feature: from the past

Adele Dupré Rousseau

By Stephen Donovan

Adele Marie Dupre Rousseau’s influence on the people of Grand Bayou can still be seen through her many descendants today.

She was born on Dec. 31, 1886, in Bayou Corne, La. to Louis Isidore Dupre, Jr. and Marie Malvina Gastal Dupre and was baptized at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Paincourtville, La. on Jan 12, 1887.

She was married to Marcellin Rousseau on July 10, 1901, at the age of 14 at the first officiated wedding held at St. Elizabeth. Today, Adele Rousseau—or Mamere, as she is referred to—lives on in the memories of her grandchildren.

Her son Earl penned an article in The Bayou Journal on Aug. 2, 2005, detailing how she influenced much of the family.

“When I was a small child she insisted I arrange my clothes, my shoes, my books for school in one place before going to bed at night. She expected my bed to be made before leaving the house in the morning and fixed before retiring for the night,” Earl wrote. “She would always say to put things in order and you will always find them when the need arises. She preached on doing things right the first time, instead of leaving things half-way done and then having to do them over again.”

Nell Aucoin Naquin, her granddaughter, says she spent many nights “veille-ing,” or “sitting up,” together at Adele’s home talking and looking at old pictures.

“For the most part people didn’t have televisions much till the ’50s,” Naquin says, “so I can remember spending the night veille-ing with her talking about stuff and looking at pictures. It’s sad, with the advent of tv and computers, that kind of visiting doesn’t happen anymore.”

Naquin says the family didn’t want Adele sleeping alone, so she was sent to keep her company. Naquin says Adele deeply appreciated the time she spent with her and would often treat her to milk-punch.

“It had eggs and milk and sugar and vanilla, and she would float a meringue on top. I still make that drink today sometimes,” Naquin says. “She treated me like a queen.”

Angela Rousseau Diez, daughter of Earl Rousseau, Adele’s youngest child, and the genealogical hobbyist of the family says

“Between the age of 31 and 43, “Mamere” lost four young children, her parents and her husband,” Diez wrote in a Facebook post. “In April of 1917, she had her eleventh child, a son named Raymond. When Raymond was 14 months old, he died of Infantile Diarrhea. Four months after Raymond died, while she was still grieving this loss of this baby, she had her 12th child, Aunt “Sis”. In 1920, “Mamere” had her 13th child, another son, Malvin was born. And, two years later, on February 15th another son, Philton was born. Tragically, Philton died when he was 7 months old of gastroenteritis. Just a year after Philton’s death, “Mamere” had her 15th child, Olga was born September 19, 1923. Olga’s life ended before she was five weeks old as she had been born with a heart defect. Eleven months later, Malvin died on August 27, 1924; he was just 4 years and 8 months old. His death certificate lists the cause of death kidney failure. Again, as she is newly grieving the loss of Malvin, just three weeks later she gave birth to their last child, my father, Earl.”

Diez also lists an unnamed child as being stillborn and wrote that Adele’s father died on April 19, 1927, her husband died July 8, 1929, of stomach cancer—two days before their 28th anniversary—and her mother died on Dec. 18, 1929. According to a 1940 census, Diez says Adele’s occupation was listed as a servant in private homes.

“She would stay with a woman who had a baby for 6 weeks and take care of both the baby and the mother. Then she’d move on to another who had given birth,” Diez says.

Diez says she and her cousins always knew Mamere was a “hard woman,” but that she realized that Adele had a tough life, as she lived longer as a widow than most people of her generation lived at all.

Adele Rousseau lived to the age of 97. According to her obituary, Adele lived to see the birth of all 59 of her grandchildren, all 161 great-grandchildren, and 48 great-great-grandchildren. According to her death certificate, Adele Marie Dupre Rousseau passed away at 4:15 a.m. on Feb 7, 1984, at Assumption General Hospital in Napoleonville from respiratory heart failure caused by pneumonia that brought about blood poisoning.

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