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Vermilion Historical Society
Biographies
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Ellis Bergeron

Ellis Hubin Bergeron (ca 1917); born 3/1/1861,
Houma, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
Died 1947 (86 years old), Abbeville, La.

Paul BergeronEllis Hubin Bergeron

by C. Paul Bergeron

 

Ellis is the ancestor of most of the people named Bergeron in Vermilion Parish, along with hundreds with names other than Bergeron.  Some notable descendants are internationally known artist, John Bergeron; internationally known professional golfer, Deb Richard (born in Abbeville); "Cajun Power" developer Carroll Thomas;  pharmacist and merchant Freddie Dubois; educator and cantor Greg Dubois; medical psychologist Dr. Edmond Bergeron; landscaper D. A. LeBlanc; CPA Randy Lege; Crowley postmaster Leeward LeBlanc; and physical therapist Duane Lege.

Ellis and his younger brother, Wallace, grew up on a sugar cane plantation near Houma in Terrebonne Parish, following in the footsteps of their father.  There was a large sugar mill connected to the plantation, and this is where they worked, helping to operate the mill during the grinding season and doing maintenance and repair work in the off season. They were married and as their families increased in size, they began to realize that they wanted a better life for their children.  Outside of being a plantation hand, opportunities for employment were very limited.  Also, the plantation store managed to get back just about all of the wages earned at the mill.

Another problem to them was that the plantation owners were moving in plantation workers from Mississippi and Alabama.  These workers spoke only English and were of an entirely different culture, and as their numbers grew, the insecurity of the Bergeron families grew.

For years Ellis and Wallace and their families had used their spare time to gather Spanish moss in the swamps that adjoined the plantation.  The moss was brought in by skiff, dried and baled, then it was turned over to the plantation store manager for shipment to furniture manufacturers and other industries that utilized moss.  Their share of the proceeds were left with the store manager, who kept the funds in the company safe.  Ellis and Wallace were given receipts for their deposits, and when these receipts showed they had $10,000 they decided to leave the plantation and move to the "Attakapas", as Vermilion Parish was known to them.

They withdrew $800 from their moss fund and made arrangements to make a scouting trip to Vermilion Parish.  They came to Abbeville, met some of the people, liked what they saw and decided that this is where they wanted to bring up their families.  They made arrangements for places for their families to stay until they were able to buy places of their own and hurried back to the plantation to get them.

When they arrived at the plantation, their world came tumbling down—the store manager had disappeared and so had their money.

Ellis and Wallace decided to make the move anyway.  So in 1898 they moved their families to the Abbeville area of Vermilion parish.  Ellis had six sons and Wallace two, so they had no difficulty finding farms where they could sharecrop.  Wallace's  two sons eventually moved to Texas.  Of Ellis's sons, only one made farming a lifetime occupation.

Ellis's wife died when he was in his late fifties.  He did not remarry.  In his later years he became a "traiteur" (faith healer).  He had connections with an Indian tribe in Terrebonne Parish, and they shipped him powdered herbs which he used in ministering to his "patients."  He himself was in excellent health.  In his eighties he walked three miles to attend church or to visit friends.  His death at age 86 was the result of a fall.  He slipped and fell on his front porch, was injured, and did not recover.

By C. Paul Bergeron.