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Rural Life Museum | by anthonyturducken
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Rural Life Museum


Bergeron House



The house may have been built ca. 1815 when Germain Bergeron and his family moved onto the property. A land grant of about 130 acres, had been obtained by Louis Galle in the late 18th century. This Germain purchased for $500.00 on May 8, 1807. The plantation measured three arpents of front along the north side of Bayou Lafourche, and forty arpents of depth. Consistent with local land transfer practice, the Bergeron family did not actually take possession of the property until the death of the previous owner in 1815.


Originally, the Bergeron House consisted of a single rectangular front room and two small rear bedrooms, perhaps separated by a narrow hallway.


Upon the death of Germain Bergeron, the land was transferred to his son, Jean Bergeron, and his widow Marie Madelaine Doiron. On March 27, 1845, Marie Doiron sold the downstream portion ("near two arpents [of front], more or less"), to Marcellin Borne. The other third was sold to one of the neighbors Gustave V. Ayo (var. Ayoux).


Following the death of Marcellin Borne, his widow, together with their daughter and surviving heir, Eulalie Borne, sold the site to Henry Pitre:


The vendors reserve the use for Mrs. Marcellin Borne of the front part of the said tract of land back to the back fence of the garden with all the buildings and improvements thereon, dwelling house, stable, outhouses, etc. [24] pecan trees, [hickory, black walnut] fruit trees [orange, grapefruit, plan, fig, wild cherry, pear, peach', etc. to endure till the death of Mrs. Marcellin Borne, but for her own use only and that of her family without the right of transfer.


Henry Pitre, Lea Ayo Pitre, and their five children could not take possession of the farm until 1906 when the widow Borne died.


A memoir, "Things That I Remember," written by the Pitres' fifth child, Clotilde Pitre Mire, provides an intimate portrait of how a large cajun family lived in the house after ca. 1910. About 1909, Mr. Pitre added a two-room side expansion to the house. One room was used as a parlor, the other as a back bedroom. At the same time he partitioned the original salle or living room into two bedrooms, only one of which was heated by the fireplace. The house never had bathroom facilities.


Henry Pitre died in 1920 at the age of 52. Eventually, the rear kitchen-dining ell was removed and used as part of a small country store on the same property. In 1973, the Pitre estate was purchased by Jack Wise, of Thibodaux, who is the current owner. The Bergeron House is scheduled to be donated and moved to the E.D. White State Commerative Area on the opposite side of Bayou Lafourche.



In addition to the house being one of the oldest surviving acadian cabins in Louisiana, it also contains many architectural features of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries--features that no longer exist in surviving Acadian houses. Among these are hand-split and hand-beveled exterior clapboards, a Norman-style roof truss, and evidence that the salle or living room was originally heated by a mud-and-stick chimney set inside the gabled end wall of the house. That chimney was later replaced by the existing smaller brick chimney. The original ceiling boards were hand-split and pegged or laid loose on the joists. The walls were built bousillage-entre-poteaux, or "mud between posts." In various locations wall posts contain the holes for the gaulettes (var. barreaux; var. batons), which supported the bousillage nogging and which were removed later, but much of the original bousillage remains in place. The framing timbers are hand-hewn and hand-sawn, a few being cut on a sash saw.

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Taken on April 9, 2010