Short Life and Tragic Death of Meus Lafleur

Meus Lafleur was born August 14, 1906. Meus’ parents were Henry and Zola Bourque Lafleur. They were farmers in Mamou, Louisiana. Six months later in February 1907, his mother abandoned her husband and infant son.

According to Par Pascal, a local historian, in his 1995 DuCrow’s Nest article, Meus’ father brought his infant son to live with Meus’ Grandmother, who was a widow and living near Ville Platte.

Henry Lefleur, Meus’ father, remarried in 1912, but Meus choose to stay with his grandmother.

Leo Soileau was a childhood friend of Meus and a distant relative, who also played the violin. Meus played the accordion and sang. While growing up, together they played in a number of house dances and dance halls.

On April 22, 1926, Meus married Hazel Brunet from Mamou. Her parents were not overly impressed by their daughter’s choice, but gave the newly weds a lot next to their home in Mamou, where they built a house; and in time had a baby boy.

Meus’ in-laws didn’t approve of his long absences playing music in dance halls and fais-do-dos and being away from their daughter and grandson. They finally told Meus to leave. Shortly afterward, their infant son died and Meus and Hazel separated.

In 1928 Cajun musicians, Meus Lafleur and Leo Soileau traveled to Atlanta Georgia and recorded four songs for Victor Records. They were not the first Cajun musicians to record their music; they were second. The honor of being first went to Joe Falcon from Rayne, who earlier in the same year recorded “Allons A Lafayette” “Let’s Go to Lafayette” for Columbia Records.

One of the songs Meus recorded was about his mother, who had abandoned him as an infant. Unbeknownst to anyone, Meus dealt with a broken heart and wondered why his mother gives him up? When he sang “Chere Mam” (a song he sang from the heart;) he was actually begging his mother to please come see him one last time before he died.

Was it a premonition? Meus was shot and killed on October 28, 1928, just nine days after recording “Chere Mam.” Meus was only twenty-two years old.

Meus and Leo were playing at a honky-tonk in Basile, which was owned by Meus’ friend Alex Bellon when Kossuth Manual pulled a gun and shot Bellon several times. Bellon escaped outside and hid under a truck where he later died. Meus immediately ran to his friend’s side. Kossuth shot Meus, instantly killing him. Kossuth also shot at Leo Soileau, but missed because Leo quickly ducked back inside the honky-tonk.

Meus LaFleur and Leo Sonnier recorded “Grand Basile,” “La Valse Criminelle,” (The Criminal Waltz) which was composed by Meus. “Ton Papa Ma Jeter Dehors,” (Your Father threw me out) obviously singing about how his ex-father-in-law threw Meus off the property, which he had given to him and his wife. And “Mom, Et ou Toi T’est?” (“Mom, where are you?”) Meus composed “Chere Mam,” but he never publicly preformed it until then. On the first take Meus started singing, then broke down sobbing. A few minutes later, on the second take Meus was able to control his emotions and that was the version used.

Meus and Leo were each paid $25 for every song recorded. Meus told Leo he would use the $100 to find his mother.

Two months after the death of Meus, near Christmas 1928 Victor Records shipped several hundred records to local dealers for distributions.

Meus’ nineteen-year-old estranged wife, Hazel, opened all the doors and windows in her house and continuously played Meus’ records at top volume for her parents to hear and fully appreciate the consequences of his actions.

Like the Kennedy assignation, everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they learned of Meus’ brutal murder.


William J. Thibodeaux