Horace Joseph Beauvais was the eldest child, born on 2 Sep 1909, to Oscar Ernest and Alice Ortego in Bayou Jack, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.
His siblings included Salonie Beauvais Armand, Mildred Beauvais Genova, Ernest Beauvais, Hazel Beauvais Smith, and Lillian Beauvais Fletcher; he also had three step-siblings: Telemark "Tilly" Deaville, Virginia Deaville Doherty, and Aimee Deaville Fontenot, from his mother's previous marrige to Ogé Deaville.
The blood of renowned hunters and trappers running through his veins, Horace was born with a love of hunting. He was also an intelligent man, a shrewd businessman, and a practical joker.
Passionate is an apt word to describe Horace - and from what I've learned of his paternal line, he certainly got it earnest. He was fond of gambling and drink - and women, to hear the tales told. He made and sold bootleg liquor in the 1920s and, I've been told, owned a motorcyle in his time as well.
Horace married a woman four years his elder - a fact he reminded her of often in jest until she burned their birth certificates to erase any traces of their age difference. Quiet yet with an iron will was the way Melina Nugent handled most everything in her life; including her rowdy and often recalcitrant husband.
A favorite tale of mine is the night Melina reached her breaking point with Horace's bar hopping. She grabbed one of his shotguns, propped it on her shoulder and walked down to the local tavern - where Horace and friends were tying back a few too many, as was the custom. Accounts differ on whether there was a lady attached to Horace's arm - and Melina would never tell - but, regardless, she told him to get up and march his sotted arse home immediately. No man - even a drunk one - is going to argue with an angry wife holding a shotgun in his face. He trudged home, she following him with the shotgun again propped on her shoulder.
He was, as Beauvais's appear to be, a man of ambition. With money given to them by Melina's sister, Ida, who had married a wealthy widower, Horace opened up a small general store which became quite successful. It was with the money from this store that Horace moved his small family out to the burgeoning, little town of Maringouin in Iberville Parish.
Horace bought the town's general store from a Mr. Carwell; an older gentleman who was looking to retire. Along with the store came Mr. Carwell's only employee, a young, local teen by the name of Riley Prestenback - who was to later become Horace's son-in-law and business partner.
Wild and shrewd though he was, Horace had an intense love for his family - especially his young daughter and only child, Dorothy Marie. Horace and Melina doted on Dorothy and she was rarely told no to any of her many whims or wants.
Horace showered his wife and child with nice things; the store did extremely well and Horace enjoyed the luxuries it afforded him. He built a large two-story home on Bayou Maringouin for his family, and built a small, white cottage next to it when Dorothy and Riley were married. The four of them drove nice cars and had fine jewelry - when they did or bought something it had to big and it had to be the best. Horace had worked hard for it all and felt no shame in enjoying the fruits of his labors.
Don't believe, though, that he was ever selfish with it. Horace began married life picking cotton in fields with his new wife; he knew what it was to struggle and he enjoyed helping other people out. My cousin Margie, Horace's niece, told me a wonderful tale about how Horace set aside a special calf, raised it and sold it, then sent the money to his brother-in-law to help pay for Margie's education.
He had an enormous heart filled with good and plenty of love. My grandfather told me a story about Horace going to the Angola Prison Rodeo with a young black teen that helped out in the store. At the gate, they refused to sale a ticket to the boy because of his skin color.
"That's fine," Horace told them. "He doesn't need a seat. He can sit in my lap."
And that 13 or 14-year old boy sat in Horace's lap for the duration of the rodeo.
I mentioned his being a practical joker.
Every April Fool's Day, Horace would put a large barrel next to the road in front of his house. In front of it, he'd prop up a large sign that read, "Stop and see the monkey!" The bottom of the barrel held - of course - a mirror. He would sit on his porch all day long - often by himself - killing himself with laughter over the people stopping by to peer at the "monkey".
Horace Beauvais was a wonderful, colorful character - full of life, love, and passion - and it was a blessing to know him and an honor to call him my great-grandfather.
Horace shares a mausoelum vault with his wife, Melina; they are buried beneath their only child and daughter, Dorothy Prestenback.
Melina Nugent Beauvais
1905–1999 (m. 1925)