One of them came to a head in September 1924 in what became known as the Gunfight at Plaquemine Point, an undefined area more or less between Church Point and Lewisburg near the St. Landry-Acadia parish line.
The bad blood began eight years earlier when Tom Childs, who was then thirteen years old, slapped Joseph Cormier, who was about the same age. Over the years, the families forgot why the slapping incident took place, but they didn't forget the slap itself.
The feud apparently heated up during bitter election campaigning in 1924 (the first time Huey Long ran for governor) and turned really nasty three weeks before the famous gun battle.
According to old news reports, 60-year-old John B. Childs and his sons, Getty, 23, and Tom, 21, attacked Joseph Cormier, patriarch of the other feuding family, in mid-August at the Charles Bourque Store in Lewisburg, slashing him badly with knives.
Cormier was released from the hospital three weeks later and was serving as an election official at the Joseph DeJean garage, the polling place for the Plaquemine Point area about four miles from Church Point, when, about midmorning, he saw John Childs and his son Tom approaching.
Some say he acted in revenge, some say he acted from fear, but according to one account, Cormier "whipped out his gun and fired, killing the elder Childs instantly. The younger Childs then pulled out his gun and prepared to shoot, when he was cut down by Cormier. ... [before] the other son of John Childs, Getty, engaged in a battle with Cormier."
Another report says that "no one could say who fired the first shot."
Whoever started it, the result was "a desperate battle" with "free for all shooting" in "one of the fiercest gun battles fought in St. Landry Parish in many years," according to press accounts.
When the smoke cleared, John Childs and Thomas Childs were dead at the scene. John Cormier died about 20 minutes after the shooting. Getty Childs lived a little more than an hour. Three bystanders, Arville and Jean-Baptiste Richard and Joseph Castille were wounded but survived.
Arville received a glancing shot to the face. Jean-Baptiste was seriously wounded in the back. It was later reported that Castille's life was probably saved because he had two half dollars in his pocket and "these changed the course and somewhat impeded the force of the bullet." He was shot in the stomach.
Dr. R.M. Littell, the St. Landry Parish coroner, "accompanied by a large crowd" from Opelousas went to Plaquemine Point to hold an inquest but apparently found nobody to charge in the shootings. Everyone who had been involved was dead.
Joseph Cormier, the father of thirteen children, were buried at the Catholic cemetery in Church Point. The Childs victims were buried at Bellvue.
According to reports of the day, "both funerals were largely attended."
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.