Seventh Generation: Into the 20th Century

Theophile Primeaux was born October 29, 1853, and he died December 10, 1946, at the age of 93. He married Catherine Aurelia Moss on January 19, 1876, in Abbeville.

Theophile was a farmer in Prairie Gregg, raising cattle and crops. He was a craftsman who worked leather, crafting saddles and other leather goods. He told of driving cattle from his farm to Texas and New Orleans, and, if he told you that himself he likely told you in French, for that was his preferred tongue.

Catherine was a proper lady who dressed well even around her home. She preferred to speak English. She kept flower beds around her home, and even had a few peacocks. I imagine Catherine as a town dweller who tried to introduce a measure of refinement to the rough country existence at Prairie Gregg.

Theophile and Catherine’s children were: Laurence Primeaux, who is our next progenitor; Catherine Alvina Primeaux, January 7, 1882 – December 29, 1945; and Clarence Primeaux, October 30, 1885 – June 24, 1886.

When Theophile and his family needed to go into town before the turn of the century, they rode on horseback or in a buggy or buckboard over dirt roads that were dusty in dry weather and muddy in wet. Abbeville had dirt streets and livestock roamed freely on the streets, causing such a problem that almost every home, business, and even the Court House had a fence around it to keep the animals out.

After the turn of the century, change came gradually to Abbeville. There were catastrophic fires in 1900 and 1903 that led business owners and residents alike to build with brick and use firewalls. Around 1903, the dirt streets were paved with oyster shells. In 1918 the principal streets were gravelled.

The railroad reached Abbeville in 1892. Before then, the primary means of transportation were steamboat up and down the Vermilion River and on the of Mexico, and horse-drawn conveyances, including stage coaches. The railroad was extended to Gueydan in 1902, and the village of Kaplan was founded. The first airplane flew over Abbeville in 1918.

Electricity first came to Abbeville in 1902, but service was initially limited to night-time hours up to midnight. Later, fan service outside night-time hours was provided in the summer months. Electrical appliances other than fans were not in use before 1915. In 1915, twenty-four hour electrical service became available, and electrical appliances came into widespread use. City water and sewage were first provided in 1907, and natural gas service would not be available until the 1930’s.

There were no stop signs or stop lights until the 1920’s. In 1909, the city fathers set the speed limit at 7 miles per hour. Another regulation required operators of the new-fangled automobiles to slow down before turning from one street to another and to sound a horn or other sound device three times before making the turn. There were no street signs until 1919.

Dogs roamed streets on the loose to such an extent that the town council hired individuals from time to time to hunt and kill them. One man in 1912 was paid for killing 316 in one month, and 116 the next month.

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