‘The Torch Has Passed’

Jean Velior and wife, Celonise Richard Theriot
Jean Velior and wife, Celonise Richard Theriot

By Loretta Theriot

The torch that was first lit by Jehan Terriau when he arrived in Acadia in 1637 was passed on this year, 2023, from me, Loretta Theriot, to my nephews, Chris and Vince Theriot and from them in the future to Lex Theriot. I am passing the torch, bestowing to them the traditions and responsibilities of the land on Cheniere Perdue that came down to me from Jean Velior Theriot, the founder of Cheniere Perdue, his son Adolph Theriot an eighth-generation descendant of Jehan Terriau and my father, Sidney Louis Theriot. The name Terriau was changed to Theriaut and then to Theriot by the following families. Jehan Terriau was born in 1602 in Martaize in the region of Loudain, department of Vienne France. Jehan married Perrin Rau in 1635 before coming to Acadia where their children were all born. They are Claude 1637, Bona Venture in 1641, Jeanne 1644, Germain, 1646, Catherine 1650 and Pierre in 1655. In 1671 the Roll of the Inhabitants of the Coast of Acadia read as follows:

Jehan Terreau age seventy years, his wife Perrine Rau age sixty years. Seven of their children are married. Pierre age sixteen is not married. Their Horned Animals Six and one sheep, Their Cleared Land five acres. Plowman by trade. NOTE: I have some dirt collected from that land.

Six Generations later, Charles Theriaut married Scholastique Babineaux, in 1823 and had the following children: Pierre Dolza 1824, Joseph Stanville 1827, Jean Baptise Velior Theriot, 1828, George Adolph Theriot 1832, Julie Athelie 1834, Marguerite Azema, 1837.

One of Charles’ children, Jean Baptise Velior Theriot married Celonise Richard in 1847 in St. Martinville and moved to Palm-A-Royal, near Lake Arthur. Their children are: Charles 1849, Albert 1855, Joseph Stanville, 1856, John Numa, 1859, and Adolph Theriot 1863. They were all born on Cheniere Perdue where he later built his home and that’s where our story begins.

Jean Velior Theriot was a cattle man and he needed a vaster grazing area for his cattle and he discovered Cheniere Perdue on one of his scouting trips down the Mermenteau River. He named the area Cheniere Perdue which means “Lost Oaks” because this ridge was located all to itself somewhat as an island, not touching the Mermenteau River as the other two chenieres, Grand Cheniere and Little Cheniere. It was in the early part of 1847 when he suddenly came up on the land he had set out to find—a beautiful ridge, virgin land, unclaimed, and uninhabited, ready to support all the cattle that could be brought in.

He returned to his home and began making plans to move his house, his family and his small herd of cattle. In the late spring, Velior tore down his small frame house in Palm-A-Royal, loaded up all the material from the house on a raft, and floated the raft down Grand Lake to the Mermenteau River. He continued southward down the Mermenteau to the small bayou called Cattail Bayou which branches off west and leads to Cheniere Perdue on the north. Here he selected a site for his home two miles west of the eastern tip of Cheniere Perdue and then with the help of one or two of his friends who had come with him from Lake Arthur, he built what was to have the distinction of being the first dwelling of a white man in this area.

When the modest dwelling was finished, Jean Velior returned to Palm-A-Royal to get his wife and his furniture to move to Cheniere Perdue. Once he had his family settled, Jean Velior, with the help of friends and relatives, drove his herd of cattle from Lake Arthur to Grand Lake where he swam the animals across the narrow western end and then followed the west banks of the Mermenteau to Cheniere Perdue. Thus was established the cattle trail that was used for many a year afterward to drive the steers annually to the cattle markets in Lake Arthur and Mermenteau. Velior’s small herd was to be the beginning of a very large cattle business which over the ensuing years, was to grow and flourish on this remote chenier, far exceeding farming in scope and revenue.

In 1863 Adolph Theriot, the fifth son of Jean Velior Theriot and Celonise was born. He married Euphemie Miller May 17, 1883. She and her infant son died in childbirth in November 1884. In January 1889, he married Claudia Earnestine Mauboules, in Crowley. She was the daughter of Jean Pierre Mauboules from Pau, France and Malvina Pierce. Adolph and Claudia had eleven living children. Two others died in infancy. My father Sidney Louis was born in 1916 and died in February 1955. His mother Claudia had died the year before and Adolph died in March 1955.

My brother Frank and I and later our brother Sidney born in August 1955 after his father’s death, inherited some of the land that had once belonged to Jean Velior Theriot.

Today Jean Velior’s land is much like when he first arrived. It is uninhabited since Hurricane Rita destroyed the house and surroundings.

Now ‘The Torch Has Passed’ and it is my desire and wish that the land on Cheniere Perdue will bring to its new owners the joy and love it once brought to me and my family. I sincerely hope that they will willingly share the bounty of hunting to all my other family members and I look forward to seeing the young ones Lane, Keller, Kinley, Sadie, Reece and their cousin Henley and one other (Chase’s child) and Cole, Kinsey and Camille frolicking and enjoying Cheniere Perdue as much as I did. Perhaps someday we can all gather under my remaining oak tree and feel once again the majesty of Cheniere Perdue and it is my desire and my son Gary’s that the land will remain The Theriot Estate.