Tracing the roots of the Beauvais, Charrier, Guerin, Guillory, Nugent, Ortego, and Prestenback Families
Melina Nugent was born September 27, 1905 in Bayou Jack, Louisiana. The sixth child of eleven children, Melina was a hard worker and was always helping out. She helped her father in the store the family owned, and she helped her mother raise the younger children. Melina also taught school to the local children in a schoolhouse her father had built. Melina was such an integral part of the family and all it's workings, that her father did not want to let her get married for fear of losing his best worker. When Melina was a young girl, she met a man she fell in love with. Not much is known about this man except the few things she told her daughter and granddaughter. There are a few pictures of a young Melina with this man and a letter was recently found. All we know is that Melina's father refused to let her marry this man and we believe she never quite got over him.
In those days, most young girls were married by 16, and had a few children by their 20s. In her early 20s, Melina was still unmarried and helping out her family. We believe that Melina was content with her station in life and planned to never be married. She and her father were also very close, and he was very against her ever getting married. However, it did happen.
Around the age of 21, Melina met Horace Beauvais. A wild young man, somewhat of a rebel. He was handsome and charming and somehow won her hand. They were married and in 1932, had their first and only child, Dorothy Marie Beauvais. Horace and Melina owned a small store with their house in back. Melina, forever the hard worker, helped out in the store, helped out in the fields for extra money, and still helped her mother raise her younger siblings.
In 1933, Melina's youngest brother, Robert, would come to her house to watch the baby Dorothy while she and Horace picked cotton in nearby fields. One day he was offered a ride on the back of a vehicle. He was stuck by another car and killed instantly. At the young age of 12, Robert Nugent had died. Melina, who had raised the boy more like a son than a brother, was devastated. She never recovered from losing him, and years later in her last coherent days, he was the one she called out for the most. Robert was the first of the eleven children to die, and in a terrible way. When Melina's last living sibling, Cilton, took his own life in an alzheimers-induced delirium, Melina was the only living Nugent child left.
Young Dorothy went to school and learned how to speak English. She would come home and teach her parents, who knew only how to speak their native Cajun-French. Around the year , the family packed up their business and re-opened in Maringouin, Louisiana where they lived the rest of their lives. Eventually, they were able to build their dream house, a huge 2-story on the bayou, where their granddaughter and her family reside today.
Melina had a hard life. There was not a day of it that she was not busy, not working, not helping someone out. To sit still just drove her crazy. We wish there was more we knew of her life, but she seldom talked about herself and when we realized we should ask her, she was no longer able to tell us.
Horace passed away April 24, 1988. Years of drinking had destroyed his liver. About a year before his death he told us that Melina was "crazy" and "losing her mind". We didn't pay any attention to what he was saying. In the months after his death, we came to realize that Horace had been right and something was wrong. We soon found out that Melina had Alzheimer's Disease.
To make a long, sad story very short, Melina was only able to live another year in her home alone. We moved her into a trailer behind Dorothy's house, but that did not last long either. From 1989 to 1999 we watched the slow, and painful decline of a wonderful, proud, funny woman whom we loved to a body lying on bed staring with unseeing eyes. For the last 10 years of her life, Melina Nugent Beauvais was not Melina.
Dorothy took care of her mother until she herself got so weak it was no longer possible. It had become her life. When we lost Dorothy in September of 1998, we knew it would not be long until her mother joined her. They had always been so close, Melina could not leave this Earth with her baby still on it. On January 22, 1999 Melina passed away, quietly in her bed, with her favorite son-in-law and her granddaughter by her side. Her struggle was finally over, and she was at peace. It was more of a blessing to know her soul had left her bed-ridden body.
We want to remember Melina as the woman she was, not the person that died that day. Melina Beauvais was a strong, independent woman. She was funny and good-hearted. She loved her daughter more than life itself, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren meant the world to her. She loved to cook (and she was a wonderful one) and to fish. She was a hard-worker who never rested. I remember being a small child and spending the night at their house. She gave me Rolos like they were medicine and we would watch the Dukes of Hazzard together. I miss her..we all do.