10.10.2018 Views

Terrebonne Parish: Stories of the Good Earth

An illustrated history of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, paired with the histories of companies, institutions, and organizations that have made the parish great.

An illustrated history of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, paired with the histories of companies, institutions, and organizations that have made the parish great.

SHOW MORE
SHOW LESS

You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

Thank you for your interest in this HPNbooks publication.<br />

For more information about o<strong>the</strong>r HPNbooks publications, or information about<br />

producing your own book with us, please visit www.hpnbooks.com.


TERREBONNE<br />

PARISH<br />

<strong>Stories</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong><br />

by Rachel Cherry<br />

A publication <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce<br />

HPNbooks<br />

A division <strong>of</strong> Lammert Incorporated<br />

San Antonio, Texas


LEGACY SPONSOR<br />

Through <strong>the</strong>ir generous support, Wolfe’s Pharmacy helped to make this project possible.<br />

5458 Highway 56, Chauvin, Louisiana 70344<br />

985-594-5821 • www.wolfespharmacy.com<br />

First Edition<br />

Copyright © 2016 HPNbooks<br />

All rights reserved. No part <strong>of</strong> this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing<br />

from <strong>the</strong> publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to HPNbooks, 11535 Galm Road, Suite 101, San Antonio, Texas, 78254. Phone (800) 749-9790, www.hpnbooks.com.<br />

ISBN: 978-1-944891-20-6<br />

Library <strong>of</strong> Congress Card Catalog Number: 2016958777<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>: <strong>Stories</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong><br />

author: Rachel Cherry<br />

editors: Suzanne Nolfo Carlos<br />

Christopher E. Cenac, Sr., M.D., F.A.C.S., C.E.C.<br />

Clifton P. Theriot, M.L.I.S., C.A.<br />

contributing writer for “Sharing <strong>the</strong> Heritage”: Garnette Bane<br />

cover photography: Jo Ann LeBoeuf Photography<br />

HPNbooks<br />

president: Ron Lammert<br />

project manager: Curtis Courtney<br />

administration: Donna M. Mata<br />

Melissa G. Quinn<br />

book sales: Dee Steidle<br />

production: Colin Hart<br />

Evelyn Hart<br />

Glenda Tarazon Krouse<br />

Tim Lippard<br />

Christopher D. Sturdevant<br />

2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


A map <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> from 1833.<br />

COURTESY OF THE NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

CONTENTS<br />

4 INTRODUCTION<br />

5 CHAPTER 1 Traveling <strong>the</strong> Highways and Byways <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

21 CHAPTER 2 Celebrations<br />

27 CHAPTER 3 <strong>Parish</strong> Pioneers<br />

33 CHAPTER 4 Historic Sites and Attractions<br />

43 CHAPTER 5 Industries<br />

55 CHAPTER 6 Institutions<br />

65 CHAPTER 7 <strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s Environment: A Vanishing Coast<br />

72 LAGNIAPPE IMAGES<br />

82 SHARING THE HERITAGE<br />

177 SPONSORS<br />

C o n t e n t s ✦ 3


INTRODUCTION<br />

The Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce is proud to present this new and unique model for<br />

publishing <strong>the</strong> illustrated history <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>: <strong>Stories</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong>. This<br />

c<strong>of</strong>fee table book contains well over one hundred photographs, illustrations, maps and o<strong>the</strong>r images<br />

and was produced to <strong>of</strong>fer a unique perspective on our community’s colorful and intriguing history. A<br />

distinctive part <strong>of</strong> <strong>Stories</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong> is <strong>the</strong> “Sharing The Heritage” section that includes <strong>the</strong><br />

histories <strong>of</strong> many <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>’s leading corporations and organizations. This section is<br />

separate from <strong>the</strong> main historical manuscript and was written by a team <strong>of</strong> freelance writers.<br />

We are appreciative <strong>of</strong> our author, historian Rachel Cherry. The historical images that are included<br />

in this book were obtained from <strong>the</strong> author, <strong>the</strong> Archives <strong>of</strong> Nicholls State University, <strong>the</strong> State<br />

Library <strong>of</strong> Louisiana, and <strong>the</strong> Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Library System. O<strong>the</strong>r sources are listed when <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

pictures are used.<br />

Special thanks goes to Jo Ann LeBoeuf Photography for her beautiful front cover photograph as<br />

well as <strong>the</strong> photograph <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Courthouse Square featured on <strong>the</strong> back cover. We are also grateful for<br />

<strong>the</strong> assistance <strong>of</strong> Patty Whitney with <strong>the</strong> Bayou Historical Society, Clifton Theriot with Nicholls<br />

Archives, and Dr. Christopher E. Cenac for <strong>the</strong>ir assistance in <strong>the</strong> final editing. Their input was<br />

invaluable.<br />

We would like to acknowledge HPNbooks for partnering with us on this enormous project. Their<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional and talented staff were essential in making this publication a success.<br />

Our history is rich and diverse, and while not every story <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> is included in this<br />

book we hope that you will enjoy perusing through <strong>the</strong> many photographs, old and new, and reading<br />

about some <strong>of</strong> our fascinating history and <strong>the</strong> influential people and businesses that have helped to<br />

make our parish what it is today. We trust that <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>: <strong>Stories</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong> will be a<br />

centerpiece for conversation and enjoyment for years to come.<br />

Suzanne Nolfo Carlos<br />

President/CEO<br />

Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce<br />

<br />

A blue heron flies in over <strong>the</strong> calm<br />

waters <strong>of</strong> a local bayou.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW NOEL<br />

4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


CHAPTER 1<br />

T R A V E L I N G T H E H I G H W A Y S A N D B Y W A Y S O F T E R R E B O N N E<br />

The vast expanse that is <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> is made up <strong>of</strong> nearly equal parts water and land mass.<br />

Traveling <strong>the</strong> roads and waterways that were forged by <strong>the</strong> ancestral past is a journey into adventure<br />

and beauty.<br />

When you take a journey through <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> it is seen that <strong>the</strong> diversity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> people is<br />

mimicked by <strong>the</strong> landscape. Much <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> majestic beauty that lies within <strong>the</strong> parish is in <strong>the</strong> marsh<br />

lands. Although <strong>the</strong> parish is rich in low level areas, <strong>the</strong> scenic route <strong>of</strong> Highways 20 and 311 still<br />

boasts a lush environment that could be mistaken for <strong>the</strong> prehistoric times <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> continent. The<br />

communities <strong>of</strong> Gibson and Donner were from <strong>the</strong> outset and still are to this day rural beauties.<br />

However, as in o<strong>the</strong>r areas <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish, Gibson was not without its wealthy landowners. Gibson,<br />

formerly known as “Tigerville”, was renamed after <strong>the</strong> plantation owner Tobias Gibson. It is believed<br />

<strong>the</strong> name “Tigerville” came from <strong>the</strong> abundance <strong>of</strong> “tigers” or most likely pan<strong>the</strong>rs in <strong>the</strong> marshes.<br />

His family is credited for encouraging <strong>the</strong> naming <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish seat Houma after <strong>the</strong> Indians who<br />

were occupying <strong>the</strong> land in <strong>the</strong> early 1700s.<br />

Randall Gibson, son <strong>of</strong> Tobias, was a well-known United States Senator from 1883-1892. He was<br />

an attorney and a member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> House <strong>of</strong> Representatives. In addition, he served as aide to Governor<br />

Thomas O. Moore, but left that service to join <strong>the</strong> 1st Louisiana Artillery during <strong>the</strong> Civil War. By<br />

1864 he had been promoted to brigadier general and fought in many major campaigns.<br />

Known for <strong>the</strong> numerous Indian mounds, <strong>the</strong> lands <strong>of</strong> Gibson, an unincorporated area in <strong>the</strong><br />

northwest portion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish, were also home to lumber companies and plantations. In 1890,<br />

Gibson had 240 residents. It also boasted <strong>the</strong> second oldest Methodist church in Louisiana.<br />

<br />

A fais-do-do at The Jolly Inn in<br />

downtown Houma. Built in 1935 <strong>the</strong><br />

building was originally an oil field<br />

supply store. It has become a favorite<br />

for tourists and locals alike featuring<br />

live Cajun music to dance to and<br />

great Cajun food.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW NOEL.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 ✦ 5


Above: Bocage’s <strong>of</strong>ficial map <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> from 1915.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Below: Swamp tours in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> give visitors and locals alike a<br />

special view <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> beauty and unique<br />

nature <strong>of</strong> our parish.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW NOEL.<br />

The next unincorporated area is Donner. In<br />

its heyday you would find a thriving logging<br />

community. The gateway to and from <strong>the</strong><br />

waterways to roads and transportation came<br />

through this little community. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> major<br />

companies in Donner was <strong>the</strong> sawmill <strong>of</strong> Dibert,<br />

Stark & Brown Cypress Co. Ltd. In a 1917<br />

article in <strong>the</strong> Times Picayune, it stated, “On <strong>the</strong><br />

main line <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Pacific system and<br />

lying between <strong>the</strong> Mississippi and Atchafalaya<br />

Rivers is <strong>the</strong> important City <strong>of</strong> Donner, <strong>the</strong><br />

metropolis <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn part <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

parish and one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most thriving<br />

communities <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> state.” As it is stated in <strong>the</strong><br />

1917 article, many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> homes along <strong>the</strong> road<br />

have garden spaces. It was stated, “A majority <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> people take great pride in raising a large part<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> necessities <strong>of</strong> life in <strong>the</strong> way <strong>of</strong> fruits and<br />

small vegetables.”<br />

The sawmill operated one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most<br />

modern sawmills <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> time and <strong>the</strong> entire<br />

village <strong>of</strong> Donner was located on a cleared<br />

swamp which had been drained and improved<br />

by <strong>the</strong> sawmill. It was said to have been one <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> healthiest towns in <strong>the</strong> state, with<br />

improvements such as houses and cisterns that<br />

were screened. Dibert, Stark & Brown Cypress<br />

also provided a company store and a clubhouse<br />

where <strong>the</strong>y provided entertainments such as<br />

moving pictures and dances.<br />

The town had more than 1,500 residents, 900<br />

<strong>of</strong> whom were on <strong>the</strong> payroll, and included a<br />

public school that taught approximately 240<br />

students and employed 6 teachers. To fur<strong>the</strong>r<br />

elevate this community, <strong>the</strong> company provided<br />

an electric light plant, water treatment <strong>of</strong> sorts<br />

and fire protection facilities.<br />

It was an ideal life in <strong>the</strong> northwest corner <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> until 1925 when <strong>the</strong> area no<br />

longer provided <strong>the</strong> needed cypress to fund <strong>the</strong><br />

company and town.<br />

Today, Wildlife Gardens is a beautiful tribute<br />

to <strong>the</strong> fauna and flora typical <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> bayou<br />

country. Operating as a bed and breakfast,<br />

Wildlife Gardens also boasts trails for hiking<br />

and ample opportunities for photos.<br />

Donner was <strong>the</strong> residence <strong>of</strong> Charles Barber<br />

Gilbert, an artist and designer who lived <strong>the</strong>re<br />

with his family in his younger days. Gilbert was<br />

born in 1899 and died in 1970. His fa<strong>the</strong>r was<br />

<strong>the</strong> superintendent <strong>of</strong> a sawmill operation <strong>the</strong>re.<br />

Many <strong>of</strong> his works hang at Southdown Museum.<br />

He spent most <strong>of</strong> his adult life in New York City<br />

and Paris, France, where he studied art. It wasn’t<br />

until 1956, after a car accident killed his fa<strong>the</strong>r<br />

and his mo<strong>the</strong>r’s health deteriorated, that he<br />

returned to <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

Gibson and Donner were eventually <strong>the</strong> home<br />

to many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> freed slaves after <strong>the</strong><br />

Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Sugar<br />

plantation owners eventually entered into tenant<br />

farming agreements with many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir former<br />

6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


slaves and <strong>the</strong> lands <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se communities were<br />

divided in such a manner to work <strong>the</strong>se farms.<br />

Both Donner and Gibson lie on Highway 20,<br />

a two-lane road with exits to US Highway 90.<br />

Highway 90 runs from Lafayette to <strong>the</strong> west<br />

bank <strong>of</strong> New Orleans. It was <strong>the</strong> main<br />

thoroughfare from US Highway I-10 to New<br />

Orleans until 1995 when <strong>the</strong> Chacahoula<br />

Swamp Bridge was completed.<br />

A peaceful road, <strong>of</strong>ten sparsely populated by<br />

vehicles, Highway 20 winds its way toward <strong>the</strong><br />

town <strong>of</strong> Houma when it meets Highway 182.<br />

Highway 20 runs along <strong>the</strong> banks <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

tributary <strong>of</strong> Bayou Lafourche. One can “pass” a<br />

lovely ride down <strong>the</strong> road next to <strong>the</strong> bayou rich<br />

with water hyacinth and palmettos. If you are<br />

lucky you will see an alligator with his nose and<br />

eyes just above water stretched out in <strong>the</strong> bayou.<br />

It’s always entertaining to watch <strong>the</strong> turtles<br />

sunning on <strong>the</strong> downed trees only to jump in<br />

<strong>the</strong> water when <strong>the</strong>y hear an approach.<br />

It is this stretch <strong>of</strong> road that still strongly<br />

resembles <strong>the</strong> landscape <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ancient past with<br />

<strong>the</strong> exception <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> plantation houses and fields<br />

<strong>of</strong> sugarcane. The roar <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sawmill has now<br />

been taken by <strong>the</strong> swamps <strong>of</strong> south Louisiana.<br />

C H A C A H O U L A<br />

One alternate route from Gibson and Donner to<br />

Houma is Bull Run Road. This is <strong>the</strong> site <strong>of</strong><br />

Chacahoula. Chacahoula (chaca hula) is <strong>the</strong><br />

Choctaw word meaning large s<strong>of</strong>t shell turtle.<br />

Some sources state that <strong>the</strong> Choctaw words chukka<br />

and hulla mean “beautiful” and “home.” This area<br />

must have been home to many recipes for turtle<br />

soup and turtle sauce picante! Home to sugar<br />

plantations owned by <strong>the</strong> Cockes and <strong>the</strong> Bergers,<br />

<strong>the</strong> road twists and turns through sugarcane fields<br />

even today from Highway 182 to Highway 311.<br />

The road ends at <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> land where<br />

Ardoyne Plantation, owned by <strong>the</strong> William Shaffer<br />

family, had <strong>the</strong>ir sugarcane plantation.<br />

Though Chacahoula seems less like an<br />

independent settlement today and more like a<br />

suburb <strong>of</strong> Houma, in 1848 it was established as<br />

a settlement for 40 inhabitants. St. Lawrence<br />

Church has a plaque stating “Fa<strong>the</strong>r Z. Leveque,<br />

first Houma pastor” dated 1847-1848. Leveque<br />

was <strong>the</strong> first pastor at St. Francis de Sales<br />

Church, <strong>of</strong>ficially, at this time.<br />

Ten years later <strong>the</strong> settlement had grown<br />

enough to warrant <strong>the</strong> assignment <strong>of</strong> a priest<br />

and Fr. Joseph Pineau became <strong>the</strong> first <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

pastor. The current church at Chacahoula was<br />

built in 1911 and a bygone festival in <strong>the</strong> area,<br />

<strong>the</strong> Cypress Festival, celebrated <strong>the</strong> area,<br />

highlighting <strong>the</strong> logging industry that was<br />

prevalent in that section <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

An equally scenic drive along <strong>the</strong> north side<br />

<strong>of</strong> Bayou Black is <strong>the</strong> Southdown-Mandalay<br />

Road. Homes and churches dot <strong>the</strong> landscape,<br />

separated into plots <strong>of</strong> land that were <strong>the</strong><br />

original holdings <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> tenant farmers.<br />

A handful <strong>of</strong> camping facilities and a few gas<br />

stations are available, but with <strong>the</strong> exception <strong>of</strong><br />

homes, grand oak trees and <strong>the</strong> bayou, <strong>the</strong> land<br />

is largely rural.<br />

<br />

Above: Logging <strong>of</strong> 1,000-year-old<br />

Cyprus trees in <strong>the</strong> early 1900s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Below: A store and saloon<br />

in Chacahoula.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 ✦ 7


Bayou Dularge served as <strong>the</strong> main<br />

route to Houma for many years. It<br />

was a massive undertaking to build<br />

roads that eventually enabled <strong>the</strong><br />

residents <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn villages and<br />

towns easy access to points north,<br />

east and west.<br />

COURTESY OF THE UNITED HOUMA NATION.<br />

Between Highway 182 and Southdown<br />

Mandalay Road is a series <strong>of</strong> bridges that span<br />

Bayou Black. The bridges are <strong>of</strong>ten named for<br />

<strong>the</strong> people or <strong>the</strong> plantations that line <strong>the</strong><br />

twenty-eight miles <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> road. These bridges<br />

are as follows in alphabetical order: Blanchard<br />

Street Bridge, Carrol Street Bridge, Gibson East<br />

Bridge, Greenwood Bridge, Jarvis Bridge,<br />

Mandalay Bridge, St. Anthony Bridge and<br />

Waterpro<strong>of</strong> Bridge.<br />

A big tourist attraction in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

is <strong>the</strong> swamp tours on <strong>the</strong> bayous. The<br />

legendary Alligator Annie created a culture <strong>of</strong><br />

tourism in <strong>the</strong> parish with her swamp tours.<br />

Several o<strong>the</strong>r tours have started since <strong>the</strong><br />

original Annie tour. With <strong>the</strong> popularity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Swamp People television show, <strong>the</strong> wild waters<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish have been shared with <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

Tourists visit <strong>the</strong> area in hopes <strong>of</strong> seeing<br />

alligators, snakes, and o<strong>the</strong>r wildlife. Annie<br />

Miller’s swamp tours are now run by her son. A<br />

Cajun Man swamp tour, started by Black<br />

Guidry has been a popular tour as well. The<br />

Greenwood Gator Farm boasts baby alligators<br />

and family fun. Near <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> Southdown<br />

Mandalay Road lies <strong>the</strong> Bayou Black<br />

Community Center where children can<br />

participate in supervised recreation.<br />

Finally, Highway 182 continues through<br />

<strong>the</strong> Mulberry neighborhood and ends at<br />

Jim Bowie Park. The park is <strong>the</strong> fur<strong>the</strong>st<br />

extent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> land owned by bro<strong>the</strong>rs Jim and<br />

Rezin Bowie. They purchased <strong>the</strong> property from<br />

two Cubans who had grown indigo on <strong>the</strong><br />

property. The Bowies utilized <strong>the</strong> property for<br />

<strong>the</strong> growth <strong>of</strong> indigo as well. In 1828 <strong>the</strong>y<br />

sold <strong>the</strong> property to James Dinsmore and<br />

Stephen Minor <strong>of</strong> Natchez, Mississippi. It<br />

would be Minor’s son and subsequent<br />

generations that would take that initial purchase<br />

and expand it into 22,000 acres <strong>of</strong> sugar<br />

production through 1934.<br />

Southdown Mandalay Road gives way to <strong>the</strong><br />

Summerfield subdivisions which were some <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> first to be built from properties sold <strong>of</strong>f by<br />

Southdown Plantation starting in <strong>the</strong> 1950s.<br />

Just short <strong>of</strong> Bowie Park, a bridge traverses<br />

<strong>the</strong> Intracoastal Canal. It is one <strong>of</strong> several built<br />

over <strong>the</strong> years to traverse <strong>the</strong> largest body <strong>of</strong><br />

water moving through <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

B A Y O U D U L A R G E ( B U F F A L O )<br />

A N D T H E R I O T<br />

At <strong>the</strong> base <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Bayou Dularge Bridge<br />

crossing <strong>the</strong> Intracoastal Canal is <strong>the</strong> exit to<br />

Theriot. Known as <strong>the</strong> Bayou Dularge Road or<br />

Highway 315, it is <strong>the</strong> road that links Houma to<br />

<strong>the</strong> older settlements <strong>of</strong> Dularge and Theriot.<br />

Not unlike <strong>the</strong> terrain on <strong>the</strong> north side <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> parish, <strong>the</strong> road and bayou leading to <strong>the</strong><br />

communities <strong>of</strong> Dularge and Theriot is lush<br />

and bountiful. Bayou Dularge was <strong>the</strong> waterway<br />

that ran somewhat parallel to <strong>the</strong> Intracoastal<br />

Canal and originally allowed navigation to <strong>the</strong><br />

Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico.<br />

Peppered throughout <strong>the</strong> parish and <strong>the</strong><br />

freshwater bayous are freshwater lakes/bodies <strong>of</strong><br />

water. They are: Bay Borbeux, Bay Coon Road,<br />

Bay Couteau, Bay le Peur, Bay Long, Bay Lucien,<br />

Bay Negresse, Bay Wallace, King Bayou, Lake<br />

8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Barre, Lake Cocodrie, Lake Hackberry, Lake<br />

Jean Pierre, Lake la Graisse, Lake Pelto, Lake<br />

Quitman, Lake Sr. Jean Baptiste, Lake Tambour,<br />

Lake Washa, Plumb Lake, Round Bayou,<br />

Sweetwater Pond and Wine Bayou.<br />

As transportation and engineering matured,<br />

routes that were previously only waterways<br />

led to better travel in <strong>the</strong> remote areas <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> parish. Alongside Falgout Canal became<br />

Falgout Canal Road linking Theriot to <strong>the</strong><br />

south end <strong>of</strong> Dulac. It eventually led to <strong>the</strong><br />

beautiful and awe-inspiring Four Points. At<br />

Four Points four separate canals converge. The<br />

waters flow in all directions as <strong>the</strong> canals<br />

pour into each o<strong>the</strong>r. The marshlands in<br />

this area are rich with wildlife and beauty. The<br />

area is covered with stilt houses that look<br />

out upon <strong>the</strong> waters’ beauty for each sunrise<br />

and sunset.<br />

Since Four Points is <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> earth for<br />

that area <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish, a trip back over <strong>the</strong> lone<br />

road leads with a quick turn to <strong>the</strong> south to<br />

Bayou Sale Road. Bayou Sale Road snakes its<br />

way as Highway 57 to Highway 56 between<br />

Cocodrie and Chauvin. Long thought by locals<br />

and ghost hunters to be haunted, Bayou Sale<br />

Road is said to be inhabited by <strong>the</strong> spirits <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Houmas Indians.<br />

The approximately nine-mile stretch <strong>of</strong> road<br />

is littered with dead cypress from salt water<br />

intrusion during <strong>the</strong> many hurricanes. They<br />

stand <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> road like tomb markers <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

sometimes desolated but always healing<br />

landscape. The beauty <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> prairie that<br />

encircles Lake Quitman with its tall grasses and<br />

pops <strong>of</strong> green make <strong>the</strong> travel <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> road a<br />

treasure for miles to see.<br />

Upon emerging from Bayou Sale Road,<br />

Highway 56 south leads to Cocodrie. The word<br />

Cocodrie is Cajun French for crocodile. The<br />

waters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rnmost tip <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

are fresh water, salt water, and brackish, which<br />

is a combination <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> two. The waters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se<br />

parts are home to a variety <strong>of</strong> wildlife such as<br />

pelicans, water snakes, alligators, turtles,<br />

aquatic birds and a variety <strong>of</strong> fish.<br />

At Cocodrie <strong>the</strong> landscape is dominated by<br />

“camps” or fishing houses on stilts. In days<br />

past <strong>the</strong> small fishing village was home to<br />

various ethnic groups who depended upon <strong>the</strong><br />

Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico and <strong>the</strong> surrounding landscape<br />

for <strong>the</strong>ir livelihood. Due to <strong>the</strong> rich habitat,<br />

Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium<br />

(LUMCON) W. J. DeFelice Marine Center is<br />

located at Cocodrie.<br />

C H A U V I N<br />

As with many areas in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, <strong>the</strong>re<br />

is one road in and <strong>the</strong> same road out. Highway 56<br />

heading north back toward Houma is it. The next<br />

place on this journey is Chauvin. Chauvin is one<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> oldest settlements in <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

Bayou Petit Caillou is <strong>the</strong> main navigational<br />

waterway <strong>of</strong> this area. With a high<br />

concentration <strong>of</strong> shrimpers who launch from<br />

this bayou, <strong>the</strong> water road is filled with shrimp<br />

boats. The wings that extend from <strong>the</strong> sides <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> boats remind one <strong>of</strong> angel wings. Unlike<br />

some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> smaller communities in <strong>the</strong> area,<br />

Chauvin has a two-road system that extends a<br />

portion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> town.<br />

Where <strong>the</strong> road splits in Chauvin is an<br />

interesting and unique attraction that brings<br />

people from all over <strong>the</strong> world. Perhaps it was <strong>the</strong><br />

wings <strong>of</strong> those vessels that inspired The Chauvin<br />

Sculpture Garden located on Bayouside Drive.<br />

The story is as interesting as <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

In 1988 a bricklayer named Kenny Hill, a recluse,<br />

settled on some property on <strong>the</strong> bayou. Hill lived<br />

on <strong>the</strong> property in a tent, which he eventually<br />

upgraded to a cabin made from local salvage and<br />

over time using leftover materials from jobs and<br />

eventually with donations <strong>of</strong> brick, mortar and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r building elements created a sculpture<br />

garden given to his visions <strong>of</strong> life.<br />

<br />

Fishermen in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

in 1939.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 ✦ 9


Above: The blessing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> shrimp fleet<br />

in Chauvin in <strong>the</strong> 1970s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

Opposite: The lighthouse sculpture at<br />

Chauvin Sculpture Garden in<br />

Chauvin is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> many sculptures<br />

by reclusive bricklayer Kenny Hill.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW NOEL.<br />

Described by locals as a mysterious figure<br />

with immense natural talent, Hill fashioned his<br />

garden <strong>of</strong> angels and spiritual figures from<br />

concrete and paint that was on hand. The<br />

figures within <strong>the</strong> garden were, as told by<br />

people who knew him, “Everything in his life.<br />

He wanted people to bring <strong>the</strong>ir own knowledge<br />

and experiences to <strong>the</strong> garden.” He was known<br />

to say that he didn’t think explaining <strong>the</strong> pieces<br />

would help people understand it any better.<br />

In 2000, faced with eviction from <strong>the</strong> parish<br />

due to <strong>the</strong> death <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> landowner, Hill left.<br />

Today <strong>the</strong> sculpture gardens are under <strong>the</strong><br />

protection <strong>of</strong> Nicholls State University <strong>of</strong><br />

Thibodaux, Louisiana. It was an art pr<strong>of</strong>essor,<br />

Dennis Sipiorski who secured <strong>the</strong> site.<br />

Chauvin has a rich history dating back to <strong>the</strong><br />

French colonists who inhabited <strong>the</strong> area at Little<br />

Caillou. Dating back to <strong>the</strong> 1750s with <strong>the</strong> birth<br />

<strong>of</strong> Hypolite (Paul) Chauvin, who was a<br />

Revolutionary War veteran and served with<br />

Bernardo de Galvez at <strong>the</strong> Battle <strong>of</strong> Mobile<br />

against <strong>the</strong> British. He was a member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Louisiana Militia that was aiding <strong>the</strong> American<br />

Rebels alongside <strong>the</strong> Spanish Navy. He,<br />

however, did not establish his household in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>, but ra<strong>the</strong>r in nearby Des<br />

Allemands, in St. Charles <strong>Parish</strong>. His children<br />

and many later generations would establish a<br />

business foothold in <strong>the</strong> area now known as<br />

Chauvin with <strong>the</strong> start <strong>of</strong> Albert Eloi Chauvin’s<br />

store and delivery business. In 1875, Albert was<br />

not only a store owner, but <strong>the</strong> postmaster as<br />

well. He also owned a boat that he would load<br />

with produce and furs and sail to New Orleans<br />

where he would sell his wares at <strong>the</strong> French<br />

Market. The Chauvin family became known for<br />

<strong>the</strong> processing and canning <strong>of</strong> fresh seafood<br />

from this small fishing community.<br />

M O N T E G U T<br />

Continuing on <strong>the</strong> journey to <strong>the</strong> east is <strong>the</strong><br />

community <strong>of</strong> Montegut located on <strong>the</strong> banks <strong>of</strong><br />

Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> along Highway 55. It was a<br />

lively, activity-filled place in its heyday. Just as<br />

<strong>the</strong> community in France with <strong>the</strong> same name,<br />

Montegut was a thriving community. A major<br />

asset to <strong>the</strong> sugarcane community, Montegut<br />

celebrated rich land owners and great prosperity.<br />

From grand plantation homes to <strong>the</strong> Lower<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Sugar Refining and Manufacturing<br />

Company, Inc., Montegut’s multiple enterprises<br />

helped to fill <strong>the</strong> needs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

Montegut was named for a man who didn’t<br />

live in Montegut, but had an interesting and<br />

exciting history himself. Born on July 20, 1839,<br />

in New Orleans, Gabriel Montegut’s family came<br />

from Santo Domingo to south Louisiana in <strong>the</strong><br />

late 1700s where <strong>the</strong>y established a large<br />

1 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


C h a p t e r 1 ✦ 1 1


Above: Reminiscent <strong>of</strong> many sugar<br />

mills, Montegut was prosperous for<br />

many years as a sugar producing<br />

town. Eventually <strong>the</strong> seafood industry<br />

took hold in <strong>the</strong> area as <strong>the</strong> main<br />

source <strong>of</strong> revenue.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

Below: The women <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> plantation<br />

work to bring in <strong>the</strong> crop.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

plantation. After serving as a colonel in <strong>the</strong> Civil<br />

War for <strong>the</strong> Confederate States, he was<br />

appointed superintendent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> U.S. Mint at<br />

New Orleans. He eventually went into private<br />

banking and moved to Houma. A collection <strong>of</strong><br />

hand-written notes and speeches have been<br />

uncovered in an attic in Houma.<br />

During his career, he started <strong>the</strong> People’s<br />

Bank in Houma. Originally coming to <strong>the</strong> area<br />

representing <strong>the</strong> Citizens Bank <strong>of</strong> New Orleans,<br />

Montegut relocated to <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> where<br />

he held positions as clerk, bookkeeper and<br />

insurance agent. He built his home on Main<br />

Street where <strong>the</strong> current <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High<br />

School now stands.<br />

An interesting resident <strong>of</strong> Montegut was<br />

known affectionately as <strong>the</strong> “Hermit <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>.” In an interview conducted by<br />

Glenn Pitre in conjunction with <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Historical & Cultural Society at Southdown<br />

Plantation, Sherwin Guidry relayed <strong>the</strong> story <strong>of</strong><br />

Jean-Baptiste Placide Dugas, <strong>the</strong> hermit.<br />

The story is told that Jean was a skilled<br />

carpenter. At <strong>the</strong> age <strong>of</strong> twenty-four years old he<br />

fell in love with a young lady (identity<br />

unknown). He courted her and eventually asked<br />

1 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


her to marry. She rejected him and chose to wed<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r, who was a friend <strong>of</strong> Jean. Shortly<br />

<strong>the</strong>reafter he moved into a wooded area that his<br />

family owned and built a palmetto hut where he<br />

would live out his days.<br />

It was said that he lived only on <strong>the</strong> animals<br />

and seafood that he could hunt or fish. Family<br />

and friends attempted to bring him food, but he<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten discarded it for he thought it was possibly<br />

poisoned. He lived in <strong>the</strong> area where <strong>the</strong> Dugas<br />

Cemetery is today. Never cutting his hair nor<br />

shaving it was also said that <strong>the</strong> only clothing he<br />

wore was a blanket that he wrapped around<br />

himself, secured with a thorn. It is said that he<br />

died <strong>of</strong> malnutrition as his body was found<br />

bloated in his woodland home. He is buried at<br />

<strong>the</strong> Dugas Cemetery under an unmarked grave.<br />

Montegut was built in <strong>the</strong> traditional form <strong>of</strong><br />

delta communities on <strong>the</strong> high ridges along <strong>the</strong><br />

waterways. A mill was built and <strong>the</strong>n people<br />

bought property near <strong>the</strong> mill in a concentrated<br />

area like Gibson or Bourg. During <strong>the</strong> 1930s,<br />

1940s, and 1950s, Montegut had a movie <strong>the</strong>ater,<br />

a baseball park and a pavilion or dance hall.<br />

It was mostly a sugar town with some people in<br />

<strong>the</strong> pr<strong>of</strong>ession <strong>of</strong> fishing, but in <strong>the</strong> 1930s Texaco<br />

came in and built a boat way and a warehouse.<br />

From <strong>the</strong>n on, Montegut was an oil town.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> 1870s <strong>the</strong> town had a small hotel over<br />

a saloon, a dance hall, a general store, a barrel<br />

shop, a blacksmith shop, a boat builder and<br />

several large homes.<br />

Still boasting old structures and tradition,<br />

<strong>the</strong> main ga<strong>the</strong>ring place in <strong>the</strong> town is <strong>the</strong><br />

Sacred Heart <strong>of</strong> Jesus Catholic Church.<br />

A history <strong>of</strong> it is in <strong>the</strong> works. Churches being<br />

a center <strong>of</strong> life in <strong>the</strong>se smaller villages,<br />

<strong>the</strong> history <strong>of</strong> every birth, death, and marriage<br />

can be found in <strong>the</strong> Diocese <strong>of</strong> Houma-<br />

Thibodaux archives.<br />

Today, <strong>the</strong> densely populated bayou marks<br />

homesteads and on <strong>the</strong> bayou-side some<br />

seafood processors.<br />

Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico. Along <strong>the</strong> way is <strong>the</strong> small linear<br />

community <strong>of</strong> Pointe-aux-Chenes and <strong>the</strong><br />

Louisiana Department <strong>of</strong> Wildlife and Fisheries’<br />

Pointe-aux-Chênes Wildlife Management Area.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> most sou<strong>the</strong>rn part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> road is <strong>the</strong><br />

Tribal Center for <strong>the</strong> Pointe-au-Chien Indian<br />

Tribe, ano<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> state-recognized tribal<br />

groups in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

Near <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Pointe-aux-<br />

Chênes Road is <strong>the</strong> turn<strong>of</strong>f to <strong>the</strong> Island Road that<br />

leads to <strong>the</strong> small Native American community <strong>of</strong><br />

Isle de Jean Charles, home to <strong>the</strong> state-recognized<br />

Isle de Jean Charles Band <strong>of</strong> Biloxi-Chitimacha-<br />

Choctaw. The “Island” has been <strong>the</strong> setting <strong>of</strong><br />

many documentaries on <strong>the</strong> dramatic coastal land<br />

loss that plagues coastal Louisiana. It was also<br />

<strong>the</strong> site <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 2012 Academy Award-nominated<br />

film Beasts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Wild, featuring<br />

Quvenzhané Wallis, a native <strong>of</strong> Houma who at age<br />

9 became <strong>the</strong> youngest person ever nominated for<br />

an Academy Award. She was nominated in <strong>the</strong><br />

“Best Actress” category for her role in <strong>the</strong> movie<br />

filmed on <strong>the</strong> Island.<br />

According to residents, <strong>the</strong> growth and<br />

development <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> settlement started when a<br />

Frenchman named Jean Marie Naquin married<br />

a Native American woman named Pauline<br />

Verdin. When his family ostracized him for <strong>the</strong><br />

mixed marriage, he moved his bride to <strong>the</strong> small<br />

island where his fa<strong>the</strong>r, Jean Charles Naquin,<br />

had traveled <strong>of</strong>ten to supposedly meet up with<br />

<strong>the</strong> legendary pirate Jean Lafitte. With<br />

<strong>the</strong> exception <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir oldest daughter, all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

children <strong>of</strong> Jean Marie Naquin and Pauline<br />

Verdin married Native Americans.<br />

<br />

The main way to traverse<br />

<strong>the</strong> many waterways <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> was by boat or o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

floating vehicle.<br />

COURTESY OF THE UNITED HOUMA NATION.<br />

P O I N T E - A U X - C H Ê N E S<br />

A N D I S L E D E J E A N C H A R L E S<br />

Now <strong>the</strong> journey moves north from Montegut<br />

on Highway 55 to its intersection with Highway-<br />

665 (Pointe-aux-Chenes Road). The road travels<br />

southward until it reaches <strong>the</strong> marshes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

C h a p t e r 1 ✦ 1 3


Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, known earlier as<br />

Bayou De Arbonne, in which <strong>the</strong><br />

settlement <strong>of</strong> Williamsburg (Bayou<br />

Cane) was settled as <strong>the</strong> first<br />

parish seat.<br />

COURTESY OF THE UNITED HOUMA NATION.<br />

Eventually o<strong>the</strong>r families intermarried with<br />

<strong>the</strong> islanders, and by <strong>the</strong> 1880 Census <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> <strong>the</strong>re were four family groups<br />

living in <strong>the</strong> area, all related by marriage. They<br />

were <strong>the</strong> families <strong>of</strong> Jean Baptiste Narcisse<br />

Naquin, Antoine Livaudais Dardar, Marcelin<br />

Duchils Naquin and Walker Lovell. Peculiar<br />

regulations dealing with race in early census<br />

records have members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se families<br />

recorded as “Mulatto” or “Negro,” since <strong>the</strong>re<br />

were no categories allowing for designation as<br />

“Native American” or “American Indian.”<br />

B O U R G<br />

Returning back to Highway 55 at its<br />

intersection with 665 and heading north, <strong>the</strong><br />

journey next comes to <strong>the</strong> prosperous little<br />

community <strong>of</strong> Bourg. Sitting along <strong>the</strong> banks <strong>of</strong><br />

Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, it lies about nine miles below<br />

<strong>the</strong> early settlement <strong>of</strong> Houma and was first named<br />

Canal Belanger and <strong>the</strong>n Newport before acquiring<br />

its modern name <strong>of</strong> Bourg. The original streets<br />

were named Front, Main, Market and Cypress.<br />

The settlement is credited to beginning via <strong>the</strong><br />

activities <strong>of</strong> Hubert Madison Belanger, who, along<br />

with his bro<strong>the</strong>r-in-law Richard Grinage, also is<br />

credited as one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> co-founders <strong>of</strong> Houma. It<br />

was Belanger’s dream to link <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> to<br />

New Orleans by way <strong>of</strong> a canal. His dream did<br />

eventually happen, but not in his lifetime and not<br />

with Canal Belanger. The canal still exists, but it<br />

is now considered non-navigable.<br />

P R E S Q U ’ I L E<br />

Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> and Bayou Petit Caillou<br />

meet at this point <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> map. The word<br />

“presqu’ile” is French for peninsula. A peninsula<br />

is a piece <strong>of</strong> land surrounded by water on three<br />

sides. There was once a large sugar-producing<br />

plantation and a sugar mill located here.<br />

From this location, across <strong>the</strong> bayou on land<br />

previously for Myrtle Grove and Roberta Grove, to<br />

Houma lies <strong>the</strong> Houma <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Airport.<br />

Construction on <strong>the</strong> airport, which would accommodate<br />

private planes, was completed in 1935.<br />

H O U M A<br />

Houma was established as <strong>the</strong> seat <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

parish in 1834. It was <strong>the</strong> new frontier<br />

for wealthy planters from o<strong>the</strong>r areas <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

country. The Spanish land grants established<br />

many areas <strong>of</strong> cultivation from <strong>the</strong> late 1790s<br />

until <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Purchase <strong>of</strong> 1803. These<br />

grants required three things within a period<br />

<strong>of</strong> three years for <strong>the</strong> grantee to achieve full<br />

ownership <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> property. The Spanish<br />

government at New Orleans encouraged<br />

Catholic owners who would populate <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

The French and Houma India farmers occupied<br />

1 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


<strong>the</strong> lands in <strong>the</strong> south <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> area but, by 1828,<br />

<strong>the</strong> advantage <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> land in sou<strong>the</strong>ast Louisiana<br />

was becoming evident by <strong>the</strong> wealthy<br />

landowners <strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r states. The census <strong>of</strong> 1860<br />

stated that <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> French landowners<br />

had been cut in half.<br />

The formation <strong>of</strong> Houma is accredited to <strong>the</strong><br />

donation <strong>of</strong> properties by Richard H. Grinage<br />

and Hubert M. Belanger and was <strong>of</strong>ficially<br />

developed in 1834. It wasn’t, however,<br />

incorporated as a city until 1848.<br />

The first owner <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> property that would<br />

become Houma was Joseph Hache who had<br />

acquired it from <strong>the</strong> Spanish government as a land<br />

grant. A portion <strong>of</strong> land was cleared, but a large<br />

portion <strong>of</strong> it was in its natural state. In 1823, <strong>the</strong><br />

U.S. Senate confirmed <strong>the</strong> 1803 claim <strong>of</strong> Hache<br />

for pro<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong> habitation and cultivation. It was<br />

shortly after, in 1828, that <strong>the</strong> land transferred to<br />

Mrs. Brigitte Belanger, <strong>the</strong> widow <strong>of</strong> Henry<br />

Schuyler Thibodaux, who <strong>the</strong>n transferred some<br />

<strong>of</strong> her holding to Francois Belanger. The property<br />

was described as “a tract <strong>of</strong> land in standing<br />

timber”. The land transferred measured 8 arpents<br />

front on each bank <strong>of</strong> Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> by 10<br />

arpents depth on each side. Finally, ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

transfer went to Richard Grinage, <strong>the</strong> nephew <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> previous owner. This tract was described as<br />

about 3 arpents from and below <strong>the</strong> Bayou Black<br />

road on <strong>the</strong> right side <strong>of</strong> Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> and<br />

containing 4 arpents front by 10 arpents.<br />

Prior to a road built from Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> to<br />

Bayou Black, <strong>the</strong> seat <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> community was at<br />

Williamsburg (Bayou Cane) and named for<br />

William S. Watkins. The property <strong>of</strong> Grinage and<br />

Belanger was determined to be <strong>the</strong> site <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first<br />

courthouse. The property around this new town<br />

center began to subdivide and develop quickly.<br />

The first map was completed in 1847 and Main,<br />

<strong>Good</strong>e, Church and Grinage Streets were called<br />

Front, South, Washington and Belanger Streets.<br />

School Street was known as <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Street,<br />

<br />

Above: Henry Schuyler Thibodaux<br />

was credited with <strong>the</strong> creation <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. He is buried at<br />

