day.'' However, after one semester he realized he couldn't make a good living from music so he came home.
''When I got home, Papa said, 'You are going to school!''' he said. ''So the very same day he took me to Lake Charles and we went to Vincent Business College. Papa asked the owner, Lawrence Vincent, if he could teach me something about business. Mr. Vincent said, 'Sure.' Then Papa asked him how much. '$165 for a nine-month course.' So Papa gave Mr. Vincent $165 and I went to business school for the next nine months.''
During those school days he earned money by plucking chickens at
the Capital Store with Jesse Knowles.
Apparently the business education paid off because he owned a
number of businesses in Lake Arthur, including a bulk fuel plant, a sportsman's center, tire store, wrecker business, hardware store, insurance agency, income tax service and bulk butane delivery.
Today business interests are carried on by his son, Dominique J.
Monlezun Sr., owner of Lake Arthur Butane. He has a two-year-old
son Dominique and another son Christian.
Through the years the family has never lost the love of music. They still gather to sing and play for banquets, fund raisers, festivals and special days. Members play various instruments including piano, organ, ukelele, washboard, spoons, autoharp, tambourine, accordion, banjo and guitar.
One daughter, Constance Darbonne, is a registered nurse and director of Home Health-Hospice of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. She married Victor Darbonne, also a musician. They made an album ''September 1st'' with Pat Keating and Phil Smathers. Constance recalls that her father Lee often sang opera arias while making butane deliveries in his truck.
''And my mother, Gertrude Hensgens Monlezun, who lives in Lake Arthur, was also from a musical family,'' she said. ''She and her brother, C.L. Hensgens, played musical instruments for parties and dances when they were growing up in Robert's Cove. She also sang with Happy Fats, an early French group. But her daddy wouldn't let her make a record.''
Bernadette Monlezun Ponton, network resource coordinator for the
ministries of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish says, ''I remember when I was 15 and Constance was 12, our parents sent us on a train to New York to be on the 'Ted Mack Amateur Hour.' He sent our brother, Lee J. Jr. who was 17, along to act as our guardian. We didn't win but we had a great trip.
The young Monlezun daughter, Ione Broussard, a Lake Charles real estate agent, remembers singing for Lawrence Welk in a talent contest.''I was attending McNeese at the time,'' she says, ''and my father heard about the contest, so he came looking for me. I was out taking care of some horses for Mrs. Joe (Margaret) Lowenthal, when he found me and suggested I go try out. ''I always carried my guitar in my truck, so I rushed down to the Civic Center and entered the contest. I sang John Denver's yodeling song. And I won the contest. So I performed on stage as Lawrence Welk's Champagne Lady. Later when Welk's Country and Western Group came on stage, they asked me if I could sing 'Jambalaya.' I told them I could not only sing it, but I also ate it. So they asked me to sing it with them.
''Later Mr. Welk invited the whole Monlezun family to come backstage to meet him, and he invited me to go on tour with him. But Pierre Broussard had just asked me to marry him, and I decided that was the most important.
It's been a long time since that first young Monlezun,
Dominique, from France's Basque country, settled in Louisiana. But those years have seen his descendants become a vital part of Lake Arthur and of Jeff Davis and surrounding parishes. And they are still providing a strong, respectable heritage for future generations.
3) Louis Joseph Monlezun d. 27 May 2010
Peggy/ Deacon George Carr
Eva Bellamo, Organ/ Bernadette Monlezun-Ponton, Cantor
Saturday, 29 May 2010/JFHome
Visitation ~ 4-9 pm
Rosary ~ 6:30 pm ~ By invitation, Joyful Mystery/Ave/Benediction Song.
Sunday, 30 May 2010/JFHome
Funeral Service ~ 9 am
Opening ~ Ave Maria
Responsorial Psalm ~ On Eagles’ Wings
Alleluia ~ Celtic
Vs. ~ Even if you have to die close to my Word keep faithful; for your faithfulness I will give you the crown of life.
Reflection- Deacon Carr
Reflection ~ Going Home
Prayers of the Faithful/The Lord’s Prayer/Final Commendation
Closing ~ In The Garden
Let us take our brother to his final resting place…May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.