13. Mr. Pros

Cypress tree
Cypress tree

Prosper Vauclin was born in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana in 1906, at a time when the South, especially South Louisiana, was still recovering from the Civil War.

It was a difficult time, for most people life was a daily struggle just to survive, a struggle to provide food and shelter for their families. The only opportunities for work was in the traditional industries: fishing, trapping, some timber, and mainly agriculture but these industries too were struggling economically, and workers pay was barely a subsistence wage.

There was little mechanization; all work was manual and to make a living and raise a family a person had to be strong physically, mentally, and have possess a resolve of hard work. His father Louis Vauclin and family were living and working on the Bull Run Plantation owned by Mr. Ringo Cox, located on Bayou Black in Terrebonne Parish.

Around 1920 when Mr. Pros (short for Prosper) was just in his early teens, he and his older brother Gib were working on Bull Run Plantation cutting cypress trees in the swamps around Bayou Black. They worked when the swamp was flooded so the trees could be floated to a nearby Bayou and then transported to a saw mill.

Cypress trees (le cyprier fr.) have a bell shaped bottom so a platform had to be built about 6ft. high so the tree could be cut above the bell in the straight part of the tree. He and Gib used a two man saw called a (passe-partout fr., seen in the picture) that still hangs in the house he once lived in on Volumnia Farm. It would sometimes take two days of sawing to fall the tree and trim all the branches, then they would use a team of oxen to pull the cypress logs from the swamp. Mr. Pros and Gib together earned $5 to $7 a tree depending on the tree size; the average farm worker working in the sugar cane fields was making $1 per day.

Mr. Pros on a horse
Mr. Pros on a horse

Mr. Pros was extremely good with animals and an excellent horseman.

As a young man he would break horses and mules (ride the horse or mule for the first time) for farms around the Parish. Usually when a horse or mule is ridden for the first time, the animal bucks and kicks and tries the throw the rider off. People would come and watch Mr. Pros ride, it was the rodeo of the day on the Bayou sometimes drawing a considerable crowd. I am sure in today’s world Mr. Pros could have been a rodeo star.

About 1924 The Vauclin Family, Mr. Pros, his father Louis, his mother Emma and siblings moved from Bull Run Plantation to a house on Conley St. in Houma, almost on the borders of Volumnia Farm (The Farm). Being good with farm animals, Mr. Pros begin working at the dairy on Volumnia Farm in 1925 along with Adam (Don) Bourg, his future brother-in-law Aurelie Ledet and future father-in-law Mr. Emile Ledet, who also lived on Volumnia Farm.

Mr Emile Ledet, his wife Agliena, daughter Aline and family lived in the workman’s house that is still on The Farm and on the National Historic Registrar of historic places. Mr. Adam Bourg was in charge of the 60 milking cows and at the beginning Mr. Pros was working under Mr. Don Bourg.

In 1936 Mr. Pros married Miss Aline Ledet and moved into the farmhouse with her and her parents where they lived until 1949 when they moved into a more modern farmhouse located at 8907 Park Ave.

M. Emile Ledet and Madam Angelina Malborugh Ledet
M. Emile Ledet and Madam Angelina Malborugh Ledet

They had three children. The very physically demanding work in the dairy milking the cows was 24-7, the cows had to be milked twice a day at 12 noon and 12 midnight 365 days a year.By the early 1940’s Mr. Adam Bourg was not physically capable of doing the work and Mr. Pros became in charge of cows. However, Mr. Bourg still worked on The Farm doing other work and some time would substitute milking the cows for only a short time.

In 1965 the dairy for a combination of factors (see Residence Dairy) had to close and The Farm started a beef cattle operation; Mr. Pros and his brother-in-law Aurelie Ledet continued working for The Farm tending to the beef cattle herd, mowing pastures and making hay.

The beef cattle operation was not as demanding as the dairy and Mr. Pross had more time to enjoy his favorite pastime: training hunting dogs and rabbit hunting. He was always happy and contented with his life until 1990 when Mrs. Aline died; after that there was an emptiness in his eyes, a look of a loss that could never be replaced. Mr. Pros worked on The Farm from 1924 until 1992, for my grandfather, my father and me, three generations; his life blended in with ours and he became part of all of us.