Halfway Cemetery.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

Below: A shrimp boat traveling down<br />

Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> in Houma in 1947.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 ✦ 1 5


ut by <strong>the</strong> next <strong>of</strong>ficial map in 1855, <strong>the</strong> names<br />

were as today.<br />

During <strong>the</strong> Civil War, Houma saw action, not<br />

in skirmishes and battles, but it did involve<br />

Federal troops. In May 1862, a confederate force<br />

was attempting to get supplies behind enemy<br />

lines by way <strong>of</strong> Grand Caillou, south <strong>of</strong> Houma.<br />

The Union army in <strong>the</strong> area was informed <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

operation and seized <strong>the</strong> ship. Federal troops<br />

under McMillian came from <strong>the</strong> Opelousas<br />

Railroad to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> station and proceeded<br />

to march into Houma in <strong>the</strong> early hours <strong>of</strong> May 8,<br />

1862. The people were alarmed and <strong>the</strong> march<br />

caught <strong>the</strong> attention <strong>of</strong> Colonels John R. Bisland<br />

and J. B. Robinson <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Confederate Army, who<br />

were natives <strong>of</strong> Houma. Toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> men called a<br />

meeting <strong>of</strong> locals and tried to form a plan as to<br />

how <strong>the</strong>y could ei<strong>the</strong>r stop <strong>the</strong> federal troops from<br />

reaching <strong>the</strong> Confederate ship The Fox or how<br />

<strong>the</strong>y could recapture <strong>the</strong> supplies.<br />

No sensible plan was approved as <strong>the</strong>re was<br />

not a force <strong>of</strong> confederates in <strong>the</strong> area and <strong>the</strong><br />

meeting was called to a close with no resolution.<br />

A group <strong>of</strong> local men, incited by <strong>the</strong> invasion <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir town, took it upon <strong>the</strong>mselves to do what<br />

<strong>the</strong>y could to <strong>the</strong> Union troops while <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

within reach. Later in <strong>the</strong> day a group <strong>of</strong> 15 to 20<br />

men banded toge<strong>the</strong>r in pursuit <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> troops.<br />

Upon realization that <strong>the</strong>y were massively<br />

outnumbered, <strong>the</strong>y fell back into town. On <strong>the</strong><br />

evening <strong>of</strong> May 9, information was obtained by<br />

<strong>the</strong> self-proclaimed posse that two wagons driven<br />

by Negroes carrying two soldiers each were on<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir way back to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Station.<br />

Armed with <strong>the</strong> information, and<br />

undoubtedly adrenaline, <strong>the</strong> group formulated a<br />

plan and attacked <strong>the</strong> wagons. The soldiers who<br />

were returning to <strong>the</strong> railroad station had taken<br />

ill on <strong>the</strong> march to The Fox. As night fell <strong>the</strong> men<br />

took position as <strong>the</strong> wagons approached and fired<br />

upon <strong>the</strong>m killing Sergeant Jesse Frakes and<br />

Private Charles Geisendorffer who were riding in<br />

separate wagons. Private Miller was in <strong>the</strong> wagon<br />

with Geisendorffer and managed to get away but<br />

<strong>the</strong> second wagon with Morris and Franks was<br />

overtaken. Morris was taken into custody. Miller,<br />

fearing for his life, jumped from <strong>the</strong> wagon and<br />

concealed himself along <strong>the</strong> banks <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> bayou<br />

and in <strong>the</strong> surrounding vegetation well enough to<br />

track and hear <strong>the</strong> plans <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> men from Houma<br />

to capture him. Armed with Private Franks’ and<br />

his own guns, he made it to <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Station<br />

under cover <strong>of</strong> night. Here he rested until two<br />

men approached. Under <strong>the</strong> suspicion <strong>of</strong> arrest,<br />

Miller resisted. The two men, however convinced<br />

him <strong>the</strong>y meant no harm. He accompanied <strong>the</strong>m<br />

back to Thibodaux where he was given medical<br />

treatment, but held as a prisoner.<br />

Meanwhile in Houma, Private Morris was held<br />

at Berger’s Hotel on Main Street under suspicion<br />

<strong>of</strong> attacking and murdering <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r soldiers. He<br />

was convicted and held in <strong>the</strong> jail for one night.<br />

The next day he was released after he swore an<br />

oath that he would not take up arms against <strong>the</strong><br />

Confederate States <strong>of</strong> America unless his property,<br />

he or those depending upon him should be<br />

threatened. He eventually made it to <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Station where he was reunited with Private Miller.<br />

As if <strong>the</strong> insult and “conviction” <strong>of</strong> Morris was<br />

not enough, during <strong>the</strong> time he was incarcerated,<br />

<strong>the</strong> bodies <strong>of</strong> Sergeant Frakes and Private<br />

Giesendorffer “were robbed <strong>of</strong> everything <strong>of</strong> value,<br />

even to <strong>the</strong>ir caps, boots and socks.” From Frakes<br />

was taken personal letters from his family and<br />

correspondence from General Benjamin Butler.<br />

The bodies <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> two men were brutally abused,<br />

repeatedly kicked and beaten. The face <strong>of</strong> Frakes<br />

was “scarcely retaining <strong>the</strong> semblance <strong>of</strong> a human<br />

being.” Their bodies were <strong>the</strong>n buried in a shallow<br />

grave in <strong>the</strong> courthouse square obvious to those<br />

who passed <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> resolve <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> locals. It was first<br />

discussed to throw <strong>the</strong>ir bodies in <strong>the</strong> bayou, but<br />

<strong>the</strong> idea was dismissed as too inhumane.<br />

It was not long before word <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> atrocities at<br />

Houma reached General Butler. He immediately<br />

sent troops to apprehend Miller from his captors<br />

at Thibodaux and to piece toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong><br />

happenings <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> days from May 8-11.<br />

The men known to have participated in <strong>the</strong><br />

capture and slaying <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> federal troops were<br />

identified as prominent members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> town<br />

including Thomas Albert Wood, a lawyer and<br />

editor <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Houma Ceres; Morelle, formerly a<br />

lieutenant in <strong>the</strong> Confederate army; E. N. Dutrail,<br />

a deputy parish clerk; B. Cooper, a blacksmith;<br />

Gilbert Hatch, son <strong>of</strong> a planter; D. W. Crewell, a<br />

carpenter who worked on G. F. Connelly’s<br />

Mulberry Farm; Howard Bond, a druggist and his<br />

younger bro<strong>the</strong>r; F. Gatewood, living on a<br />

plantation eight miles from Houma; Dr. J L.<br />

Jennings <strong>of</strong> Houma and William H. Hornsby, <strong>the</strong><br />

son <strong>of</strong> S. H. Hornsby, a grocer in Houma.<br />

1 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


After <strong>the</strong> Union troops arrived at Bond’s<br />

Crescent plantation <strong>the</strong>y “found one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

muskets which was presumably used in <strong>the</strong> firing.”<br />

In retaliation, <strong>the</strong>y burned his sugar house and<br />

Negro quarters and drove <strong>of</strong>f all his stock. From<br />

<strong>the</strong>re <strong>the</strong>y went to Southdown and arrested<br />

William and Henry Minor. After being imprisoned<br />

at Houma for a week <strong>the</strong>y were taken to New<br />

Orleans but were released in a few days. Soon<br />

<strong>the</strong>reafter Union troops seized 186 hogsheads <strong>of</strong><br />

sugar and 650 barrels <strong>of</strong> molasses at Southdown<br />

and Hollywood, claiming later that <strong>the</strong> plantations<br />

had been abandoned, when in fact both overseers<br />

and Negroes were <strong>the</strong>re at <strong>the</strong> time.<br />

It would be understandable that <strong>the</strong> Minors<br />

<strong>of</strong> Southdown Plantation, who identified as<br />

Unionists, would become disenchanted with <strong>the</strong><br />

federal troops after such an ordeal and it was<br />

obvious that <strong>the</strong> parish took heed <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

punishments <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> men who actually did <strong>the</strong><br />

atrocities in Houma.<br />

Lt. Colonel John A. Keith arrived in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

and was unable to discover <strong>the</strong> identities <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

guilty parties. He first removed <strong>the</strong> bodies <strong>of</strong><br />

Frakes and Geisendorffer from <strong>the</strong> square and<br />

forced citizens to provide c<strong>of</strong>fins and prepare<br />

graves at <strong>the</strong> local church, St. Francis de Sales<br />

Catholic Church, for a proper Christian funeral<br />

and burial. He <strong>the</strong>n proclaimed “In view <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

disposition manifested by citizens <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> town and<br />

parish to harbor and screen <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>fenders,<br />

<strong>the</strong>refore I…do hereby solemnly declare and<br />

proclaim that unless <strong>the</strong> names <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se murderers<br />

are given up within forty-eight hours, with such<br />

information <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir hiding places . . . not a vestige<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> town <strong>of</strong> Houma shall be left to identify its<br />

former location, and <strong>the</strong> plantations <strong>of</strong> parish <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> shall suffer in a like degree.” Some<br />

men were apprehended, while o<strong>the</strong>rs like Dr.<br />

Jennings fled to <strong>the</strong> swamp. Several <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> men and<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir families refused allegiance to <strong>the</strong> government<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> United States and <strong>the</strong>ir plantations, homes<br />

and businesses were burned and all items <strong>of</strong> worth<br />

taken from <strong>the</strong>m. W. J. Minor’s plantation, though<br />

innocent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> incident, suffered only <strong>the</strong> loss <strong>of</strong><br />

crops and livestock.<br />

By 1864 many in <strong>the</strong> area had suffered from<br />

<strong>the</strong> war and <strong>the</strong> lasting consequences <strong>of</strong> it. The<br />

minutes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Police Jury <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

on October 6, 1864 state, “On motion <strong>of</strong> M.F.<br />

Daigle, duly seconded and best resolved<br />

unanimously first that <strong>the</strong> Police Jury <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> willing to prove to Brigadier General<br />

R. A. Cameron, Commanding District <strong>of</strong><br />

Lafourche <strong>the</strong>ir loyalty and <strong>the</strong> devotion to <strong>the</strong><br />

Union cause tenders respectfully <strong>the</strong>ir sincere<br />

thanks to General Cameron who, by his wise<br />

influence has caused <strong>the</strong> happy appointment <strong>of</strong><br />

Captain W. E. Thrall…. ” It is obvious that <strong>the</strong><br />

loyalty pledge was to help <strong>the</strong> residents <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> and keep some semblance <strong>of</strong> peace.<br />

Houma boasted a thriving downtown area for<br />

many years. A one-story courthouse was<br />

commissioned in 1834. It was built <strong>of</strong> brick at <strong>the</strong><br />

cost <strong>of</strong> $2,525. Ano<strong>the</strong>r building was built next to<br />

it in 1836 to accommodate o<strong>the</strong>r parish <strong>of</strong>fices. In<br />

1860 a new one-story courthouse was started, but<br />

due to complications <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Civil War, work on<br />

<strong>the</strong> building wasn’t completed until 1875. A<br />

second story was added in 1892. The oak trees<br />

that adorn <strong>the</strong> courtyard were planted in 1866-67<br />

by Bernard F. Bazet, and donated by J. P. Cenac.<br />

Many buildings have come and gone from <strong>the</strong><br />

picturesque courthouse square. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se was<br />

<strong>the</strong> market building. It was located on <strong>the</strong><br />

northwest corner <strong>of</strong> Main and <strong>Good</strong>e Streets.<br />

Although its primary function was as a market,<br />

over <strong>the</strong> years <strong>the</strong> upper floors were used as a fire<br />

station and city hall. It was demolished in 1930,<br />

but a long-told history <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> building revealed<br />

itself on that day.<br />

From Souvenir <strong>of</strong> Centennial Celebration<br />

written in 1934:<br />

A rumor was current that during<br />

construction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> building an iron box<br />

containing some coins and a bottle <strong>of</strong> vinous<br />

liquor had been placed <strong>the</strong>re and sealed in <strong>the</strong><br />

<br />

One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> earliest significant<br />

structures in Houma, besides <strong>the</strong><br />

courthouse was <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High.<br />

From 1918-1940 THS was located on<br />

Church Street where <strong>the</strong> Courthouse<br />

Annex is now. When <strong>the</strong> high school<br />

students were moved to <strong>the</strong> present<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> High on Main Street <strong>the</strong><br />

building was <strong>the</strong>n used as Houma<br />

Junior High and Houma Central.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 ✦ 1 7


Above: Students who lived in rural<br />

areas were brought to <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

High by boats instead <strong>of</strong> busses.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

Right: Main Street in Houma in<br />

<strong>the</strong> 1930s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

1 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


masonry. Curiously enough, this particular pier<br />

had many small holes drilled into it, evidently by<br />

idlers with <strong>the</strong>ir pocket knives at intervals<br />

extending over a long period <strong>of</strong> years.<br />

When sufficient bricks had been removed, <strong>the</strong><br />

curious throng beheld <strong>the</strong> iron box, almost rusted<br />

away, and two silver coins, a half-dime and a dime<br />

dated 1854. An old newspaper was also found, but<br />

had deteriorated to such an extent that its date<br />

could not be ascertained. The bottle <strong>of</strong> liquor held<br />

a liquid not to <strong>the</strong> expectations <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> discovery,<br />

due to <strong>the</strong> fact that <strong>the</strong> cork had disintegrated.<br />

In 1934 <strong>the</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Houma was celebrating a<br />

centennial and Mayor Elward Wright said, “One<br />

hundred years have passed since Belanger and<br />

Grinage founded <strong>the</strong> City <strong>of</strong> Houma. Since May<br />

10, 1834, one hundred years <strong>of</strong> history have<br />

been written on <strong>the</strong> pages <strong>of</strong> time. And though<br />

this history is but an infinitesimal part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

great picture time paints and is <strong>of</strong> interest only<br />

to a small group, <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> City’s<br />

existence during this century has filled its place<br />

in <strong>the</strong> scheme <strong>of</strong> things.<br />

We pause at this centennial period to glance<br />

back and review, to recall <strong>the</strong> individuals who<br />

guided our destiny in those early days with vision<br />

and foresight; to recall <strong>the</strong> events which shaped<br />

and influenced our growth. To <strong>the</strong> many who<br />

played a part in our City’s rich history we render<br />

due homage. Let us garner from <strong>the</strong> rich<br />

experience <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se first hundred years <strong>the</strong><br />

courage to view <strong>the</strong> present with confidence and<br />

look forward to <strong>the</strong> future with boldness.<br />

The name <strong>of</strong> our city is <strong>of</strong> Indian origin. We<br />

are told that in <strong>the</strong> Indian language <strong>the</strong> word<br />

houma means “red,” a reference to <strong>the</strong> rising sun.<br />

Let us accept <strong>the</strong> rising sun as our emblem, and<br />

as we come to <strong>the</strong> close <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first century <strong>of</strong> our<br />

existence, bear in mind that ano<strong>the</strong>r one<br />

has begun—within which to strive, to work, and<br />

to accomplish.”<br />

Almost 100 years since those words were<br />

uttered, Houma has grown by leaps and bounds<br />

in ways those early community leaders probably<br />

couldn’t have imagined.<br />

The inclusion <strong>of</strong> a new commercial section <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> city came about with <strong>the</strong> completion <strong>of</strong> Martin<br />

Lu<strong>the</strong>r King Boulevard. The prosperity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

oilfield business streng<strong>the</strong>ned <strong>the</strong> commerce in<br />

Houma so much that in 2014, unemployment in<br />

<strong>the</strong> area was below four percent. This was<br />

considered a very prosperous time, especially<br />

since <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> country was experiencing<br />

high unemployment due to <strong>the</strong> recession <strong>of</strong> 2008.<br />

G R A Y<br />

From <strong>the</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Houma on Highway 24<br />

heading north toward Thibodaux you will find<br />

<strong>the</strong> community <strong>of</strong> Gray. The Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is located<br />

here near Highway 90. Just past Highway 90<br />

heading north is Halfway Cemetery, named<br />

such for its placement halfway between Houma<br />

and Thibodaux.<br />

<br />

The Schriever Graded School was one<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> best-known schools in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish and educated <strong>the</strong> children <strong>of</strong><br />

wealthy local families.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

C h a p t e r 1 ✦ 1 9


Built in <strong>the</strong> late 1800s, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Station was first used in 1855. In<br />

1872, travel and trade in <strong>the</strong> area<br />

was greatly increased when a branch<br />

railroad was established linking<br />

Schriever and Houma.<br />

COURTESY OF THE WILLIAM L. MARTIN<br />

COLLECTION, NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

S C H R I E V E R<br />

By far, <strong>the</strong> greatest memory <strong>of</strong> Schriever is<br />

<strong>the</strong> coming <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> railroad. The first “iron horse”<br />

chugged its way into <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> on<br />

September 1, 1855. Originally known as<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Station, Schriever was a railway<br />

station stop that began with <strong>the</strong> New Orleans,<br />

Opelousas and Great Western railway<br />

system. The station proved very important<br />

during <strong>the</strong> Civil War because <strong>the</strong> line ran from<br />

Opelousas in <strong>the</strong> north and south to Algiers. It<br />

was this form <strong>of</strong> travel that allowed <strong>the</strong><br />

Union Army to occupy much <strong>of</strong> Louisiana<br />

during <strong>the</strong> war.<br />

A story is told about <strong>the</strong> origin <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> name<br />

Schriever. It was reported that Colonel John<br />

George Schriever fell <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> train as it came into<br />

<strong>the</strong> depot. This has never been proven.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> early days <strong>of</strong> sugarcane plantations,<br />

Schriever boasted many plantations with great<br />

capacity. In <strong>the</strong> years <strong>of</strong> 1896-97 <strong>the</strong> sugar<br />

refinery at Waubun Plantation boasted 3,500<br />

acres with 1,200 planted in cane and 500<br />

planted with corn. It was also outfitted with a<br />

general store. The owner, Captain John Thomas<br />

Moore, could brag that his refinery employed<br />

over 250 men and could grind out more than<br />

500 tons <strong>of</strong> sugar a day. The John T. Moore<br />

Planting Company, Ltd. owned three sugar<br />

plantations. St. George Plantation covered 1,480<br />

acres with 300 in cane and 200 in corn.<br />

Two o<strong>the</strong>r plantations stood at Schriever.<br />

These were Upper Ducros and Lower Ducros.<br />

The first was owned by <strong>the</strong> Wood bro<strong>the</strong>rs and<br />

<strong>the</strong> second by McFarlane, Baldwin and<br />

Company <strong>of</strong> Cincinnati, Ohio. The latter was a<br />

holding company that operated by lease to<br />

several tenants. These tenants were, Marculus<br />

Guillot, Pierre Prejean, Sylvere Guillot, Emile<br />

Lassage, Gustave Ber<strong>the</strong>lot, Frank Hidalgo,<br />

Leoni Prejean, and Maturin Adam.<br />

Schriever also had a post <strong>of</strong>fice, a school and<br />

a hotel. The Schriever Hotel was a two-story<br />

building with 14 large rooms for rent. Waubun<br />

stands as a private residence today at <strong>the</strong><br />

gateway to Thibodaux.<br />

Just about full circle from where <strong>the</strong> journey<br />

began, <strong>the</strong> road from Houma at Highway 311<br />

runs near <strong>the</strong> sugarcane fields. Plantation homes<br />

still dot <strong>the</strong> landscape with Magnolia, Ardoyne,<br />

Ellendale, and Crescent Farm.<br />

2 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


CHAPTER 2<br />

C E L E B R A T I O N S<br />

M A R D I<br />

G R A S<br />

Houma is <strong>the</strong> second largest celebration for Mardi Gras or Carnival in <strong>the</strong> state <strong>of</strong> Louisiana. It is<br />

second only to New Orleans. With a heritage rich in <strong>the</strong> celebration, <strong>the</strong> 13 Krewes and more than 16<br />

parades make <strong>the</strong> parish a favorite <strong>of</strong> visitors and residents alike. The Mardi Gras Krewes are as<br />

follows: Krewe <strong>of</strong> Hercules, Krewe <strong>of</strong> Bayou Petite Caillou (Chauvin), Krewe <strong>of</strong> Aquarius, Krewe <strong>of</strong><br />

Hyacinthians, Krewe <strong>of</strong> Titans, Krewe <strong>of</strong> Aphrodite, Krewe <strong>of</strong> Mardi Gras, Krewe <strong>of</strong> Terreanians, Krewe<br />

<strong>of</strong> Montegut, Krewe <strong>of</strong> Cleopatra, Krewe <strong>of</strong> Houmas, Krewe <strong>of</strong> Kajuns and <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong> Bonne Terre.<br />

The history <strong>of</strong> this celebration comes from <strong>the</strong> traditional observance <strong>of</strong> Fat Tuesday <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Catholic religion. Fat Tuesday is <strong>the</strong> last day <strong>of</strong> extravagance before Ash Wednesday, <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

beginning <strong>of</strong> Lent. Specific to <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, <strong>the</strong> history begins in 1914 with Filican “Tican”<br />

Duplantis. He is known as <strong>the</strong> fa<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> Carnival. Starting out with humble beginnings, Tican never<br />

wore a crown <strong>of</strong> jewels or wielded a jeweled scepter. He didn’t even sit upon a regal throne. He was,<br />

however, <strong>the</strong> first Carnival King, a self-appointed title, and staged <strong>the</strong> first parades in <strong>the</strong> lands <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong>. His world <strong>of</strong> Bayou Cane became <strong>the</strong> Mardi Gras capital <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish when he staged<br />

his first Carnival pageant.<br />

Few people know that <strong>the</strong>ir first king was a butcher in <strong>the</strong> old city market. His son, Armand said<br />

<strong>of</strong> his fa<strong>the</strong>r and <strong>the</strong> celebrations, “They epitomized <strong>the</strong> spirit <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> bayous. All <strong>the</strong> glitter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

modern pageantry on Shrove Tuesday can never take <strong>the</strong>ir place in my heart. He decorated his<br />

plantation wagons with graceful festoons <strong>of</strong> Spanish moss, waving stalks <strong>of</strong> sugarcane, wildflowers<br />

from <strong>the</strong> bayou banks and palmettos from swamplands. He used mules to draw <strong>the</strong> floats.”<br />

<br />

The celebration <strong>of</strong> Mardi Gras in<br />

Houma is second largest in <strong>the</strong> state.<br />

The ornate dresses, decorations<br />

and parades create a celebration for<br />

all to enjoy.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW NOEL.<br />

C h a p t e r 2 ✦ 2 1


Archives state that <strong>the</strong> original meeting place<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Houmas took place in Saadi’s<br />

Haberdashery on Main Street in downtown<br />

Houma. Floats and costumes were rented from<br />

New Orleans in those early days and “floated” to<br />

Houma on barges sent down <strong>the</strong> Intracoastal<br />

Canal. The parade route went from East<br />

Houma to West Houma over <strong>the</strong> Main Street<br />

Bridge where parade goers could view <strong>the</strong><br />

activities from ei<strong>the</strong>r side or from <strong>the</strong> water that<br />

flowed between.<br />

Written in <strong>the</strong> Houma Courier was a 1946<br />

account <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> view <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first Mardi Gras<br />

parade and krewe.<br />

<br />

Dr. Christopher E. Cenac, Sr.’s mo<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Dorothy Stodghill Cenac<br />

at Mardi Gras in 1957 with her<br />

children and niece. From left:<br />

Philip Jr., Christopher, Paul,<br />

Madeleine, and Nancy Cenac,<br />

and Georgia Clark<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Tican was a showman. He led <strong>the</strong> parade on<br />

horseback. The queen rode on <strong>the</strong> first float<br />

followed by <strong>the</strong> “gras boeuf” a live steer or cow<br />

from <strong>the</strong> plantation. It rode on a two-wheeled<br />

cart. The next float held a large barrel <strong>of</strong><br />

popcorn. The masked riders threw it to <strong>the</strong><br />

children along <strong>the</strong> parade route. Popcorn could<br />

be called <strong>the</strong> first carnival “throw”. Following<br />

<strong>the</strong> popcorn float was <strong>the</strong> musicians’ float.<br />

As great a distinction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first king, Tican,<br />

was <strong>the</strong> first queen. She was Tican’s<br />

granddaughter, 16-year-old Lily LeBoeuf, who<br />

would become Mrs. Henry Lirette. She said <strong>of</strong><br />

her grandfa<strong>the</strong>r after his death in 1955, “His<br />

wish has been fulfilled. Tican’s days as a butcher<br />

may be forgotten by most, but his fame as <strong>the</strong><br />

fa<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s Carnival will never dim.<br />

No bejeweled monarch will ever take his place<br />

in <strong>the</strong> hearts <strong>of</strong> those who knew him. Tican will<br />

always be <strong>the</strong> spirit <strong>of</strong> Carnival to those who<br />

dwell in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> bayou land.”<br />

The oldest Mardi Gras krewe in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

is <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong> Houmas. It was originally called<br />

The Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Carnival Club and was<br />

started in 1946, shortly after World War II. The<br />

krewe named itself, not after <strong>the</strong> mythological<br />

gods like New Orleans, but after <strong>the</strong> first people<br />

who lived in <strong>the</strong> area, <strong>the</strong> Houmas Indians. The<br />

Krewe <strong>of</strong> Houmas was born from an idea <strong>of</strong> local<br />

businessmen and <strong>the</strong> members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> local<br />

American Legion.<br />

Post Commander, Sidney A. Pelligrin, Mayor<br />

Leon Gary, local businessmen, Vic Maurin, Al<br />

Badeaux, “Pr<strong>of</strong>” Erny, Otis Bourg, George<br />

Fakier, Claude and Stanwood Duval and many<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs staged a Mardi Gras fair to celebrate<br />

Shrove Tuesday. Makeshift floats, local<br />

dignitaries and <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High School<br />

Band paraded down Main Street from Bayou<br />

Cane to <strong>the</strong> Barrow Street Bridge and on to<br />

Legion Avenue. The people followed <strong>the</strong> parade,<br />

led by Vic Maurin, to find booths <strong>of</strong> food,<br />

fortune tellers, games <strong>of</strong> chance and even a<br />

“Freak” <strong>of</strong> nature. A popularity contest to<br />

determine <strong>the</strong> “Royal Court” was held by<br />

ballots through <strong>the</strong> Houma Courier. Dance was<br />

held in <strong>the</strong> old American Legion Hall. Mr.<br />

John Foolkes was designated “King Houmas I”<br />

and Miss Gloria Babin, daughter <strong>of</strong> Mr. and<br />

Mrs. Nouga Babin, was his lovely queen. The<br />

wea<strong>the</strong>r was cold, but <strong>the</strong> people came. The<br />

word was out that Mardi Gras had come to<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

The second group to organize as a krewe in<br />

<strong>the</strong> parish was <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong> Terreanians. For<br />

three years <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong> Houmas was <strong>the</strong> only<br />

organized krewe in <strong>Terrebonne</strong>. The new krewe<br />

was made up <strong>of</strong> Houma businessmen that<br />

wanted to see <strong>the</strong> splendor and elegance <strong>of</strong> a<br />

nighttime Mardi Gras parade in Houma.<br />

Meetings were first held at <strong>the</strong> Mayfair Club<br />

on Main Street in Houma and soon <strong>of</strong>ficers were<br />

elected. The first <strong>of</strong>ficers were President, Frank<br />

King, Vice-President, Merkle B. Komgay, Vice-<br />

President, Ernest Bille, Secretary and Treasurer.<br />

Dr. Arthur Ainsman served as <strong>the</strong> first Captain<br />

2 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong> Terreanians and he provided<br />

meeting space for <strong>the</strong> earliest organizational<br />

meetings. Not only was <strong>the</strong> krewe formed at <strong>the</strong><br />

time, but <strong>the</strong> organization incorporated as The<br />

Greater Houma Carnival Club, Inc.<br />

On Monday, February 5, 1951, <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong><br />

Terreanians held its first parade at 7:30 p.m.,<br />

<strong>the</strong> night before Fat Tuesday.<br />

The Krewe <strong>of</strong> Hycinthians is <strong>the</strong> third<br />

carnival club to be established in <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

According to <strong>the</strong>ir archives, ladies, who<br />

watched <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong> Houmas parade toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

on Mardi Gras day in 1951, decided to see if<br />

<strong>the</strong>y could organize a carnival club for<br />

ladies. They brought in relatives, friends<br />

and friends <strong>of</strong> friends and a meeting was<br />

held on February 12, 1951, at <strong>the</strong> Mayfair<br />

Club on Main Street in Houma with<br />

approximately 65 ladies attending. Several<br />

members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Greater Houma Carnival Club<br />

(one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> two local organizations for men)<br />

attended this meeting.<br />

The purpose <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Club was to have fun,<br />

promote <strong>the</strong> Carnival spirit and afford <strong>the</strong><br />

opportunity for any member, married or single,<br />

to be queen. An election was held for <strong>of</strong>ficers<br />

and board <strong>of</strong> directors. Dues were set at $30.00<br />

per year. The name “Hyacinth” was chosen, <strong>the</strong><br />

queen to be “Queen Hyacinth” and <strong>the</strong> Krewe to<br />

be “Krewe <strong>of</strong> Hyacinthians”.<br />

The first parade was held on Thursday,<br />

February 21, 1952, at 7:00 p.m. with seven<br />

floats rented from <strong>the</strong> Greater Houma Carnival<br />

Club, Inc., and seven torch-bearers hired from<br />

<strong>the</strong> Zulu Carnival Club <strong>of</strong> New Orleans. The<br />

Tableau and Ball held at <strong>the</strong> American Legion<br />

Hall followed <strong>the</strong> parade. The identity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Queen and King, Gardeline Sharp and Conrad<br />

Lirette, was revealed at parade time.<br />

On February 3, 1953, Mrs. Hallette Grenes<br />

Cole donated a piece <strong>of</strong> property in Barrow<br />

Subdivision so <strong>the</strong> club could build a den. The<br />

den was eventually built and a dedication was<br />

held on November 10, 1960, and named <strong>the</strong><br />

“Loretta Guidry Den”, in memory <strong>of</strong> club<br />

member Loretta Guidry.<br />

According to <strong>the</strong> archives <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Krewe <strong>of</strong><br />

Hyacinthians in 1954, with eleven floats rented<br />

from <strong>the</strong> Greater Houma Carnival Club, Inc., <strong>the</strong><br />

parade was changed to a day parade and rolled on<br />

Sunday, February 21 at 2:00 p.m. in <strong>the</strong> afternoon.<br />

<br />

Top: The Krewe <strong>of</strong> Terreanians Mardi<br />

Gras Parade in 1968.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

Middle: A Mardi Gras float in 1945.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Bottom: A Mardi Gras truck float in<br />

1946-47.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

C h a p t e r 2 ✦ 2 3


F E S T I V A L S<br />

Mardi Gras is by far <strong>the</strong> largest celebration in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, but <strong>the</strong>re are many o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

opportunities to “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler”<br />

or let <strong>the</strong> good times roll.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> cooler months, when <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r is still<br />

accommodating, several festivals are hosted<br />

around <strong>the</strong> parish. The local term for a dance is<br />

<strong>the</strong> fais do-do, which depending upon who you<br />

ask is a term related to <strong>the</strong> backrooms <strong>of</strong> rural<br />

dance halls where elderly relatives would “do-do”<br />

<strong>the</strong> babies to sleep while <strong>the</strong> parents were<br />

dancing. Ano<strong>the</strong>r source states that fais do-do is a<br />

Cajun French version <strong>of</strong> a dos si dos, a type <strong>of</strong><br />

dance. Whatever <strong>the</strong> meaning, when people speak<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> fais do-do, <strong>the</strong>y know it will be a party.<br />

with a donation to <strong>the</strong> parish from BP to stimulate<br />

<strong>the</strong> tourist industry. It is a two-day festival<br />

featuring some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> best acts in live music. The<br />

festival is one big party with two stages, food,<br />

drinks, activities, and more.<br />

V O I C E O F T H E W E T L A N D S<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r way <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> celebrates <strong>the</strong><br />

culture is through music. Every October since<br />

2004 <strong>the</strong> Voice <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Wetlands Festival draws<br />

visitors from all over. The festival is organized by<br />

a local group <strong>of</strong> people who are committed to<br />

informing <strong>the</strong> public about <strong>the</strong> vanishing<br />

wetlands. The driving personality behind <strong>the</strong><br />

music festival is Grammy nominated Tab Benoit,<br />

a local musician and activist for wetlands<br />

preservation. The festival is an awareness<br />

campaign that has generated nationwide support.<br />

C H U R C H<br />

F E S T I V A L S<br />

<br />

The Best <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Bayou Festival in<br />

downtown Houma has become a<br />

favorite in <strong>the</strong> community.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW NOEL.<br />

S O U T H D O W N<br />

M A R K E T P L A C E<br />

Shortly after Mardi Gras each year,<br />

Southdown Plantation House and Museum hosts<br />

an arts and crafts festival called Southdown<br />

Marketplace Arts and Crafts Festival on <strong>the</strong><br />

grounds <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> plantation. The bi-annual festival<br />

has more than 300 vendor booths and brings in<br />

around 8,000 people for each show. As most<br />

festivals in <strong>the</strong> area, food, family and music bring<br />

people toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

B E S T O F T H E B A Y O U F E S T I V A L<br />

In <strong>the</strong> tradition <strong>of</strong> downtown festivals, <strong>the</strong><br />

annual Best <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Bayou Festival began in 2012<br />

Residents will remember from days gone by<br />

that <strong>the</strong> festivals originated from <strong>the</strong> churches.<br />

Each church in <strong>the</strong> parish had a community<br />

event. By far <strong>the</strong> most remembered and perhaps<br />

most heavily attended festival in <strong>the</strong> parish was<br />

Lagniappe on <strong>the</strong> Bayou Festival. Held at St.<br />

Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chauvin, <strong>the</strong> first<br />

festival started as a fund-raiser.<br />

The festival was so popular with <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>ferings<br />

from Cajun life and culture it drew visitors from all<br />

over <strong>the</strong> country and even from o<strong>the</strong>r parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

world. The food featured was <strong>the</strong> treasured<br />

favorites <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana such as crawfish<br />

ettouffe, shrimp boulettes, alligator sauce piquante,<br />

jambalaya, gumbo as well as boiled, broiled, baked<br />

and fried shrimp, fish, oysters. crab and crawfish.<br />

Entertainment <strong>of</strong> music and games made<br />

this annual festival popular for more than 25<br />

years. Lagniappe on <strong>the</strong> Bayou Festival ended<br />

in 1994 under <strong>the</strong> direction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Catholic<br />

bishop who requested <strong>the</strong> discontinuation <strong>of</strong> all<br />

church festivals.<br />

B L E S S I N G O F T H E F L E E T<br />

The Blessing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Fleet has a long history <strong>of</strong><br />

generations holding ceremonies each spring to<br />

bless <strong>the</strong> boats that brought prosperity to <strong>the</strong><br />

bayou communities.<br />

2 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


At <strong>the</strong> beginning <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> shrimp season each<br />

year, <strong>the</strong>re are blessing ceremonies held in<br />

Chauvin, Dulac, Dularge, Pointe-aux-Chenes<br />

and Montegut. The ga<strong>the</strong>ring <strong>of</strong> fishing families<br />

and friends is a symbolic and practical event.<br />

The fishermen ask God to bless <strong>the</strong>m and <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

families with a bountiful season and a local<br />

priest blesses <strong>the</strong> vessels to ensure a safe and<br />

bountiful season.<br />

As with any o<strong>the</strong>r festival in South Louisiana,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is a bounty <strong>of</strong> seafood dishes served and<br />

shared as <strong>the</strong> people watch <strong>the</strong> beautifully<br />

decorated vessels travel past.<br />

Today, this event brings back <strong>the</strong> old traditions<br />

<strong>of</strong> fishermen, families, and faith in <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

Blessing traditions like this are celebrated all over<br />

<strong>the</strong> world. This tradition started in <strong>the</strong> late 1920s<br />

to early 1930s when most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> boats were not<br />

large like <strong>the</strong> sea going vessels used today. The<br />

ritual is <strong>the</strong> same today as in <strong>the</strong> early days. In<br />

Chauvin, a priest from <strong>the</strong> church boards <strong>the</strong> lead<br />

boat <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> boat parade. The procession starts<br />

down Little Calliou and eventually ends at<br />

Boudreaux Canal, at <strong>the</strong> mouth <strong>of</strong> Lake<br />

Boudreaux. Participants <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> boat parade<br />

decorate <strong>the</strong>ir boats for <strong>the</strong> procession. There are<br />

not a required number <strong>of</strong> boats, but to<br />

participate, one must be from St. Joseph’s<br />

Catholic Church parish.<br />

C R A W F I S H<br />

B O I L S<br />

In April and May organizations, families, and<br />

businesses hold Crawfish Boils. The wea<strong>the</strong>r is<br />

still cool enough to enjoy eating outdoors and<br />

<strong>the</strong> crawfish are consumed, literally, by <strong>the</strong> tons.<br />

Legend associated with <strong>the</strong> Acadians who<br />

arrived from Nova Scotia, tells <strong>of</strong> why <strong>the</strong><br />

crawfish are a favorite in Cajun cuisine. The<br />

story tells <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> French people in Canada who<br />

were displeased with <strong>the</strong> rule <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> British and<br />

refused to pledge allegiance to <strong>the</strong> crown. Due<br />

to <strong>the</strong>ir refusal, <strong>the</strong> British exiled <strong>the</strong>m. Many <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Acadians traveled down <strong>the</strong> eastern<br />

seaboard to <strong>the</strong> Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico and eventually to<br />

south Louisiana. While in <strong>the</strong> lands <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

north, <strong>the</strong> Acadians formed a bond with <strong>the</strong><br />

lobsters that grew in <strong>the</strong> ice waters. The<br />

Acadians left and <strong>the</strong> lobster decided to follow.<br />

It was <strong>the</strong> warmer waters as <strong>the</strong> lobsters traveled<br />

south that caused <strong>the</strong>m to shrink. Eventually<br />

when <strong>the</strong>y reached <strong>the</strong> waterways <strong>of</strong> south<br />

Louisiana <strong>the</strong>y were <strong>the</strong> crawfish seen today. Of<br />

course this nonsense tale was just ano<strong>the</strong>r way<br />

for early people to tell stories <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir heritage,<br />

but a crawfish does look like a mini-lobster! The<br />

name came from <strong>the</strong> old French word ecrevisse.<br />

The popularity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> little crustacean cannot<br />

be denied. Crawfish boils occur in backyards<br />

and festivals. Once <strong>the</strong> optimal conditions, size,<br />

price and taste, for <strong>the</strong> crawfish are established<br />

usually twice a year in <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, <strong>the</strong> boils<br />

begin. The local Houmas Indians are credited<br />

with harvesting and consuming crawfish before<br />

<strong>the</strong> Cajuns arrived. They would bait reeds with<br />

meat, leave <strong>the</strong>m in <strong>the</strong> water and <strong>the</strong>n pick up<br />

<strong>the</strong> reeds with <strong>the</strong> crawfish attached to <strong>the</strong> bait.<br />

By using this method, <strong>the</strong> Indians would catch<br />

bushels <strong>of</strong> crawfish for <strong>the</strong>ir consumption. By<br />

<strong>the</strong> 1930s, nets were substituted, and by <strong>the</strong><br />

1950s, <strong>the</strong> crawfish trap was used. The industry<br />

continued to grow and in Louisiana more than<br />

1,600 farmers produce and more than 800<br />

commercial fishermen harvest up to 150 million<br />

pounds a year.<br />

F I S H I N G<br />

R O D E O S<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r popular activity is <strong>the</strong> fishing rodeo.<br />

From <strong>the</strong> shores <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico<br />

throughout <strong>the</strong> bayous <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, <strong>the</strong><br />

history <strong>of</strong> living on and <strong>of</strong>f <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> waterways <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> has evolved from survival to<br />

<br />

A family crawfish boil from<br />

<strong>the</strong> 1970s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

C h a p t e r 2 ✦ 2 5


annual parade was held in Houma where <strong>the</strong><br />

citizens would appear in <strong>the</strong>ir finest. Today, <strong>the</strong><br />

community comes toge<strong>the</strong>r to honor <strong>the</strong><br />

veterans <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> area. Hosted by <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Patriot, Inc., a non-pr<strong>of</strong>it organization, each year<br />

<strong>the</strong>y hold concerts, activities and tributes. Their<br />

mission statement is “to provide a day filled with<br />

family fun while focusing on honoring those<br />

who have served our great nation through <strong>the</strong><br />

military and first responders.” Their motto is<br />

“We’ll Never Forget”.<br />

C H R I S T M A S<br />

<br />

Enjoying boiled crawfish.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

recreation. With <strong>the</strong> tagline <strong>of</strong> Sportsman’s<br />

