A Cajun Wedding Story
In 1928 Charles Vinaux Folse married Ourlie Matherne, and within days of officially becoming man and wife, the new bride received a unique and priceless wedding gift from her groom that would stay in the family for years to come.
|Photo provided by Gay Lynn Folse|
But in 1928, nearly 80 years ago, when a man from Vacherie named Charles "Charlie" Vinaux Folse, Sr. married Ourlie Matherne of Des Allemands, gift registries were a thing of the future and historically it seems that more thought and meaning went into gift giving in the early 1900s.
One day, shortly after being married, Charles found a large sunken Cypress log that measured over 16 feet long and 36 inches in diameter in a near by lake. He and Ourlie's brothers drug the log out of the water using a come-along and transported it to the Folse home in Des Allemands.
Gay-Lynn Folse, Charles and Ourlie’s grandchild and the only one who ever knew Charles, remembers her grandfather as a good man.
“My grandparents were really hard working people with good morals,” Gay-Lynn told the Herald-Guide.
“They lived by the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
After the log was pulled from the lake, the men noticed that the log was beginning to split on one end and since Charles was a carpenter and had a way with wood, they decided to follow the split and cut the log into two pieces.
It took almost two weeks to completely split the wood into two pieces, and when Charles was finished he kept one half of the log for himself and gave the second half to Ourlie's brother, Roger Matherne. They decided to make two identical pirogues out of the split wood.
Eloi Matherne, Ourlie's father, helped Charles and Roger begin the carving on the two dug-out pirogues which would ultimately take months of carving and shaping the wood.
Charles told Ourlie that he would give the now 14-foot long pirogue to her as a wedding gift, but little did she know that the handmade wooden boat would remain in his family for generations to come.
The Folse Family used the pirogue for many years and Charles and Orlie's sons, Charles Jr. and Malcolm, paddled up and down Bayou Des Allemands when they were children.
And when Hurricane Audrey hit St. Charles Parish in the 1950s, the pirogue sank into the storm water and wasn't found for months, but eventually a man found the boat and returned it to Charles and Ourlie.
The pirogue never came up missing again, and now has found a permanent and safe home at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan.
Charles and Ourlie's son Malcolm and four granddaugters: Gay-Lynn Folse, Laura LeBlanc, Christine Folse and Stacey Lynn Folse donated the boat to the plantation for display in memory of their favorite Cajun wedding story.
“My grandfather was a very kind man, it’s a pity he died at the age of 55,” said Gay-Lynn.
“I wanted his memory to live on and so the family decided to donate the pirogue in his memory as well as my grandmother’s.”
“The pirogue was donated to Destrehan Plantation because it's in St. Charles Parish and I wanted to keep it close to home,” Gay-Lynn continued.
“The plantation is one of my favorite places to go because of its unique history.”
Charles V. Folse has been deceased since September 1961 and Ourile M. Folse passed away in April of this year.
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