1912 –When the teacher speaks …
In 1912, the village teachers were asked by the primary school inspector to write a monograph for the educational conferences. This document, written for Molières by the teacher, Mr Charrière, tells us a lot about life at the time.
For example, he regrets that the population of the village has decreased from 626 inhabitants in 1901 to 558 in 1912. The rural exodus that had already been observed in the 19th century was therefore continuing and would continue until the beginning of the 21st century.
He was pleased with the good quality of the roads and their large number, which allowed the hamlets to be opened up. The current D27 road was already an important route for the transport of goods from Le Buisson (where there was a train station since the end of the 19th century) and for the sale of cattle, wood, wine and other regional products. These roads, obviously not yet tarred, were carefully maintained with stones from the Bessède.
Speaking of the D27, Mr Charrière says: “Note that this road does not pass through the centre of Molières; it disdainfully leaves it to the north at 600 metres; this is another one of those anomalies that remain difficult to explain.”
A century later, on the contrary, we appreciate the fact that no major road crosses the village centre and that there is hardly any “through” traffic. This adds to the charm of the village today.
About forests and fields
The oak and chestnut woods, he tells us, were often coppiced. The oak (569 ha) was used for firewood and the chestnut (166 ha) for wine barrel strap. 152 ha were exploited for chestnut production. At that time, there were hardly any pine trees (50 a).
At the beginning of the 20th century, there was still a fairly large production of wine. Vines were planted on 100 ha and about 500 barrels of wine were produced each year.
Tobacco cultivation had made its entrance in Molières. In 1912, about 20 hectares were devoted to tobacco. This crop required a lot of care and labour, but it was very lucrative: a hectare planted with tobacco brought in more than 1100 Francs, whereas a hectare planted with wheat only brought in 400 Francs, i.e. almost three times less.
The other named crops were wheat (200 ha) and then, in varying quantities: maize, rye, oats, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, beans, etc. For the fruit trees, he mentions the production of Agen plums and walnuts.
Mr Charrière, speaking of agriculture, tells us: “Our more enlightened farmers are abandoning traditional practices to cultivate the land with intelligence; thanks to their trade union, they can buy chemical fertiliser at lower prices and use it on an ever-increasing scale […].” The way we view agriculture has changed a lot since that time! There are certainly farmers who use chemical fertilisers and pesticides, but the trend is to reduce their use and more and more of them are switching to organic or sustainable agriculture.
An active community
Molières was a lively village with two grocery shops, two innkeepers, a baker, a pork butcher and poultry merchant, two clog makers, two shoemakers, two blacksmiths who sold bicycles and agricultural machinery, a tailor, a carpenter, a wheelwright, a mason and finally, which was extremely precious, a doctor and a veterinarian.
There was a fair every first Wednesday of the month, although these fairs had lost much of their importance. Since the arrival of the railway in the region, commercial activity had developed more and more near the stations, to the detriment of more distant villages such as Molières.
In 1912, everything was ready for the installation of a telephone box.
Molières had two schools: the boys’ school, built in 1875 and located in the current “salle des fêtes”, and the girls’ school, built in 1894, nowadays the Montessori school.
After the turmoil of history, Molières quietly entered the 20th century.
The 20th century in Molières
Most of the images on this page are from our private collection of postcards.
The images marked with a ¤ come from a collection of photos made available by villagers during the preparation of a photo exhibition about the village. It has been impossible to trace the origin of all these photos. If any of the photos used here belong to you and you do not want them to be used, or if you wish to be credited, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to respond to your request.
The image of the Monographie des Communes du Canton de Cadouin is a photo of the book cover of the 2007 edition by L’ Hydre Éditions de Cahors.