Paradise, <strong>the</strong> parishes along <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Gulf<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mexico reap great rewards for commercial and<br />

recreational fishing. These fishing rodeos are<br />

held in various locations throughout <strong>the</strong> year.<br />

Early in <strong>the</strong> 20th century, Tarpon Rodeos<br />

were a favorite <strong>of</strong> locals and tourists. A tarpon is<br />

a large tropical marine fish that resembles a<br />

herring, but can grow to 8 feet long. <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

features rodeos or tournaments <strong>of</strong> all sizes open<br />

to people <strong>of</strong> all ages. The events feature prizes<br />

for best catch in <strong>the</strong> different categories.<br />

J U L Y I N D E P E N D E N C E<br />

C E L E B R A T I O N<br />

As every o<strong>the</strong>r American city, Houma<br />

celebrates Independence Day. In years past an<br />

Just before Christmas, ano<strong>the</strong>r boat tradition<br />

is celebrated called Ala Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Christmas Boat Parade. The parade begins at<br />

dusk in Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> near Bourg. People<br />

line <strong>the</strong> bayou to see <strong>the</strong> boats pass all decorated<br />

with lights for Christmas. Just as o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

communities celebrate <strong>the</strong> season with bonfires<br />

on <strong>the</strong> levees, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> families ga<strong>the</strong>r and<br />

light fires along <strong>the</strong> bayou.<br />

Although not a celebration unto itself in<br />

many parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> country, food is an important<br />

element <strong>of</strong> celebrations in <strong>Terrebonne</strong>. Starting<br />

with <strong>the</strong> earliest settlers, <strong>the</strong> bounty <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

from both <strong>the</strong> land and <strong>the</strong> sea not only<br />

sustained <strong>the</strong>m, but in many cases became that<br />

which sustained <strong>the</strong>m financially.<br />

Crawfish as detailed earlier is <strong>of</strong> course a<br />

popular meal, but <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r bounties <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sea<br />

are also highlighted in <strong>the</strong> area cuisine. The list<br />

<strong>of</strong> recipes goes on and on for <strong>the</strong> local water<br />

harvest <strong>of</strong> shrimp, crabs, oysters, fresh water<br />

fish and saltwater fish.<br />

Like <strong>the</strong> holidays dictate <strong>the</strong> celebrations<br />

in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, <strong>the</strong>y also dictate <strong>the</strong><br />

foods chosen for <strong>the</strong> celebrations. Who doesn’t<br />

think <strong>of</strong> gumbo when <strong>the</strong> air turns a little<br />

colder? It is <strong>the</strong> first thought that comes<br />

to mind! A ga<strong>the</strong>ring <strong>of</strong> family and friends<br />

would not be <strong>the</strong> same without a pot <strong>of</strong><br />

jambalaya on <strong>the</strong> table. It is almost impossible<br />

to find a restaurant in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

that does not serve seafood. The local catch<br />

brings in visitors who want to sample <strong>the</strong><br />

local fare.<br />

We can also thank <strong>the</strong> American Indian for<br />

many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> foods and seasonings used in <strong>the</strong><br />

regional cuisine, like filé for gumbo.<br />

2 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


CHAPTER 3<br />

P A R I S H<br />

P I O N E E R S<br />

There are many men and women, who have contributed to <strong>the</strong> growth and prosperity <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. These individuals contributed unselfishly to <strong>the</strong>ir community and <strong>the</strong>refore have<br />

earned our respect, our gratitude, and a place in local history.<br />

<br />

Native Americans from Dulac, 1935.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

I N D I G E N O U S T R I B A L G R O U P S<br />

When Iberville landed on <strong>the</strong> east bank <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Mississippi River on March 17, 1699, he met <strong>the</strong><br />

indigenous people <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> region. One account, published in a 1941 copy <strong>of</strong> Louisiana: A Guide to <strong>the</strong><br />

State gives a report from Iberville.<br />

“At 4 o’clock in <strong>the</strong> evening <strong>the</strong>y gave a formal ball for us in <strong>the</strong> middle <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> square, where <strong>the</strong><br />

entire village was assembled. They brought into <strong>the</strong> midst <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> assembly drums (and) chychycouchy,<br />

which are gourds, in which are dry seeds, and with sticks for holding <strong>the</strong>m; <strong>the</strong>y make a little noise<br />

and serve to mark <strong>the</strong> time . . . A short time afterward <strong>the</strong>re came 20 young people <strong>of</strong> from 20 to 30<br />

years old, and 15 <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> prettiest young girls magnificently adorned after <strong>the</strong>ir manner.”<br />

The tribe resided near <strong>the</strong> area that would become Baton Rouge and was identified at that time as<br />

<strong>the</strong> “red maypole,” which separated <strong>the</strong> hunting grounds <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Houmas and <strong>the</strong> Bayougoula tribes.<br />

One account <strong>of</strong> this stick was that it was a tall, red pole topped with a bear head and several fish heads.<br />

This boundary became known to <strong>the</strong> French as le Baton Rouge, using <strong>the</strong> French words for red<br />

and stick<br />

The Houmas tribe had been living among <strong>the</strong> Tunica, but in 1706 <strong>the</strong>re was an uprising and <strong>the</strong><br />

Tunica turned on <strong>the</strong> Houmas, killing many. The remaining Houmas migrated south towards New<br />

Orleans, where <strong>the</strong>y reportedly stayed at a settlement at Bayou St. John. Later <strong>the</strong>y went back upriver<br />

and settled in villages known as <strong>the</strong> Little Houma in St. James <strong>Parish</strong> and <strong>the</strong> Great Houma in<br />

Ascension <strong>Parish</strong>, in <strong>the</strong> area <strong>of</strong> what is today known as Burnside.<br />

When Acadians (who had first settled along <strong>the</strong> Mississippi in <strong>the</strong> region <strong>of</strong> St. James-Ascension-<br />

Iberville <strong>Parish</strong>es) and Canary Islanders (who had first settled in <strong>the</strong> St. Bernard and Assumption<br />

C h a p t e r 3 ✦ 2 7


A home with palmetto ro<strong>of</strong> from <strong>the</strong><br />

early 1900s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R.R. BARROW COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

<strong>Parish</strong> areas), began to migrate far<strong>the</strong>r west, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

eventually found <strong>the</strong>ir way to <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>,<br />

where <strong>the</strong>y met up with indigenous peoples<br />

already ensconced along <strong>the</strong> vibrant waterways<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> region.<br />

Today <strong>the</strong>re are five tribal groups in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> which have achieved state<br />

recognition. These groups are: The United Houma<br />

Nation; The Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe; and<br />

also <strong>the</strong> Isle de Jean Charles and <strong>the</strong> Grand<br />

Caillou-Dulac Bands <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Biloxi-Chitimacha-<br />

Choctaw Confederation <strong>of</strong> Muskogees.<br />

Any historical narratives <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

must rightly acknowledge <strong>the</strong> significant role<br />

Native Americans have played in <strong>the</strong> settlement<br />

and growth <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> entire region. Their<br />

contributions to <strong>the</strong> way <strong>of</strong> life along <strong>the</strong> bayous are<br />

enormous, and <strong>the</strong>se distinct communities play an<br />

important role in preserving <strong>the</strong> heritage and bonds<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> indigenous first settlers <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

T H E<br />

A C A D I A N S<br />

Le Grand Derangement, forced <strong>the</strong> Acadians <strong>of</strong><br />

Nova Scotia out <strong>of</strong> Canada. The plight <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Acadians is <strong>the</strong> story <strong>of</strong> many who still reside in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. The following are <strong>the</strong> surnames<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> families who came to Louisiana starting in<br />

1755 from Nova Scotia: Arsenault (Arceneaux),<br />

Aucoin, Babin, Babineaux, Barrilleaux, Bastarache,<br />

Beliveau, Benoit, Bergeron, Bernard, Bertrand,<br />

Blanchard, Boucher, Boudreaux, Bourg, Bourgeois,<br />

Breaux, Broussard, Caissy (Roger), Chaisson,<br />

Comeau, Cormier, Cyr, Daigle, Davide, Doiron,<br />

Doucet, Dubois, Dugas, Duhon, Dupuis,<br />

D’Entremont, Foret, Fruge, Gallant (Achee),<br />

Gaudet, Gauthier, Gautreaux, Giror (Girouard),<br />

Granger, Gravois, Guidry, Guilbeau, Guillot,<br />

Hebert, Henry, Jeansonne (Johnson), Lambert,<br />

Landry, Lanoux, Latour, Lavachee, Lavernge,<br />

Leblanc, Leger, Lejeune, Louviere, Maillet, Martin,<br />

Mazerolle, Melancon, Mercier, Michaud, Michel,<br />

Mirande, Morin, Mouton, Naquin, Olivier,<br />

Ouellette, Pellerin, Petitpas, Pinet, Pitre, Poirier,<br />

Pothier, Prejean, Richard, Rivette, Robichaud,<br />

Rodrigue, Roy, Saulnier, Savoie, Semer,<br />

Simoneaux, Surette, Theriot, Thibault,<br />

Thibodeaux, Trahan, and Vincent.<br />

Many local families can find <strong>the</strong>se names on<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir family trees. In addition, o<strong>the</strong>r families<br />

considered Cajun, but who didn’t arrive with <strong>the</strong><br />

earliest families are: Autement, Belanger,<br />

Bonvillain, Bordelon, Champagne, Chauff<br />

(Cambre), Chauvin, Eschete, Fontenot,<br />

Fournier, Frederick, Fuselier, Huval, LeBoeuf,<br />

Lecompte, Marcel, Ma<strong>the</strong>rne, Millet, Ory, Oubre,<br />

Picou, Rommel, Schexnayder, Tassin, and Tregre.<br />

The deportation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first families listed<br />

started when <strong>the</strong>re was discord with <strong>the</strong> British<br />

in Nova Scotia. The French families that lived<br />

2 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


<strong>the</strong>re had produced a fruitful life, but did not<br />

want to pledge <strong>the</strong>ir allegiance to <strong>the</strong> British<br />

crown. Systematically over a period <strong>of</strong> years,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y were deported to parts <strong>of</strong> North America<br />

that were controlled by <strong>the</strong> French. These areas<br />

were Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania,<br />

South Carolina, Virginia, France, Saint-<br />

Domingue, Quebec and Louisiana.<br />

Many people in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> area became<br />

farmers or “petit habitants.” They owned tracts <strong>of</strong><br />

land that <strong>the</strong>y farmed, hunted and sometimes<br />

fished for survival <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir families. It wasn’t until<br />

<strong>the</strong> 1850s when <strong>the</strong> Anglo landowners started<br />

buying up large pieces <strong>of</strong> land, that <strong>the</strong> culture<br />

started to change. Wealthy planters brought in<br />

slaves by <strong>the</strong> hundreds, thus separating <strong>the</strong> types<br />

<strong>of</strong> farming achieved in <strong>the</strong> area. The years<br />

leading up to <strong>the</strong> Civil War brought <strong>the</strong> largest<br />

gap in <strong>the</strong>se farms.<br />

Although largely disinterested in <strong>the</strong> idea <strong>of</strong><br />

seccession, <strong>the</strong> Acadians did support <strong>the</strong> south in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Civil War. Under Governor Alexandre<br />

Mouton, an Acadian from Lafayette, <strong>the</strong> Louisiana<br />

secessionist convention was held on January 26,<br />

1861, in Baton Rouge. The vote <strong>of</strong> 113 to 17<br />

brought <strong>the</strong> entire state into <strong>the</strong> conflict.<br />

Eventually, Theriot established a successful<br />

sugarcane plantation called St. Eloi. Later that<br />

property was donated to <strong>the</strong> Catholic Church<br />

and was named St. Eloi Catholic Church and <strong>the</strong><br />

town where it was located was named Theriot.<br />

H E N R Y S C H Y L E R T H I B O D A U X<br />

Henry Schyler Thibodaux, known as <strong>the</strong><br />

Fa<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, was not born in Louisiana.<br />

In fact, he spent most <strong>of</strong> his boyhood in<br />

Scotland. In 1794 he moved to Louisiana and in<br />

1801 settled on Bayou Lafourche, where<br />

eventually <strong>the</strong> small settlement was named after<br />

him, Thibodauxville. Thibodaux married twice.<br />

His first wife was Felicite Bonvillain, with whom<br />

he had three children. His second wife, Bridgette<br />

Belanger, gave him five more children.<br />

At Bayou Lafourche, he was elected as Justice<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Peace. In 1812 he was a part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

delegation that framed <strong>the</strong> first constitution <strong>of</strong><br />

Louisiana. He was elected as State Senator in<br />

1816 and for two more terms in this capacity. It<br />

was during this time that he was able to form <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, named for <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> in Canada where his fa<strong>the</strong>r was born. He<br />

was elected <strong>the</strong> fourth governor <strong>of</strong> Louisiana. He<br />

died on October 24, 1827, and is buried at<br />

Halfway Cemetery near Gray, Louisiana.<br />

R O B E R T R U F F I N B A R R O W<br />

<br />

Marie Seraphine Thibodeaux Theriot<br />

and Michel Eloi Theriot.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

M I C H E L E L O I T H E R I O T<br />

The first white man to settle on Bayou<br />

Dularge was Michel Eloi Theriot. Born on July 7,<br />

1795, his fa<strong>the</strong>r was a part <strong>the</strong> group from <strong>the</strong><br />

exodus from Nova Scotia. He and his wife,<br />

Seraphine Thibodeaux settled <strong>the</strong>re in 1809.<br />

Within 22 years, <strong>the</strong> couple produced 14<br />

children and all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir sons were Civil War<br />

veterans. Michel himself was a veteran <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

War <strong>of</strong> 1812 at <strong>the</strong> Battle <strong>of</strong> New Orleans and<br />

also fought in <strong>the</strong> Mexican-American War.<br />

There were several wealthy planters that<br />

purchased property in <strong>the</strong> late 1820s that<br />

eventually led to vast plantations in <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

Among <strong>the</strong>se men who came to Louisiana from<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r areas <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> country was Robert Ruffin<br />

Barrow. Barrow came to <strong>Terrebonne</strong> in 1828,<br />

reportedly astride his black horse named Tom<br />

Bennet with only $1800 to his name and with<br />

two servants named George and Washington.<br />

His first land purchase was called Point Farm.<br />

It was located between <strong>Terrebonne</strong> and Pointaux-Chenes<br />

bayous. He prospered with his<br />

sugarcane plantations and eventually became <strong>the</strong><br />

owner <strong>of</strong> Company Canal at Westwego.<br />

By <strong>the</strong> Civil War, Barrow had become one <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> largest and most prominent planters<br />

according to <strong>the</strong> 1860 census records which<br />

show he owned 21,256 acres valued at<br />

$1,062,000. R.R. Barrow had four plantations<br />

C h a p t e r 3 ✦ 2 9


“Alligator Annie” Miller was a legend<br />

in <strong>the</strong> area. She caught live alligators,<br />

managed a snake farm, and caught<br />

and tamed otters in <strong>the</strong> marsh lands<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

COURTESY OF THE MILLER FAMILY.<br />

and held several more in partnership in 1859.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>r family members owned Afton Villa in West<br />

Feliciana. Barrow was part owner <strong>of</strong> Oak Alley<br />

Plantation in Vacherie for a time.<br />

On February 7, 1850, Barrow married<br />

Volumnia Washington Hunley <strong>of</strong> Smith County,<br />

Tennessee, whose fa<strong>the</strong>r held business interests<br />

in New Orleans. The couple was married in New<br />

Orleans in an elaborate wedding and reception.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> time <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> wedding Robert was 52 and<br />

Volumnia, 25. The maid <strong>of</strong> honor at <strong>the</strong> wedding<br />

was Hallette Hatch. Two children were born to<br />

<strong>the</strong> Barrows, Volumnia Roberta and Robert<br />

Ruffin Barrow, Jr. Volumnia was called Roberta<br />

and Robert Jr.’s godfa<strong>the</strong>r was <strong>the</strong> Episcopal<br />

Bishop Leonidas Polk. Roberta married William<br />

Slatter and lived in Winchester, Tennessee.<br />

By <strong>the</strong> time Robert Jr. was born, Barrow owned<br />

or held in partnership several plantations<br />

including Residence, Caillou Grove, Honduras,<br />

Myrtle Grove, Crescent Farm and Point Farm. In<br />

LaFourche <strong>Parish</strong> he owned Oak Grove. In<br />

Assumption <strong>Parish</strong> he owned Locust Grove and in<br />

Ascension <strong>Parish</strong>, D’ville. He was <strong>the</strong> largest slave<br />

holder with 399, but some sources list him with<br />

700, whereas <strong>the</strong> average farmer in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> did not own slaves.<br />

Barrow was well recognized for becoming<br />

involved in numerous court cases as documented<br />

in LaFourche and <strong>Terrebonne</strong> court records. Many<br />

<strong>of</strong> his business dealings were so complex and<br />

convoluted that <strong>the</strong>y could only be resolved in<br />

legal terms. The ravages <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Civil War took its<br />

toll on <strong>the</strong> landowner. R.R. Sr. was virtually broke<br />

and living in a house at 219 Magazine Street in<br />

1875 when he died from complications <strong>of</strong> cholera.<br />

A N N I E “ A L L I G A T O R<br />

A N N I E ” M I L L E R<br />

Born Annie Billiot in 1914, she began her<br />

education in hunting alligators at <strong>the</strong> age <strong>of</strong> 9.<br />

Annie and her husband Eddie Miller started a<br />

swamp tour business in 1979. She was a<br />

fascinating woman. Several articles, both local<br />

and national were written about her. Two songs<br />

were written about her. The legacy she left<br />

behind was that she caught live alligators, raised<br />

a family, crash-landed in <strong>the</strong> Everglades,<br />

managed a snake farm, caught and tamed otters,<br />

ran her own business, tamed boa constrictors,<br />

piloted small planes and her own 26-foot tour<br />

boat, was featured on national and international<br />

television, and made her living <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> bayou.<br />

She died in 2004 at <strong>the</strong> age <strong>of</strong> 89.<br />

The best story about Annie was told by Helen<br />

Wurzlow. “Annie has never been bitten by a<br />

poisonous snake during all <strong>the</strong> years she’s been<br />

catching reptiles. Never<strong>the</strong>less, she never fails to<br />

take her snake bite kit along. Her closest shave<br />

was <strong>the</strong> time a big cottonmouth rode in <strong>the</strong> car<br />

with her and her husband Ed without <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

knowledge. They were in <strong>the</strong> area around Pecan<br />

Island, Louisiana, which has been crawling with<br />

poisonous snakes ever since it was inundated by<br />

Hurricane Audrey. The Millers had tied <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

pirogue atop <strong>the</strong>ir car, and put <strong>the</strong>ir snake box<br />

inside <strong>the</strong> car. The boy driving took <strong>the</strong> box <strong>of</strong><br />

snakes out and put it in <strong>the</strong> pirogue atop <strong>the</strong> car.”<br />

A little while later, Annie heard a rustling<br />

sound. They stopped <strong>the</strong> car where <strong>the</strong>y<br />

discovered that <strong>the</strong> snake box was empty! One<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> snakes, a cottonmouth was coiled up in<br />

<strong>the</strong> backseat <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> car.<br />

G A B R I E L<br />

M O N T E G U T<br />

Born in New Orleans on July 30, 1839, Gabriel<br />

Montegut came to be one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most popular and<br />

influenctial figures in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. He was<br />

educated at <strong>the</strong> Sewickleyville Academy, in<br />

Alleghany, Pennsylvania, returning to New<br />

3 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Orleans and becoming a clerk at <strong>the</strong><br />

age <strong>of</strong> sixteen. When <strong>the</strong> Civil War erupted,<br />

Montegut was a supporter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Confederacy and<br />

organized <strong>the</strong> Orleans Guard battery in 1861. He<br />

bore <strong>the</strong> colors <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> battery throughout <strong>the</strong> war,<br />

with <strong>the</strong> exception <strong>of</strong> a twelve-month period in<br />

which he served with Guy Dreaux’s Company <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Louisiana Cavalry. Most <strong>of</strong> his military career<br />

was spent under <strong>the</strong> command <strong>of</strong> Generals G. T.<br />

Beauregard, Braxton Bragg, and Joseph E.<br />

Johnston. He saw combat at Chickamauga,<br />

Murfeesboro, and Charleston. At <strong>the</strong> Battle <strong>of</strong><br />

Averasboro in North Carolina, Montegut<br />

volunteered to assist a field artillery unit with a<br />

“12-pounder Napoleon” howitzer. Such an<br />

artillery piece required at least three people to<br />

operate it. Of <strong>the</strong> crew Montegut assisted, only<br />

Montegut and his sergeant survived. Following<br />

<strong>the</strong> war, he returned to New Orleans before<br />

settling in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> in 1868. In<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>, he once again worked as a clerk, and<br />

also as a bookkeeper and insurance agent.<br />

Montegut was attracted to <strong>the</strong> Democratic<br />

Party establishment in <strong>the</strong> community. He showed<br />

a natural talent for politics and became one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

political leaders in <strong>the</strong> parish. In 1885, Montegut<br />

was appointed superintendent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> New<br />

Orleans Mint by President Grover Cleveland.<br />

Described as, “Strong and wary in politics,<br />

kind and generous in private life, he is a clearheaded,<br />

well-balanced, honorable man.”<br />

Montegut built a house where <strong>the</strong> current<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> High School stands.<br />

T O B I A S<br />

G I B S O N<br />

Gibson, in north <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> is named<br />

for Tobias Gibson who came to <strong>the</strong> parish in<br />

1838. He purchased property, however, as early<br />

as 1817 from Jim Bowie. He increased his<br />

holdings over <strong>the</strong> years to include <strong>the</strong> plantations<br />

<strong>of</strong> Greenwood, Live Oak and Magnolia.<br />

He married Louisiana Hart, <strong>the</strong> daughter <strong>of</strong><br />

Colonel Nathaniel Hart and had one son, Randall<br />

Lee Gibson who, among o<strong>the</strong>r things, aided in <strong>the</strong><br />

founding <strong>of</strong> Tulane University in New Orleans.<br />

S E N A T O R A L L E N J . E L L E N D E R<br />

Allen J. Ellender began his political career in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Louisiana House <strong>of</strong> Representatives, during<br />

<strong>the</strong> regime <strong>of</strong> Governor Huey P. Long, at one<br />

point acting as Speaker <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Louisiana House.<br />

He became one <strong>of</strong> Long’s top leaders in <strong>the</strong><br />

legislature, acting as Long’s campaign manager,<br />

along with Harvey Peltier <strong>of</strong> Thibodaux, for <strong>the</strong><br />

1930 campaign for United States Senate. Long,<br />

as recorded in T. Harry Williams’s book, Huey<br />

Long, considered <strong>the</strong> young Allen Ellender along<br />

with four o<strong>the</strong>rs, John B. Fournet, James A Noe,<br />

Wade O. Martin and Richard A. Leche, for <strong>the</strong><br />

position <strong>of</strong> governor in <strong>the</strong> 1936 elections. Long<br />

reportedly ruled out Ellender on <strong>the</strong> grounds<br />

that Ellender was too short. Each <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> four<br />

potential candidates was led to believe that Huey<br />

would endorse him for <strong>the</strong> Long ticket. Upon <strong>the</strong><br />

assassination <strong>of</strong> Long in 1935, Leche would be<br />

named as candidate for governor on <strong>the</strong> Long<br />

ticket and Mrs. Long was named to complete<br />

Long’s term in Congress. Ellender was elected to<br />

serve <strong>the</strong> full six-year term upon <strong>the</strong> completion<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mrs. Long’s term.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> United States Senate, Ellender rose to <strong>the</strong><br />

chairmanship <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Senate Agricultural<br />

Committee, where he championed <strong>the</strong> cause <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

domestic sugar industry. He later became chairman<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Senate Appropriations Committee, where he<br />

was call by some “<strong>the</strong> watchdog <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Treasury”.<br />

He also served as president pro-tempore <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Senate. Senator Ellender was easily one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most<br />

powerful individuals in Congress.<br />

<br />

Senator Allen J. Ellender, known as<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s most famous son, served<br />

in <strong>the</strong> United States Senate for 37<br />

years. He was known in Louisiana as<br />

a champion for <strong>the</strong> cause <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

domestic sugar industry. He also<br />

served as president pro tempore <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Senate during his service.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

C h a p t e r 3 ✦ 3 1


The Senator was also recognized for being<br />

one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> best traveled members <strong>of</strong> Congress.<br />

During his tenure, he traveled to and returned<br />

with memorabilia from all but two countries in<br />

<strong>the</strong> world, Albania and Bulgaria, as noted on <strong>the</strong><br />

map with his travels from 1946 to 1962.<br />

Autographed photographs in <strong>the</strong> Ellender<br />

Room at <strong>the</strong> Southdown Museum represent<br />

approximately 200 <strong>of</strong> 1,000 items in his collection.<br />

The remainder <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> photographs are housed at<br />

Nichols State University in Thibodaux, in <strong>the</strong><br />

Ellender library. Also named in honor <strong>of</strong> Senator<br />

Ellender is Ellender Memorial High School and <strong>the</strong><br />

Ellender Federal Building in downtown Houma.<br />

Senator Ellender was also renowned for his<br />

cooking skills and specialized in presenting<br />

south Louisiana dishes like jambalaya and<br />

gumbo to members <strong>of</strong> Congress, presidents and<br />

many o<strong>the</strong>r dignitaries.<br />

At Senator Ellender’s funeral in 1972,<br />

President Richard Nixon and Vice-President<br />

Spiro Agnew, along with many o<strong>the</strong>r nationally<br />

recognized political figures traveled to Houma<br />

for <strong>the</strong> funeral at St. Francis de Sales Roman<br />

Catholic Church. The services were reported on<br />

nationwide television, as <strong>the</strong> community and<br />

nation mourned <strong>the</strong> loss <strong>of</strong> Senator Ellender.<br />

D R . T H A D D E U S I .<br />

S T . M A R T I N<br />

Dr. St. Martin was a medical doctor in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish. He served in World War I as a medic<br />

and returned to <strong>Terrebonne</strong> and opened a<br />

medical practice. He served <strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

parish for more than 40 years in that capacity,<br />

but he was also known for his 1936 publication<br />

<strong>of</strong> Madame Toussant’s Wedding Day. The book<br />

draws on <strong>the</strong> rich lore and tradition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Cajuns <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

He was born on Bayou Dularge and grew up<br />

in <strong>the</strong> French-speaking home <strong>of</strong> his grandfa<strong>the</strong>r<br />

in Houma, after <strong>the</strong> early death <strong>of</strong> his fa<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

When he enlisted in <strong>the</strong> U.S. Army during World<br />

War I, his skills in French made him an<br />

invaluable military translator.<br />

Dr. St. Martin chose a medical career and was<br />

trained at Louisiana State University and Tulane<br />

University. He interned at Charity Hospital in<br />

New Orleans. He was known as an early pioneer<br />

for use <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> X-ray and became an important<br />

radiologist and radio <strong>the</strong>rapist. He opened his<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice in Houma in 1911, retiring in 1952.<br />

As was his habit, St. Martin wrote every<br />

evening. His wife, Gladys Davidson, served as<br />

his faithful editorial assistant. After <strong>the</strong> national<br />

acclaim <strong>of</strong> his novel, he became <strong>the</strong> friend <strong>of</strong><br />

prominent American authors including John<br />

Dos Passos, Roarke Bradford and Lyle Saxon.<br />

John Steinbeck included him in Travels with<br />

Charley where he wrote <strong>of</strong> T.I. St. Martin’s<br />

excellent martinis. Several manuscripts that<br />

were not published are now property <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Historical and Cultural Society. St.<br />

Martin declined publishing some <strong>of</strong> his works<br />

due to <strong>the</strong> fact that he felt regional personalities<br />

would not be pleased or flattered by his sharply<br />

drawn portrayals.<br />

<br />

Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first farmers to introduce<br />

“truck farms” were Senator Allen<br />

Ellender and his family. As seen in<br />

this photograph, <strong>the</strong>y grew corn,<br />

potatoes, and flowers.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

3 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


CHAPTER 4<br />

H I S T O R I C S I T E S A N D A T T R A C T I O N S<br />

The diversity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> population led way to a variety <strong>of</strong> architecture. There is a delicate balance <strong>of</strong><br />

old and new, aes<strong>the</strong>tic and functional in <strong>the</strong> parish. When <strong>the</strong> oil and gas industries discovered <strong>the</strong><br />

riches <strong>of</strong> minerals within <strong>the</strong> parish, <strong>the</strong> landscape <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> area changed. One-hundred year-old<br />

plantations and <strong>the</strong> grounds were destroyed to harvest <strong>the</strong> newest “golds.” Where agriculture,<br />

particularly sugarcane ruled, it was <strong>the</strong> harvest beneath <strong>the</strong> ground that took hold in <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

According to Rene Chauvin, <strong>the</strong> list <strong>of</strong> plantations, towns and settlements in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> is as<br />

follows: Angela, Armitage, Ardoyne, Ashland, Acres <strong>of</strong> Diamonds, Aragon, Bayou Dularge, Belle Grove,<br />

Bull Run, Bradyville, Bayou Blue, Boudreaux Canal, Bourg, Bayou Cane, Bayou Black, Bobtown, Canal<br />

Belanger, Concord, Chacahoula, Central, Cocodrie, Chauvin, Coteau, Crozier, Crescent Farm, Dulac,<br />

Deadwood, Donner, Ducros, Ellendale, Ellsworth, Ellerslie, Evergreen, Fala Village, Gibson,<br />

Greenwood, Grand Caillou, Gray, Hard Scrabble, Hope Farm, Houma, Humphreys, Hollywood, Ile á<br />

Jean Charles, Johnson Ridge, Isle <strong>of</strong> Cuba, Klondyke, L’Esquine, Live Oak, LaCache, Lapeyrouse,<br />

Mechanisville, Mulberry, Mandalay, Magnolia, Myrtle Grove, Monticello, Magenta, Newport, Newtown,<br />

Orange Grove, Ouiski Point, Pointe-aux-Chênes, Point Farm, Presqu’ile, Rebecca, Ridgeland, Ranch,<br />

Rural Retreat, Roberta Grove, Savoie, Sarah, Southdown, Sunrise, St. Bridget, Schriever, Smith Ridge,<br />

St. Eloi, St. Michel, Theriot, Tigerville, Woodlawn, Waterpro<strong>of</strong>, Windermere, and Williamsburg.<br />

<br />

Southdown Plantation, is <strong>the</strong> most<br />

visited plantation house and museum<br />

in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. The 10,000-<br />

square-foot manor boasts furnishings<br />

from <strong>the</strong> original owners, <strong>the</strong> Minor<br />

Family and countless artifacts from<br />

<strong>the</strong> history <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

PHOTO BY RACHEL CHERRY.<br />

P L A N T A T I O N S A N D P L A N T A T I O N L I F E I N T E R R E B O N N E<br />

Today two plantations are also tourist attractions in <strong>the</strong> parish. Southdown Plantation and<br />

Ardoyne Plantation. With more than 88 sugar plantations in <strong>the</strong> parish at <strong>the</strong> highest point <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

sugarcane industry, <strong>the</strong> products and procedures were mostly universal for production. Of course<br />

each plantation had <strong>the</strong>ir own culture and rules that were formed by <strong>the</strong> owners and family. The<br />

larger landholders were able to cultivate <strong>the</strong>ir crops with slave labor, while many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> smaller<br />

C h a p t e r 4 ✦ 3 3


The original slave quarters at<br />

Southdown Plantation serve as <strong>the</strong><br />

admissions and gift shop for <strong>the</strong><br />

attraction. Built in 1848, <strong>the</strong><br />

quarters are modeled after <strong>the</strong> slave<br />

quarters at Concord Plantation in<br />

Natchez, Mississippi.<br />

PHOTO BY RACHEL CHERRY.<br />

operations were family run. The history <strong>of</strong> all <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>se plantations are held in memory <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

ancestors who left <strong>the</strong>ir legacies.<br />

S O U T H D O W N P L A N T A T I O N<br />

H O U S E / T H E T E R R E B O N N E<br />

M U S E U M<br />

Southdown Plantation House/The <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Museum is a non-pr<strong>of</strong>it organization under <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Historical and Cultural Society, Inc.<br />

Started in 1974, <strong>the</strong> following were <strong>the</strong> first Board<br />

<strong>of</strong> Directors: Mr. Gerald J. Bridges, Sr., Mrs. Jules S.<br />

Dupont, Mr. William L. Manning, Mrs. Andrew<br />

McCollam, Sr., Mrs. M.L. Shaffer, Sr., Mr. M.L.<br />

Shaffer, Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Wurzlow, Jr.<br />

Southdown Plantation is located in Houma,<br />

Louisiana. It is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> last grand plantation<br />

houses in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> that is open to <strong>the</strong><br />

public and is <strong>the</strong> only one that also showcases as<br />

a local history museum. The manor house has<br />

graced <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn bank <strong>of</strong> Little Bayou Black<br />

since 1858. Built earlier still were <strong>the</strong> sugar<br />

factory and slave quarters. Within <strong>the</strong> two-story<br />

slave quarters, <strong>the</strong> kitchen, laundry and dairy<br />

were located. This building stands today at <strong>the</strong><br />

rear <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> manor and within are <strong>the</strong> admissions<br />

desk, a gift shop and administrative <strong>of</strong>fices.<br />

For nearly a century and a half, sugar was king<br />

in South Louisiana, enticing pioneers to <strong>the</strong> region<br />

and rewarding <strong>the</strong>m with prosperity and progress.<br />

Southdown is located in <strong>the</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Houma in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, where 86 sugar mills operated<br />

during <strong>the</strong> industry's boom years. The last<br />

operational mill in <strong>the</strong> parish was <strong>the</strong> Southdown<br />

Mill, located adjacent to Southdown Plantation<br />

House. It closed in 1977 and was dismantled and<br />

shipped to Guatemala where it was reassembled<br />

for continued operation.<br />

Southdown Plantation House is a lasting<br />

tribute to <strong>the</strong> sugar industry which helped to<br />

nurture <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> from its infancy to its<br />

present population <strong>of</strong> over 100,000 residents.<br />

Four generations <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Minor Family, along<br />

with hundreds <strong>of</strong> mill workers, fieldworkers,<br />

and <strong>the</strong>ir families, lived and labored at<br />

Southdown Plantation. The Minor family<br />

occupied Southdown House until 1934. Over<br />

<strong>the</strong> years, <strong>the</strong> plantation owners, managers, and<br />

workers helped launch <strong>the</strong> local sugar industry,<br />

sustained it through difficult years, witnessed<br />

<strong>the</strong> cultural enrichment and progress <strong>of</strong> its<br />

boom times, and revitalized <strong>the</strong> industry from a<br />

near-fatal crop disease.<br />

Plantation life and <strong>the</strong> sugar industry are just<br />

two <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> many topics explored by <strong>the</strong> exhibits<br />

<strong>of</strong> Southdown Plantation House/The<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Museum. In addition to <strong>the</strong><br />

museum displays, <strong>the</strong> house itself, through its<br />

architecture and design, reveals information<br />

about life in South Louisiana. The house is 85<br />

feet wide by 65 feet deep by 50 feet high, with<br />

12- and 14-foot ceilings and porches on all sides<br />

which helped to cope with <strong>the</strong> hot wea<strong>the</strong>r. The<br />

walls are 12 to 20 inches thick, made <strong>of</strong> bricks<br />

kiln-fired on <strong>the</strong> property. The floors are a<br />

mixture <strong>of</strong> locally available red cypress and<br />

pine. The Favrile stained glass panels, added in<br />

1893, depict <strong>the</strong> plantation surroundings with<br />

motifs <strong>of</strong> palmetto leaves, magnolia branches,<br />

and sugarcane stalks. The current pink and<br />

green color scheme was selected by <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Historical and Cultural Society to reproduce <strong>the</strong><br />

paint colors <strong>of</strong> 1893, as discovered by expert<br />

paint analysis during <strong>the</strong> restoration. It has since<br />

been discovered from a 1903 magazine article in<br />

New Orleans that <strong>the</strong> house was in fact at that<br />

time white with green trim.<br />

W I L L I A M J O H N M I N O R<br />

F A M I L Y<br />

Born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi,<br />

William John was <strong>the</strong> primary owner and first<br />

to build <strong>the</strong> manor house <strong>of</strong> Southdown<br />

3 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Plantation. Most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Minor holdings carried<br />

names reminiscent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir English roots.<br />

Southdown was an English breed <strong>of</strong> sheep<br />

brought to <strong>the</strong> plantation. After <strong>the</strong> initial<br />

purchase <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 200 acres on Little Bayou<br />

Black, he acquired Hollywood Plantation (1,400<br />

acres) and additional acres for Southdown<br />

Plantation (6,000 acres) in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

and Waterloo Plantation (1,900 acres) in<br />

Ascension <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

W. J. married Rebecca Gustine <strong>of</strong> Carlisle,<br />

Pennsylvania, on July 7, 1829. They met while<br />

he was attending university at Philadelphia.<br />

The position <strong>of</strong> overseer in those early<br />

plantation days was difficult because <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

amount <strong>of</strong> work and responsibility. The<br />

following are some examples <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> rules and<br />

regulations at <strong>the</strong> plantation.<br />

• The overseer is to be personally responsible<br />

to see to <strong>the</strong> feeding and currying <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

horses and mules every day while <strong>the</strong>y are at<br />

work or he is to require certain hands to see<br />

to <strong>the</strong> feeding and currying <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> mules and<br />

horses, who shall be detailed specifically for<br />

this purpose.<br />

• The overseer is to keep accurate account <strong>of</strong><br />

all plantation implements, tools, etc. and<br />

inventory all <strong>the</strong> same on hand quarterly.<br />

• In order to see that each hand performs his<br />

appointed task or daily amount <strong>of</strong> labor, <strong>the</strong><br />

overseer is to treat all slaves with kindness<br />

and humanity, not to whip cruelly or<br />

unnecessarily, not to beat, bruise or maim<br />

any slave, not to work hard, whip severely or<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rwise ill-treat woman with child, not to<br />

permit one Negro to whip ano<strong>the</strong>r, to allow<br />

no quarrelling, fighting or cursing among <strong>the</strong><br />

slaves…to keep accurate account <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> daily<br />

production and to carry out rules for <strong>the</strong><br />

management <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> slaves.<br />

The slaves attached to Southdown Plantation<br />

originated from several different plantations. It<br />

is believed that Minor transported several slaves<br />

from Concord Plantation in Natchez to<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> in <strong>the</strong> 1820s. Records indicate that<br />

Minor had 40 slaves at Southdown in<br />

1830. When he purchased Waterloo Plantation<br />

in Ascension <strong>Parish</strong> he also acquired 183<br />

slaves which many were subsequently<br />

transferred to Southdown and Hollywood<br />

Plantations in <strong>the</strong> 1830s. In 1840 records<br />

indicate that <strong>the</strong>re were 210 slaves in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> listed under Minor.<br />

Hollywood Plantation was purchased in 1855<br />

and by July 1857 had 58 slaves with 128 slaves<br />

reported in <strong>the</strong> 1860 census. Minor recorded in<br />

January <strong>of</strong> 1859 that he had a total <strong>of</strong> 399 slaves<br />

at his Louisiana plantations; 176 at Southdown,<br />

165 at Waterloo and 58 at Hollywood. Minor’s<br />

records show he had 477 slaves, 203 at<br />

Southdown consisting <strong>of</strong> 85 men and boys, 64<br />

women and girls and 54 children.<br />

It was no secret that Rebecca Gustine Minor,<br />

native to <strong>the</strong> state <strong>of</strong> Pennsylvania, was an<br />

abolitionist. She expressed in many letters with<br />

family and friends that she did not agree with<br />

slavery, but could see no o<strong>the</strong>r way <strong>the</strong> business<br />

could be conducted successfully. Her influence<br />

is evident in <strong>the</strong> treatment <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> slaves at<br />

Southdown Plantation by <strong>the</strong> rules and<br />

regulations in place and <strong>the</strong> lifestyles led by<br />

<strong>the</strong>se slaves.<br />

W. J. documented <strong>the</strong> requirements, rights,<br />

and <strong>of</strong>ferings to <strong>the</strong> hands on <strong>the</strong> plantation.<br />

Rations for each field hand at <strong>the</strong> plantation<br />

consisted <strong>of</strong> three and a half pounds <strong>of</strong> pork or<br />

bacon per week, as much bread and molasses as<br />

<br />

A member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Eugene Bonvillain<br />

family milking cows. The Bonvillain<br />

family worked for <strong>the</strong> Southdown<br />

plantation for generations.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

C h a p t e r 4 ✦ 3 5


he could eat, and vegetables <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> season—as<br />

many as he can eat.<br />

The slaves were also allowed to maintain<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir own vegetable gardens and to keep<br />

chickens or o<strong>the</strong>r fowls. In some cases <strong>the</strong><br />

chickens and eggs were sold to <strong>the</strong> plantation<br />

ei<strong>the</strong>r for cash, sweets or tobacco. Clo<strong>the</strong>s made<br />

on <strong>the</strong> plantation were provided along with a<br />

pair <strong>of</strong> shoes per year.<br />

Minor had specific instructions for <strong>the</strong><br />

running <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> plantation.<br />

must not strike <strong>the</strong> negroes with anything but his<br />

whip, except in self-defense—He must not cut<br />

<strong>the</strong> skin when punishing, nor punish in a passion—He<br />

must not use abusive language to nor<br />

threaten <strong>the</strong> negroes, as it makes <strong>the</strong>m unhappy<br />

and sometimes induces <strong>the</strong>m to run away.<br />

Those who worked under <strong>the</strong> overseers were<br />

called drivers. Generally, <strong>the</strong>se were Negro men<br />

who held a considerable importance in <strong>the</strong><br />

production <strong>of</strong> crops. Their duties according to<br />

Minor’s journals were as follows:<br />

When <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r is fine, push <strong>the</strong> work.<br />

When <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r is bad, cold and wet, keep <strong>the</strong><br />

hands out <strong>of</strong> it as much as possible and let <strong>the</strong>m<br />

get in earlier at night….<br />

People must be well taken care <strong>of</strong> when sick<br />

and must be punished ALWAYS if <strong>the</strong>y lay up<br />

when not sick. Discipline, strict discipline must<br />

be maintained at all times—no fighting or quarreling<br />

must be allowed—nor must bad language<br />

be used by anyone at any time….<br />

Holy days—Give from Christmas Eve to <strong>the</strong><br />

Monday morning following—They can dance in<br />

<strong>the</strong> shop…. Give a barrel <strong>of</strong> flour, ¼ <strong>of</strong> a barrel<br />

<strong>of</strong> sugar to make cakes—one hog for supper.<br />

Strict decorum must be preserved at <strong>the</strong> Ball—<br />

no one must wear a hat in <strong>the</strong> room.<br />

While <strong>the</strong> life <strong>of</strong> a slave was by no means a<br />

life to be envied, W. J. documented in his<br />

accountings slaves who were paid for <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

work. These slaves could buy things at <strong>the</strong><br />

company store or save up to buy <strong>the</strong>ir own or<br />

someone else’s freedom.<br />

No doubt Rebecca’s views were partially<br />

responsible for instructions given to <strong>the</strong><br />

overseers on <strong>the</strong> plantations.<br />

He must obey all <strong>the</strong> orders <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Overseer.<br />

He must see that all <strong>the</strong> hands under him in <strong>the</strong><br />

field, do <strong>the</strong>ir duty, and punish <strong>the</strong>m in a proper<br />

manner unless <strong>the</strong>y do. He must not allow any<br />

loud talking or quarreling in <strong>the</strong> field or in <strong>the</strong><br />

Quarter, or on <strong>the</strong> place….<br />

He must take care that <strong>the</strong> people do not<br />

leave <strong>the</strong> Quarters without permission that <strong>the</strong>y<br />

are all in or at <strong>the</strong>ir houses, at <strong>the</strong> proper time<br />

after <strong>the</strong> ringing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> bell….<br />

He must not allow <strong>the</strong> Negroes to use or keep<br />

or drink spirituous liquors <strong>of</strong> any kind, and<br />

above all must not do it himself.<br />

He must never in punishment cut <strong>the</strong> skin or<br />

bruise in any way, <strong>the</strong> person punished…. He must<br />

never strike with anything but <strong>the</strong> lash <strong>of</strong> his whip.<br />

He must treat all <strong>the</strong> Negroes alike, showing<br />

nei<strong>the</strong>r love nor hatred to anyone, but be just in<br />

all things to all.<br />

He must so conduct himself as that <strong>the</strong>re<br />

shall be no complaints <strong>of</strong> his being too intimate<br />

with <strong>the</strong> wives and daughters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r men.<br />

He must by no means attempt to (be) come <strong>the</strong><br />

Ondidonk over <strong>the</strong> people, for if he dies burnt<br />

brandy should not save him from <strong>the</strong> most<br />

severe punishment.<br />

He will give <strong>the</strong> whole <strong>of</strong> his time and<br />

talents to <strong>the</strong> interests <strong>of</strong> his employer. He<br />

must treat all <strong>the</strong> negroes with kindness and<br />

humanity both in sickness and in health - When<br />

sick he must see that <strong>the</strong>y have every necessary<br />

attention and convenience and that <strong>the</strong><br />

Doctors directions are strictly attended to in<br />

every particular.<br />

He must see that <strong>the</strong> hands are at work as soon<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y can (see) to work and that one and all do<br />

good days work according to <strong>the</strong>ir strength…. He<br />

William John and Rebecca had nine children,<br />

eight boys and one girl. Their first child was<br />

John Duncan who was born in 1831. The<br />

second son, Stephen Minor, was born in 1833<br />

and died soon after. Then came William Minor<br />

born in 1834, followed by Stephen Minor in<br />

1836, James Gustine Minor in 1839,<br />

Henry Chotard Minor in 1841, Duncan Minor<br />

in 1844, Francis Octave Minor in 1849, and <strong>the</strong><br />

only girl, Ka<strong>the</strong>rine Lintot Minor was also born<br />

in 1849.<br />

3 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


T H E S H A F F E R F A M I L Y<br />

P L A N T A T I O N S<br />

Like <strong>the</strong> Minor family <strong>of</strong> Southdown, <strong>the</strong><br />

Shaffer family has a rich history in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong>. Sugar planters William Alexander Shaffer<br />

(1818-1921) and his sons Thomas J. Shaffer<br />

(1843-1915), John Dalton Shaffer (1875-1919),<br />

and John J. Shaffer (1876-1906) owned<br />

plantations in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> that included<br />

Crescent Farm, Magnolia, and Ardoyne.<br />

C R E S E C E N T<br />

F A R M<br />

Founded in 1827 by William A. Shaffer,<br />

Crescent Farm was <strong>the</strong> center <strong>of</strong> operations<br />

for <strong>the</strong> Shaffer family land holdings. Built in<br />

1849 on Little Bayou Black Drive (Hwy 311),<br />

<strong>the</strong> plantation home was <strong>the</strong> center piece <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> sugar cane farm that included its own<br />

sugar mill.<br />

The beautiful raised Creole Acadian style<br />

plantation house utilized numerous special<br />

design features, such as <strong>the</strong> broad spreading<br />

ro<strong>of</strong>line with a symmetrical façade, <strong>the</strong> evenlyspaced<br />

windows, a front second floor porch<br />

accessed by a central exterior stairway, multiple<br />

fireplaces and chimneys, operable window<br />

shutters, and generous galleries.<br />

Crescent Farm continued to be a major<br />

producer <strong>of</strong> sugar into <strong>the</strong> 1920s. In <strong>the</strong> 1930s it<br />

was acquired by corporate processors. In 1969<br />

<strong>the</strong> house and current acreage were purchased<br />

by a private owner who undertook extensive<br />

restorations and renovations <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> home and<br />

grounds. Purchase in 1986 by a local attorney,<br />

Crescent Farms is now used as law <strong>of</strong>fices.<br />

A R D O Y N E<br />

P L A N T A T I O N<br />

Ardoyne Plantation is located on Highway<br />

311. The land was purchased by Louisiana State<br />

Senator John Dalton Shaffer, in 1888 and <strong>the</strong><br />

home was completed in 1894.<br />

The home was built by architects, W. C.<br />

Williams and Bros. <strong>of</strong> New Orleans <strong>of</strong> cypress<br />

<br />

Built in 1858, Magnolia Plantation in<br />

Schriever on Highway 311 was part<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Shaffer family properties and<br />

one <strong>of</strong> many sugar cane plantations in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

COURTESY OF THE LOUISIANA STATE LIBRARY.<br />

Below: Ardoyne Plantation, built in<br />

1894 by <strong>the</strong> Shaffer family, still stands<br />

today in all its glory.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW NOEL.<br />

C h a p t e r 4 ✦ 3 7


Washington, over 2,000 books, local plantation<br />

tokens, Native American baskets, Newcomb<br />

pottery and various antique quilts and furniture.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> time when sugar cane was at its peak,<br />

prior to <strong>the</strong> civil war <strong>the</strong>re were more than 88<br />

sugar plantations in <strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

O R A N G E G R O V E P L A N T A T I O N<br />

<br />

Along <strong>the</strong> banks <strong>of</strong> Bayou Black<br />

and onto <strong>the</strong> fields <strong>of</strong> sugar cane<br />

beyond where Greenwood Plantation<br />

stood. It was not far from St. Anthony<br />

Catholic Church.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

and pine taken from <strong>the</strong> property and milled in<br />

St. Louis. The plantation name <strong>of</strong> Ardoyne is for<br />

a Scottish castle that it resembles.<br />

Ardoyne has twenty-one rooms that includes<br />

seven bedrooms, four bathrooms and twelve<br />

fireplaces. The first floor boasts sixteen-foot<br />

cove-molded pine ceilings with octagonal<br />

patterns <strong>of</strong> beaded beams. Two rooms hold<br />

massive mirrors, one originating from a riverboat<br />

and ano<strong>the</strong>r from a famous New Orleans hotel.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> entrance hall is <strong>the</strong> unique handstamped<br />

wallpaper and novel hand-painted<br />

staircase. Throughout <strong>the</strong> home are <strong>the</strong> original<br />

chandeliers and Victorian gothic gasoliers. The<br />

dining room fireplace hosts a pair <strong>of</strong> unusual<br />

hand-carved wooden griffins.<br />

Migrant workers <strong>of</strong> German, Italian and<br />

African decent were <strong>the</strong> main workforce <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

land and received plantation tokens as pay. This<br />

plantation is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first post-Civil War<br />

operations and is an example <strong>of</strong> how <strong>the</strong> South<br />

transitioned from slavery to <strong>the</strong> Industrial<br />

Revolution. Members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Shaffer family are<br />

still involved with <strong>the</strong> sugarcane industry today.<br />

Currently <strong>the</strong> interior <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> home serves as<br />

museum and living space for members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Shaffer family. They provide tours <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> home<br />

and grounds and hold special events as well. The<br />

house is situated upon 8 acres with many stately<br />

live oak trees.<br />

Due to <strong>the</strong> unique architecture style, several<br />

movies have featured <strong>the</strong> house. Interesting items<br />

inside include an original portrait <strong>of</strong> George<br />

Orange Grove Plantation is located on Bayou<br />

Black Drive in Gibson. Built around 1850, <strong>the</strong><br />

Acadian-style plantation house is nestled on a<br />

4.5-acre tract <strong>of</strong> land and is surrounded by 200-<br />

year-old moss-draped oak trees and a formal<br />

garden with 19th century pigeonaires. The<br />

house has a central hall double parlor plan with<br />

full front and rear galleries. It still stands today as<br />

a private residence.<br />

D U C R O S , B E L L E G R O V E A N D<br />

A R M I T A G E P L A N T A T I O N S<br />

At <strong>the</strong> north <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish, in Schriever,<br />

several plantations were established. Like <strong>the</strong><br />

plantations <strong>of</strong> Southdown and Ardoyne, many<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se plantations were linked by ancestral<br />

ties. Belle Grove Plantation (which is no longer<br />

standing) is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se that have a rich history<br />

and also a love story attached. The following is<br />

from Bettie Wurzlow <strong>of</strong> Armitage Plantation.<br />

A Victorian Romance or The Story <strong>of</strong> a Ring<br />

Many, many years ago, <strong>the</strong>re were three young<br />

friends, Philip Armitage, James McBride and<br />

Sallie Winder. School mates <strong>the</strong>y were also, as<br />

<strong>the</strong>y attended <strong>the</strong> Guion Academy in Thibodaux.<br />

James, or Jimmie as he was called, lived in<br />

Thibodaux; Philip at <strong>the</strong> home <strong>of</strong> his fa<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

Charles Armitage, about two miles south <strong>of</strong><br />

Thibodaux, and Sallie at “Ducros”, <strong>the</strong> plantation<br />

<strong>of</strong> her family a mile far<strong>the</strong>r south in <strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

The three remained close friends. Later, after<br />

<strong>the</strong> Civil War, Philip asked Sallie to become<br />

his wife and upon her acceptance presented<br />

her with a very handsome diamond engagement<br />

ring. Before <strong>the</strong>y were wed, however, Sallie<br />

became uncertain <strong>of</strong> her future as Mrs. Armitage<br />

and returned <strong>the</strong> ring to Philip, thus breaking<br />

her engagement. She remained single throughout<br />

her life.<br />

3 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Philip never married, but Jimmie did and<br />

took as his bride, Emily Daunis in 1877. Her<br />

fa<strong>the</strong>r, Marcellus Daunis, had acquired Belle<br />

Grove plantation on Little Bayou Black in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, building <strong>the</strong>re his large<br />

Greek Revival plantation home. Upon <strong>the</strong> death<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mr. Daunis, Jimmie McBride purchased <strong>the</strong><br />

interest <strong>of</strong> Emily’s bro<strong>the</strong>rs and sisters in<br />

Belle Grove and thus became <strong>the</strong> sole owner <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> plantation.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> meantime, his dear friend, Philip<br />

Armitage, was in increasingly poor health. It was<br />

thought that a more salubrious climate might<br />

restore him and he took up residence<br />

somewhere in <strong>the</strong> West. But, alas, it was too late.<br />

Philip, realizing that <strong>the</strong> end was inevitable,<br />

summoned his old friend, Jimmie McBride to his<br />

side. He gave him Sallie’s engagement ring and<br />

received Jimmie’s promise to return it to Sallie.<br />

Philip died while Jimmie was <strong>the</strong>re and his<br />

body was returned to Thibodaux and interred in<br />

St. John’s Cemetery in 1881. Then, Jimmie rode<br />

to Ducros with <strong>the</strong> ring for Sallie. But, in true<br />

Victorian tradition, she steadfastly maintained<br />

that she had no right to accept it and insisted<br />

that her old schoolmate keep <strong>the</strong> ring.<br />

Thereupon, Jimmie <strong>the</strong>n gave Philip Armitage’s<br />

ring to his wife, Emily.<br />

Sometime later, a lovely portrait <strong>of</strong> Emily<br />

McBride was painted by John Genin, a wellknown<br />

artist <strong>of</strong> New Orleans. Philip’s ring is<br />

clearly visible on Emily’s left index finger, as was<br />

<strong>the</strong> style <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> day.<br />

The McBrides had one little son, M. Daunis<br />

McBride, named for his grandfa<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

Marcellus. Ano<strong>the</strong>r, Jamie, died at birth as did<br />

his mo<strong>the</strong>r, Emily. They are both buried at<br />

St. John’s Cemetery.<br />

Some years later, in 1889, James McBride<br />

married Mary Elizabeth Allen <strong>of</strong> Centerville in<br />

St. Mary <strong>Parish</strong>. She was <strong>the</strong> grandmo<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong><br />

Bettie Wurzlow. Daunis McBride was her<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>r’s half bro<strong>the</strong>r. Daunis inherited <strong>the</strong><br />

Armitage ring from his mo<strong>the</strong>r, Emily. He <strong>the</strong>n<br />

gave it to his bride, Nell Watson <strong>of</strong> Virginia and<br />

<strong>the</strong> ring was handed down through successive<br />

generations until it was last known in <strong>the</strong><br />

possession <strong>of</strong> Emily Daunis’ greatgranddaughter,<br />

Sara Nell McBride.<br />

The family plantations, Ducros and Belle<br />

Grove are long out <strong>of</strong> Winder and McBride<br />

possession, but <strong>the</strong> Armitage Place was<br />

purchased by Frank Jr. and Bettie Wurzlow<br />

after World War II. The portrait <strong>of</strong> Emily<br />

McBride hung at Armitage until it was donated<br />

by <strong>the</strong> Wurzlows to Southdown Plantation<br />

House and Museum.<br />

One final note to this tale <strong>of</strong> friendship and<br />

romance is that each year, after Philip’s death in<br />

1881, on All Saints’ Day, flowers were placed on<br />

his grave in St. John’s Cemetery. Sallie Winder<br />

kept this tradition until her death in 1929. After<br />

that her nieces, Sarah, Nina and Louise Winder<br />

took up <strong>the</strong> tradition until 1971. Frank and<br />

Bettie Wurzlow kept <strong>the</strong> tradition in <strong>the</strong> family<br />

for 111 years <strong>of</strong> remembering. Frank and Bettie<br />

had one son, Frank who died at a young age, so<br />

<strong>the</strong> tradition <strong>of</strong> Philip Armitage has ended.<br />

B A Y O U T E R R E B O N N E<br />

W A T E R L I F E M U S E U M<br />

Renovated from an old shrimp cannery<br />

building in historic downtown Houma, <strong>the</strong><br />

Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Waterlife Museum at 7910<br />

West Parke Avenue opened in 1998. Visitors to<br />

<strong>the</strong> museum will see displays about <strong>the</strong><br />

industries, traditions, wildlife and stories <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>. On select days, Cajun music is<br />

featured in <strong>the</strong> evenings.<br />

T E R R E B O N N E F O L K L I F E<br />

C U L T U R E C E N T E R<br />

This extension <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish government is<br />

dedicated to preserving Cajun culture. The<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Folklife Culture Center at 317<br />

<strong>Good</strong>e Street <strong>of</strong>fers classes on cajun dancing,<br />

cooking and duck decoy carving. Individuals<br />

and groups are accommodated.<br />

R E G I O N A L M I L I T A R Y M U S E U M<br />

The Houma Regional Military Museum is<br />

dedicated to <strong>the</strong> military history <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> and those who have served <strong>the</strong> country to<br />

defend our freedom. Located at 1154 Barrow<br />

Street, <strong>the</strong> mission is to bring life to <strong>the</strong> memories<br />

and artifacts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> brave miltary men and women<br />

who so valiantly served <strong>the</strong> country. The museum<br />

is fluid, not static. The items that are shown<br />

within are working machinery. C. J. Christ, who<br />

C h a p t e r 4 ✦ 3 9


present for this committee: Stanwood Duval,<br />

Chairman; Seymour Dalsheimer, Clyde LeBlanc,<br />

C.J. Christ, Frank Wurzlow, Louise Dupont,<br />

Margaret Odom, Ernestine Ellender, Mr. Oddie<br />

Hebert, Fred & Sandy Nomey, Sydney Pellegrin,<br />

Mrs. Roy Stagni, Paul Fournier, Representative<br />

Hunt Downer, Jr., Byron Bennett, Paul H. Duet,<br />

John LaBruzzo, Fred Lemoine, Martin Bruno,<br />

M.C. Perry, and Temus Bonnette, Jr.<br />

L E P E T I T T H E A T R E D E<br />

T E R R E B O N N E<br />

<br />

The Regional Military Museum on<br />

Barrow Street in Houma opened<br />

in 2008.<br />

PHOTO BY DANIELLE EVANS.<br />

leads <strong>the</strong> team <strong>of</strong> dedicated people that impart<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir wisdom upon all visitors stated, “Our<br />

vehicles really run, our weapons really fire and<br />

our library acts as a place <strong>of</strong> research for both<br />

family military history as well as educational<br />

instruction. Our veteran volunteers <strong>of</strong>fer firsthand<br />

accounts <strong>of</strong> what it was really like to lay<br />

one’s life on <strong>the</strong> line to protect our loved ones and<br />

our way <strong>of</strong> life. We are constantly updating and<br />

expanding our collections.”<br />

H O U M A - T E R R E B O N N E<br />

C O N V E N T I O N A N D<br />

V I S I T O R ’ S B U R E A U<br />

Located in <strong>the</strong> community <strong>of</strong> Gray at 114<br />

Tourist Drive, <strong>the</strong> Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Convention and Visitor’s Center houses<br />

information for travelers and is <strong>the</strong> home to <strong>the</strong><br />

Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Convention and Visitor’s<br />

Commission. The Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Convention<br />

and Visitor’s Bureau was created from a committee<br />

within <strong>the</strong> Houma-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong><br />

Commerce in 1977. It was originally called <strong>the</strong><br />

Tourist Agency Committee. In a resolution<br />

presented by Frank Wurzlow, Jr., to <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Police Jury and <strong>the</strong> Houma<br />

City Council, on January 16, 1978, it was stated,<br />

“To enact an ordinance creating <strong>the</strong> Houma-<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Convention and Tourist<br />

Commission”. This resolution also stated that a<br />

2% hotel-motel tax would be included. According<br />

to <strong>the</strong> minutes <strong>of</strong> December 14, 1977, at <strong>the</strong><br />

chamber <strong>of</strong>fice <strong>the</strong> following members were<br />

Formed in <strong>the</strong> 1938, Le Petit Theatre de<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> or Le Petite Theatre is an important<br />

institution in <strong>the</strong> parish. The first play<br />

performed was <strong>the</strong> Night <strong>of</strong> January by Ayn Rand.<br />

During World War II, <strong>the</strong> group diminished,<br />

but reformed in 1961 with a production <strong>of</strong><br />

Monique. This play was held in <strong>the</strong> new petit<br />

<strong>the</strong>atre building.<br />

The first president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ater was Mrs.<br />

Andrew McCollam. Claude B. Duval served as<br />

vice president with Harold Dupont as secretary<br />

and Ashby Pettigrew as treasurer. The board <strong>of</strong><br />

directors included Mrs. Floyd Bourg, Mrs. M.<br />

Funderburk, Miss Tracy Duplantis, Robert B.<br />

Butler, Jr., Robert Lottinger, D.W. Pipes, Julius<br />

Dupont, G.T. Millet, Nina M. Winder, Oscar<br />

Daspit and Mrs. J.W. Thatcher.<br />

“The <strong>the</strong>ater is a place devoted to dramatic and<br />

musical performances,” stated Sherwin Guidry. “It<br />

rises from a central circle surrounded by stone<br />

slabs for <strong>the</strong> audience, rising tier after tier.”<br />

L O C A L<br />

F A V O R I T E S<br />

The draw <strong>of</strong> local cuisine cannot be<br />

underestimated in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. From <strong>the</strong><br />

backyard barbeque to <strong>the</strong> fais do-do, two things<br />

unite <strong>the</strong> culture; food and family. A visitor to<br />

<strong>the</strong> area can find an assortment <strong>of</strong> local cuisine<br />

such as fresh catch seafood, jambalaya, gumbo,<br />

boudin, poboys and o<strong>the</strong>r <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

specialties. According to Pere <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, a<br />

fictional character created by Clyde LeBlanc for<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong> Cookbook, “We stick to <strong>the</strong> old<br />

recipes, <strong>the</strong> kind that <strong>the</strong>y used for 200 years.<br />

We like it so much we ought to be ashamed if<br />

we don’t pass it on to you! Food, food, food.<br />

Pick a special good food from any part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

4 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


world and we can match it, because we can<br />

grow almost anything in our climate and land.<br />

Our sea is so rich, our water so good, our people<br />

so hungry and what more do you need than<br />

good cooking.”<br />

The group consisted <strong>of</strong> nine girls and three<br />

boys—Gene Ellen, Rose Marie, Veronica, Cindy,<br />

Margaret, Monica, Amelie, Annette, Marie, Louis,<br />

Tim and John. They sang locally and regionally<br />

with o<strong>the</strong>rs such as Waylon Thibodeaux, Ronnie<br />

Filce, and Cookie Domange. They travelled across<br />

<strong>the</strong> country and internationally, delighting many<br />

with <strong>the</strong>ir harmony <strong>of</strong> Cajun songs and lullabies.<br />

The business <strong>the</strong>y started was a restaurant in<br />

Chauvin, La Trouvaille. It was open from 1980<br />

until 2003 and served Cajun specialties that<br />

could be found in <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

H O U M A O P E R A H O U S E<br />

L O S T B U T N O T F O R G O T T E N :<br />

B E S T - O - B U R G E R A N D Z E S T O<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> has had its share <strong>of</strong> unique<br />

establishments and attractions. One such place<br />

can brag that it was <strong>the</strong> first <strong>of</strong> its kind in<br />

Houma. In 1955, Pierre Leonce Richard and his<br />

bro<strong>the</strong>r, Laywood, opened <strong>the</strong> first hamburger<br />

operation in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. Best-o-Burger<br />

was located in downtown Houma on Main<br />

Street. Laywood already owned <strong>the</strong> Zesto ice<br />

cream store. The two bro<strong>the</strong>rs ran <strong>the</strong> business<br />

until 1962 when Laywood died. Leonce bought<br />

out his sister-in-law’s shares <strong>of</strong> both <strong>the</strong> Best-o-<br />

Burger and Zesto at this time. He opened two<br />

more Best-o-Burger locations that he managed<br />

until 1982.<br />

The Houma Opera House was built in 1896<br />

and it boasted a distinctive spire and once housed<br />

<strong>the</strong> clerk <strong>of</strong> courts <strong>of</strong>fice. The two-storied,<br />

wooden structure had balconies and a six-sided<br />

tower. Below <strong>the</strong> tower was <strong>the</strong> belfry. High steps<br />

led from <strong>the</strong> banquette to <strong>the</strong> building. The<br />

Houma Opera House bragged a bell that was<br />

sounded in <strong>the</strong> event <strong>of</strong> a fire. It was located on<br />

<strong>the</strong> batture side <strong>of</strong> Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, across <strong>the</strong><br />

street from <strong>the</strong> courthouse. The opera house was<br />

demolished in 1928.<br />

<br />

Above: The culture <strong>of</strong> American teens<br />

was introduced to Houma in 1955<br />

with <strong>the</strong> establishment <strong>of</strong> Best-o-<br />

Burger. Long-time residents <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, Pierre Leonce<br />

Richard and his bro<strong>the</strong>r Laywood<br />

opened <strong>the</strong> first hamburger operation<br />

in <strong>the</strong> parish on Main Street.<br />

COURTESY OF HENRY RICHARD.<br />

Below: Zesto was <strong>the</strong> complimentary<br />

business to <strong>the</strong> Best-o-Burger in<br />

Houma. The popular ice cream eatery<br />

was open in Houma until 1982.<br />

COURTESY OF HENRY RICHARD.<br />

L A T R O U V A I L L E A N D T H E<br />

D U S E N B E R R Y F A M I L Y<br />

An institution in it’s own right, <strong>the</strong><br />

Dusenberry Family Singers graced <strong>the</strong> hearts<br />

and ears <strong>of</strong> many a <strong>Terrebonne</strong> resident.<br />

Although <strong>the</strong>y only made one album, <strong>the</strong> family<br />

sang toge<strong>the</strong>r for over 40 years. Wylma and<br />

Gene married in 1948. They had 12 children,<br />

three sets <strong>of</strong> twins in <strong>the</strong> mix. Wylma played<br />

<strong>the</strong> organ at church and Gene played with<br />

<strong>the</strong> “Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Playboys” in <strong>the</strong> late 1940s and<br />

early ’50s. The Dusenberry Family Singers<br />

didn’t start until 1964. The music was Cajun<br />

music from <strong>the</strong> areas where <strong>the</strong>y were born<br />

and raised.<br />

H O U M A N A V A L A I R S T A T I O N<br />

At <strong>the</strong> onset <strong>of</strong> World War II (WWII) it<br />

became imperative to have military installations<br />

on native soil. Little is known around <strong>the</strong> world<br />

C h a p t e r 4 ✦ 4 1


Left: One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> k-class blimps at<br />

<strong>the</strong> U.S. Naval Air Station in Houma<br />

during <strong>the</strong> mid-1940s.<br />

U.S. NAVAL STATION PHOTO.<br />

Right: An interior view <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> blimp<br />

hangar at <strong>the</strong> U.S. Naval Air Station<br />

in Houma. The massive size <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

structure can be seen in comparison to<br />

<strong>the</strong> people and <strong>the</strong> cars.<br />

U.S. NAVAL STATION PHOTO.<br />

about <strong>the</strong> role <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico during <strong>the</strong><br />

war. In <strong>the</strong> spring and summer <strong>of</strong> 1942,<br />

according to WWII in <strong>the</strong> Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico by C. J.<br />

Christ, “it was <strong>the</strong> deadliest place on earth for<br />

allied war shipping.”<br />

During May 1942, 41 ships were sunk in <strong>the</strong><br />

area near <strong>Terrebonne</strong>. Christ continues with,<br />

“Those who lived during those terrible months in<br />

South Louisiana still remember <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn sky<br />

aglow for weeks. There were tankers burning just<br />

<strong>of</strong>fshore in shallow water near <strong>the</strong> Louisiana coast,<br />

south <strong>of</strong> Last Island, Grand Isle and Timbalier Bay.”<br />

Apparently it was <strong>the</strong> directive <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> authorities to<br />

make every effort to keep <strong>the</strong> information out <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

media. Due in part to <strong>the</strong> German submarines <strong>of</strong>f<br />

<strong>the</strong> coast in <strong>the</strong> Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico, <strong>the</strong> military leaders<br />

decided it was imperative to have to build a blimp<br />

base in Houma.<br />

In May 1942, <strong>the</strong> Naval Air Station (NAS) at<br />

Houma was commissioned to house <strong>the</strong> LTAs<br />

(lighter than air) airships or blimps. The NAS was<br />

located three miles from Houma near <strong>the</strong> airport.<br />

The first construction was a large hangar that<br />

would house up to three fully-inflated blimps. It<br />

was over 200 feet high, 1,000 feet long, and 300<br />

feet wide. While it existed, it was <strong>the</strong> largest<br />

wooden structure in <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

In May 1943, <strong>the</strong> United States Navy began<br />

conducting anti-submarine patrols <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Gulf<br />

Coast. This station also served as a POW camp for<br />

German prisoners who were approved by <strong>the</strong><br />

United States government to harvest<br />

approximately twenty-one thousand acres <strong>of</strong><br />

sugar cane in <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

Later, a railroad was built to connect <strong>the</strong> hangar<br />

and <strong>the</strong> industrial section <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> NAS. In addition,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y built storehouses, <strong>of</strong>ficer’s quarters, a fire<br />

station and a pigeon l<strong>of</strong>t. (Yes this was used for <strong>the</strong><br />

homing pigeons). Eventually <strong>the</strong> NAS would get<br />

roads and walks, a barracks and a mess hall. By<br />

July 15, 1943, <strong>the</strong> station was fully equipped and<br />

functional, however <strong>the</strong> LTAs would cease use <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Houma base on September 21, 1944, due to<br />

loss <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> airships in two tragedies.<br />

H O U M A A I R F O R C E S T A T I O N<br />

If you live in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> you’re<br />

probably familiar with <strong>the</strong> jet parked at <strong>the</strong><br />

entrance <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> airbase on what is now<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> ARC property at <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong><br />

Grand Caillou Road and M<strong>of</strong>fet Road. This T33<br />

jet was flown to Houma, demilitarized, and<br />

placed <strong>the</strong>re on display in <strong>the</strong> mid to late 1950s.<br />

In April 1955, <strong>the</strong> Houma Air Force Station<br />

was established. It was a Cold War U.S. Air Force<br />

General Surveillance Radar Station located on<br />

<strong>the</strong> present day site <strong>of</strong> Ellender Memorial High<br />

School and <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Careers and<br />

Technical High School. It became operational on<br />

December 7, 1955 and was manned by <strong>the</strong><br />

657th Air Control & Warning Squadron.<br />

The station had both a ground-control intercept<br />

(GCI) and early warning mission. The early<br />

warning mission involved tracking and identifying<br />

all aircraft entering our airspace while <strong>the</strong> GCI<br />

mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to<br />

any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at <strong>the</strong><br />

station vectored fighter aircraft at <strong>the</strong> correct<br />

course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using<br />

voice commands through ground-to-air radio.<br />

Initial equipment included <strong>the</strong> TPS-1D<br />

combination search and height finder radar, one<br />

MPS-14 height finder radar and one TPS-10D<br />

height finder radar. The station was abandoned in<br />

1970 and, in 1972, was dedicated to <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Association for Retarded Citizens, Inc.<br />

now known as <strong>Terrebonne</strong> ARC.<br />

4 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


CHAPTER 5<br />

I N D U S T R I E S<br />

Prior to <strong>the</strong> great influx <strong>of</strong> settlers in <strong>the</strong> area, <strong>the</strong>re were <strong>the</strong> French, Spanish, Acadians, and <strong>the</strong><br />

Houmas Indians who had made this area viable. It was with <strong>the</strong> influence <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se settlers that <strong>the</strong> land<br />

became valuable. The new interest in <strong>the</strong> land came in <strong>the</strong> 1820s when landowners in <strong>the</strong> north<br />

sought new lands to cultivate.<br />

S U G A R C A N E<br />

<br />

Sugarcane became <strong>the</strong> primary crop<br />

<strong>of</strong> wealthy Anglo-Saxons with<br />

holdings close to <strong>the</strong> Mississippi River.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

In <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> as well as o<strong>the</strong>r parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> south like Natchez, Mississippi, <strong>the</strong> primary crops<br />

<strong>of</strong> indigo fell to a loss and it resulted in a depression in <strong>the</strong> area in <strong>the</strong> 1830s. It was this crop that led<br />

way to a new crop, sugarcane. Developed initially in New Orleans and brought to <strong>the</strong> continent by <strong>the</strong><br />

Jesuit priests in 1751. The current ground <strong>of</strong> Audubon Park is <strong>the</strong> site <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first sugarcane plantation<br />

in Louisiana.<br />

Planters first put short pieces <strong>of</strong> cane, containing one or more eyes, which are growth points, in <strong>the</strong><br />

ground in a shallow furrow and covered <strong>the</strong>m lightly with soil. In a short time, new stalks grew from<br />

<strong>the</strong> joints <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> old cane. After <strong>the</strong> growing season, which may average from seven to twenty-two<br />

months, workers cut <strong>the</strong> cane. The stubble left in <strong>the</strong> field will produce two or more additional crops<br />

in successive years.<br />

Technological changes have impacted <strong>the</strong> production <strong>of</strong> sugar from cane, not only <strong>the</strong> growth cycle,<br />

but more importantly, from <strong>the</strong> production cycle. The bulk <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cane is cut mechanically and loaded<br />

onto trucks for <strong>the</strong> trip to <strong>the</strong> nearest mill. Here in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> <strong>the</strong> mills are gone, but in<br />

neighboring Lafourche <strong>the</strong>re are two such mills; one at Thibodaux and one at Raceland.<br />

Some cane is still hand-cut with a cane knife, which has a sharpened steel blade about 5 inches wide<br />

and up to 18 inches long, with a hook on <strong>the</strong> opposite side <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sharpened edge, at <strong>the</strong> top <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> blade.<br />

A cane knife has a wooden handle. Cutting cane by hand was a labor intensive process which required<br />

many field hands and overseers to complete <strong>the</strong> process. After <strong>the</strong> cane is cut, whe<strong>the</strong>r by hand or machine,<br />

C h a p t e r 5 ✦ 4 3


Above: It was beneficial to all sugar<br />

mills to be located on a bayou where<br />

water transportation was utilized.<br />

Several sugar plantations were located<br />

on Little Bayou Black.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. R. BARROW COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVE.<br />

Below: The emergence <strong>of</strong> sugar mills<br />

in Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Louisiana stimulated <strong>the</strong><br />

economy and brought economic<br />

diversity to <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

<strong>the</strong> stalks, as <strong>the</strong>y lie in <strong>the</strong> furrows <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> field, are<br />

burnt over in a fueled, slow, smoky controlled<br />

burn. This removes <strong>the</strong> exterior leaves and speeds<br />

<strong>the</strong> processing once it arrives at <strong>the</strong> mill.<br />

During <strong>the</strong> heyday <strong>of</strong> cane farming in<br />

Louisiana, most cane was moved by mule drawn<br />

wagon to narrow gauge rail lines which ran from<br />

central locations in <strong>the</strong> fields to <strong>the</strong> mill. In<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, however, <strong>the</strong> bayous and<br />

waterways that nearly equal <strong>the</strong> land were a<br />

main source <strong>of</strong> transportation. Still, most mills<br />

had <strong>the</strong>ir own railroads, or as it was called a<br />

“dummy-line”. The name dummy referred<br />

generally to <strong>the</strong> engine portion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> line which<br />

had a muted or o<strong>the</strong>r noisemaker, so as not to<br />

confuse <strong>the</strong>m with commercial lines. In later<br />

years, mules were replaced by tractors and still<br />

later by 18-wheeler trucks. Presently, <strong>the</strong> cane is<br />

loaded on specially designed trucks and trucked<br />

on local highways to <strong>the</strong> nearest mills.<br />

Eventually cultivated throughout <strong>the</strong> south,<br />

sugarcane took hold as <strong>the</strong> primary crop. The<br />

crops came in in abundance from 1831 until <strong>the</strong><br />

mosaic disease set in in 1915. It was discovered<br />

that <strong>the</strong> canes were subject to a disease, root rot. It<br />

was <strong>the</strong> cause <strong>of</strong> severe crop losses. The prospects<br />

<strong>of</strong> complete loss <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sugarcane crop loomed on<br />

<strong>the</strong> horizon and were echoed in <strong>the</strong> pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

journals <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> time. The bright side was that<br />

several plantations in Argentina had experimented<br />

with varieties that were promising. The varieties<br />

<strong>the</strong>y cultivated were resistant to <strong>the</strong> disease. It was<br />

unfortunate, however that few plantations in <strong>the</strong><br />

United States knew <strong>of</strong> this new cane. If it hadn’t<br />

been for <strong>the</strong> fortitude <strong>of</strong> Southdown Plantation,<br />

specifically Elliot Jones under David Pipes and<br />

Charles Krumbhaar, <strong>the</strong> strain that was resistant to<br />

<strong>the</strong> mosaic disease would not have been<br />

introduced to Louisiana and eventually all <strong>the</strong><br />

sou<strong>the</strong>rn sugarcane producing states.<br />

The sugarcane industry began a decline<br />

shortly after WWI. It was not until 1924 that <strong>the</strong><br />

gravity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> situation was fully recognized by<br />

Louisiana farmers.<br />

Under <strong>the</strong> administration <strong>of</strong> Pipes and<br />

Krumbhaar, Elliot Jones brought from South<br />

America <strong>the</strong> variety <strong>of</strong> sugarcane to USDA’s<br />

Washington greenhouse to be propagated. In<br />

1922, Jones hand-carried 21 internodes, (<strong>the</strong><br />

eyes that grow <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> stalk) <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> new resistant<br />

cane for cultivation at Southdown. They planted<br />

four acres <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cane and in 1924 supplied<br />

nearly all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sugarcane to <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> south<br />

for cultivation. The future <strong>of</strong> sugarcane was<br />

secure. Although <strong>the</strong> Southdown Sugar<br />

Corporation closed in 1978, it was a testament<br />

to sugarcane production for 150 years in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

4 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


B O U N T I E S F R O M T H E W A T E R<br />

Before <strong>the</strong> large plantations emerged in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish, it was <strong>the</strong> tradition and <strong>the</strong> livelihood <strong>of</strong><br />

those living in <strong>the</strong> ‘good earth’ to reap from<br />

what mo<strong>the</strong>r-nature sowed. Shrimp, oyster,<br />

crabs and fish were an important part <strong>of</strong> life in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>. There was less interest in creating a<br />

business for <strong>the</strong>se delicacies, but to partake in<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir bounty for survival. Eventually, however, it<br />

became <strong>the</strong> industries <strong>of</strong> those in proximity and<br />

with <strong>the</strong> skill to take <strong>the</strong>se to <strong>the</strong> masses.<br />

S H R I M P<br />

In <strong>the</strong> 1950s <strong>the</strong> importance <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> shrimp<br />

industry was foremost in economic life.<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> was still <strong>the</strong> major shrimp<br />

producing parish in <strong>the</strong> state. Situated along <strong>the</strong><br />

bayous were eleven canneries, one breading<br />

plant, one “headlessing” and packing plant and<br />

one plant dedicated to freezing and shipping.<br />

Called “les chevrette,” <strong>the</strong> shrimp were dried for<br />

shipping to o<strong>the</strong>r countries such as China,<br />

which was used to be <strong>the</strong> biggest importer <strong>of</strong><br />

Louisiana shrimp. In fact, <strong>the</strong> process <strong>of</strong> drying<br />

shrimp was taught to fishermen <strong>of</strong> Louisiana by<br />

Lee Yim, a native <strong>of</strong> China. In <strong>Terrebonne</strong>,<br />

Phillip Chauvin, Jr., credits Leopold Blum and<br />

Shelly Bergeron for <strong>the</strong> expansion <strong>of</strong> dried<br />

shrimp production.<br />

According to Leryes Usie, author <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong>, Louisiana: Our Bayou <strong>Parish</strong>, “As <strong>the</strong><br />

history goes, Leopold Blum was a traveling<br />

salesman. He sold groceries and hardware<br />

supplies for his cousin in New Orleans, who<br />

owned Aglae Levy Grocery Company. Leopold<br />

traveled around Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana<br />

selling <strong>the</strong>se supplies to various stores. Shelly<br />

Bergeron owned a restaurant called <strong>the</strong> Pelican<br />

Restaurant on <strong>the</strong> bayou side <strong>of</strong> Bayou<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> in Houma near <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong> Main<br />

and Lafayette Streets. This is where <strong>the</strong> two met<br />

Leopold, who enjoyed <strong>the</strong> restaurant and <strong>the</strong><br />

little poker game in <strong>the</strong> back room, and Shelly<br />

Bergeron, <strong>the</strong> restaurant owner.”<br />

Leopold did business with <strong>the</strong> large general<br />

merchandise stores down each bayou. One day<br />

while making his rounds, he was approached by<br />

a Mr. Au<strong>the</strong>ment asking Leopold to try to sell<br />

some <strong>of</strong> his dried shrimp. Mr. Au<strong>the</strong>ment had<br />

an abundance <strong>of</strong> dried shrimp in his shed with<br />

no sales for <strong>the</strong>m. Leopold began selling a few in<br />

<strong>the</strong> New Orleans China Town area not pr<strong>of</strong>iting<br />

much from this. He <strong>the</strong>n, through Dr. Leon<br />

Jastremski, made connections with Henry Luce<br />

in California who began selling dried shrimp in<br />

San Francisco’s China Town. He eventually<br />

made connections in China and sales began to<br />

soar. Blum and Bergeron was born.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> demand for <strong>the</strong> product on <strong>the</strong> rise,<br />

more people began dried shrimp businesses and<br />

built as many as 100 shrimp drying platforms in<br />

<strong>the</strong> parish. Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> people involved in this<br />

industry were Thaddeaus Pellegrin, who had his<br />

platform at <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> called<br />

Sea Breeze. O<strong>the</strong>r families were <strong>the</strong> Au<strong>the</strong>ments,<br />

Chauvins, Samanies, and St. Martins.<br />

In Louisiana <strong>the</strong>re are two seasons for inshore<br />

waters. The brown and white shrimp caught<br />

during <strong>the</strong>se seasons are similar in taste, but<br />

have different migrating and spawning seasons.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> introduction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> trawl in 1917, it<br />

became possible for shrimp fishermen to take in<br />

larger catches.<br />

O Y S T E R S<br />

Houma became famous for its oysters back in<br />

1910. Several families were major contributors<br />

to <strong>the</strong> rise <strong>of</strong> this industry which started in <strong>the</strong><br />

early 1890s. They included Robert J. Younger,<br />

<strong>the</strong> Jastremski family, <strong>the</strong> Cenacs, Theriots,<br />

Labats, Engerans, and Voisins. The first large<br />

successful business venture was <strong>the</strong> Houma Fish<br />

and Oyster Co., LTD which began in 1891<br />

followed by C. Cenac and Company founded in<br />

1896. Even in <strong>the</strong> early days, sanitary<br />

conditions were monitored by <strong>the</strong> state and<br />

federal governments. A shucker was required to<br />

obtain a health certificate before he was<br />

admitted into a packing house. In <strong>the</strong> pamphlet,<br />

A Souvenir <strong>of</strong> Centennial Celebration, it was<br />

written, “As a food <strong>the</strong> oyster is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

greatest delicacies from <strong>the</strong> sea. When fat,<br />

luscious and tender, it is easily digested and is<br />

nutritious, wholesome and rich in elements <strong>of</strong><br />

importance in our diet. Its composition is <strong>of</strong><br />

such a character as to make it more nearly than<br />

most food self-sufficient as a diet. Recent<br />

investigations reveal that oysters contain an<br />

abundance <strong>of</strong> vitamin C, an essential element in<br />

C h a p t e r 5 ✦ 4 5


Oysters are harvested from <strong>the</strong> many<br />

reefs, bays and inlets on <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW NOEL.<br />

our food for <strong>the</strong> prevention <strong>of</strong> scurvy. It is<br />

known that oysters contain about two hundred<br />

times as much iodine as milk, eggs, or beef.”<br />

It is obvious <strong>the</strong> writer is ringing <strong>the</strong> praises<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> oyster. A serving, one cup, <strong>of</strong> oysters<br />

contains 169 calories, 6 grams <strong>of</strong> fat, 131 mg <strong>of</strong><br />

cholesterol, 523 mg <strong>of</strong> sodium, 10 grams <strong>of</strong><br />

carbohydrates, 17 grams <strong>of</strong> protein and 160<br />

grams <strong>of</strong> iodine.<br />

The discovery <strong>of</strong> oysters in <strong>the</strong> area was one<br />

<strong>of</strong> great import, however <strong>the</strong> mass production <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>m in Houma is credited to a method <strong>of</strong><br />

transport for <strong>the</strong>se mollusks. After harvesting,<br />

<strong>the</strong> oysters would be loaded on boats to be<br />

shipped to Houma for packaging. If <strong>the</strong>re was no<br />

wind, <strong>the</strong> boats relied upon cordelles. A cordelle<br />

is a heavy rope. One end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> rope passed<br />

through a ring in <strong>the</strong> mast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> boat. The o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> rope was attached to a trace. The<br />

trace fit on <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> saddle for <strong>the</strong><br />

mules that pulled <strong>the</strong> boats down <strong>the</strong> waterways<br />

to <strong>the</strong> processors.<br />

Around <strong>the</strong> oyster factories large piles <strong>of</strong><br />

oyster shells accumulated after each season. At<br />

<strong>the</strong> turn <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> century barrels <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se shells<br />

were purchased by <strong>the</strong> towns and used as<br />

improvements for <strong>the</strong> streets.<br />

L O G G I N G A N D T I M B E R ,<br />

1 8 8 0 – 1 9 2 5<br />

Prior to <strong>the</strong> oil and gas exploration was <strong>the</strong><br />

agriculture and timber industries. Each impacted<br />

<strong>the</strong> area. Starting with <strong>the</strong> Spanish land grants in<br />

<strong>the</strong> 1790s, land was given to settlers. Known as<br />

a difficult and arduous landscape, giving away<br />

land in <strong>the</strong> coastal area was not easy. The<br />

challenges to <strong>the</strong> area were disease, predatory<br />

animals and isolation. It took <strong>the</strong> hearty to even<br />

contemplate a life on this frontier.<br />

The logging and timber industry was an<br />

economic boom in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. The areas<br />

<strong>of</strong> Donner and Gibson flourished during <strong>the</strong>se<br />

years. The Houma Courier reported, “The local<br />

lumber industry has exercised a very<br />

exhilarating influence on <strong>the</strong> business interests.<br />

An immense sum has been invested in <strong>the</strong><br />

lumber business here and <strong>the</strong> good results<br />

that have followed in <strong>the</strong> wake <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se<br />

investments are too apparent to be denied.”<br />

The sawmills <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> and <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

swamp land holdings brought in several<br />

millions <strong>of</strong> dollars and <strong>the</strong>re were several<br />

thousand people employed working at higher<br />

wages than ever.<br />

4 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s logging industry<br />

in 1906.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

According to Luke Watkins <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Houma<br />

Courier in 1906, “The peculiar, and some say<br />

sad, status <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cypress lumber industry<br />

renders it utterly improbable that <strong>the</strong>re will ever<br />

be any decline <strong>of</strong> a permanent nature in <strong>the</strong><br />

prevailing prices for lumber. Each year witnesses<br />

C h a p t e r 5 ✦ 4 7


A gas well in 1908 in Lirette Field.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

an increase in <strong>the</strong> demand and it also witnesses<br />

a decrease in supply. Every stately cypress tree<br />

that totters and falls from <strong>the</strong> blows <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

woodman’s axe, and yields its huge body to <strong>the</strong><br />

mill’s humming saw, leaves a gap in <strong>the</strong> forest<br />

that will never be filled.” Imagine what o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

were saying as <strong>the</strong> cypress finally disappeared in<br />

1825. These 1,000 year old trees will never be<br />

available again.<br />

It wasn’t as if during <strong>the</strong> logging boom that it<br />

was <strong>the</strong> first time anyone ever cut down trees,<br />

but <strong>the</strong> scale <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> operations along with<br />

technology increased <strong>the</strong> speed in which this<br />

occurred. With <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Civil War,<br />

sou<strong>the</strong>rn states were forced to look at <strong>the</strong>ir lack<br />

<strong>of</strong> industrialization as one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> causes for <strong>the</strong><br />

loss. Nor<strong>the</strong>rn states were better equipped to<br />

perform goods and services because <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

technology. Innovations were sought and a<br />

rebuilding <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> economy in <strong>the</strong> south needed<br />

a new avenue. Author William H. Harrison<br />

wrote a book entitled How to get Rich in <strong>the</strong><br />

South, and made <strong>the</strong> claim that <strong>the</strong> timber<br />

supply was inexhaustible. By <strong>the</strong> 1880s logging<br />

companies from <strong>the</strong> north were buying up land<br />

in Mississippi and Louisiana, forming timber<br />

companies on tracts <strong>of</strong> land <strong>of</strong> 10,000 acres or<br />

more. The government passed <strong>the</strong> Timber Act<br />

and by 1888 had sold <strong>of</strong>f 5.7 million acres <strong>of</strong><br />

timberland in <strong>the</strong> south.<br />

In 1889, a businessman from New Orleans,<br />

William Baptist, improved on <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn<br />

method <strong>of</strong> moving logs by pullboat. This process<br />

consisted <strong>of</strong> a steam engine mounted on a barge<br />

with cables that anchored it and cables that were<br />

used to extract <strong>the</strong> trees.<br />

O I L A N D G A S<br />

In September 1906, E.C. Wurzlow wrote in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Houma Courier, “There are many who<br />

believe and predict that <strong>Terrebonne</strong> will be an<br />

important oil field someday. Some borings have<br />

been made showing slight traces <strong>of</strong> oil, but as<br />

yet <strong>the</strong> find has not been important. These<br />

borings have not been pushed to sufficient<br />

depth nor such test made as to discover whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

oil exists here or not in paying quantities.”<br />

With <strong>the</strong> success and spread <strong>of</strong> oil companies<br />

and exploration in <strong>the</strong> parish, his words seem<br />

funny today.<br />

The Lirette oil field, also known as <strong>the</strong> Old<br />

Houma Gas field was located about 18 miles<br />

sou<strong>the</strong>ast <strong>of</strong> Houma. It was discovered by<br />

surface indications and gas seepages. Until<br />

1927, when <strong>the</strong> gas was exhausted, it was <strong>the</strong><br />

source <strong>of</strong> supply for <strong>the</strong> Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Gas Company<br />

which served <strong>the</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Houma. When J. H.<br />

Thatcher brought in two large wells at Lirette<br />

Field, and gained <strong>the</strong> title <strong>of</strong> “Mr. Natural Gas,”<br />

he began an industrial boom.<br />

Houma was supplied with natural gas from<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> gas fields. Factories and homes<br />

were powered by <strong>the</strong> gas, found in abundance<br />

under <strong>the</strong> ground. Several families with <strong>the</strong><br />

means drilled small wells in <strong>the</strong>ir yards<br />

and were provided with natural gas for<br />

many years. With <strong>the</strong> discovery <strong>of</strong> natural gas<br />

in <strong>the</strong> parish, <strong>the</strong> major industrial giants<br />

were able to add improvements to <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

industries. Six major sugar factories took<br />

advantage <strong>of</strong> this opportunity, and it was <strong>the</strong>se<br />

4 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


innovations that secured previously nonsecurable<br />

markets from <strong>the</strong> 1930s to <strong>the</strong> 1970s<br />

for <strong>Terrebonne</strong> industries.<br />

The age <strong>of</strong> industrialization was upon <strong>the</strong><br />

country and with it, <strong>the</strong> quest for more efficient<br />

energy. The oil and gas industry took hold in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> in <strong>the</strong> early 1900s. Both oil and<br />

natural gas wells were in <strong>the</strong> area. Though oil<br />

was first discovered in south Louisiana in 1902,<br />

it would not go into full production for <strong>the</strong> next<br />

20 to 25 years in <strong>the</strong> parish. As lumber did for<br />

<strong>the</strong> parish, so did oil and gas. It brought <strong>the</strong><br />

investors to <strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

The first oil production was brought in by<br />

<strong>the</strong> Texas Company in <strong>the</strong> Lake Barre and Lake<br />

Pelto Fields in 1929. In 1930, Caillou Island<br />

Field was discovered and was <strong>the</strong> largest<br />

producing field in <strong>the</strong> parish. By <strong>the</strong> 1950s,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re were ten major oil companies and seven<br />

independent oil companies producing oil in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish. In <strong>the</strong> 1980s <strong>the</strong> industry took a<br />

downturn, but rebounded again in <strong>the</strong> early<br />

twenty-first century.<br />

Texaco bought four freighters from <strong>the</strong><br />

government and used <strong>the</strong>m to store oil. They<br />

were placed <strong>of</strong>fshore. These ships became known<br />

as Port Texaco. Prior to pipeline installation, oil<br />

barges shipped <strong>the</strong> oil to Texas for refining.<br />

Due to <strong>the</strong> unpredictability <strong>of</strong> oil well<br />

blowouts, this phenomenon gave opportunity<br />

for people to have <strong>the</strong>mselves photographed<br />

with <strong>the</strong> great gusts <strong>of</strong> oil soaring into <strong>the</strong> sky.<br />

The occurrence <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se blowouts brought<br />

spectators from far and near. The largest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

early well blowouts was at <strong>the</strong> Atlas Oil<br />

Company field in 1919.<br />

Prior to <strong>the</strong> opening <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> oil fields,<br />

inhabitants <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> isolated communities hunted<br />

and fished, planted and harvested oysters for<br />

<strong>the</strong> markets in New Orleans, trapped furbearing<br />

mammals and alligators in <strong>the</strong> swamps,<br />

tended gardens and livestock and grew<br />

sugarcane. Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> skills and knowhow <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>se people were <strong>of</strong> immediate use to <strong>the</strong> oil<br />

companies, such as how to navigate <strong>the</strong><br />

bewildering mazes <strong>of</strong> bayous and waterways in<br />

<strong>the</strong> marsh.<br />

Beginning in <strong>the</strong> late 1920s on vast parcels <strong>of</strong><br />

land leased from <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Land & Exploration<br />

Company and <strong>the</strong> State <strong>of</strong> Louisiana, <strong>the</strong> oil giant<br />

floated and hauled rigs into <strong>the</strong> swamps, bayous,<br />

backlands and lakes and built production<br />

platforms, living quarters and tank batteries to store<br />

crude oil awaiting transport to refineries.<br />

A great deal <strong>of</strong> wealth was gained with <strong>the</strong><br />

discovery <strong>of</strong> oil and gas, but it came at a high price<br />

to some who worked in <strong>the</strong> oil fields and on <strong>the</strong><br />

wells <strong>the</strong>mselves. The highly flammable<br />

substances were known to be very dangerous. It<br />

was possible, even common that sudden gushers<br />

<strong>of</strong> oil or gas had <strong>the</strong> potential to ignite, causing<br />

serious destruction and sometimes death.<br />

Still, <strong>the</strong> impact <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> industries created not<br />

only millionaire landowners, but prosperity to<br />

<strong>the</strong> workers who flocked to <strong>the</strong> area. During <strong>the</strong><br />

early days <strong>of</strong> oil and gas exploration, <strong>the</strong> area<br />

saw an influx <strong>of</strong> people. The introduction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Texas Company, later known as Texaco was a<br />

significant contributor to people coming into <strong>the</strong><br />

parish from Texas.<br />

<br />

A Southdown gas well in 1927.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

C h a p t e r 5 ✦ 4 9


In addition to jobs with <strong>the</strong> oil companies,<br />

many service companies emerged to deal with <strong>the</strong><br />

needs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> oil industry beyond <strong>the</strong> rigs. One<br />

such company was owned by Edward Lyons. His<br />

business was to deliver groceries to <strong>the</strong> various<br />

“little” cities in <strong>the</strong> oilfields. Two <strong>of</strong> his boats were<br />

known as <strong>the</strong> Lillie Marie and <strong>the</strong> E.L. Lyons.<br />

T R A N S P O R T A T I O N A N D<br />

C O M M U N I C A T I O N<br />

Due to <strong>the</strong> amount <strong>of</strong> water navigation,<br />

floating vessels were required. The region<br />

allowed habitation only along <strong>the</strong> bayou banks<br />

and ridges. Beginning with <strong>the</strong> early pirogues (a<br />

flat bottomed boat usually moved with long<br />

poles), canoes, and sailed vessels, <strong>the</strong><br />

inhabitants traversed <strong>the</strong> waters that made up a<br />

significant portion <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

Eventually <strong>the</strong>re was <strong>the</strong> introduction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

steam-powered ship, and <strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong> modern<br />

flotillas that move goods from here to <strong>the</strong>re.<br />

The first steamboat, <strong>the</strong> New Orleans, was<br />

built in Pittsburg by Nicholas Roosevelt in<br />

1812. The ship would sail back and forth<br />

between Natchez, Mississippi, and New<br />

Orleans. It would make <strong>the</strong> round trip every<br />

three weeks bringing goods and people to <strong>the</strong><br />

two port cities. The ship was 20 feet wide and<br />

116 feet long. It weighed 400 tons. Eventually<br />

<strong>the</strong> steamships made it to Bayou Lafourche and<br />

Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

It took many years, but eventually <strong>the</strong> roads<br />

went through in <strong>the</strong> remote areas. These<br />

roadways created <strong>the</strong> final web to connect <strong>the</strong><br />

area with bridges and byways.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> greatest accomplishments in<br />

<strong>the</strong> area was <strong>the</strong> Intracoastal Canal and <strong>the</strong><br />

linking <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> small waterways to it. Finally, <strong>the</strong><br />

many byways could be joined into a<br />

comprehensive tributary. The waterway provides<br />

a channel with a depth <strong>of</strong> 12 feet that can<br />

accommodate barges.<br />

Due to <strong>the</strong> natural low, swampy features <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> terrain <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, transportation<br />

and communication constituted a major<br />

problem during <strong>the</strong> early days <strong>of</strong> settlement. In<br />

addition to Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, which is <strong>the</strong><br />

largest bayou in <strong>the</strong> parish, numerous swamps<br />

and coastal marshes abound, interspersed at<br />

frequent intervals with lakes and several<br />

additional bayous, <strong>of</strong> which five—<strong>Terrebonne</strong>,<br />

Grand Caillou, Little Caillou, Dularge, and<br />

Bayou Black—radiate from Houma.<br />

<br />

It was imperative to <strong>the</strong> newly<br />

established oil and gas companies that<br />

<strong>the</strong>y utilized local companies to<br />

replenish <strong>the</strong> goods needed at <strong>the</strong><br />

many oil and gas sites. Many<br />

companies were formed or expanded<br />

to accommodate <strong>the</strong> boom.<br />

COURTESY OF TOMMY LYONS.<br />

5 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


All <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se watercourses drain into <strong>the</strong> Gulf<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mexico. These directional waterways, north<br />

or south, were easier routes than that <strong>of</strong> crossing<br />

swamps and marshes. To ease communication<br />

and transportation woes, <strong>the</strong> police jury <strong>of</strong><br />

Lafourche <strong>Parish</strong> authorized a canal from Bayou<br />

Lafourche to Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> in 1840. The<br />

connection was made to <strong>the</strong> west from Bayou<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> to Bayou Black by <strong>the</strong> Barataria and<br />

Lafourche Canal. This canal passed through<br />

Houma and served <strong>the</strong> parish with an east-west<br />

waterway. With <strong>the</strong> completion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Intracoastal Canal, <strong>the</strong> Barataria Canal was no<br />

longer needed and was filled in and turned into<br />

Barataria Street. In 1950 <strong>the</strong>re were 50 miles <strong>of</strong><br />

navigable waterways within a radius <strong>of</strong> 10 miles<br />

from Houma. The need for shipping by water in<br />

<strong>the</strong> interior portions <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> was<br />

discontinued with modern roads and trucks.<br />

Today many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se waterways exist only<br />

to show <strong>the</strong> past routes that were used or exist<br />

for drainage.<br />

As in <strong>the</strong> early days <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish <strong>the</strong>se<br />

waterways were used as a principal means <strong>of</strong><br />

communication and travel. Settlements and<br />

plantations came into being along <strong>the</strong> bayous.<br />

The first roads were <strong>the</strong> cordelle roads<br />

constructed for <strong>the</strong> mules along <strong>the</strong> bayous.<br />

The implementation <strong>of</strong> a system <strong>of</strong> roads was<br />

an extensive undertaking, especially considering<br />

<strong>the</strong> low lying areas that were to be connected. In<br />

<strong>the</strong> early history <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se roads, <strong>the</strong> parish<br />

maintained <strong>the</strong>m under <strong>the</strong> supervision <strong>of</strong> a<br />

road inspector who was elected by <strong>the</strong> police<br />

jury. Each landholder was required to maintain<br />

such public roads as might pass through or<br />

meet his premises. It was mandatory that<br />

highways be constructed and kept open along<br />

all navigable waterways.<br />

The earliest days <strong>of</strong> modern communication<br />

devices were developed to help ease<br />

government and industries with wireless<br />

stations. Texaco was a major contributor <strong>of</strong><br />

wireless bases in <strong>the</strong> area. These were two-way<br />

wireless devices. In a day where communication<br />

is instantaneous, it is hard to imagine <strong>the</strong> modes<br />

<strong>of</strong> communication <strong>of</strong> days gone by. In 1950,<br />

Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Bell Telephone and Telegraph<br />

Company had over 7,600 telephones operating<br />

in <strong>the</strong> parish. An excerpt from <strong>the</strong> state <strong>of</strong><br />

Louisiana in 1954 stated, “There are 6865<br />

exchanges connected at Houma and 780<br />

working through <strong>the</strong> Montegut exchange.<br />

Extended scope service is furnished between<br />

Houma and Montegut whereby no toll charges<br />

are billed on calls between <strong>the</strong>se two <strong>of</strong>fices.<br />

Fifty circuits connected to <strong>the</strong> Houma exchange<br />

provide adequate long distance facilities.”<br />

Intertoll dialing was introduced at Houma in<br />

1953 which permitted <strong>the</strong> operator to dial a<br />

number to all points in <strong>the</strong> United States. It is<br />

just hard to believe we have come so far!<br />

T H E A M P H I B I O U S<br />

S U L P H U R M I N E<br />

A little known industry in <strong>the</strong> parish was<br />

sulphur mining. Although not considered a large<br />

sulphur mine, <strong>the</strong> operation at Bayou St. Elaine<br />

was located 38 miles south <strong>of</strong> Houma. The mine<br />

<br />

In 1855, travel and transportation by<br />

rail was introduced into <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong>. During <strong>the</strong> Civil War train<br />

transportation was pivotal to <strong>the</strong><br />

North for goods and troops.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

C h a p t e r 5 ✦ 5 1


attracted national attention in <strong>the</strong> mid-1950s. Its<br />

unique construction and operation made news<br />

in <strong>the</strong> day. The mine represented <strong>the</strong> first time in<br />

<strong>the</strong> history <strong>of</strong> sulphur mining that a hot water<br />

process was floated into place on a metal barge.<br />

In addition it employed a new salt water process<br />

instead <strong>of</strong> fresh water.<br />

The mine went into actual sulphur production<br />

in 1952 with <strong>the</strong> expected production <strong>of</strong> sulphur<br />

at 100,000 tons per year. The Bayou St. Elaine<br />

mine was hailed by experts as opening up new<br />

horizons in sulphur mining.<br />

Described by <strong>the</strong> company as “Freeport<br />

Sulphur Mining Barge No.1,” <strong>the</strong> amphibious<br />

plant was built upon a steel barge that was 200<br />

feet long by 40 feet wide. The barge housed<br />

furnaces, boilers and pipes necessary to treat<br />

and heat <strong>the</strong> salt water.<br />

The barge was shipped 70 miles from Port<br />

Sulphur, Louisiana, to Bayou St. Elaine and<br />

sunk for <strong>the</strong> operations. The interesting process<br />

<strong>of</strong> extracting <strong>the</strong> sulphur consisted <strong>of</strong> drawing<br />

<strong>the</strong> salt water from <strong>the</strong> marsh area and pumped<br />

to <strong>the</strong> top <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> three towers 52 feet tall was<br />

heated by exhaust gases from <strong>the</strong> large boilers.<br />

After <strong>the</strong> sulphur had been melted underground<br />

and forced to <strong>the</strong> surface in molten form, it was<br />

pumped into a heavily insulated barge. Once<br />

<strong>the</strong> barge was full it was towed back to Port<br />

Sulphur where it was removed from <strong>the</strong> barge<br />

and allowed to harden again.<br />

H E A L T H C A R E A N D<br />

T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H<br />

Beginning with <strong>the</strong> earliest settlers in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish, <strong>the</strong> Houmas Indians, healthcare <strong>of</strong> many<br />

forms existed in <strong>Terrebonne</strong>. The early traiteurs<br />

(male) and traiteuse (female) <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> French and<br />

Acadians, healed and kept <strong>the</strong> population<br />

healthy with natural remedies that came from<br />

land and sea. A traiteur combines Catholic<br />

prayer with herbal and natural remedies to cure<br />

common ailments. In some families, <strong>the</strong>se<br />

healing traditions still exist, but with <strong>the</strong><br />

progression <strong>of</strong> medicine through <strong>the</strong> last 200<br />

years, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> has made a name for<br />

itself in <strong>the</strong> healthcare industry.<br />

Before hospitals, it was common for doctors<br />

to visit <strong>the</strong> residence <strong>of</strong> a patient in need <strong>of</strong><br />

treatment. In fact, <strong>the</strong> initial hospital system in<br />

<strong>the</strong> United States started as almshouses or poor<br />

houses that treated ailing people. The Charity<br />

Hospital system started in New York and New<br />

Orleans in 1736. Therefore, <strong>the</strong> rural and<br />

affluent population in most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> country<br />

would never have gone to a hospital. During<br />

military conflicts, field hospitals were<br />

established to treat <strong>the</strong> sick and wounded, but<br />

were not <strong>of</strong>ten permanent structures known<br />

as hospitals.<br />

In <strong>Terrebonne</strong> one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> earliest hospitals<br />

was established by Steven Ernest Ellender, Sr.,<br />

<br />

In 1935, Dr. S. Ernest Ellender and<br />

Dr. Willard Ellender co-founded<br />

Ellender Memorial Hospital a<br />

twenty-seven-bed facility at 221 East<br />

Park Avenue.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

5 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


M.D., and Willard Ellender, M.D., in 1935 at<br />

221 East Park Avenue. The structure, a 27-bed<br />

facility was <strong>the</strong> former residence <strong>of</strong> Senator<br />

Allen Ellender, cousin to <strong>the</strong> doctors. Operating<br />

as a private institution from 1935 to 1954, Drs.<br />

Ellender extended privileges to doctors in <strong>the</strong><br />

area in need <strong>of</strong> hospital facilities. When <strong>the</strong><br />

parish <strong>of</strong>ficials announced <strong>the</strong>ir plans to create a<br />

public hospital in Houma, <strong>the</strong> bro<strong>the</strong>rs Ellender<br />

sold <strong>the</strong> land to <strong>the</strong> police jury where<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Medical Center is located.<br />

The new hospital tripled <strong>the</strong> amount <strong>of</strong> beds<br />

available for treatment in 1954 operating with a<br />

staff <strong>of</strong> eighty. Established over sixty years ago,<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Medical Center (TGMC) is<br />

now recognized as an award-winning 321-bed<br />

facility with more than 1,400 employees and<br />

300 physicians.<br />

The many divisions <strong>of</strong> TGMC include services<br />

for cardio respiratory and cardiovascular care,<br />

critical care, diagnostic imaging, emergency care,<br />

laboratory and pathology, orthopedics, pediatric<br />

care, rehabilitation, surgery, a wellness center<br />

and a sports performance center.<br />

Bayou Oaks Hospital was established in 1985<br />

to serve <strong>the</strong> psychiatric and chemical dependence<br />

needs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> residents. The facility was a 98-bed<br />

hospital located in downtown Houma on Main<br />

Street in <strong>the</strong> original building that housed<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Hospital. Bayou Oaks was<br />

sold to TGMC in 1999 and it was ultimately<br />

closed in 2004.<br />

The Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center<br />

began in 1978 as a teaching hospital providing<br />

clinical training to medical students and<br />

physicians. It has served <strong>the</strong> community caring<br />

for those who are uninsured or underinsured in<br />

<strong>the</strong> region. Norby Chabert stated <strong>of</strong> his fa<strong>the</strong>r:<br />

Not only did my fa<strong>the</strong>r bring <strong>the</strong> impossible<br />

dream <strong>of</strong> a charity hospital to <strong>the</strong> bayou region,<br />

but he fought every session, not only to have it<br />

funded, but he fought to keep its very doors<br />

open. He knew what it was like to grow up poor<br />

and have no health care…. It was his life’s<br />

mission to take care <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sick and <strong>the</strong> uninsured<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> bayou region. Upon his death, his<br />

legacy <strong>of</strong> fighting for <strong>the</strong> medical center was<br />

rewarded by having “his hospital” renamed in<br />

his honor.... Chabert Medical faces <strong>the</strong> same<br />

deep cuts that used to keep my fa<strong>the</strong>r awake at<br />

night wondering how he would overcome <strong>the</strong><br />

funding shortfalls that threatened its closure.<br />

The 156-bed facility still serves as a<br />

training facility with inpatient and outpatient<br />

services for radiology, laboratory, emergency<br />

medicine, physical rehabilitation, pediatrics,<br />

oncology, pulmonary/critical care medicine,<br />

cardiology, urology, orthopedics, surgery and<br />

psychiatric care.<br />

In May 2013 a partnership between TGMC<br />

and Ochsner Health System was developed that<br />

continues to utilize Chabert Medical Center as a<br />

training facility.<br />

T H E H I S T O R Y O F B A S E B A L L<br />

I N H O U M A / T E R R E B O N N E<br />

The great American pastime, baseball, <strong>the</strong><br />

sport long loved by <strong>the</strong> nation, took root in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> with <strong>the</strong> Houma Indians<br />

baseball team in 1946. As members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Evangeline League, <strong>the</strong> Houma Indians inaugural<br />

year <strong>of</strong> 1946 brought forth a championship title<br />

and scandal.<br />

New to <strong>the</strong> league, Houma didn’t have<br />

complete facilities to host <strong>the</strong> events, but by June<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first season benches and lights were added.<br />

The crowd grew as <strong>the</strong> season progressed. The<br />

excitement <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> games increased as <strong>the</strong> Houma<br />

Indians won more and more games. It was<br />

predicted that nearly 100,000 people attended<br />

<strong>the</strong> baseball games in a year. This success and<br />

fame was partly due to <strong>the</strong> players who were<br />

breaking records and taking wins.<br />

After World War II <strong>the</strong> interest to once again<br />

start minor league baseball teams surged. It was<br />

a surprise to many that a team started in Houma.<br />

Gibson Autin organized a corporation and sold<br />

stock to <strong>the</strong> public, arranged for game locations<br />

and appointed a manager.<br />

Tom Smith led <strong>the</strong> team with what were some<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cast-<strong>of</strong>fs or older players released by<br />

bigger teams and higher leagues. Houma<br />

acquired second baseman Mike Conroy and<br />

pitchers William C. Thomas, Edward Burkett,<br />

“Pat” Patterson, and Tom Perry. Houma would<br />

soon find out that this team was <strong>the</strong> right<br />

mixture to take <strong>the</strong>m far in <strong>the</strong> league.<br />

Bill Thomas would go on to set records for <strong>the</strong><br />

Houmas Indians, but he was known in <strong>the</strong> years<br />

C h a p t e r 5 ✦ 5 3


Above: The American Legion Park<br />

(1940-1952) was home to <strong>the</strong> Houma<br />

Indians minor league baseball team.<br />

COURTESY OF THE EVANGELINE BASEBALL<br />

LEAGUE COLLECTION, NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Below: The Houma Indians minor<br />

league baseball team <strong>of</strong> 1946.<br />

COURTESY OF THE EVANGELINE BASEBALL<br />

LEAGUE COLLECTION, NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

following his reign as a man accused <strong>of</strong> cheating<br />

and gambling. The allegations against Thomas<br />

were never proven, but <strong>the</strong> damage was done.<br />

According to historian George W. Hilton:<br />

Houma opened <strong>the</strong> season on April 24, 1946<br />

with Thomas winning 11-3. Stands had not even<br />

been erected, but bleachers were shortly built.<br />

Lights were not installed until June 20. Most teams<br />

assembled in such haste do well to avoid last<br />

place, but this one proved little less than a world<br />

beater. It turned in a record <strong>of</strong> 92-38, .708, and<br />

won <strong>the</strong> pennant by 61/2 games over <strong>the</strong> Natchez<br />

Giants. Thomas pitched 353 innings in 47 games.<br />

His season record <strong>of</strong> 35-7 led not only <strong>the</strong><br />

Evangeline League but all <strong>of</strong> organized baseball.<br />

The people in Houma and <strong>the</strong> surrounding<br />

communities were thrilled, but it did not last<br />

long, as on October 23, 1946, <strong>the</strong> Evangeline<br />

League held a formal meeting at Baton Rouge to<br />

discuss whe<strong>the</strong>r or not <strong>the</strong> league would<br />

add teams. It was at this meeting that Abbeville<br />

team owner, I.N. Goldberg presented an<br />

allegation that <strong>the</strong> Houma team was guilty<br />

<strong>of</strong> cheating. Several players were named in<br />

this accusation.<br />

On January 18, 1947, <strong>the</strong> findings and<br />

decision <strong>of</strong> Judge W. G. Bramham, president <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> National Association <strong>of</strong> Pr<strong>of</strong>essional Baseball<br />

Leagues named five players: Thomas, Pecou,<br />

Kaiser and Fugit <strong>of</strong> Houma and catcher Don<br />

Vettorel <strong>of</strong> Abbeville. There was no concrete<br />

evidence against <strong>the</strong> players and none were<br />

willing to confess to <strong>the</strong> accusations, <strong>the</strong>refore<br />

no <strong>of</strong>ficial action was taken. Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

players ceased playing or retired, but Bill<br />

Thomas went on to play four more years with<br />

lesser success.<br />

The Evangeline League ended in 1957 and<br />

it wasn’t until 2003 that Houma saw ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

baseball team based <strong>the</strong>re. The Houma<br />

Hawks were expansion members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Sou<strong>the</strong>astern League <strong>of</strong> Pr<strong>of</strong>essional Baseball<br />

who played home games in Houma at<br />

Southland Field.<br />

CEO was Gus Brown, Jr., with his son Gus<br />

Brown III serving as <strong>the</strong> general manager. The<br />

season started on May 24, 2003, but only lasted<br />

until January 2004.<br />

5 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


CHAPTER 6<br />

I N S T I T U T I O N S<br />

G O V E R N M E N T<br />

The first <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> police jury was assembled at Williamsburg (Bayou Cane). The initial<br />

meeting was held at Alexander Dupre’s house. He was compensated $10 a day for <strong>the</strong> use and <strong>the</strong> service<br />

<strong>of</strong> refreshments. A small courthouse and jail were erected on Dupre’s property. With <strong>the</strong> legislative<br />

incorporation <strong>of</strong> Houma, <strong>the</strong> government moved to <strong>the</strong> current courthouse square on Main Street in<br />

downtown Houma. The first mayor <strong>of</strong> Houma, who served from 1848 to 1856 was H. H. Rightor.<br />

Originally formed as a mayor who led a trustee system <strong>of</strong> government in Houma, <strong>the</strong> government<br />

underwent several variations including a mayor/councilman system, a police jury system independent<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Houma government, and eventually to <strong>the</strong> system <strong>of</strong> today. Currently <strong>the</strong> government is a cityparish<br />

unit governed by a parish president and a parish council.<br />

The first <strong>of</strong>ficers <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish are listed as Benjamin F. Winchester, district judge; Francis M. Guyol,<br />

parish judge, notary public and recorder; Caleb B. Watkins, sheriff, H.M. Thibodaux, clerk <strong>of</strong> court;<br />

John M. Henry, coroner; A. Gross, road inspector and Leuffroy Barras, parish treasurer. The first post<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice was established at Houma on August 1, 1834.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> summer <strong>of</strong> 1981 a committee <strong>of</strong> city and parish <strong>of</strong>ficials, lawyers, businessmen and citizens<br />

drafted <strong>the</strong> parish Home Rule Charter. They <strong>the</strong>n sent two proposals to voters. The first proposal<br />

consolidated <strong>the</strong> parish outside <strong>the</strong> city limits into one governing body with <strong>the</strong> city government still<br />

intact. The second consolidated that new parish government with <strong>the</strong> city’s. The first had to pass in<br />

order for <strong>the</strong> second to succeed and both proposals passed with a 14 percent voter turnout.<br />

In January 1984 <strong>the</strong> consolidation took effect. It created <strong>the</strong> position <strong>of</strong> parish president and <strong>the</strong><br />

parish council and merged public services such as drainage, sewer, water and administrative <strong>of</strong>fices<br />

making for better efficiency.<br />

<br />

Houma City Hall, c. <strong>the</strong> 1950s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

C h a p t e r 6 ✦ 5 5


Above: The first <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High<br />

School in Houma was located on <strong>the</strong><br />

corner <strong>of</strong> <strong>Good</strong>e and Point Streets and<br />

used as a high school from 1909-<br />

1918. It was <strong>the</strong>n used as part <strong>of</strong><br />

Houma Elementary as shown in this<br />

photograph, and torn down in 1976.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Below: Visitor’s Day at Bayou<br />

Dularge grade school in <strong>the</strong> 1930s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

The new <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Consolidated<br />

Government now had more taxable property<br />

from which to draw its income. Taxes would go<br />

directly into one budget and no longer be<br />

divided between <strong>the</strong> city and parish budgets.<br />

Consolidation led to a more efficient<br />

government that eliminated duplication <strong>of</strong> work<br />

and increased <strong>the</strong> purchasing power. The timing<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> consolidation also saved <strong>the</strong> governments<br />

from bankruptcy during <strong>the</strong> oil bust <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

mid-1980s.<br />

Projects and work are now accomplished by a<br />

vote <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> council with <strong>the</strong> parish president’s<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice carrying out those directives. The first<br />

parish president was Mr. Edward “Bubba”<br />

Lyons. The first parish council was made up <strong>of</strong><br />

fifteen elected councilmen, Ulysse Guidry,<br />

Nolan J. Bergeron, Jr., Charles H. Davidson,<br />

Robert J. Bergeron, Julien D. Boudreaux, III,<br />

Barry P. Bonvillain, Louis P. Klingman, Jr., Robert<br />

J. Domangue, Willie J. Bonvillain, Jr., Percy E.<br />

Gabriel, Charles Duet, Calvin P. Bodden, Allen C.<br />

Bonvillain, Nathaniel Bolden, and Willis J. Henry.<br />

There are still remnants <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> old policy jury<br />

system with o<strong>the</strong>r services divided in districts,<br />

such as recreation, fire and police protection,<br />

and road lighting.<br />

S C H O O L S<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s education system is strong and<br />

thriving today. Starting with <strong>the</strong> earliest settlers,<br />

5 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


education was not high on <strong>the</strong> list <strong>of</strong> necessities.<br />

Survival was <strong>of</strong> highest importance. It was <strong>the</strong><br />

very people who settled <strong>the</strong> area early who<br />

were persecuted within <strong>the</strong> education system<br />

that did eventually develop. A law was passed in<br />

1921 stating that children could not speak<br />

French in school.<br />

Starting with a five-member board <strong>of</strong> Henry S.<br />

Thibodaux, François Marie Guyol, William<br />

Sternin Watkins, Henry M. Thibodeaux, and<br />

Leufroy A. Barras, a school was built in 1849<br />

behind <strong>the</strong> courthouse in downtown Houma.<br />

Early in <strong>the</strong> territorial history <strong>of</strong> Louisiana,<br />

Governor Claiborne attempted to set up a system<br />

<strong>of</strong> education. In 1803 he had convinced <strong>the</strong><br />

legislature to provide a superintendent for various<br />

areas to regulate schools. This legislation,<br />

however, had little effect on any area that didn’t<br />

want to or could not provide funding for <strong>the</strong><br />

schools. Like churches in <strong>the</strong> rural parish, schools<br />

were developed based upon <strong>the</strong> need <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

community and were supported financially by <strong>the</strong><br />

community. By <strong>the</strong> time <strong>of</strong> his death in 1817 little<br />

progress had been made to tax property owners in<br />

a way that could benefit education.<br />

As happened all over <strong>the</strong> state, rural schools<br />

were established in some communities. There is<br />

pro<strong>of</strong> that schools were established at St. Eloi in<br />

Bayou Dularge, a Dulac school, a Cocodrie<br />

school, Ber<strong>the</strong>lot School at Ardoyne, a school at<br />

Gray, Forest Grove School at Bull Run Road,<br />

John T. Moore School at Schriever near Waubun,<br />

Daigle School at Chacahoula, Pellegrin School<br />

on Bayou Little Caillou, a school at Gibson, a<br />

Pointe-aux-Chênes school, Ellendale School at<br />

Bourg, Pharr School at Little Caillou, Chauvin<br />

school, Bayou Blue School, Cane Brake School<br />

on Bayou Grand Caillou, Ashland School,<br />

Falgout School and Porche School, also located<br />

on Bull Run Road. By <strong>the</strong> names <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

forementioned schools, it is obvious that many<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se schools were located on or near<br />

plantations in <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

In 1858 a private school was established on<br />

property donated by Robert Ruffin Barrow. It was<br />

called <strong>the</strong> Houma Academy. In 1870 <strong>the</strong><br />

building was sold to <strong>the</strong> Catholic Church and<br />

would become <strong>the</strong> St. Francis de Sales Academy.<br />

The first public high school, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High<br />

School, was established in 1898. In 1908, bids<br />

were taken for a new building. It was completed<br />

in 1909 and was built for a capacity <strong>of</strong> 400<br />

students. This school was built on <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Good</strong>e and Point Streets in Houma.<br />

There are four o<strong>the</strong>r high schools in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish. South <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High School was built<br />

in 1961 to accommodate <strong>the</strong> students <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

sou<strong>the</strong>rn portions <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, Vandebilt<br />

Catholic High School in 1965, H. L. Bourgeious<br />

High School in 1973, and Ellender Memorial<br />

High School in 1988.<br />

L O R T O N<br />

S C H O O L<br />

One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> earliest schools in Houma was run<br />

by three ladies who were also sisters. Louise,<br />

Sarah and Nina Winder attended Peabody<br />

College which was a part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> University <strong>of</strong><br />

Nashville, now Vanderbilt University. The<br />

education <strong>the</strong>y received was excellent and set a<br />

background for <strong>the</strong> type <strong>of</strong> teaching <strong>the</strong>y would<br />

impart upon <strong>the</strong> children <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> cost <strong>of</strong> $5 per month a student was<br />

assured an education that was more than ready<br />

for any university. The hallmark <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Lorton<br />

School was <strong>the</strong> quality <strong>of</strong> curriculum coupled<br />

with discipline and <strong>the</strong> inclusion <strong>of</strong> individuality.<br />

“The Institution is fitted to <strong>the</strong> individual, not<br />

<strong>the</strong> individual to <strong>the</strong> institution,” was one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

quotes from <strong>the</strong> Lorton brochure.<br />

The school started in 1903 with 11 students.<br />

The population <strong>of</strong> Houma was around 3,300,<br />

but <strong>the</strong> town and <strong>the</strong> school quickly grew. The<br />

<br />

Many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most affluent and<br />

influential people <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> attended <strong>the</strong> Lorton School.<br />

Pictured is <strong>the</strong> diploma <strong>of</strong> John<br />

Shaffer <strong>of</strong> Ardoyne Planation.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

C h a p t e r 6 ✦ 5 7


Old St. Francis de Sales boys school in<br />

Houma from 1940.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

reputation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> school spread throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

state. The Winder sisters housed and taught<br />

those who came from far away. The school<br />

continued until 1940 when <strong>the</strong> sisters decided it<br />

was time to retire. The property was sold by <strong>the</strong><br />

Winder family in 1974 for <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Medical Center.<br />

T A R C<br />

Prior to 1953 <strong>the</strong>re was no place for children<br />

with developmental disabilities to attend school. It<br />

was <strong>the</strong> foresight <strong>of</strong> Jeffrey and Nellie Guidry that<br />

made it possible. Their daughter, Diana, developed<br />

a very high fever at a young age which left her able<br />

to walk, communicate and o<strong>the</strong>r simple things,<br />

but she was never going to be able to attend a<br />

regular school. Mr. Guidry was working for an<br />

insurance company at this time and he frequently<br />

visited people in <strong>the</strong>ir homes where he discovered<br />

that <strong>the</strong>re were many children with intellectual<br />

disabilities in <strong>the</strong> parish who were hidden away or<br />

even put into institutions. With great<br />

determination, <strong>the</strong> Guidrys located o<strong>the</strong>r families<br />

interested in a school for <strong>the</strong>ir special children.<br />

Toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y contacted civic organizations<br />

and finally <strong>the</strong> school board. They were granted a<br />

classroom in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Elementary School in<br />

1953 and <strong>the</strong> first teacher <strong>of</strong> 8 students was<br />

Mrs. Yvonne Pellegrin. The program continued,<br />

but in 1960 lack <strong>of</strong> money and interest left <strong>the</strong><br />

class abandoned.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> environment <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> country started to<br />

change, awareness <strong>of</strong> equal rights helped to<br />

revitalize <strong>the</strong> program and organized it as a nonpr<strong>of</strong>it<br />

under <strong>the</strong> name <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Association<br />

for Retarded Citizens (TARC). Soon after, in 1963,<br />

state laws were enacted requiring local boards to<br />

accommodate people with intellectual and o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

developmental disabilities into <strong>the</strong> public school<br />

system. A year later, TARC rented a house on<br />

<strong>Good</strong>e Street in Houma and started again. Within<br />

a few years Wonderland Day Care Center was<br />

created and had two classes. Eventually <strong>the</strong>y<br />

moved to a building adjacent to <strong>the</strong> Municipal<br />

Auditorium where <strong>the</strong>y expanded to four classes<br />

and purchased a bus to transport <strong>the</strong> students.<br />

It was soon seen in <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r communities <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> parish that <strong>the</strong>re was a need for more<br />

schools <strong>of</strong> its kind and Bayou Day Care Center<br />

was established at Montegut and Grand Caillou.<br />

In 1976 <strong>the</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Council was able to fur<strong>the</strong>r<br />

fund TARC with a millage tax and <strong>the</strong> centers<br />

around <strong>the</strong> parish were combined into one at<br />

yet ano<strong>the</strong>r location.<br />

Since <strong>the</strong> first days <strong>of</strong> its inception, TARC has<br />

grown as an organization and has added not only<br />

by numbers but in curriculum and with <strong>the</strong><br />

inclusion <strong>of</strong> a variety <strong>of</strong> vocational programs.<br />

S O U T H D O W N H I G H S C H O O L<br />

Built in <strong>the</strong> 1952, Southdown High School was<br />

designated as a black-only campus. Segregationists<br />

5 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


in <strong>the</strong> government made it abundantly clear that<br />

education <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> children was better if separate.<br />

According to Education in Louisiana, published in<br />

2012, “The state <strong>of</strong> education in Louisiana at <strong>the</strong><br />

turn <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> twentieth century was so dim and<br />

uneventful that <strong>the</strong>re has been little written about<br />

it. The one significant event for education that did<br />

occur at <strong>the</strong> cusp <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> twentieth century was <strong>the</strong><br />

writing <strong>of</strong> a new state constitution in 1898.<br />

Legislatively, it enacted changes in education both<br />

for <strong>the</strong> better and <strong>the</strong> worse. The provision which<br />

had <strong>the</strong> most significant positive effect on<br />

education in later years was enabling local special<br />

tax elections for <strong>the</strong> support <strong>of</strong> public schools. On<br />

<strong>the</strong> negative side, <strong>the</strong> constitution included a<br />

mandate for schools segregated by race. This<br />

remained <strong>the</strong> status quo until 1965.”<br />

The school was built at <strong>the</strong> cost <strong>of</strong> $300,000<br />

and was to serve students from grades fifth to<br />

twelfth. Southdown High School now operates<br />

as an elementary school with a sign that reads<br />

Southdown School.<br />

H O U M A I N D I A N S C H O O L S<br />

According to information ga<strong>the</strong>red from<br />

Southdown Plantation House and Museum, in<br />

1917 families and individuals <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Houma<br />

tribe weren’t allowed to attend public schools.<br />

The schools in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> were for “whites”<br />

only. There were specially designated schools for<br />

black and Indian students. As explained by<br />

Oradel Morris, <strong>the</strong>ir exclusion from white public<br />

schools ranks second only to <strong>the</strong> loss <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

<br />

Southdown High School was founded<br />

in 1952 serving black students in<br />

grades 8 through 12.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE PARISH<br />

SCHOOL DISTRICT.<br />

Below: Children and a teacher in front<br />

<strong>of</strong> a Native American school in Dulac<br />

in <strong>the</strong> 1930s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

C h a p t e r 6 ✦ 5 9


traditional lands in <strong>the</strong> emotions stirred within<br />

carriers <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Houma tradition. It was indeed a<br />

struggle that many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Houmas Indians<br />

viewed as intentional.<br />

“They didn’t want <strong>the</strong> Indians to have a<br />

school. They would come around every four<br />

years to see how many children came to school.<br />

Survey results never went fur<strong>the</strong>r than Houma,<br />

maybe to <strong>the</strong> courthouse but not to Baton<br />

Rouge,” stated Henry Billiot who went to court<br />

in 1917 to compel <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> School<br />

Board to admit his three sons to <strong>the</strong> local white<br />

school which was along Bayou Dularge.<br />

The question was posed to <strong>the</strong> judge about<br />

why he didn’t want <strong>the</strong> Houmas Indians in <strong>the</strong><br />

schools to which <strong>the</strong> judge replied, “You see, <strong>the</strong><br />

Indians see too clearly. If <strong>the</strong>y’re sent to <strong>the</strong><br />

schools, <strong>the</strong>y would see better, <strong>the</strong>y would see<br />

what all was taken from <strong>the</strong>m. So we have to<br />

keep <strong>the</strong>m in <strong>the</strong> dark. Because those Indians,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y’re smart.”<br />

Indians were able to attend a school on Pointau-Barré,<br />

a concentrated Indian community<br />

along Bayou Barre east <strong>of</strong> Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong>,<br />

from about 1904 to 1910. The reason is not clear<br />

why this school ceased, but both white and<br />

Indian children attended. Henry Billot’s<br />

challenge failed and no legal proceeding was<br />

attempted again until 1964.<br />

The Houmas Indians attempted appeals to<br />

<strong>the</strong> school board on several occasions. Houma<br />

tribe member Ida Maire Dion Fazzio vividly<br />

recalled <strong>the</strong> time her parents joined o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

relatives in 1922 in traveling to Thibodaux by<br />

boat seeking an Indian school for children <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

lower Dulac area. The two-day effort brought no<br />

results, but Ida remembers a whites only school<br />

was built in neighboring Grand Caillou about<br />

five years later.<br />

Ida’s fa<strong>the</strong>r, Jean Charles Dion, was also in<br />

contact with two men seeking to organize <strong>the</strong><br />

tribe in <strong>the</strong> 1930s. They were Gabrielle LaBolle<br />

and Ernest Coycault. The men traveled and<br />

interviewed families discussing history and<br />

genealogy and concluded that <strong>the</strong> visible<br />

challenge to <strong>the</strong> success <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> tribe was <strong>the</strong> lack<br />

<strong>of</strong> schools. In 1930, <strong>the</strong> school board did<br />

respond to a request for an Indian school in <strong>the</strong><br />

area “below Dulac.” Superintendent H.L.<br />

Bourgeois was authorized to survey <strong>the</strong> school<br />

needs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Indians living below Dulac, and, if<br />

conditions, warranted, <strong>the</strong>y would provide a<br />

school for <strong>the</strong> children. No report was ever filed<br />

on record and no parish school was opened. At<br />

this time <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> school age Houma<br />

Indian children was assessed at 526.<br />

In August 1939 <strong>the</strong> school board under<br />

Bourgeois approved, beginning with <strong>the</strong> 1939-<br />

1940 school year, to operate a school on Isle de<br />

Jean Charles, one on Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> below<br />

Montegut, one on Bayou Grand Caillou, and one<br />

on Bayou Dularge. Each <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se schools were to<br />

be operated for a session <strong>of</strong> eight months and<br />

each would have one teacher who would be paid<br />

$50 per month. The lower Montegut School was<br />

established and functioned until 1943.<br />

A few parochial schools were open to Native<br />

Americans. The school board also approved <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>m attending <strong>the</strong> black schools, though <strong>the</strong>y<br />

refused. Dr. Willard W. Beatty, Director <strong>of</strong> Indian<br />

Education, Office <strong>of</strong> Indian Affairs for <strong>the</strong> U.S.<br />

Department <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Interior, wrote in <strong>the</strong> 1942<br />

Louisiana Educational Survey:<br />

There are missions among <strong>the</strong> Houma<br />

operated by Catholic, Methodist and Baptist<br />

churches, enrolling possibly one hundred fifty<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r Indian children, for some form <strong>of</strong><br />

schooling. Two <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se missions are near Pointeaux-Chênes,<br />

<strong>the</strong> Methodist Mission being near<br />

Dulac. Despite <strong>the</strong> good will which has animated<br />

those operating <strong>the</strong>se missions, <strong>the</strong>ir funds have<br />

been exceedingly limited and <strong>the</strong>ir efforts have<br />

not been wholly productive.<br />

In 1963 a lawsuit named Margie Willa<br />

Naquin vs. <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Board <strong>of</strong> Education, 55<br />

Houma children were listed as plaintiffs. It was<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir desire to attend South <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High<br />

School. The court ruled in <strong>the</strong>ir favor. Rita Duthu<br />

Dion registered at South <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High School<br />

for <strong>the</strong> 1955-56 school year where she graduated<br />

with honors as <strong>the</strong> first Indian to receive a<br />

diploma in an integrated <strong>Terrebonne</strong> school.<br />

F L E T C H E R T E C H N I C A L<br />

C O M M U N I T Y C O L L E G E<br />

In 1948, Governor Earl Long signed a bill<br />

which created a new college system in <strong>Terrebonne</strong>,<br />

Lafourche, Assumption, St. James and St. Charles<br />

parishes. This system was intended to teach and<br />

6 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


give vocational training such as drafting, carpentry,<br />

auto mechanics and o<strong>the</strong>r similar fields.<br />

The first location <strong>of</strong> Fletcher was donated by<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> School Board at St. Charles Street.<br />

In 2014 a new building was opened in Schriever.<br />

The campus is now a part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Louisiana<br />

Community and Technical College system.<br />

L I B R A R I E S<br />

The <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Library had many<br />

homes and names in <strong>the</strong> beginning. First called<br />

B.E.S.T.W.S, after <strong>the</strong> first letter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> last names<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> six charter members, it started in 1927.<br />

The social club was started with <strong>the</strong> intention to<br />

be devoted to <strong>the</strong> discussion <strong>of</strong> books. Charter<br />

members, Jessie Lea Bethume, Harriet Elster,<br />

Ruth Smith, Eunice Thompson, Margauerite<br />

Watkins and Helen Smith ga<strong>the</strong>red for two years<br />

when <strong>the</strong>y decided to try to provide community<br />

service in <strong>the</strong> form <strong>of</strong> a library. A new name was<br />

given <strong>the</strong> club, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Library Club.<br />

In 1929 <strong>the</strong> club had grown to 13 members<br />

and operated a library consisting <strong>of</strong> 428 donated<br />

volumes in <strong>the</strong> People’s Bank Building that was<br />

located on <strong>the</strong> 300 block <strong>of</strong> Main Street. It was<br />

open to <strong>the</strong> public three days a week and<br />

eventually Sylvia Ray Johnson was hired as <strong>the</strong><br />

first librarian. She was paid by member dues,<br />

overdue book fines, private donations and some<br />

assistance from <strong>the</strong> city and parish governments.<br />

The second home for <strong>the</strong> library, <strong>the</strong> Daspit<br />

Building, would house <strong>the</strong> growing library until<br />

June 8, 1934. There were concerns among<br />

members that <strong>the</strong>ir small numbers <strong>of</strong> volunteers<br />

could handle <strong>the</strong> growing institution. The members<br />

contacted <strong>the</strong> State Librarian, Essae Martha Culver<br />

and <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Library Commission who agreed<br />

after meeting with <strong>the</strong> club that <strong>the</strong>y would manage<br />

<strong>the</strong> operations for a year with <strong>the</strong> agreement that<br />

<strong>the</strong> library would be locally run after that time.<br />

On November 5, 1939, <strong>the</strong> new library<br />

opened at a house on <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong> Roussell and<br />

Verret Streets. Just one year later a 1 mill property<br />

tax was overwhelmingly approved for continued<br />

library services and <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

Library Board <strong>of</strong> Control was formed. Though <strong>the</strong><br />

wood-framed house that boasted a reading room<br />

with a fireplace served for 13 years, a brand new<br />

building <strong>of</strong> 8,500 square feet was built in August<br />

<strong>of</strong> 1953 on <strong>the</strong> same location.<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Library operated with little<br />

improvements for <strong>the</strong> next 40 or more years<br />

until <strong>the</strong> library board did an assessment in 1996<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> system which revealed problems with<br />

collections, employee issues, and noncompliance<br />

with <strong>the</strong> Americans with Disabilities<br />

Act and lack <strong>of</strong> technology upgrades.<br />

<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> demonstration<br />

library in Houma from 1939 to 1953<br />

at <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong> Roussell and Verret<br />

Streets. A new library was built in<br />

1953 at <strong>the</strong> same location.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

C h a p t e r 6 ✦ 6 1


Dedication <strong>of</strong> St. Francis de Sales<br />

Catholic Church in 1930s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF LOUISIANA.<br />

The library board again sought to evoke <strong>the</strong><br />

community in <strong>the</strong> refurbishing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> library<br />

system. In 1997, <strong>the</strong> voters were asked to renew<br />

and increase <strong>the</strong> property tax millage. The tax<br />

was defeated by 62%. A year later <strong>the</strong> library<br />

board once again appealed to voters, this time<br />

asking for a quarter cent sales tax. The measure<br />

passed with 51% which would increase <strong>the</strong><br />

funds from $1 million to $6 million. With <strong>the</strong>se<br />

increased revenues, <strong>the</strong> old library, an 8,500-<br />

square-foot, 52-year-old building on Roussell<br />

Street would be replaced by a 70,000-squarefoot,<br />

state-<strong>of</strong>-<strong>the</strong>-art structure on <strong>the</strong> bayou side<br />

near <strong>the</strong> Southdown Cemetery. It was completed<br />

in 2003 and has been voted in recent years to be<br />

one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> finest library systems in <strong>the</strong> country.<br />

In addition to <strong>the</strong> main branch, <strong>the</strong>re are 8<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r branches located respectively in Bourg,<br />

Chauvin, Dularge, East Houma, Gibson, Dulac,<br />

Montegut and Gray.<br />

N E W S P A P E R S<br />

united many communities <strong>the</strong> world over.<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> is no exception. Within <strong>the</strong><br />

parish <strong>the</strong>re are at least 80 churches. They range<br />

from Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist,<br />

Presbyterian, and non-denominational.<br />

The first church ca<strong>the</strong>drals appeared in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish in <strong>the</strong> late 1840s and <strong>the</strong> early 1850s.<br />

There is record <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> United Methodist Church<br />

erecting a structure in 1845. It lacked in<br />

membership among <strong>the</strong> earliest inhabitants <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> area due to <strong>the</strong> fact that <strong>the</strong>y only sent<br />

English-speaking pastors to heavily Frenchspeaking,<br />

Catholic inhabitants. St. Francis de<br />

Sales Catholic Church was founded in 1847 with<br />

Rev. Z. Laveque as its first pastor. In <strong>the</strong> 1850s,<br />

St. Mat<strong>the</strong>w Episcopal Church began in Houma<br />

as well.<br />

The earliest history <strong>of</strong> newspaper<br />

communication in <strong>the</strong> parish is <strong>the</strong> Houma Ceres,<br />

which was publishing <strong>the</strong> police jury news as<br />

early as 1855. Ano<strong>the</strong>r publication known as <strong>the</strong><br />

Civic Guard published sessions and minutes <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> police jury in 1860. However, in 1865 <strong>the</strong><br />

police jury went out <strong>of</strong> parish to <strong>the</strong> Thibodaux<br />

Louisianan as <strong>the</strong>ir publisher <strong>of</strong> choice until<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> could be started. After<br />

this <strong>the</strong>re was <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Banner and <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Republican. The <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Republican<br />

was under <strong>the</strong> direction <strong>of</strong> F. R. Wright and it<br />

published <strong>the</strong> police jury news until 1877. After<br />

that, <strong>the</strong> printing was taken over by <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Progress, run by Edward L. Tinker.<br />

The Houma Courier was established as <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

parish publication in 1879. It was established in<br />

1878 by B. F. Bazet. Ano<strong>the</strong>r newspaper, <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Patriot, was founded in 1878 with its<br />

goal to “oppose <strong>the</strong> evils <strong>of</strong> reconstruction”. The<br />

Houma Courier still exists today as a daily paper<br />

along with The Times, a weekly newspaper.<br />

C H U R C H E S<br />

At <strong>the</strong> center <strong>of</strong> many communities in<br />

Louisiana was <strong>the</strong> formation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> local church.<br />

A place for people to ga<strong>the</strong>r and worship has<br />

S T . F R A N C I S D E S A L E S<br />

C A T H O L I C C H U R C H<br />

When <strong>the</strong> French, Spanish and Acadians<br />

settled in <strong>the</strong> area, <strong>the</strong>ir main religion was<br />

Catholic. In fact at one point under Spanish<br />

rule, a person applying for a land grant had to<br />

be Catholic. The parish was founded in 1847<br />

with <strong>the</strong> first church built in 1848. In <strong>the</strong> 1920s<br />

a hurricane seriously damaged <strong>the</strong> building. The<br />

present church was built in 1936 with <strong>the</strong><br />

support <strong>of</strong> Rev. August Vandebilt.<br />

6 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


In 1870, <strong>the</strong> first catholic school for <strong>the</strong><br />

church was started by <strong>the</strong> Sisters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Marianites <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Holy Cross. First named<br />

<strong>the</strong> Houma Academy, <strong>the</strong> sisters stayed at a<br />

building on site <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> church. Houma Academy<br />

initially only instructed girls, but eventually<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r building housed <strong>the</strong> boys. In 1966<br />

Vandebilt Catholic High School was completed<br />

for both boys and girls to attend.<br />

S T . M A T T H E W ’ S<br />

E P I S C O P A L C H U R C H<br />

The second oldest church in Houma was<br />

built on property donated by Robert Ruffin<br />

Barrow (five lots) and Henry C. Minor (two lots)<br />

in <strong>the</strong> recently incorporated downtown Houma.<br />

The church was <strong>of</strong>ficially chartered on May 15,<br />

1855. The first rector was <strong>the</strong> Reverend Moses<br />

E. Wilson. The church was built on what is now<br />

Barrow Street in 1858.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> unease <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> country’s political and<br />

financial situation prior to <strong>the</strong> civil war, <strong>the</strong> area<br />

which had been heavily settled by nor<strong>the</strong>rn<br />

businessmen, was sometimes at odds with <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

sou<strong>the</strong>rn counterparts. It was no different with<br />

<strong>the</strong> first two rectors at St. Mat<strong>the</strong>w’s. Fa<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Wilson, a native <strong>of</strong> New York, became a<br />

chaplain in <strong>the</strong> Union Army and Reverend<br />

Stickney, left <strong>the</strong> parish to serve <strong>the</strong><br />

Confederacy. It was a difficult time in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> during <strong>the</strong> conflict and<br />

St. Mat<strong>the</strong>w’s went without a rector from 1861<br />

to 1867.<br />

With a succession <strong>of</strong> rectors through 1888 to<br />

1890 <strong>the</strong> rectory burned and <strong>the</strong> church was<br />

deemed unsafe. A new church, built <strong>of</strong> cypress,<br />

was completed in 1892. It was on <strong>the</strong> arrival <strong>of</strong><br />

Reverend Dr. Gardiner L. Tucker, that <strong>the</strong><br />

church began its expansion with missions in<br />

Little Calliou, Dularge, Montegut, Donner,<br />

and Gibson.<br />

St. Mat<strong>the</strong>w’s School began operation in<br />

1970 with classes from pre-kindergarten<br />

through <strong>the</strong> 7th grade. In November 2010<br />

<strong>the</strong> church caught fire and was virtually<br />

destroyed. The facility was rebuilt and<br />

opened in 2016 with improvements for wind<br />

and water due to hurricanes. The new building<br />

strongly resembles <strong>the</strong> church that was built<br />

in 1892.<br />

C E M E T E R I E S<br />

Cemeteries were <strong>of</strong>ten related to churches,<br />

but in <strong>the</strong> earliest days <strong>of</strong> inhabitation,<br />

individual families set aside pieces <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

property specifically to create a family plot.<br />

Southdown Cemetery is located on Little Bayou<br />

Black at what was at <strong>the</strong> time <strong>of</strong> Southdown<br />

Planation ownership at <strong>the</strong> fur<strong>the</strong>st east end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

property. It occupies 5.172 acres and is now<br />

owned by <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. It was established<br />

prior to <strong>the</strong> Civil War and likely as early as 1846.<br />

As <strong>of</strong> 2013 <strong>the</strong>re are 386 additional burial<br />

records for people listed as buried at<br />

Southdown Cemetery. This information was<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>red from South Louisiana records, <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Genealogy Society, Social Security<br />

Death Index, Federal Census, obituaries and <strong>the</strong><br />

Diocese <strong>of</strong> New Orleans Catholic Church<br />

records. Scientists who did a study <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> area<br />

designated for <strong>the</strong> cemetery in 2000 discovered<br />

<strong>the</strong> area considered <strong>the</strong> cemetery proper was not<br />

<strong>the</strong> only area bodies were laid. The parish<br />

planned to build a new library near <strong>the</strong> site and<br />

it was discovered <strong>the</strong>re were at least 12 bodies<br />

outside <strong>the</strong> designated area. The construction<br />

area was deemed clear <strong>of</strong> any human remains.<br />

During <strong>the</strong> late 19th century, burials were<br />

typically performed within 24 hours due to <strong>the</strong><br />

<br />

St. Mat<strong>the</strong>w’s Episcopal Church in <strong>the</strong><br />

early 1900s. The church was built in<br />

1892, burned down in 2010 and was<br />

rebuilt and opened again in 2016.<br />

COURTESY ST. MATTHEW’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH.<br />

PHOTO RECAPTURED BY JO ANN LEBOEUF<br />

PHOTOGRAPHY.<br />

C h a p t e r 6 ✦ 6 3


lack <strong>of</strong> embalming. Some planters would allow<br />

work leave for relatives and time for burial, but<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten <strong>the</strong>se funerals were performed in <strong>the</strong><br />

evening hours after work was complete. A<br />

former slave recalled her experience:<br />

Back in de ole days we had buryin’s, we didn’t<br />

have e’balmers. When a purson died, we had to<br />

hurry an’ put ‘im in de ground right ‘way. Den<br />

later on we had a big fun’el, we had big din’ers<br />

an a whol lot’er preachin. Dere was one thing I<br />

nuber did lack ‘bout dem big fen’els, we had’um<br />

sometime six months a’ter de purson wuz dead,<br />

de al’ays tuk up co’lecktion.<br />

C<strong>of</strong>fins were simple wooden boxes made on <strong>the</strong><br />

plantations. The graves were typically positioned<br />

east to west and <strong>the</strong> bodies were interred with <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

heads to <strong>the</strong> west so that <strong>the</strong>y were not in <strong>the</strong><br />

crossways <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> world so that <strong>the</strong>y didn’t have to<br />

turn around when Gabriel blew his trumpets in<br />

<strong>the</strong> eastern sunrise, according to an oral interview.<br />

According to <strong>the</strong> scientific survey, <strong>the</strong>re was a<br />

difference in burial for free men and slaves. Free<br />

men were buried to <strong>the</strong> east and slaves were<br />

positioned toward <strong>the</strong> south.<br />

Many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> descendants <strong>of</strong> Southdown<br />

Planation and <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r Minor plantations hold to<br />

a spoken promise by Ka<strong>the</strong>rine “Aunt Kate” Minor<br />

that <strong>the</strong> Southdown cemetery was to be for <strong>the</strong> men<br />

and women who worked at Southdown. It was<br />

reported in <strong>the</strong> Houma Courier when a group <strong>of</strong><br />

churches and citizens wanted to gain control <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

cemetery, “It is a very sacred place. We are <strong>the</strong> heirs<br />

<strong>of</strong> people who already paid for it with <strong>the</strong> blood<br />

and sweat <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir labor. We deserve that land, and<br />

this was a promise a while back. That’s <strong>the</strong> only<br />

land some <strong>of</strong> those people may ever own, that grave<br />

that was promised to <strong>the</strong>m.” The article goes on to<br />

add, “If a sense <strong>of</strong> entitlement is evident in<br />

statements from descendants, it is rooted in a backbreaking<br />

history <strong>of</strong> dedication to Southdown by its<br />

workers, who say <strong>the</strong>y remained in near-bondage<br />

for a century or more after emancipation. Former<br />

sugar workers say <strong>the</strong>y lived on <strong>the</strong> plantation<br />

grounds much as did <strong>the</strong>ir enslaved ancestors.<br />

They said <strong>the</strong>y were paid pitiful wages until federal<br />

laws changed. For a time, after <strong>the</strong> Civil War slaves<br />

were paid in tokens that could only be used at <strong>the</strong><br />

plantation store. This was eventually outlawed.<br />

In addition to Southdown Cemetery, two o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

graveyards were located on <strong>the</strong> plantation. The first<br />

was a “white” cemetery located at <strong>the</strong> “back” <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

plantation, which we must assume was along<br />

present day Highway 182 at Bayou Black.<br />

However, <strong>the</strong>re are records that indicate that Minor<br />

house servants, William and Fannie Franklin and<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir daughter Margaret Franklin and o<strong>the</strong>rs were<br />

likely buried <strong>the</strong>re. The o<strong>the</strong>r burial location was<br />

referred to as <strong>the</strong> “Italian Grave” originally located<br />

where <strong>the</strong> current U.S.D.A. sugar research center is<br />

today just west <strong>of</strong> Southdown Cemetery.<br />

The Minor family practiced <strong>the</strong> Episcopalian<br />

religion and provided meeting places for <strong>the</strong><br />

slaves to worship in <strong>the</strong> same manner. There was<br />

at least one slave chapel at Southdown.<br />

<br />

Point-au-Barré cemetery south<br />

<strong>of</strong> Montegut.<br />

COURTESY OF THE T. I. ST. MARTIN COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

6 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


CHAPTER 7<br />

T E R R E B O N N E ’ S E N V I R O N M E N T : A V A N I S H I N G C O A S T<br />

There is a crisis that affects <strong>the</strong> people, businesses and land in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. Louisiana contains<br />

approximately 40 percent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nation’s wetlands and experiences 90 percent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> coastal-wetland loss<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Lower 48 states. Of Louisiana’s land loss, 60 percent occurs in <strong>the</strong> Barataria and <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Basins.<br />

The coast is losing 25 to 35 square miles per year, with <strong>the</strong> Barataria and <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Basins losing 10 to<br />

11 square miles per year. At current landloss rates, nearly 640,000 more acres, an area nearly <strong>the</strong> size <strong>of</strong><br />

Rhode Island, will be underwater by 2050.<br />

All <strong>of</strong> this loss will affect many aspects <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> life in <strong>Terrebonne</strong>. Eighteen percent <strong>of</strong> United States oil<br />

production and 24 percent <strong>of</strong> natural gas production are generated by Louisiana. These products<br />

originate, are transported through, or are processed in South Louisiana. One-fourth <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nation’s energy<br />

supply depends on <strong>the</strong> support facilities in south Louisiana.<br />

Like <strong>the</strong> lighthouse at Ship Shoal in Theriot that suffered neglect and vandalism and eventually<br />

disappeared, <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> Louisiana is in <strong>the</strong> process <strong>of</strong> vanishing. For years coastal communities have<br />

continued to shrink before eventually being wiped <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> map. Names that used to be dots on <strong>the</strong> map<br />

are gone.<br />

Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Louisiana is <strong>the</strong> fastest disappearing landmass on earth. There have been many factors that<br />

have attributed to this crisis. Both man-made and natural causes have affected <strong>the</strong> environment in negative<br />

ways. In light <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> knowledge <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> day, efforts are being made to fix this problem.<br />

<br />

A series <strong>of</strong> natural disasters in <strong>the</strong><br />

1920s greatly affected South<br />

Louisiana and <strong>the</strong> farmers in <strong>the</strong><br />

area. In 1927 <strong>the</strong> Mighty<br />

Mississippi overflowed its banks and<br />

destroyed not only crops, but homes<br />

and businesses.<br />

COURTESY OF THE TERREBONNE HISTORICAL &<br />

CULTURAL SOCIETY.<br />

M A K I N G A D I F F E R E N C E W I T H C O A S T A L I S S U E S<br />

The people <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> are actively working to preserve <strong>the</strong>ir parish, <strong>the</strong>ir way <strong>of</strong> life, and <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

heritage. Efforts for <strong>the</strong> restoration and preservation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Gulf Coast and its inhabitants are continuous.<br />

From non-pr<strong>of</strong>its to government entities, helping to solve <strong>the</strong> issues that lay before is a common bond.<br />

One such effort is <strong>the</strong> goal <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Morganza Action Coalition (MAC). The group formed a non-pr<strong>of</strong>it<br />

in 2006 specifically focused on advocating for authorization and construction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Morganza-to-<strong>the</strong><br />

Gulf Hurricane Protection System.<br />

The protection system is seen as essential to protect all interests <strong>of</strong> not only <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, but <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> neighboring parishes as well. The current activities <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> coalition are to communicate with federal<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficials and push for federal authorization and funding for <strong>the</strong> Morganza project, educate Americans<br />

C h a p t e r 7 ✦ 6 5


Right: The Ship Shoal Light in <strong>the</strong><br />

Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico near Theriot.<br />

COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.<br />

Below: The sou<strong>the</strong>rn swamps and<br />

marshes <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> were<br />

significantly compromised by<br />

saltwater intrusion created in part<br />

from <strong>the</strong> channels created during <strong>the</strong><br />

logging period <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish in <strong>the</strong><br />

early 1900s. The lasting effects <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> saltwater intrusion has created<br />

some positives in <strong>the</strong> types <strong>of</strong> fish<br />

that were introduced into <strong>the</strong><br />

area with years <strong>of</strong> changes to <strong>the</strong><br />

coast and <strong>the</strong> environment.<br />

PHOTO BY RACHEL CHERRY.<br />

about <strong>the</strong> value <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> region and <strong>the</strong> need for<br />

federally funded hurricane protection, and to<br />

support <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Levee and Conservation<br />

District.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most important changes, with <strong>the</strong><br />

assistance <strong>of</strong> MAC, is <strong>the</strong> passing in 2012 <strong>of</strong> a onehalf-cent<br />

sales tax in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> that goes<br />

to <strong>the</strong> completion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> protection system.<br />

On <strong>the</strong> ecological side <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> equation,<br />

specifically with coastal erosion, Restore or Retreat<br />

(ROR) was formed as a 501(c)(3) in 2000. The<br />

mission <strong>of</strong> this group is to “identify, expedite and<br />

aggressively engage solutions to urgently achieve<br />

comprehensive coastal restoration.”<br />

Working within <strong>the</strong> guidelines <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> state<br />

coastal plan, <strong>the</strong>se organizations are dedicated to<br />

<strong>the</strong> protection and restoration <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> way <strong>of</strong> life in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

L A S T<br />

I S L A N D<br />

The loss <strong>of</strong> land is not only a reality it is an<br />

ongoing trauma. The stories <strong>of</strong> hurricanes, floods<br />

and loss are a part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> history.<br />

Bill Dixon wrote in his 2009 account <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

storm in Last Days <strong>of</strong> Last Island, “In its most<br />

disastrous forms, nature is <strong>the</strong> ultimate leveler <strong>of</strong><br />

humanity. Antebellum Louisiana was a rigid, highly<br />

stratified society. Everyone fit into a particular niche<br />

—planters, wives, children, slaves, Jews, Italians,<br />

and members <strong>of</strong> many o<strong>the</strong>r groups. South<br />

Louisiana was a structured, predictable social<br />

environment. But on August 10, 1856, when <strong>the</strong><br />

great storm roared ashore, one’s “place” in society<br />

mattered precious little. With life and death in <strong>the</strong><br />

balance, position, power, and privilege were<br />

instantly trivialized. Courage and heroism and fear<br />

and cowardice cut across class lines.”<br />

Isle Dernieres or Last Island was an island<br />

roughly 25 miles in length and about 1 mile in<br />

width <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> in<br />

sou<strong>the</strong>ast Louisiana. In <strong>the</strong> middle 1800’s <strong>the</strong><br />

island was known for its popular and fashionable<br />

resort, a village with cottages and a boat landing<br />

where passengers and cargo from steamboats and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r vessels disembarked.<br />

That fateful day in 1856, a hurricane<br />

completely destroyed <strong>the</strong> village, never to be<br />

rebuilt. Many wealthy businessmen and politicians<br />

were vacationing at Last Island. Many lives were<br />

lost. Numbers vary by accounts, but Dixon’s<br />

accounting puts <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> lives lost at 331<br />

with <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> survivors at 203.<br />

By August 14 more than 200 survivors were<br />

accounted for and returning to <strong>the</strong>ir homes. One<br />

man, William Rochelle, who was originally<br />

reported dead, gave <strong>the</strong> following account:<br />

He was saved by his two slaves, Bob and<br />

Jennie, who caught a billiard table as it passed<br />

<strong>the</strong>m…. When it turned over twice, both held<br />

onto him…high waters pushed <strong>the</strong> billiard table<br />

into <strong>the</strong> swamps.<br />

A. C. Read had been swept thirty miles into <strong>the</strong><br />

Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico, only to be carried overnight by<br />

6 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


<strong>the</strong> waves back across <strong>the</strong> island and into <strong>the</strong><br />

marsh near Bayou du Large. Such were many <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> survivor stories <strong>of</strong> this tragic event.<br />

H U R R I C A N E S A N D D I S A S T E R S<br />

T H A T A F F E C T E D T E R R E B O N N E<br />

Just as <strong>the</strong> positives <strong>of</strong> living in south Louisiana<br />

like culture, moderate temperatures in <strong>the</strong> winter<br />

and <strong>the</strong> friendly residents keep people living here,<br />

<strong>the</strong> negatives <strong>of</strong> Mo<strong>the</strong>r Nature test even <strong>the</strong><br />

toughest <strong>of</strong> individuals.<br />

It wasn’t until <strong>the</strong> mid-1900s that hurricanes<br />

and tropical systems were named in <strong>the</strong> United<br />

States. Hurricanes in <strong>the</strong> West Indies used to be<br />

named after <strong>the</strong> particular saint's day <strong>the</strong>y<br />

occurred on. At <strong>the</strong> beginning <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 19th century,<br />

an Australian meteorologist started to give <strong>the</strong>m<br />

female names and in 1953 <strong>the</strong> U.S National<br />

Wea<strong>the</strong>r Service started to give <strong>the</strong>m female<br />

names as well. Beginning in 1979, <strong>the</strong>y were given<br />

both male and female names, and one name for<br />

each letter in <strong>the</strong> alphabet was given, except for Q,<br />

U, and Z. Every year, a committee gets toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

and decides on <strong>the</strong> hurricanes’ names from six<br />

lists <strong>of</strong> names that are rotated every year. The only<br />

time a new name is added is when a hurricane is<br />

extremely severe, damaging, and costly, <strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong><br />

name is retired and a new one is chosen.<br />

The first locally recorded system to affect<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> was in 1856. Three o<strong>the</strong>r hurricanes<br />

in 1888, 1897 and 1893 did significant damage to<br />

areas <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

On October 1-2, 1893, an unheralded storm<br />

<strong>of</strong> great violence moved from <strong>the</strong> Gulf across <strong>the</strong><br />

sou<strong>the</strong>astern U.S. It devastated about 500 miles<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> coastline from Timbalier Bay to Pensacola.<br />

Settlements along Lake Borgne, <strong>the</strong> Lower<br />

Mississippi, and <strong>the</strong> islands along <strong>the</strong> coast from<br />

<strong>the</strong> Bayou Lafourche east to <strong>the</strong> Chandeliers saw<br />

<strong>the</strong> brunt <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> hurricane. Landfall was<br />

between New Orleans and Port Eads on October<br />

1. Winds <strong>of</strong> 100 miles per hour were estimated<br />

at Grand Isle and at Pointe a la Hache. High<br />

winds were noted as far west as Abbeville. A<br />

schooner 4 miles north <strong>of</strong> Pascagoula reported a<br />

pressure <strong>of</strong> 28.65". At dusk on <strong>the</strong> 1st <strong>of</strong><br />

October, hurricane force winds overspread <strong>the</strong><br />

coast. By 10 p.m., as winds continued to<br />

increase, water began covering coastal islands. A<br />

gigantic wave <strong>the</strong>n crashed upon <strong>the</strong> shore <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> north end <strong>of</strong> Grand Isle, destroying<br />

everything in its path. Winds went calm as <strong>the</strong><br />

eye passed overhead between 11 p.m. and<br />

midnight. Winds began again in earnest after<br />

midnight, <strong>the</strong>n tapered <strong>of</strong>f by dawn. The storm<br />

surge was as high as 15 feet in Louisiana bays,<br />

16 feet at Chandelier Island. The Barataria Bay<br />

lighthouse was almost demolished. The<br />

Chandelier Island lighthouse took on a several<br />

foot tilt; waves at times washed over <strong>the</strong><br />

lantern, which was 50 feet above sea<br />

level! Severe damage was dealt to <strong>the</strong> Lake<br />

Borgne lighthouse; its metal ro<strong>of</strong> sheared <strong>of</strong>f by<br />

<strong>the</strong> wind.<br />

The hurricane in 1909 was described by Bill<br />

Boyne as, “When <strong>the</strong> tidal wave came up, like a<br />

big, black cloud, it looked as if <strong>the</strong> whole sky was<br />

falling down upon us.” The water rose 16 feet and<br />

destroyed many homes on Little Caillou.<br />

<br />

Flooding from <strong>the</strong> 1909 hurricane, A.<br />

St. Martin Company at Lil Caillou.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

C h a p t e r 7 ✦ 6 7


Damage to a local home after <strong>the</strong><br />

1909 hurricane.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

We fled from Madison Canal in two boats<br />

loaded with ice,” Boyne stated. On <strong>the</strong> way <strong>the</strong>y<br />

picked up stranded neighbors. “Anybody who<br />

wanted to flee from <strong>the</strong> fury <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> elements, we<br />

took aboard. We must have brought at least a<br />

hundred people to Houma. We melted <strong>the</strong> ice<br />

and gave <strong>the</strong> water to people to drink. There was<br />

water, water everywhere, but it was salty.<br />

This hurricane was known as <strong>the</strong> worst storm<br />

in <strong>the</strong> history <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> at <strong>the</strong> time. To date<br />

it took more lives and created more destruction<br />

than in previous storms. The Rhodes family <strong>of</strong><br />

Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> felt <strong>the</strong> devastation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

storm with a loss <strong>of</strong> property and life. Leon and<br />

Victoria Rhodes lived with <strong>the</strong>ir 12 children in a<br />

big home that was destroyed by <strong>the</strong> hurricane in<br />

1909. The story as told by a grandchild detailed<br />

that fateful day.<br />

That stormy day in 1909 <strong>the</strong> water in <strong>the</strong><br />

bayou kept rising. When it reached a level that<br />

forewarned <strong>of</strong> impending danger, <strong>the</strong>y knew<br />

<strong>the</strong>y had to get away fast if <strong>the</strong>y were to escape<br />

to safety.<br />

Victoria insisted she was going to stay with<br />

her house and refused to leave. Two <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir sons<br />

garnered <strong>the</strong> boats and tried to tie <strong>the</strong>m close to<br />

<strong>the</strong> house where <strong>the</strong>y attempted to board <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

family onto <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

But <strong>the</strong> force <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> wind had reached such a<br />

great height, it would tear loose <strong>the</strong> rope each<br />

time. Time ran out. They were forced to leave<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir loved ones in <strong>the</strong> house,” <strong>the</strong> story goes.<br />

Victoria and <strong>the</strong>ir house was lost to <strong>the</strong> storm.<br />

The impact <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> hurricane was described in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, September 25,<br />

1909, stated:<br />

The hurricane <strong>of</strong> Monday, September 20,<br />

1909, reached Assumption early Monday evening<br />

and it continued to rage until 8:00 that night.<br />

Every Sugar Mill in Assumption was hit hard by<br />

<strong>the</strong> storm, and smoke stacks, cane sheds, and<br />

hundreds <strong>of</strong> buildings were blown down and terribly<br />

damaged. Some plantations were struck<br />

harder than o<strong>the</strong>rs but from last reports <strong>the</strong> damage<br />

on Elm Hall, which place was one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> hardest<br />

hit by <strong>the</strong> wind, will not go over 30,000 dollars.<br />

The cane crop throughout <strong>the</strong> parish was leveled<br />

to <strong>the</strong> ground, and <strong>the</strong> D74 canes were broken<br />

below <strong>the</strong> tops like splinters. The D74 canes<br />

are placed at about a 50 percent loss. Grinding<br />

will be delayed on nearly all plantations though it<br />

is reported that several places will commence<br />

grinding in about 12 days in order that <strong>the</strong> cane<br />

be harvested before it becomes too green from a<br />

second growth. Elm Hall, Westfield, Cedar Grove,<br />

and Oakley were <strong>the</strong> hardest hit. Bellewood<br />

Plantation was badly damaged. Sheds, barns, and<br />

hundreds <strong>of</strong> trees were blown down. It will take<br />

several more days before <strong>the</strong> full damage can be<br />

determined. The storm was <strong>the</strong> most terrible to<br />

ever hit this parish, and everyone feared for <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

lives. Every church along Bayou Lafourche was<br />

damaged, and <strong>the</strong> Napoleonville and Labadieville<br />

Bridges were severely damaged. Henry and<br />

Honore Dugas, Chas Dugas, Louis and Camile<br />

Rodrique, Henry Shaff, and E.D. Granelloni<br />

passed <strong>the</strong> storm at Sea Breeze near <strong>the</strong> mouth <strong>of</strong><br />

Bayou <strong>Terrebonne</strong> at <strong>the</strong> Gulf. They saved <strong>the</strong>mselves<br />

by remaining in a two-story structure, <strong>the</strong><br />

strongest building at Sea Breeze. They were on a<br />

fishing trip since <strong>the</strong> 15th. Also in <strong>the</strong> party were<br />

Senator Marks, and Judge Paul Leche, but <strong>the</strong>y<br />

left before <strong>the</strong> storm hit. Those at Sea Breeze<br />

fought for <strong>the</strong>ir lives for over twelve hours. Every<br />

part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> lower story <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir camp was swept<br />

away, and with a 15 foot storm surge and waves,<br />

<strong>the</strong> water entered <strong>the</strong> second story, with winds <strong>of</strong><br />

80-85 miles per hour <strong>the</strong> surge made <strong>the</strong> building<br />

look like it was in <strong>the</strong> middle <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> gulf. All surrounding<br />

camps were swept away about noon<br />

6 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Monday, and <strong>the</strong> Dupont Camp where <strong>the</strong> Smith<br />

party <strong>of</strong> four were staying, also went to pieces.<br />

The four occupants were seen floating on <strong>the</strong><br />

ro<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> structure in high seas. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> party,<br />

M.F. Smith <strong>of</strong> New Iberia, was drowned. Out <strong>of</strong> 16<br />

boats at Sea Breeze only one boat survived, and it<br />

took 20 men with three ropes, over twelve hours to<br />

hold her. Clodio Belanger organized <strong>the</strong> party and<br />

showed <strong>the</strong>m how to save <strong>the</strong> vessel. The survivors<br />

left Sea Breeze Tuesday morning on that boat and<br />

made it to Montegut. They got on a bigger boat and<br />

went to Houma on Wednesday morning.<br />

In 1915 over 300 people drowned below<br />

Montegut. Four <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> victims could be identified<br />

as white. Those who could not be identified were<br />

assumed to be Houmas Indians.<br />

On August 25-27, 1926, a hurricane struck<br />

near Houma. The steamship Cody, while lying<br />

220 miles east sou<strong>the</strong>ast <strong>of</strong> Galveston reported 75<br />

mph winds while <strong>the</strong> Argon saw nor<strong>the</strong>ast winds<br />

<strong>of</strong> 100 mph near 27N 90.5W. The pressure<br />

bottomed out at 28.31" in Houma with estimated<br />

winds <strong>of</strong> 100 miles per hour at Grand Isle.<br />

Morgan City had 60 miles per hour winds howled<br />

through town. Over five inches <strong>of</strong> rain fell.<br />

In Houma, <strong>the</strong> sugarhouse was wrecked at<br />

Southdown Plantation. The Episcopal Church<br />

was “smashed.” Ninety percent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sugar cane<br />

was gone after <strong>the</strong> storm. Serious damage<br />

occurred between New Orleans and Baton<br />

Rouge. Lutcher, Caryville, Burnside, and Gismer<br />

saw streets full <strong>of</strong> wreckage which became<br />

almost impassable. Many trees were uprooted<br />

and barns were removed from <strong>the</strong>ir foundations.<br />

Thibodaux and Napoleonville experienced<br />

winds <strong>of</strong> 120 mph. Houses fell as telephone poles<br />

splintered in <strong>the</strong> wind. The town <strong>of</strong> Thibodaux<br />

lost three churches, a warehouse, and ten stores.<br />

At Glenwood and Madewood, more than thirteen<br />

inches <strong>of</strong> rain fell in less than 12 hours. The pecan<br />

orchard in Schriever was gone. The third Timbalier<br />

Bay lighthouse was slightly tipped to <strong>the</strong><br />

northwest. A ten foot storm surge was reported at<br />

Timbalier Bay; tides as high as 15 feet over-washed<br />

<strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn coast <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, north <strong>of</strong><br />

Isle Derniere. Twenty five people died.<br />

H U R R I C A N E<br />

B E T S Y<br />

On September 9-10, 1965, Hurricane Betsy,<br />

moving unusually fast through <strong>the</strong> Gulf at forward<br />

speeds <strong>of</strong> 22 mph, came ashore Grand Isle as a<br />

major hurricane. Winds gusted to 125 mph and<br />

<strong>the</strong> pressure fell to 28.75" at New Orleans. The<br />

sea level pressure <strong>the</strong>re dropped to 28.00" at<br />

Grand Isle and Houma. Port Eads gauged winds<br />

to 136 mph.<br />

A ten-foot storm surge was produced causing<br />

New Orleans its worst flooding in decades, but<br />

<strong>the</strong>y were lucky compared to Grand Isle, which<br />

saw a 15.7-foot surge on its nor<strong>the</strong>rn coast and<br />

wind gusts to 160 mph. Wind gusting to 100 mph<br />

covered Sou<strong>the</strong>ast Louisiana. Winds <strong>of</strong> hurricane<br />

force spread as far west as Lafayette and as far<br />

inland as St. Landry parish. Even Alexandria and<br />

Monroe saw winds in excess <strong>of</strong> 60 mph.<br />

Storm surges were seen as far east as Mobile.<br />

Hundreds <strong>of</strong> ships, tugs, and barges were sunk or<br />

driven aground from New Orleans to Baton<br />

Rouge. Following <strong>the</strong> storm, <strong>the</strong> levee was<br />

elevated to 12 feet by <strong>the</strong> Orleans Levee Board.<br />

Offshore and coastal oil installations, along with<br />

public utilities, reported unprecedented damage.<br />

Fall crops were in ruins and many livestock<br />

drowned. Damage throughout Sou<strong>the</strong>ast<br />

Louisiana totaled $1.4 billion and 81 lives were<br />

lost, 58 <strong>of</strong> which were in Louisiana.<br />

H U R R I C A N E<br />

A N D R E W<br />

On August 26, 1992, Andrew, a major<br />

hurricane, slammed into South Florida on August<br />

24 before striking <strong>the</strong> Louisiana coastline on<br />

August 26. Seven people died and 94 were injured<br />

across Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Louisiana during Andrew. Winds<br />

<br />

Storm refugees in <strong>the</strong> Court Square,<br />

c. <strong>the</strong> early 1900s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE T. I. ST. MARTIN COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

C h a p t e r 7 ✦ 6 9


eached hurricane force from Lafayette eastward to<br />

<strong>the</strong> Atchafalaya. The highest gusts reported were:<br />

39 mph. at Lake Charles Regional Airport, 66<br />

mph. at Moisant International Airport in New<br />

Orleans, 71 mph. at Lafayette Regional Airport, 83<br />

mph. at Salt Point in St. Mary <strong>Parish</strong>, 104 mph. at<br />

<strong>the</strong> Lafayette <strong>Parish</strong> Courthouse, 153 mph. at <strong>the</strong><br />

New Iberia Emergency Operating Center, and 173<br />

mph. at <strong>the</strong> Drilling Barge on Bayou Teche in St.<br />

Mary <strong>Parish</strong>. Rainfall totals from Andrew exceeded<br />

5 inches over a four day period from August 24-28<br />

in many locations. The storm surge moved inland<br />

from Lake Borgne westward to <strong>the</strong> Vermilion<br />

Bay...<strong>the</strong> highest surge reported was at 6.48 feet at<br />

Bayou Dupre. An F3 tornado struck LaPlace and<br />

stayed on <strong>the</strong> ground until reaching Reserve in St.<br />

John <strong>the</strong> Baptist <strong>Parish</strong> which caused 2 <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

deaths. Around 1 1/2 million people evacuated<br />

across Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Louisiana with damages estimated<br />

near 1 billion dollars in Louisiana.<br />

H U R R I C A N E<br />

R I T A<br />

On September 17-24, 2005, Hurricane Rita<br />

hit <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> Louisiana in Vermilion <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

The surge, however, greatly affected <strong>Terrebonne</strong>.<br />

Hurricane Rita was <strong>the</strong> fourth-most intense<br />

Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and <strong>the</strong> most<br />

intense tropical cyclone ever observed in <strong>the</strong><br />

Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico. In sou<strong>the</strong>ast Louisiana's<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, storm surge reached 7 feet<br />

(2.1 m) flooding an estimated 10,000 homes,<br />

schools, and businesses. Virtually every levee<br />

was breached. Some people were stranded in<br />

flooded communities and had to be rescued by<br />

boat. At least 100 people were reported rescued<br />

from ro<strong>of</strong>tops.<br />

H U R R I C A N E<br />

G U S T A V<br />

On August 31, 2008, Hurricane Gustav caused<br />

serious damage and casualties in Haiti, <strong>the</strong><br />

Dominican Republic, Jamaica, <strong>the</strong> Cayman<br />

Islands, Cuba, and <strong>the</strong> United States. It caused<br />

over $20 billion in damages <strong>the</strong> fourth most<br />

destructive hurricane to ever hit <strong>the</strong> United States.<br />

It formed on <strong>the</strong> morning <strong>of</strong> August 25,<br />

2008, about 260 miles (420 km) sou<strong>the</strong>ast <strong>of</strong><br />

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and rapidly streng<strong>the</strong>ned<br />

into a tropical storm that afternoon and into<br />

a hurricane early on August 26. Later that day<br />

it made landfall near <strong>the</strong> Haitian town <strong>of</strong><br />

Jacmel. It inundated Jamaica and ravaged<br />

Western Cuba and <strong>the</strong>n steadily moved across<br />

<strong>the</strong> Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico.<br />

On August 31, <strong>the</strong> National Hurricane Center<br />

(NHC) predicted with 81 percent probability that<br />

Gustav would remain at Category 3 or above on<br />

September 1, but on September 1 at 9:30 a.m.<br />

CDT (1430 UTC) <strong>the</strong> center <strong>of</strong> Gustav made<br />

landfall in <strong>the</strong> United States along <strong>the</strong> Louisiana<br />

coast near Cocodrie as a strong Category 2<br />

hurricane, 1 mph below Category 3. It dropped to<br />

Category 1 four hours later, and to a tropical<br />

depression <strong>the</strong> following day. Gustav continued<br />

moving northwest through Louisiana, before<br />

slowing down significantly as it moved through<br />

Arkansas on September 3. Hurricane Gustav<br />

caused 94 deaths in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean and 46 deaths<br />

in Louisiana.<br />

H U R R I C A N E<br />

I K E<br />

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made<br />

U.S. landfall at Galveston, Texas, on September 13<br />

at 2:10am CDT, as a Category 2 hurricane with<br />

winds <strong>of</strong> 110 mph. It had <strong>the</strong> same path as <strong>the</strong><br />

1900 Galveston Storm.<br />

During <strong>the</strong> day <strong>of</strong> September 13, Ike began a<br />

slow turn to <strong>the</strong> north and <strong>the</strong>n nor<strong>the</strong>ast. Due to<br />

its immense size it caused damage all along <strong>the</strong><br />

coast <strong>of</strong> Louisiana to Corpus Christi, Texas.<br />

That same day, President Bush declared Federal<br />

Disaster Areas for <strong>the</strong> following 10 parishes:<br />

Acadia, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia,<br />

Jefferson Davis, Sabine, St. Mary, Vermilion and<br />

Vernon. Levees overtopped in <strong>the</strong> parishes <strong>of</strong><br />

St. Bernard, Plaquemines, <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, St. Mary<br />

and Jefferson.<br />

T H E H I S T O R Y O F T H E<br />

B R O W N P E L I C A N<br />

The state bird <strong>of</strong> Louisiana graces <strong>the</strong> state<br />

flag, but <strong>the</strong> story <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> seabird has a harrowing<br />

and triumphant history. Once abundant on <strong>the</strong><br />

islands and bayous <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, <strong>the</strong> brown<br />

pelican saw a decline in numbers from 1961 to<br />

1971. In fact, <strong>the</strong> pelican was not nesting in <strong>the</strong><br />

south Louisiana habitat at this time.<br />

The abundant nesting bird was used as a<br />

symbol for Louisiana on its flag as early as 1846. It<br />

7 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


was up until <strong>the</strong> 1930s that <strong>the</strong> birds were seen in<br />

plentiful numbers, estimated at 85,000 birds. The<br />

decline <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se nesting birds was noticed in 1955.<br />

The culprit for <strong>the</strong>ir decimation was thought to be<br />

pesticides that affected <strong>the</strong> food chain. The run <strong>of</strong>f<br />

<strong>of</strong> pesticides into <strong>the</strong> water was consumed by<br />

smaller fish. The smaller fish were <strong>the</strong>n consumed<br />

by larger fish and <strong>the</strong> brown pelican <strong>the</strong>n feasted<br />

upon <strong>the</strong> larger fish and <strong>the</strong> pesticides killed or at<br />

least rendered <strong>the</strong> pelican unable to procreate. It<br />

was a dark day when bird experts could find no<br />

evidence <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> state bird in Louisiana.<br />

In a report by Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries<br />

in 1984, it was stated that, “The eastern brown<br />

pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis caronlinenis) ceased<br />

nesting in Louisiana in 1961 and <strong>the</strong> species<br />

completely disappeared by 1963.”<br />

In 1968 <strong>the</strong> loss <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> state’s pelican<br />

population spurned <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Department<br />

<strong>of</strong> Wildlife and Fisheries to secure a transfer <strong>of</strong><br />

pelicans from Florida, <strong>the</strong> only breeding ground<br />

left for <strong>the</strong>se birds. Slowly <strong>the</strong> pelican increased<br />

in number. From 1968 to 1976, nestling brown<br />

pelicans were captured from nesting colonies on<br />

Florida’s Atlantic coast and released at Grand<br />

Terre, Louisiana. All young pelicans (8-11<br />

weeks old), were hand captured, crated and<br />

trucked to <strong>the</strong> state. The birds were <strong>the</strong>n<br />

transported by boat to <strong>the</strong> release site. Direct<br />

release with two daily feedings was <strong>the</strong> method<br />

that worked in <strong>the</strong> area.<br />

The birds were initially banded so as to better<br />

track <strong>the</strong> progress, but this practice was<br />

discontinued in 1980 due to <strong>the</strong> belief that <strong>the</strong><br />

banding process was too traumatic for <strong>the</strong>se<br />

animals. Aerial photographs provided a<br />

permanent record <strong>of</strong> nesting and fledging.<br />

This process was not a complete success as in<br />

<strong>the</strong> late winter <strong>of</strong> 1975, approximately 35 percent<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> pelican population, about 400 to 450, were<br />

lost. It was believed that a number <strong>of</strong> factors<br />

affected <strong>the</strong> population such as a severe winter,<br />

high tides, high winds and cold temperatures may<br />

have caused <strong>the</strong> failures.<br />

Consistent improvement in <strong>the</strong> 1980s <strong>of</strong><br />

natural recolonization <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> pelican improved<br />

reproduction and restored <strong>the</strong> birds to <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

once historic numbers. In 1985 brown pelicans<br />

in <strong>the</strong> eastern United States, including<br />

Louisiana, had recovered to <strong>the</strong> point that <strong>the</strong><br />

populations were removed from <strong>the</strong><br />

Endangered Species List. As a result <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ban<br />

on <strong>the</strong> use <strong>of</strong> DDT in <strong>the</strong> United States, as well<br />

as complementary conservation efforts, <strong>the</strong><br />

species has made a strong comeback and is<br />

thriving along <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

<br />

Louisiana brown pelicans.<br />

PHOTO BY MATTHEW MOEL.<br />

C h a p t e r 7 ✦ 7 1


LAGNIAPPE IMAGES<br />

<br />

Right: Residence Plantation, owned by<br />

Robert Ruffin Barrow, 1887.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. R. BARROW COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Below: A parade on Main at Smoky<br />

Row, 1890.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Opposite, top: The Bazet Hotel in<br />

downtown Houma, 1900.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Opposite, bottom: A dairy barn,<br />

c. 1900.<br />

COURTESY OF THE MARTIN L. CORTEZ<br />

COLLECTION, NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

7 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


L a g n i a p p e I m a g e s ✦ 7 3


Above: The Quitman House in Dulac<br />

in <strong>the</strong> early 1900s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Right: The Fabregas family, 1902.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Opposite, top: A carnival in<br />

Houma, 1902.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Right: The C. Cenac Oyster<br />

Company, 1905.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. R. BARROW COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

7 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


L a g n i a p p e I m a g e s ✦ 7 5


Above: Main Street crossing Barataria<br />

and Lafourche Canal, 1914.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Right: The Main Street swing bridge<br />

across Barataria and Lafourche Canal<br />

in 1914 open for a passing boat.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Opposite, top: Main Street in<br />

Houma, 1918.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Opposite, bottom: An oyster boat and<br />

fisherman, c. <strong>the</strong> 1920s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

7 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


L a g n i a p p e I m a g e s ✦ 7 7


Top: Shrimpers unloading <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

catch, 1921.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Middle: Dancing <strong>the</strong> shrimp,<br />

c. <strong>the</strong> 1920s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Bottom: A house with storm braces,<br />

c. <strong>the</strong> 1920s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE T. I. ST. MARTIN COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Opposite, top: Traveling by pirogue in<br />

<strong>the</strong> marsh, c. <strong>the</strong> 1920s.<br />

COURTESY OF THE T. I. ST. MARTIN COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Floating a c<strong>of</strong>fin in<br />

a pirogue to <strong>the</strong> cemetery for burial,<br />

c. <strong>the</strong> 1920s. .<br />

COURTESY OF THE T. I. ST. MARTIN COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

7 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


L a g n i a p p e I m a g e s ✦ 7 9


Right: A little girl in a Mardi Gras<br />

costume, 1926.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Below: Houma Opera House in<br />

downtown Houma.<br />

COURTESY OF THE CENAC COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

8 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Top: The 1934 Houma Centennial<br />

parade. This World War I parade flag<br />

was sewn in 1917-1918 by <strong>the</strong> wives<br />

and relatives <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Elks <strong>of</strong> Houma. It<br />

was first used in <strong>the</strong> July 4, 1918,<br />

parade in downtown Houma.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

Middle: Ship’s company marching to<br />

<strong>the</strong> rec hall for a memorial service for<br />

Secretary <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Navy Frank Knox on<br />

Sunday, April 30, 1944.<br />

U.S. NAVY AIR STATION PHOTO.<br />

Bottom: Dupont’s at <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong><br />

Main and Barrow Streets, 1958.<br />

COURTESY OF THE R. A. BAZET COLLECTION,<br />

NICHOLLS ARCHIVES.<br />

L a g n i a p p e I m a g e s ✦ 8 1


8 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


SHARING THE HERITAGE<br />

H i s t o r i c p r o f i l e s o f b u s i n e s s e s ,<br />

o r g a n i z a t i o n s , a n d f a m i l i e s t h a t h a v e<br />

c o n t r i b u t e d t o t h e d e v e l o p m e n t a n d<br />

e c o n o m i c b a s e o f T e r r e b o n n e P a r i s h<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ..............................................................8 4<br />

T H E M A R K E T P L A C E ..................................................................1 2 6<br />

<br />

PHOTO BY JO ANN LEBOEUF.<br />

B U I L D I N G A G R E AT E R T E R R E B O N N E PA R I S H .........................1 4 6<br />

<br />

S H A R I N G T H E H E R I T A G E ✦ 8 3


The indigenous trees <strong>of</strong> South<br />

Louisiana, like <strong>the</strong> Live Oak, create<br />

continuous beauty in <strong>the</strong> region.<br />

PHOTO BY RACHEL CHERRY.<br />

8 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

H e a l t h c a r e p r o v i d e r s , f o u n d a t i o n s ,<br />

u n i v e r s i t i e s , a n d o t h e r i n s t i t u t i o n s t h a t<br />

c o n t r i b u t e t o t h e q u a l i t y o f l i f e i n T e r r e b o n n e P a r i s h<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Sheriff ’s Office ......................................................8 6<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Library System .....................................................9 0<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Council on Aging, Inc. .....................................................9 4<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Levee & Conservation District ..........................................9 8<br />

TLCD Board <strong>of</strong> Commissioners ........................................................1 0 1<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Public Schools .....................................................1 0 2<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Consolidated Government .....................................1 0 4<br />

Occupational Medicine Services, LLC ...............................................1 0 6<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Medical Center .................................................1 0 8<br />

Haydel Medical and Surgical Clinic .................................................1 1 0<br />

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center .................................................1 1 2<br />

Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana .............................................................1 1 4<br />

Flynn Clinic <strong>of</strong> Chiropractic ...........................................................1 1 6<br />

Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center ..................................................1 1 8<br />

Cardiovascular Institute <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> South ...............................................1 1 9<br />

Acadian Ambulance .......................................................................1 2 0<br />

Haydel Memorial Hospice ...............................................................1 2 1<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> ARC ............................................................................1 2 2<br />

Barataria-<strong>Terrebonne</strong> National Estuary Program ................................1 2 3<br />

Leadership <strong>Terrebonne</strong> ...................................................................1 2 4<br />

Southdown Plantation House<br />

The <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Museum............................................................1 2 5<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 8 5


TERREBONNE<br />

PARISH<br />

SHERIFF’S<br />

OFFICE<br />

With <strong>the</strong> endless miles <strong>of</strong> waterways, abundant<br />

wildlife and unique culture, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> is<br />

<strong>the</strong> heart <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Cajun culture. Just like its rich<br />

community ties, Catholic heritage and family<br />

values, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Sheriff’s Office<br />

(TPSO) has a colorful past, present and future.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> second largest parish in <strong>the</strong> state,<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> <strong>of</strong>ficially became a parish<br />

in 1822. The first sheriff <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

undoubtedly had many challenges ahead <strong>of</strong><br />

him. Sheriff Caleb Watkins served as sheriff <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> for eleven years, beginning<br />

a long line <strong>of</strong> traditions and experience that<br />

continues today.<br />

harvester <strong>of</strong> oysters in <strong>the</strong> country. The oyster<br />

industry spawned a multitude <strong>of</strong> jobs for<br />

settlers who made hard work a prideful<br />

lifestyle. Industries involving fishing, shrimping<br />

and crabbing became staples for citizens,<br />

especially those that lived along one <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s five major bayou areas. Sugarcane<br />

production also became a main staple for <strong>the</strong><br />

workforce in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. For decades,<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> was one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nation’s<br />

leading sugar cane producers with three<br />

large factories that supplied America with<br />

raw sugarcane.<br />

In 1951, Able Prejean became sheriff <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. During his seventeen year<br />

tenure as sheriff, he implemented many<br />

changes and pioneered a program still in<br />

existence today. Sheriff Prejean, a Houma<br />

native, was noted as being a no-nonsense<br />

sheriff with a desire to serve <strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. Sheriff Prejean was <strong>the</strong><br />

first law enforcement <strong>of</strong>ficer to arrest a suspect<br />

for cultivation <strong>of</strong> marijuana in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong>. That arrest led to an awareness <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

growing but not so publicized, drug problem<br />

across <strong>the</strong> country; and he commissioned more<br />

deputies to investigate illegal narcotics activity.<br />

Sheriff Prejean’s motto was “to have a friend,<br />

be one” and this was never more important<br />

<br />

Above: Able Prejean, 1951-1968.<br />

Right: Charlton P. Rozands,<br />

1968-1980 and 1984-1987.<br />

Sheriff Watkins, with <strong>the</strong> support <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

community, built <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>’s first jail.<br />

It was a twelve foot square building in <strong>the</strong> center<br />

<strong>of</strong> town that was soon closed due to a bat<br />

infestation. The main mode <strong>of</strong> transportation for<br />

Sheriff Watkins and his handful <strong>of</strong> deputies was<br />

not by horse, as most would think, but by<br />

watercraft. Little did he know that even with all <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> changes in technology and industry, policework<br />

by boat would continue to be an important<br />

and necessary facet in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

As <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> grew and families<br />

expanded throughout <strong>the</strong> land, <strong>the</strong> many<br />

opportunities available to settlers became clear.<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> became <strong>the</strong> second largest<br />

8 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


than during trying times faced by <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> residents during hurricane season.<br />

Sheriff Prejean devised <strong>the</strong> first hurricane<br />

preparedness center in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> that<br />

was <strong>the</strong> center <strong>of</strong> relief and recovery in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish after hurricane disasters.<br />

Industry and commerce grew through <strong>the</strong><br />

decades and <strong>the</strong> world renowned Lagniappe<br />

Festival that celebrated <strong>the</strong> unique Cajun<br />

culture was a much anticipated event that drew<br />

thousands <strong>of</strong> visitors from around <strong>the</strong> country<br />

every year. By <strong>the</strong> 1970s, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> had<br />

built a name and positive reputation for itself.<br />

During <strong>the</strong> 1970s-1980s, a strong-armed law<br />

enforcement <strong>of</strong>ficer named Charlton P. Rozands<br />

ruled TPSO and set forth changes that resonate<br />

today. A no-nonsense sheriff with a vision<br />

for progression, Sheriff Rozands devised <strong>the</strong><br />

first volunteer Coastal Rescue program. This<br />

program mobilized volunteers who were<br />

responsible for hundreds <strong>of</strong> marine rescues.<br />

Sheriff Rozands also purchased <strong>the</strong> first<br />

narcotics detection dog in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> population grew, he saw a need for<br />

a better jail facility. In 1975, he facilitated<br />

<strong>the</strong> construction <strong>of</strong> a jail atop <strong>the</strong> present day<br />

courthouse that increased capacity from thirty<br />

to seventy-six beds and prisoners. This was<br />

a huge improvement over <strong>the</strong> thirty bed<br />

facility in <strong>the</strong> old courthouse that had been<br />

used since 1938.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> oilfield was booming and <strong>the</strong><br />

population was rising, Jerry Larpenter, a<br />

veteran <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department, was named sheriff<br />

<strong>of</strong> TPSO after <strong>the</strong> untimely death <strong>of</strong> Sheriff<br />

Rozands. When Sheriff Larpenter took <strong>the</strong> oath<br />

and became sheriff on April 20, 1987, it would<br />

forever change <strong>the</strong> face <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish and <strong>the</strong><br />

way law and order were kept in <strong>the</strong> community.<br />

During his first twenty-one years as Sheriff<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, Sheriff Larpenter began<br />

to mold <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>fice into his vision for making<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> a desirable place to live and<br />

raise a family. He turned <strong>the</strong> volunteer water<br />

patrol unit into a full time eight-man division<br />

responsible for rescuing up to 1,000 vessels and<br />

passengers each year, doubled <strong>the</strong> employee<br />

count to more than 300 full-time <strong>of</strong>ficers, and<br />

upgraded <strong>the</strong> jail facility from a ninety bed<br />

holding jail to a 700 bed state-<strong>of</strong>-<strong>the</strong>-art prison<br />

facility. Currently, TPSO boasts many highly<br />

trained divisions including K-9, SWAT, Traffic,<br />

Sex Crimes, Patrol, Narcotics, Detectives, Crime<br />

Scene, Corrections, DARE, School Resource<br />

Officers, Communications, and Training. The<br />

collaboration <strong>of</strong> efforts by <strong>the</strong> division<br />

commanders and dedicated <strong>of</strong>ficers has led to<br />

a consistent eighty percent solve rate <strong>of</strong> all<br />

major crimes.<br />

Larpenter also recognized that a clean and<br />

orderly community had a domino effect. Using<br />

inmate labor, he has saved taxpayers over<br />

$130 million dollars through litter removal,<br />

refurbishing schools, playgrounds, community<br />

sites, and delivering 1,000 meals a day to <strong>the</strong><br />

elderly. This concentration <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

parish instilled pride in <strong>the</strong> community that is<br />

visible every summer when dozens <strong>of</strong> inmate<br />

work crews give local schools a face lift in<br />

preparation for <strong>the</strong> new school year.<br />

<br />

Above: Jerry J. Larpenter, 1987-2008<br />

and 2012-2020.<br />

Below: A water patrol boat <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Sheriff’s Office.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 8 7


The <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Criminal<br />

Justice Complex.<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> has also endured natural disasters<br />

that have tested <strong>the</strong> resolve not only <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

department but also <strong>the</strong> citizens <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 <strong>the</strong><br />

entire department was mobilized and was not<br />

only responsible for countless rescues but<br />

TBSO spearheaded <strong>the</strong> recovery process, ensuring<br />

that thousands <strong>of</strong> people returned to <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

homes and began rebuilding.<br />

Sheriff Larpenter retired in 2008, but came<br />

out <strong>of</strong> retirement in 2012, and again won reelection<br />

in 2015. He ran for <strong>of</strong>fice unopposed<br />

and returned to his roots where he continues<br />

to serve <strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> today.<br />

Since returning, Sheriff Larpenter has built a<br />

state-<strong>of</strong>-<strong>the</strong>-art training facility that frequently<br />

hosts firearms training and competitions. The<br />

range was built by prison labor at no cost to <strong>the</strong><br />

public, saving taxpayers more than $500,000.<br />

The department continues to expand with<br />

additional resources including a newly<br />

refurbished building for juvenile detectives<br />

and crime scene investigators, and separate<br />

locations for <strong>the</strong> department’s Motor Pool and<br />

Narcotics Divisions, which are assets to <strong>the</strong><br />

department. The department is also in <strong>the</strong><br />

process <strong>of</strong> converting <strong>the</strong> current juvenile<br />

detention center into a jail facility for housing<br />

up to 120 female inmates in early 2016.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> population <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> continues<br />

to grow, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> has quickly become<br />

a hub for tourism, fishing, hunting and various<br />

industries. <strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s strong economy allows<br />

<strong>the</strong> parish to consistently boast <strong>the</strong> lowest<br />

unemployment rates throughout <strong>the</strong> state.<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> has recently been dubbed <strong>the</strong><br />

“Safest place in live in Louisiana” and <strong>the</strong><br />

“Saltwater Fishing Capital <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> World” and<br />

with countless festivals that celebrate <strong>the</strong> Cajun<br />

culture, tourism is booming.<br />

8 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Apart from <strong>the</strong> world famous food and<br />

hospitality, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> is also known<br />

worldwide for its Mardi Gras celebration.<br />

Houma hosts <strong>the</strong> second largest Mardi Gras<br />

season, second only to New Orleans. Over <strong>the</strong><br />

past twenty-five years, Sheriff Larpenter was<br />

instrumental in changing <strong>the</strong> parade routes and<br />

increasing Krewe participation. Those efforts<br />

bring 1,000,000 people to Houma every Mardi<br />

Gras season where <strong>the</strong> culture is expanded and<br />

<strong>the</strong> economy is stimulated.<br />

As technology is ever-changing, Larpenter<br />

has equipped all deputies with body cameras<br />

and provided <strong>the</strong>m with computer technology<br />

that aids in tracking and catching criminals.<br />

But, he constantly reminds his force that it<br />

takes common sense and “good old fashioned<br />

police work” to solve everything from property<br />

crimes to murders. The deputies that serve<br />

<strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> are known for<br />

being skilled law enforcement <strong>of</strong>ficers, and also<br />

ones that will help a stranded motorist change<br />

a flat tire, counsel troubled youth, and go above<br />

and beyond <strong>the</strong> call <strong>of</strong> duty to continue to make<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> a safe and desirable place<br />

to live.<br />

<br />

Above: <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Parrish courthouse<br />

annex sheriff's <strong>of</strong>fice.<br />

Below: <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Parrish motor pool.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 8 9


TERREBONNE<br />

PARISH LIBRARY<br />

SYSTEM<br />

<br />

Above: Children ga<strong>the</strong>r around a<br />

librarian at <strong>the</strong> Old Main Library in<br />

downtown Houma.<br />

Below: The original Main Library as<br />

it was first built.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> early twentieth century, good reading<br />

material was hard to find in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

For those who were lucky enough to afford<br />

books, shared <strong>the</strong>m with o<strong>the</strong>rs. In fact, as early<br />

as August 4, 1927, six women who called<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir home did just that!<br />

It was Jessie Lea Bethume, Harriet Elster, Ruth<br />

Smith, Eunice Thompson, Marguerite Watkins,<br />

and Helen Smith who formed “B.E.S.T.W.S.,” a<br />

social club devoted primarily to reading. The<br />

name was derived from <strong>the</strong> initials <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

women’s last names. The club was similar to<br />

today’s reading clubs where members read and<br />

discussed <strong>the</strong> same books.<br />

Two years later on April 11, 1929, <strong>the</strong> ladies<br />

took <strong>the</strong>ir love <strong>of</strong> reading to a higher level.<br />

Wanting to provide a community service, <strong>the</strong><br />

club’s members decided to form a public library.<br />

With a new goal in mind, <strong>the</strong>y changed <strong>the</strong> name<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> group to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Library Club.<br />

One month later, <strong>the</strong>y were on <strong>the</strong>ir way to<br />

achieving a library <strong>of</strong> sorts, having grown from<br />

six to thirteen members.<br />

The club, housed in <strong>the</strong> People’s Bank<br />

building, opened <strong>the</strong> club to <strong>the</strong> public with 428<br />

donated volumes <strong>of</strong> every description. The<br />

library operated three days per week and was an<br />

immediate success!<br />

Sylvia Ray Johnson was hired as <strong>the</strong> first<br />

librarian with her salary provided through club<br />

dues and overdue fines. Financial assistance<br />

was provided by <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> city<br />

government, police jury and school board. The<br />

private sector supplied <strong>the</strong> means to purchase<br />

additional library materials.<br />

By 1933 <strong>the</strong> economy had improved, so it was<br />

an ideal time for <strong>the</strong> six founding women (who<br />

were now joined by o<strong>the</strong>rs in <strong>the</strong> community) to<br />

move forward. On February 7, 1933, <strong>the</strong> People’s<br />

Bank building was sold to <strong>the</strong> City <strong>of</strong> Houma and<br />

<strong>the</strong> library was moved to a room in <strong>the</strong> Houma<br />

Central School, which has since been demolished.<br />

When school started that fall, however, <strong>the</strong> library<br />

had to be moved again. The Daspit Building was<br />

<strong>the</strong> library’s home until June 8, 1934.<br />

Once again <strong>the</strong> site had become inadequate;<br />

but, <strong>the</strong> library patrons persevered. On February<br />

7, 1939, <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Library Commission agreed<br />

to operate <strong>the</strong> library for a year. It was stipulated<br />

that after <strong>the</strong> year <strong>of</strong> operation, <strong>the</strong> parish would<br />

have to support <strong>the</strong> library on its own.<br />

On November 5, 1939, <strong>the</strong> group acquired a<br />

renovated wooden house on <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong> Roussell<br />

and Verret Streets, and opened its doors to <strong>the</strong><br />

public once again. A fireplace where people could<br />

sit by <strong>the</strong> fire and read was a welcomed attraction.<br />

While <strong>the</strong> idea <strong>of</strong> imposing millage (tenths <strong>of</strong><br />

a penny) was begun in 1891, it was not prevalent<br />

everywhere. However, in November 1940,<br />

a one mill property tax was overwhelmingly<br />

passed by <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> voters to continue<br />

library services. At that time, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> Library Board <strong>of</strong> Control became <strong>the</strong><br />

library’s governing body. After <strong>the</strong> millage had<br />

been collected for approximately thirteen years,<br />

a new 8,500 square foot, stone building was<br />

dedicated August 2, 1953 at <strong>the</strong> corner <strong>of</strong><br />

Roussell and Verret Streets.<br />

With <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> being <strong>the</strong> largest<br />

geographical parish in <strong>the</strong> state, two book<br />

mobiles were purchased and served <strong>the</strong> needs <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> community.<br />

As library branches were built to accommodate<br />

<strong>the</strong> growing population, <strong>the</strong> book mobile service<br />

was phased out. In 1951 a room was designated<br />

9 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Left: After being destroyed by<br />

Hurricane Rita in 2005, <strong>the</strong><br />

Grand Caillou Branch was rebuilt<br />

and reopened in 2009, ushering in a<br />

more modern, eco-friendly, and floodprotected<br />

library to serve <strong>the</strong> residents<br />

in one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn most parts <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Dumas Auditorium as a library branch to<br />

serve <strong>the</strong> Black population. The Montegut and<br />

Pointe-aux-Chenes Branches were built in 1964,<br />

with <strong>the</strong> Chauvin and East Houma Branches in<br />

1968 along with <strong>the</strong> Bourg Branch in 1969. The<br />

North <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Branch was built in 1974 with<br />

<strong>the</strong> Gibson and Dulac Branches in 1985. The<br />

Dularge Branch completed <strong>the</strong> system in 1995.<br />

Since <strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong> Carver and Pointe-aux-chenes<br />

Branches have closed.<br />

Below: The Bubble Wall at <strong>the</strong><br />

Main Library: is <strong>the</strong> focal point <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

downstairs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Main Library, this<br />

bubble wall provides those young and<br />

old a fun welcome to <strong>the</strong> library.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 9 1


Above: The Oak Tree in <strong>the</strong> children’s<br />

department was a gift from <strong>the</strong><br />

Friends <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Public<br />

Library to <strong>the</strong> newly renovated North<br />

Branch Library. The oak represents<br />

one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> strongest and most<br />

prevalent trees in South Louisiana.<br />

Right: It is said that Old Main could<br />

fit into <strong>the</strong> children’s department at<br />

<strong>the</strong> new Main Library. The three<br />

sailboats with benches for reading is a<br />

popular ga<strong>the</strong>ring place for children<br />

and <strong>the</strong>ir families when visiting <strong>the</strong><br />

Main Library.<br />

In 1997 <strong>the</strong> library board <strong>of</strong> control asked<br />

voters to renew and increase <strong>the</strong> tax millage, but<br />

<strong>the</strong> unfavorable measure was defeated. With <strong>the</strong><br />

property millage on <strong>the</strong> verge <strong>of</strong> expiration, <strong>the</strong><br />

library board <strong>of</strong> control researched replacing<br />

<strong>the</strong> property millage.<br />

In 1998 a steering committee was challenged<br />

with looking for alternative ways to generate<br />

funds. It was decided that <strong>the</strong> library system<br />

would go back to <strong>the</strong> voters to seek a quarter<br />

cents sales tax to fund <strong>the</strong> system. The tax<br />

passed. The increased financial support is<br />

used for operation, maintenance, and capital<br />

improvements for <strong>the</strong> library system. In order<br />

to fulfill <strong>the</strong> state requirements for building<br />

standards and to address <strong>the</strong> inadequate size<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> main library, library administration began<br />

researching and planning for a new main library.<br />

On April 24, 2003, <strong>the</strong> library system closed<br />

<strong>the</strong> doors on <strong>the</strong> 8,500 square foot, fiftytwo<br />

year old building, and dedicated a 75,000<br />

square foot main library. It was designed with<br />

state-<strong>of</strong>-<strong>the</strong>-art technological needs, complete<br />

with a computer laboratory, distance education<br />

classroom, and expansion space for public<br />

computers. A drive-through window, <strong>the</strong> first<br />

in <strong>the</strong> state, was designed to meet <strong>the</strong> demands<br />

<strong>of</strong> a mobile society. An amphi<strong>the</strong>ater, arts and<br />

crafts room, children’s story time room, group<br />

study rooms, as well as a large meeting room<br />

allowing for more programs and activities was<br />

part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> overall design.<br />

9 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


In 2005, Hurricane Rita destroyed <strong>the</strong><br />

Chauvin and Dulac Branches. The Dulac<br />

Branch has been rebuilt and <strong>the</strong> Chauvin<br />

Branch has been relocated.<br />

With <strong>the</strong>se changes came much recognition.<br />

In 2004 <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Library System<br />

was awarded <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Public Library <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Year by <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Library Association. In<br />

2014 <strong>the</strong> American Library Association honored<br />

<strong>the</strong> library with <strong>the</strong> Upstart Innovation Award<br />

for programming. Never resting on its laurels,<br />

<strong>the</strong> library system was nominated for and was<br />

distinguished a top fifteen finalist for <strong>the</strong><br />

National Medal in 2013 and 2015 by <strong>the</strong><br />

Institute <strong>of</strong> Museums and Libraries.<br />

Today, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Library System<br />

provides public library services to all residents<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. The main library and<br />

administrative <strong>of</strong>fices are conveniently located at<br />

151 Library Drive in Houma. The enhanced nine<br />

branch system <strong>of</strong>fers current, authoritative,<br />

entertaining, and informative information through<br />

both digital and print media. The library has<br />

expanded beyond its walls to provide outreach<br />

services to public and private schools, nursing<br />

homes, assisted living centers, day cares, <strong>the</strong><br />

homebound, and community organizations.<br />

The library’s campaign slogan, “A Library Says<br />

A Lot about a Community,” portrays <strong>the</strong> role<br />

that <strong>the</strong> library plays in being <strong>the</strong> community’s<br />

living room. A great community has a great<br />

library system.<br />

<br />

Above: An image <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> recently<br />

renovated North Branch Library.<br />

Once renovations were completed,<br />

<strong>the</strong> library was nearly double its<br />

original size and modernized to serve<br />

those in <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn part <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

Left: In 2003, <strong>the</strong> doors <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> new<br />

Main Library were open to <strong>the</strong> public.<br />

This state-<strong>of</strong>-<strong>the</strong>-art library serves <strong>the</strong><br />

whole population <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> parish, while<br />

it houses administrative <strong>of</strong>fices, <strong>the</strong><br />

library system’s information<br />

technology department, and<br />

cataloging and processing. Genealogy<br />

and reference are also located at <strong>the</strong><br />

Main Library.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 9 3


TERREBONNE<br />

COUNCIL ON<br />

AGING, INC.<br />

<br />

Above: The TCOA Operations Center<br />

Building located at 995 West Tunnel<br />

Boulevard, Houma, Louisiana 70360.<br />

Below: Executive Director<br />

Diana N. Edmonson.<br />

It is a known fact: Everyone alive is aging!<br />

The increase in population can be attributed to<br />

longer life spans as a result <strong>of</strong> better healthcare<br />

and <strong>the</strong> rate baby boomers are aging. In fact,<br />

according to <strong>the</strong> Center for Disease Control, <strong>the</strong><br />

numbers will double during <strong>the</strong> next twentyfive<br />

years to about 72 million. By 2030 those<br />

age sixty-five and older will account for about<br />

twenty percent <strong>of</strong> our population. That is why<br />

it is vital that we develop long-term strategies<br />

and programs to provide for <strong>the</strong> aged.<br />

In February 1959, a group <strong>of</strong> private<br />

citizens, businessmen and women, and state<br />

employees met to devise a plan to set up an<br />

organization that would address <strong>the</strong> issues<br />

and problems facing <strong>the</strong> elderly population.<br />

As a result, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Voluntary Council<br />

for <strong>the</strong> Aged was formed.<br />

Retired Social Security Administrator, Joseph<br />

Simpson, was a founding member and served<br />

as <strong>the</strong> first chairman <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> board. He secured a<br />

funding source for <strong>the</strong> organization and served<br />

in a leadership capacity for more than thirtyfive<br />

years. O<strong>the</strong>rs serving with longevity in<br />

leadership roles was a board member and<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficer Willie Joseph Bonvillain, Jr., (25 years),<br />

Executive Director Carol Ma<strong>the</strong>rne (22 years),<br />

and current Executive Director Diana N.<br />

Edmonson, who joined <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Council<br />

on Aging in October 1991 as special events<br />

coordinator and was named executive director<br />

in 1994, succeeding Ma<strong>the</strong>rne.<br />

In 1969, with an annual budget <strong>of</strong> ten<br />

thousand dollars, Alma Sonnier, also a founding<br />

member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> organization, was hired as <strong>the</strong><br />

first executive director. Sonnier worked twenty<br />

hours per week for a period <strong>of</strong> only two years.<br />

Recreation was <strong>the</strong> first social service <strong>of</strong>fered<br />

by <strong>the</strong> council. Service delivery was limited to<br />

<strong>the</strong> residents <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> two nursing homes operating<br />

in <strong>the</strong> parish at <strong>the</strong> time. When <strong>the</strong> council<br />

moved its operations to <strong>the</strong> Daigeville School,<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r services included ceramic classes and<br />

homemaker services. Transportation service toand-from<br />

<strong>the</strong> Charity Hospital in New Orleans<br />

for dialysis patients followed. The 1975 funding<br />

9 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


enabled <strong>the</strong> council to begin a nutrition program<br />

that served meals at schools for those sixty and<br />

older. The Schriever School and <strong>the</strong> East Houma<br />

School were <strong>the</strong> first lunch sites operated by<br />

<strong>the</strong> Council on Aging in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

Funding for <strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s Council on Aging<br />

was an on-going concern. The people <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

parish voted to pass an ad-valorem tax<br />

dedicated to <strong>the</strong> organization. The first millage<br />

was in 1980 for one mill; and <strong>the</strong>n, in 1989, it<br />

was increased to one-point-eight mills. In 1990,<br />

it was increased to three mills, and was renewed<br />

in 1998. In 2000, it was increased to sevenpoint-five<br />

mills. It continues at this percentage<br />

today. As <strong>the</strong> agency’s funding increased, so<br />

did <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> services delivered.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> early days, to promote public<br />

awareness <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> council and its services,<br />

“A Day at <strong>the</strong> Mall” was held annually. That<br />

day, elderly clients walked <strong>the</strong> runway to<br />

model fashionable clothing provided by mall<br />

merchants. A health fair was also held with<br />

<strong>the</strong> cooperation <strong>of</strong> local healthcare providers,<br />

as well as an exhibit <strong>of</strong> clients’ craft items.<br />

<br />

Above: TCOA’s Board <strong>of</strong> Directors,<br />

front row, left to right, Chairman<br />

Kirby Verret, Debra Marcel<br />

Thibodeaux, JoAnne Plessala, Victoria<br />

“Vicki” Rouse, and Natalie Bergeron.<br />

Back row, left to right: H. Rene<br />

Rhodes, Stanley Yancey, Ivy J. Dupre,<br />

Sr., Bert A. LeBoeuf, Charles “Don”<br />

Boudreaux, and Thomas Guidroz.<br />

Below: Arts and crafts made by<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> seniors for sale at<br />

Southland Mall in Houma during<br />

“A Day at <strong>the</strong> Mall” fundraising event.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 9 5


Senior Art Exhibit and Social held at<br />

<strong>the</strong> Southdown Plantation Museum in<br />

Houma, Louisiana.<br />

Senior Olympic Games were held at each<br />

senior center (Chauvin, Neal Ransonet, Shady<br />

Acres, and Bayou Towers.) Those winning in<br />

<strong>the</strong> local level automatically represented<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> at <strong>the</strong> State Senior Olympics.<br />

Today, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> seniors continue to participate<br />

in local, regional and state levels.<br />

In 1991, Edmonson was hired as <strong>the</strong><br />

agency’s special events coordinator in charge <strong>of</strong><br />

public relations. It was in this capacity that<br />

Edmonson started to host “BIGWHEELS”—a<br />

community awareness program involving <strong>the</strong><br />

“BIGWHEELS” <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> community: members <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> clergy, elected <strong>of</strong>ficials, business and civic<br />

leaders, housewives and citizens who are<br />

interested in <strong>the</strong> issues concerning <strong>the</strong> elderly.<br />

In addition, a month-long art exhibit was<br />

held at <strong>the</strong> Southdown Plantation Museum<br />

showcasing artwork by local seniors.<br />

As a fundraiser, Edmonson also spearheaded<br />

“Porchlight Drive” throughout <strong>the</strong> parish.<br />

Citizens, church members, TCOA board<br />

members and staff walked <strong>the</strong> streets, going<br />

door-to-door to collect cash donations for <strong>the</strong><br />

organization. The drive raised $30,000.<br />

Edmonson has been recognized for many <strong>of</strong><br />

her innovative efforts to raise funds and build<br />

awareness <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> council. She has received such<br />

accolades as <strong>the</strong> Innovation in Programs to<br />

Benefit <strong>the</strong> Elderly Award from Lieutenant<br />

Governor Melinda Schwegmann and <strong>the</strong><br />

Outstanding Leadership in <strong>the</strong> Field <strong>of</strong> Aging<br />

Award from <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Governor’s Office <strong>of</strong><br />

Elderly Affairs. The National Association <strong>of</strong> Area<br />

Agencies on Aging also recognized <strong>the</strong> cooperative<br />

agreement among TCOA, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> Consolidated Government (TPCG) and<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Sheriff’s Office (TPSO),<br />

resulting in TCOA being given <strong>the</strong> exclusive use<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> old <strong>Parish</strong> Jail kitchen for meal preparation.<br />

TCOA provides all raw food products,<br />

deliveries, and <strong>the</strong> services <strong>of</strong> a licensed dietitian.<br />

TPCG provides <strong>the</strong> facility with utilities<br />

and <strong>the</strong> TPSO provides <strong>the</strong> labor necessary to<br />

prepare <strong>the</strong> meals.<br />

Edmonson was recognized locally in 2011<br />

when she received <strong>the</strong> Courier Award for<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s Most Useful Citizen for her<br />

unselfish work and achievement in <strong>the</strong> community.<br />

She was also honored by <strong>the</strong> Louisiana<br />

Emergency Preparedness Association (LEPA)<br />

for her dedicated and outstanding service in<br />

emergency preparedness. This honor stemmed<br />

from <strong>the</strong> hurricane and <strong>the</strong> flooding area<br />

residents experienced in 1992 that displaced<br />

<strong>the</strong> old and <strong>the</strong> young alike. TCOA’s efforts, in<br />

that respect, began with Hurricane Andrew.<br />

TCOA worked with <strong>the</strong> Federal Emergency<br />

Management Agency (FEMA), <strong>the</strong> American<br />

Red Cross, and <strong>the</strong> Mennonites Relief Team<br />

who came to <strong>the</strong> area to assist victims. The<br />

collaboration lasted eighteen months.<br />

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated<br />

<strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn Louisiana coast, <strong>the</strong> council again<br />

helped <strong>the</strong> communities <strong>of</strong> Lafourche and<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>. The two parishes received an<br />

9 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


abundance <strong>of</strong> in-kind donations, but had no<br />

place to store <strong>the</strong> goods. The James Buquet<br />

Family <strong>of</strong> Houma generously loaned <strong>the</strong> use <strong>of</strong><br />

a warehouse to <strong>the</strong> council for one year in<br />

order to house <strong>the</strong> relief goods donated for<br />

<strong>the</strong> storm victims. Since <strong>the</strong>n, <strong>the</strong> TCOA had<br />

built a 29,000 square foot, two-story building<br />

as a warehouse for <strong>the</strong> storage <strong>of</strong> donated<br />

equipment and supplies.<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Council on Aging’s transportation<br />

fleet travels approximately 2,000 miles per<br />

weekday and averages 500 miles on Saturday<br />

and holidays. TCOA’s Transportation service<br />

includes medical, nutritional, and rural. In<br />

FY 2015, TCOA delivered and served more than<br />

193,000 meals to 1,663 unduplicated clients.<br />

By July 2015, <strong>the</strong> start <strong>of</strong> FY 2016, personal<br />

care, homemaker, and respite services were<br />

expanded. Personal care was increased from two<br />

to three times per week; homemaker from twice<br />

per month to once a week; and respite care from<br />

eight hours per month to eight hours per week.<br />

In 2010, TCOA, in partnership with <strong>the</strong><br />

Housing and Urban Development, addressed<br />

<strong>the</strong> shortage <strong>of</strong> subsidized housing for lowincome<br />

seniors by building a fifty unit, twostory<br />

apartment complex. The Shady Lane<br />

Apartments stays full and has kept a waiting list<br />

since it opened its doors.<br />

Things are always changing, and it is Ms.<br />

Edmonson’s goal to stay abreast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> changing<br />

times by providing new and innovative programs<br />

and services, as needs arise. Strong interagency<br />

coalitions and strong community relations are<br />

needed to stay on <strong>the</strong> cutting edge <strong>of</strong> progress.<br />

As an agency, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Council on Aging<br />

strives to streng<strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong> fabric <strong>of</strong> care and affirm<br />

<strong>the</strong> dignity <strong>of</strong> growing old by taking <strong>the</strong> role <strong>of</strong><br />

caregiver to those who are in <strong>the</strong> late stages <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir journey in life. TCOA is able to be true to<br />

its mission not only because <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> many partnerships<br />

it developed within <strong>the</strong> community, but<br />

most <strong>of</strong> all, because <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> generosity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> great<br />

people <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>, <strong>the</strong> “<strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong>” <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

<br />

Above: TCOA’s Senior Park and<br />

Gardens located behind <strong>the</strong> Shady<br />

Acres Senior Center on West Main<br />

Street, Houma, Louisiana.<br />

Below: Exterior and interior views <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Council on Aging’s<br />

29,000 square foot warehouse building.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 9 7


TERREBONNE<br />

LEVEE &<br />

CONSERVATION<br />

DISTRICT<br />

<br />

Above: Numbered floodgate map.<br />

Below: HNC Floodgate levees.<br />

A major element <strong>of</strong> Louisiana’s history<br />

concerns its peoples’ battle for survival against<br />

storms and tides in a region suffering one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

worst rates <strong>of</strong> wetland losses in <strong>the</strong> world. In<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, a major hurricane is not<br />

required for devastating flooding to occur; a<br />

strong south wind and a high tide are sometimes<br />

all it takes. “The positioning <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong>,<br />

Houma, and <strong>the</strong> rural "bayou" communities to<br />

areas <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Gulf Coast put residents at a<br />

disadvantage,” explains Reggie Dupre, director<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> agency that is building <strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s<br />

first line <strong>of</strong> defense, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Levee &<br />

Conservation District. “The State <strong>of</strong> Louisiana<br />

began long ago to turn that around, by<br />

establishing a special government entity that<br />

would have <strong>the</strong> responsibility <strong>of</strong> building levees,<br />

floodgates, and o<strong>the</strong>r structures to protect<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong>'s citizens from tidal flooding.”<br />

A tipping point <strong>of</strong> nationwide understanding<br />

<strong>of</strong> Louisiana’s vulnerability came in 2005 when<br />

Hurricane Katrina and related events claimed<br />

as many as 1,500 Gulf lives. But that was old<br />

news to residents <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Cajun Coast in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. “We were well aware, even<br />

before Katrina, that our area on <strong>the</strong> Gulf Coast<br />

is more susceptible to flooding,” says Dupre,<br />

noting that a 1985 Category One storm—far<br />

below <strong>the</strong> power <strong>of</strong> Katrina—was a local<br />

benchmark. “Hurricane Juan was <strong>the</strong> eye<br />

9 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


opener, and helped us realize we needed a more<br />

comprehensive approach to our flood protection<br />

needs,” Dupre explains.<br />

The local parish government had built levees<br />

and managed drainage projects before <strong>the</strong>n; but,<br />

in 1986 <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Legislature created <strong>the</strong><br />

South <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Tidewater Management and<br />

Conservation District, to more thoroughly meet<br />

wea<strong>the</strong>r challenges. A similar agency, <strong>the</strong> North<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Drainage and Conservation District,<br />

was created in 1988 to manage affairs in <strong>the</strong><br />

parish’s upper region. By 1997 <strong>the</strong> need for a<br />

unified, <strong>Parish</strong>-wide entity was realized, and<br />

through ano<strong>the</strong>r act <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> legislature <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Levee & Conservation District<br />

(TLCD) was created. The district is authorized<br />

to establish, construct, operate, and maintain<br />

flood control works relating to hurricane<br />

protection, tidewater flooding, saltwater<br />

intrusion, and conservation.<br />

New scientific data coupled with lessons<br />

learned through each storm season and from<br />

flood events were used to sculpt a proactive<br />

strategy and raise public awareness. The main<br />

goal <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> levee district—in concert with <strong>the</strong><br />

Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration<br />

Authority—as advocacy <strong>of</strong> federal construction<br />

and funding <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Morganza to <strong>the</strong> Gulf<br />

Hurricane Risk Reduction Project, a series <strong>of</strong><br />

levees and flood-control structures that would<br />

meet rising waters head-on.<br />

The district is governed by a nine-member<br />

board <strong>of</strong> commissioners appointed by <strong>the</strong><br />

governor, who receives nominations from local<br />

state legislators, <strong>the</strong> parish president, and o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

organizations. The TLCD annually collects 4.89<br />

mils worth <strong>of</strong> property taxes, amounting to<br />

about four and a half million dollars, to fund its<br />

operations and maintenance. In 2001 voters<br />

authorized a one-quarter percent sales tax,<br />

which currently generates approximately six<br />

million dollars in annual revenues, specifically<br />

dedicated to construction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Morganza<br />

project. “Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008<br />

added to <strong>the</strong> devastation and we knew<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> could no longer wait for <strong>the</strong><br />

federal government to save us,” said Anthony<br />

"Tony" Alford, president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TLCD Board.<br />

The message was not lost on <strong>Terrebonne</strong>’s<br />

voters, who in 2012 approved an additional<br />

one-half percent sales tax, generating<br />

approximate $12 million for Morganza<br />

construction projects. Bonds sold on <strong>the</strong> basis <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> sales tax revenue measures yielded<br />

approximately $150 million to quickly advance<br />

critical levee and floodgate projects.<br />

After a twenty-two year Federal study, U. S.<br />

Congress did authorize a ninety-eight mile,<br />

$10.3 billion Federal Morganza-to-<strong>the</strong>-<br />

Gulf project in 2014; however, no federal<br />

construction dollars have been appropriated for<br />

it. The levee district, in conjunction with state<br />

and local leaders, began to build a network <strong>of</strong><br />

levees and floodgates along <strong>the</strong> Morganza<br />

alignment with only state and local funding. As<br />

<strong>of</strong> 2015, over thirty-five miles <strong>of</strong> new levees<br />

were completed or under construction. The new<br />

floodgates, all key components <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> system,<br />

include <strong>the</strong> Bush Canal “Willis J. Henry”<br />

floodgate, <strong>the</strong> Placid Canal Structure, Bayou<br />

Grand Caillou Floodgate, Bayou Petit Caillou<br />

Floodgate, and <strong>the</strong> Pointe-aux-Chenes<br />

floodgate, scheduled for completion in 2017.<br />

The “Crown Jewel” <strong>of</strong> TLCD’s recently<br />

completed floodgates is <strong>the</strong> Houma Navigation<br />

Canal “Bubba Dove” Floodgate. The “Bubba<br />

Dove” gate allows TLCD to close this federal<br />

canal that acts as a flood funnel from <strong>the</strong> Gulf to<br />

downtown Houma.<br />

Recently, <strong>the</strong> South Lafourche Levee District<br />

(SLLD) has begun <strong>the</strong> design and construction<br />

<strong>of</strong> portions <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Morganza alignment in<br />

Lafourche <strong>Parish</strong>. Approximately thirty miles <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Morganza project falls in Lafourche <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

Windell Curole, <strong>the</strong> general manager <strong>of</strong> SLLD<br />

stated, “Flood waters do not stop at political<br />

boundaries.” The Morganza project will protect<br />

approximately 200,000 citizens in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

and Lafourche <strong>Parish</strong>es, including <strong>the</strong> entirety<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Houma.<br />

<br />

Above: Mitigation terraces.<br />

Below: Boudreaux Canal.<br />

Bottom: Reach J1.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 9 9


Above: Bubba Dove HNC.<br />

Below: Rendition <strong>of</strong> HNC Lock.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> future, construction will move forward,<br />

with <strong>the</strong> levee district poised to build one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

largest-ever environmental protection projects in<br />

<strong>the</strong> nation, a navigable lock complex on <strong>the</strong><br />

Houma Navigation Canal that will help nourish<br />

fragile wetlands with fresh water and<br />

accommodate heavy marine traffic related to <strong>the</strong><br />

seafood and oil and gas industries, while<br />

increasing <strong>the</strong> efficiency <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r flood control<br />

structures. The lock system is envisioned as a<br />

major engineering accomplishment, making <strong>the</strong><br />

region a leader for o<strong>the</strong>r communities within<br />

Louisiana and beyond its borders. “Our goal is<br />

continued design and perfection <strong>of</strong> what we hope<br />

will be a completed federally authorized and<br />

funded hurricane risk reduction project,” says<br />

Dupre. “It is our hope that this will afford our<br />

children, grandchildren, and all future<br />

generations to continue living and thriving in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Earth</strong>.”<br />

1 0 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


TLCD<br />

BOARD OF<br />

COMMISSIONERS<br />

<br />

Above, left: The 2015 <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Levee & Conservation<br />

District’s boardmembers.<br />

Below: TLCD’s Executive Director,<br />

Reggie Dupre.<br />

The <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Levee & Conservation<br />

District’s nine commissioners, appointed by <strong>the</strong><br />

governor, from nominations from local<br />

legislators, <strong>the</strong> parish president and civic<br />

organizations, share <strong>the</strong>ir individual and unique<br />

expertise relative to its flood and hurricane<br />

protection mission. Their knowledge includes<br />

identification <strong>of</strong> areas at high risk, and <strong>the</strong><br />

interaction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> area’s fragile lands with tides<br />

and heavy rains. Once that identification is made<br />

<strong>the</strong> commission is in a proper position to oversee<br />

<strong>the</strong> building and maintenance <strong>of</strong> levees and flood<br />

control structures that protect people and <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

property, natural resources, industry and wildlife.<br />

Anthony “Tony” Alford has served as<br />

president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TLCD board for more than<br />

twelve years. During his tenure, <strong>the</strong> District has<br />

made significant progress in providing<br />

hurricane protection to <strong>the</strong> citizens <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. O<strong>the</strong>r 2015 board members,<br />

who provide invaluable experience to <strong>the</strong><br />

district’s efforts, are Vice President Leward “Sou”<br />

Henry; Carl Chauvin; Walton “Buddy” Daisy;<br />

Darrin Guidry; Steven Ledet; Jack Moore;<br />

Howard Pinkston; and Lee Shaffer.<br />

During nearly fourteen years in <strong>the</strong> Louisiana<br />

legislature (1996-2009), as a state representative<br />

and <strong>the</strong>n a senator, Reggie Dupre became a<br />

recognized leader in <strong>the</strong> fields <strong>of</strong> coastal<br />

protection and restoration, developing laws and<br />

practices that still impact <strong>the</strong> state’s fight against<br />

erosion and storms today. His most notable<br />

legislative achievements are <strong>the</strong> creation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Louisiana Coastal Protection & Restoration<br />

Authority (CPRA) and amending <strong>the</strong> State<br />

Constitution dedicating 100 percent <strong>of</strong> all<br />

<strong>of</strong>fshore oil and gas revenues to coastal projects.<br />

A native <strong>of</strong> Pointe-aux-Chenes, Dupre has<br />

been a public servant most <strong>of</strong> his life, serving as<br />

a deputy sheriff and a member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

Council. In 2009 he resigned from <strong>the</strong> senate to<br />

take <strong>the</strong> reins <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Levee &<br />

Conservation District, using his networking<br />

skills and knowledge base to bring <strong>the</strong> parish’s<br />

flood protection program to <strong>the</strong> highest level<br />

ever achieved.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 0 1


TERREBONNE<br />

PARISH PUBLIC<br />

SCHOOLS<br />

<br />

Above: Students having lunch at <strong>the</strong><br />

Schriever School kitchen, c. 1949.<br />

Below: Houma Junior High School’s<br />

front yard is covered with a scrap pile<br />

as students collect for Uncle Sam’s<br />

War Bond, c. 1942.<br />

Imagine <strong>the</strong> schools <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 1800s. They were<br />

few and far between; and those that did exist<br />

were sometimes difficult to reach by horseback<br />

or because <strong>of</strong> family situations. Wea<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

took precedence. <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, Louisiana,<br />

was no different.<br />

In 1822, <strong>the</strong> first five persons were appointed<br />

to <strong>the</strong> parish school board. Among <strong>the</strong>m were<br />

Francis Guyal, William Watkins, Henry S.<br />

Thibodaux, Leufroy Barras, and Henry M.<br />

Thibodeaux. A school was built on <strong>the</strong> block<br />

behind <strong>the</strong> courthouse in <strong>the</strong> early 1940s by<br />

Alex McMaster. An ordinance was passed to<br />

allow <strong>the</strong> police jury to donate land on which to<br />

build a school in 1855 behind <strong>the</strong> courthouse<br />

and donate to <strong>the</strong> directors <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Fourth School<br />

District. An 1849 issue <strong>of</strong> DeBow’s Review made<br />

mention <strong>of</strong> a large brick school house in Houma;<br />

a red brick structure about 30 feet by 60 feet<br />

wide. The columned front faced Church Street;<br />

and an addition was later added to <strong>the</strong> rear <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

building, and painted red. In 1851, <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> had thirteen public schools, along with a<br />

free school in Houma that was “well patronized.”<br />

All <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se were elementary schools.<br />

The Civil War and <strong>the</strong> Constitutional<br />

Convention <strong>of</strong> 1868 changed education for<br />

<strong>the</strong> better by passing an article stating that<br />

students would be admitted to classes, “Without<br />

distinction <strong>of</strong> race, color, or previous<br />

conditions.” During this era, <strong>the</strong> white<br />

population objected to mixed races in <strong>the</strong><br />

schools and <strong>of</strong>ten kept <strong>the</strong>ir children home.<br />

In 1898, <strong>the</strong> High School Auxiliary and High<br />

School Association were formed to promote<br />

a high school for <strong>the</strong> parish. Prior to that, <strong>the</strong><br />

fire hall was used for older students, however,<br />

<strong>the</strong> twentieth century ushered in Superintendent<br />

W. P. Tucker, who brought in Moise<br />

Levy who taught math and served un<strong>of</strong>ficially<br />

as assistant principal.<br />

By 1908, <strong>the</strong> High School Auxiliary had<br />

one student to graduate: Jennie Klingman. She<br />

would go on to attend <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Normal<br />

School where she graduated and <strong>the</strong>n returned<br />

to Houma to teach primary grammar and also<br />

some high school courses.<br />

On July 7, 1908, bids were invited for a new<br />

building. A contract was subsequently awarded<br />

1 0 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


and when <strong>the</strong> building was finished, it was<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficially named <strong>Terrebonne</strong> High School.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>r early schools began to grow in student<br />

attendance, as well as construction, as it<br />

was noted that large schools were capable<br />

<strong>of</strong> handling more students. Sports (namely<br />

football) were introduced in 1914. The High<br />

School consisted <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> eighth through <strong>the</strong><br />

twelfth grades.<br />

An interesting feature <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> school system<br />

was its high centralization. This brought all students<br />

in <strong>the</strong> parish many advantages <strong>of</strong> larger<br />

schools; and to <strong>the</strong> community, an economical<br />

investment in education. Consolidation depended<br />

on transportation. In 1908, and for years<br />

after, some pupils in <strong>the</strong> parish had to be<br />

transported by boat because <strong>Terrebonne</strong> was,<br />

and still is, “Bayou Country.” The first <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

consolidation took place in 1910-1911. In<br />

that school year, four transfers were put into<br />

operation and an era <strong>of</strong> consolidation took<br />

place. By 1952, thirty-two transfers were in<br />

place with 1,000 students benefiting.<br />

The school still grew even though a lot <strong>of</strong><br />

materials had first dibs by <strong>the</strong> U.S. Military<br />

during WWI. Students helped collect scrap<br />

for <strong>the</strong> war cause. A year before <strong>the</strong> new<br />

school was built, <strong>the</strong>re were 758 students at<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> High School. When <strong>the</strong> building<br />

was completed, 149 more high school students<br />

(from <strong>the</strong> country) could be accommodated.<br />

When oil was discovered in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> in 1929, <strong>the</strong> school system realized that<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r large school was needed. In 1934 land<br />

was purchased to add to <strong>the</strong> many segregated<br />

two and four room schools.<br />

A lot <strong>of</strong> educational facilities and rules<br />

have changed since that time. In <strong>the</strong> early<br />

1970s, desegregation was implemented, and<br />

importance was placed on studies like math,<br />

science, and technology, to name a few.<br />

As <strong>of</strong> 2015, nineteen elementary schools<br />

boast an enrollment <strong>of</strong> 8,208 students; six<br />

middle schools with 2,275 students; three junior<br />

high schools with 2,170 students; and four high<br />

schools with a combined 4,486 students.<br />

The district also boasts one career and<br />

technical high school with approximately 650<br />

students who are enrolled in one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> high<br />

<br />

Above: Lacache Middle School<br />

in its final days <strong>of</strong> construction.<br />

D. D. Pittman Construction Company<br />

completed <strong>the</strong> school in late 1948.<br />

The company also built West Park<br />

Elementary and Schriever Elementary<br />

Schools using <strong>the</strong> same building plan.<br />

Below: The Gray Colored School on<br />

Highway 69 was located about eight<br />

miles from Houma. The picture shows<br />

children preparing <strong>the</strong> flowerbeds for<br />

<strong>the</strong> school’s opening. Doretha Pharr<br />

was principal.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 0 3


Above: The Board <strong>of</strong> School Directors,<br />

c. 1934, from left to right, in <strong>the</strong><br />

front row: President A. R. Viguerie;<br />

Superintendent H. L. Bourgeois;<br />

E. L. Theriot, Edescar Boudreaux,<br />

Julius Dupont, H. C. Kellis,<br />

Elliot Jones and H. P. St. Martin.<br />

Second row: Thomas Bernard,<br />

Sidney Breaux, Joseph G. LeCompte<br />

and Milka Pellegrin.<br />

Below: Grand Caillou Middle School<br />

was completed in 2014 to allow <strong>the</strong><br />

elementary school to take over its<br />

former location. The transition was<br />

a result <strong>of</strong> hurricane damage that<br />

destroyed <strong>the</strong> original site <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

elementary school.<br />

schools previously mentioned, but transfer<br />

to this school for part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> day’s lessons. There<br />

is one alternative school with a fluctuating<br />

number <strong>of</strong> students and a school for exceptional<br />

children with forty-two students.<br />

Education has come a long way in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. In 2013 a <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong><br />

school was selected to represent <strong>the</strong> state<br />

<strong>of</strong> Louisiana at <strong>the</strong> National Title one I<br />

Conference. Gibson Elementary School was<br />

chosen because <strong>of</strong> increases in <strong>the</strong> performance<br />

<strong>of</strong> students with disabilities; and increases in<br />

student performance <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> economically<br />

disadvantaged subgroup; and <strong>the</strong>y also had a<br />

School Performance Score gain <strong>of</strong> ten points.<br />

Pointe-aux-Chenes Elementary School was<br />

also recognized nationally. The school received<br />

one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> top honors in <strong>the</strong> nation when it<br />

was named a “2015 Blue Ribbon School <strong>of</strong><br />

Excellence.” The school, located in sou<strong>the</strong>rn<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>, was one <strong>of</strong> only six schools<br />

in Louisiana to win <strong>the</strong> award. The school won<br />

<strong>the</strong> award because <strong>the</strong> data showed substantial<br />

progress in closing <strong>the</strong> achievement gap<br />

between all students.<br />

The school district has grown to fit <strong>the</strong><br />

needs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> citizens <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

In 2015, <strong>the</strong>re were approximately 2,220<br />

employees that reported to work each day<br />

as administrators, instructional specialists,<br />

teachers, para-pr<strong>of</strong>essionals and support staff,<br />

as well as employees in departments such as<br />

clerical, maintenance, transportation, food<br />

services, and auxiliary services.<br />

All thirty-six <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Public<br />

Schools are governed from <strong>the</strong> main School<br />

Board Office at 201 Stadium Drive in Houma,<br />

Louisiana. Federal Programs and Special<br />

Education services are located at 7573 West<br />

Park Avenue in Houma, Louisiana.<br />

1 0 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Government started to take<br />

shape in 1822 with <strong>the</strong> first president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Police Jury, Judge Francis M. Guyol, when <strong>the</strong><br />

seat <strong>of</strong> government was located in Williamsburg<br />

(now Bayou Cane). Once <strong>the</strong> City <strong>of</strong> Houma<br />

was incorporated in 1848, government <strong>of</strong>ficials<br />

moved <strong>the</strong>ir operations to <strong>the</strong> area that is now<br />

downtown Houma. It is in this area where we<br />

see many streets taking <strong>the</strong> name <strong>of</strong> those very<br />

government <strong>of</strong>ficials and town leaders that<br />

were planning out a hopeful community, such<br />

as F. S. <strong>Good</strong>e, once mayor <strong>of</strong> Houma.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> oil and gas in<br />

<strong>the</strong> 1900s, it brought a boom <strong>of</strong> economic<br />

development to <strong>the</strong> area, which would allow<br />

government <strong>of</strong>ficials to expand its services to a<br />

thriving community. This would continue with<br />

<strong>the</strong> discovery <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore oil <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> and its abundant seafood industry.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> early 1980s, government <strong>of</strong>ficials<br />

moved <strong>the</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> from a Police Jury form <strong>of</strong> government<br />

to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Consolidated<br />

Government, with Edward “Bubby” Lyons as <strong>the</strong><br />

first parish president. Since that time, <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

has transitioned with <strong>the</strong> times and proves to be<br />

a progressive government. Through 2015, under<br />

<strong>Parish</strong> President Michel Claudet’s administration,<br />

government <strong>of</strong>ficials have taken <strong>the</strong> experience<br />

and advancement <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir predecessors and propelled<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> into a new age <strong>of</strong> infrastructure<br />

advancements and quality <strong>of</strong> life projects.<br />

Today, <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>of</strong>ficials face challenges<br />

<strong>of</strong> a seemingly unstoppable encroachment <strong>of</strong><br />

water upon its wetlands and communities,<br />

causing its leaders to be creative in tackling<br />

<strong>the</strong>se issues <strong>of</strong> surge and inland flooding.<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> leaders have responded to residents’<br />

demands <strong>of</strong> quality <strong>of</strong> life improvements<br />

by adding bike lanes, <strong>of</strong>f-road trails, <strong>the</strong> Bayou<br />

Country Sports and Recreation Complex, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> Fireman’s Skate Park. It takes a team effort<br />

to push a community forward, so government<br />

leaders have collaborated with local agencies<br />

such as <strong>the</strong> Houma Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce,<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Economic Development Authority,<br />

Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau,<br />

and <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> Levee & Conservation<br />

District to formulate cohesive plans for tackling<br />

some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>’s most challenging issues.<br />

The future looks bright for <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

As new leaders take <strong>the</strong> helm, <strong>the</strong>y will<br />

continue to face many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se same issues <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir predecessors but will be better equipped<br />

to face <strong>the</strong> challenges ahead due to <strong>the</strong> efforts<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> government leaders <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> past.<br />

TERREBONNE<br />

PARISH<br />

CONSOLIDATED<br />

GOVERNMENT<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 0 5


OCCUPATIONAL<br />

MEDICINE<br />

SERVICES,<br />

LLC<br />

<br />

Above: The Occupational Medicine<br />

Services family.<br />

Below: Pre-employment assessments<br />

include physical measurements for<br />

activities such as lifting.<br />

In 1996, Dr. John Sweeney, an orthopedic<br />

surgeon, felt <strong>the</strong> local industry needed<br />

ergonomic strength and functional testing for<br />

potential employees. Many work-related<br />

injuries were orthopedic in nature; and he<br />

thought if employees were pre-screened<br />

according to <strong>the</strong>ir job descriptions, <strong>the</strong>se<br />

injuries could be avoided. He began<br />

Occupational Medicine Services, LLC (OMS)<br />

with <strong>the</strong> idea that an orthopedic assessment<br />

was key to <strong>the</strong> best pre-employment evaluation.<br />

His experience as a musculoskeletal physician<br />

specialist enabled him to create effective<br />

protocols so that workers’ physical abilities are<br />

matched with <strong>the</strong> job.<br />

OMS is a family-run medical clinic<br />

specializing in occupational medicine and<br />

pre-employment/post-<strong>of</strong>fer testing. It performs<br />

drug and alcohol testing, as well as physicals.<br />

It has earned many certifications in an effort<br />

to provide <strong>the</strong> most comprehensive testing<br />

in <strong>the</strong> industry; CDL, Coast Guard, Dive,<br />

UKOOA, Vanuatu, regular, hazmat, crane<br />

operator, etc. The need for post-<strong>of</strong>fer testing,<br />

physicals and injury care from a clinic that<br />

understands <strong>the</strong> companies’ needs and<br />

requirements in <strong>the</strong> oil industry was<br />

tremendous. Post-<strong>of</strong>fer testing includes x-ray,<br />

pulmonary respirator fit testing, ergonomic<br />

testing based on job descriptions, bloodwork,<br />

electrocardiogram, hearing, etc. The staff can<br />

conduct most testing at clients’ worksites. OMS<br />

<strong>of</strong>fers injury care twenty-four hours a day,<br />

seven days a week.<br />

The success <strong>of</strong> OMS’ ergonomic program led<br />

to <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> a Fitness Factor program.<br />

The program entails going to <strong>the</strong> client’s<br />

worksite to take specific measurements<br />

regarding lifting requirements, noise level<br />

measurements as well as physical requirements<br />

for climbing, stooping, squatting, etc. Once<br />

those measurements are taken, OMS <strong>the</strong>n<br />

creates <strong>the</strong>ir ADA compliant job descriptions.<br />

OMS started with about fifteen employees,<br />

and has more than doubled in size since 1997.<br />

Employee turnover remains low; most have<br />

been with <strong>the</strong> company over five years, many<br />

ten years or more. When OMS was founded,<br />

<strong>the</strong> three Sweeney daughters were in school.<br />

They worked for <strong>the</strong>ir parents during this<br />

time, learning many aspects <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> day-to-day<br />

operations. All went away to college, but<br />

returned to participate in <strong>the</strong> family business as<br />

human resource manager, <strong>of</strong>fice manager and<br />

clinician. One daughter relocated to Houston,<br />

but continues her duties as human resource<br />

manager via <strong>the</strong> Internet. In <strong>the</strong> early days,<br />

after long hours at <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>fice, Mrs. Sweeney<br />

went home to more work, including payroll,<br />

preparing bank deposits, and reviewing data<br />

entry from <strong>the</strong> previous days. Her mo<strong>the</strong>r-in-law<br />

volunteered to take over some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se duties<br />

and continues to do so at ninety-eight years <strong>of</strong><br />

age. Today, <strong>the</strong> company has twenty-six full and<br />

part-time employees.<br />

After Hurricane Katrina hit, Dr. Sweeney was<br />

driving past <strong>the</strong> Houma Civic Center and<br />

stopped to see if he could be <strong>of</strong> assistance at <strong>the</strong><br />

1 0 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Center. He saw an immediate need for medical<br />

volunteers. He called OMS and requested that<br />

<strong>the</strong>y send as many employees and supplies as<br />

<strong>the</strong>y could to help. Over <strong>the</strong> next ten days, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

recruited volunteers, supplies and equipment<br />

to treat <strong>the</strong> many patients <strong>the</strong>re, as well as<br />

hundreds <strong>of</strong> evacuees from New Orleans. A great<br />

community effort brought food, shelter, medical<br />

care and comfort to many people stranded by <strong>the</strong><br />

storm. OMS feels that community involvement is<br />

very important and maintains membership with<br />

<strong>the</strong> South Central Industrial Association. OMS<br />

contributes and participates in <strong>the</strong> Super Cooper<br />

Life Fund, Gibson Head Start, Restore or Retreat,<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Council on Aging, <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

Foundation for Academic Excellence, <strong>the</strong> YMCA,<br />

and Relay for Life. The company is an annual<br />

donor to <strong>the</strong> Children’s Hospital in New Orleans<br />

and St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Tennessee.<br />

OMS began in a medical <strong>of</strong>fice built as a<br />

private residence in <strong>the</strong> 1940s, and was<br />

converted to a medical <strong>of</strong>fice in <strong>the</strong> 1960s. In<br />

1999, 2,000 square feet were added to <strong>the</strong><br />

building; but patients still overflowed onto <strong>the</strong><br />

porch and lawn as <strong>the</strong>y waited to be seen. In<br />

2007, after years <strong>of</strong> planning and designing,<br />

OMS relocated to a 13,000 square foot building<br />

at 144 Valhi Lagoon Crossing in Houma,<br />

enabling it to provide services to hundreds <strong>of</strong><br />

companies from small, locally-owned companies,<br />

to large worldwide organizations.<br />

OMS is true to its original goal: being a onestop-shop<br />

for local industry’s medical needs.<br />

They remain <strong>the</strong> only clinic local industry<br />

should need for its occupational medicine needs.<br />

<br />

Above: Dr. John Sweeney consults<br />

with William Lemaire, FNP,<br />

while reviewing a patient’s x-ray.<br />

Below: Medical staff performing a<br />

pre-employment screening analysis.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 0 7


TERREBONNE<br />

GENERAL<br />

MEDICAL CENTER<br />

<br />

Above: <strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Hospital,<br />

now <strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Medical<br />

Center (TGMC), opened its doors<br />

on July 1, 1954.<br />

Below: For many employees and<br />

physicians, working at TGMC is a<br />

family tradition where multiple<br />

generations are employed. TGMC<br />

dedicated a beautiful oak tree on its<br />

campus as <strong>the</strong> “TGMC Family Tree”<br />

to honor <strong>the</strong> generations who have<br />

rooted <strong>the</strong> hospital in <strong>the</strong> community.<br />

For more than sixty years, <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

General Medical Center has always responded<br />

to <strong>the</strong> ever-changing ways <strong>of</strong> healthcare.<br />

Founded in 1954, <strong>the</strong> Sisters <strong>of</strong> St. Joseph<br />

proudly opened <strong>the</strong> doors <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

General Hospital, with 76 beds, 20 bassinets,<br />

58 employees and 16 physicians whose primary<br />

vision was to provide healthcare services to <strong>the</strong><br />

residents <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Bayou region.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> 1960s, with an increased population,<br />

<strong>the</strong> hospital added more beds and services. This<br />

however, was still not enough for <strong>the</strong> ever<br />

growing population and <strong>the</strong> need for a state-<strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong>-art<br />

hospital was recognized. In 1984 <strong>the</strong><br />

original hospital was purchased from <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> Police Jury, and under <strong>the</strong> new<br />

governance structure <strong>of</strong> an appointed board <strong>of</strong><br />

commissioners, a 328 bed facility was built and<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Medical Center (TGMC)<br />

was opened. Today, through <strong>the</strong> good work <strong>of</strong><br />

many board members over <strong>the</strong> years, TGMC<br />

remains self supported by its own revenues and<br />

does not rely on property or sales tax support.<br />

Throughout its history, TGMC remains<br />

appreciative <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> dedication <strong>of</strong> many physicians<br />

and staff and <strong>the</strong> community’s continuous<br />

support. Many TGMC physicians and staff<br />

have a strong lineage working at TGMC where<br />

generations before <strong>the</strong>m have played a vital role<br />

in healthcare. Multi-generational families <strong>of</strong><br />

healthcare pr<strong>of</strong>essionals have committed lifetime<br />

careers to taking care <strong>of</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>,<br />

several <strong>of</strong> which were TGMC’s founding physicians.<br />

These founding physicians helped open<br />

<strong>the</strong> first community hospital in <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> and brought critical medical services to<br />

<strong>the</strong> area. With <strong>the</strong> support <strong>of</strong> all physicians and<br />

staff, TGMC has significantly expanded medical<br />

services to provide various centers <strong>of</strong> excellence<br />

that best serve <strong>the</strong> local community.<br />

In 1985, TGMC began its cardiology<br />

program. Through <strong>the</strong> years, TGMC and<br />

1 0 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


Cardiovascular Institute <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> South<br />

have partnered by pioneering research<br />

and implementing world-renowned<br />

cardiovascular services that have<br />

been accredited by <strong>the</strong> Society <strong>of</strong><br />

Cardiovascular Patient Care and<br />

received numerous awards from <strong>the</strong><br />

American Heart Association. The<br />

Cardiology Program at TGMC continues to be<br />

progressive and has one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> strongest and<br />

growing structural heart programs in <strong>the</strong> state.<br />

Through <strong>the</strong> vision <strong>of</strong> early physician<br />

founders and <strong>the</strong>ir multi-generational families,<br />

TGMC’s orthopedic specialty has advanced<br />

greatly throughout <strong>the</strong> decades. Today, our<br />

orthopedic surgeons continue to bring progressive<br />

services as well as participate in many preventive<br />

programs sponsored by TGMC as well.<br />

In 2005, through <strong>the</strong> vision <strong>of</strong> TGMC’s<br />

obstetrics and gynecology and neonatologist<br />

specialists and staff, <strong>the</strong> very beautiful Women’s<br />

Health Center opened at TGMC. The internationally<br />

recognized center provides a Level III<br />

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and is<br />

a designated Baby Friendly USA facility. Over<br />

2,000 babies annually are born at TGMC and<br />

we are always honored to be part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> families<br />

<strong>of</strong> our growing community.<br />

In 2009, TGMC partnered with Mary Bird<br />

Perkins to bring extensive cancer services to<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> and in 2011 opened <strong>the</strong><br />

doors to a comprehensive Cancer Center. The<br />

Cancer Center has been recognized for its<br />

excellence and quality with <strong>the</strong> Commission on<br />

Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award and is<br />

<strong>the</strong> only hospital in Louisiana to receive <strong>the</strong><br />

2015 Quality Oncology Practice Initiative<br />

(QOPI) Certification. In addition, TGMC <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

<strong>the</strong> most progressive screening programs in<br />

<strong>the</strong> region. The Early Bird Mobile Medical<br />

Clinic is always out and about in <strong>the</strong> community<br />

working to provide early detection and<br />

prevention <strong>of</strong> this disease.<br />

These and many more services are <strong>of</strong>fered<br />

at TGMC in order to bring our community<br />

<strong>the</strong> best healthcare in our region right here<br />

at home. Focusing on helping <strong>the</strong> community<br />

lead more productive and active lives, TGMC<br />

developed <strong>the</strong> Healthy Lifestyles Center in<br />

2014. TGMC is committed to streng<strong>the</strong>ning <strong>the</strong><br />

health and wellness <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> community through<br />

education, prevention and promotion <strong>of</strong> wellness<br />

and healthcare services and is designated a<br />

Level One Hospital Wellspot by <strong>the</strong> Louisiana<br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Health and Hospitals. “All <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>se services are available to assist our community<br />

reach <strong>the</strong>ir maximum health potential<br />

and become personally accountable for <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

health,” explained Phyllis Peoples, president and<br />

CEO <strong>of</strong> TGMC. “The healthier our residents are<br />

<strong>the</strong> better quality <strong>of</strong> life <strong>the</strong>y are able to have.”<br />

TGMC continuously demonstrates it is a<br />

proven leader in quality, safety and patient<br />

experience which only happens through <strong>the</strong><br />

strength <strong>of</strong> 1,400 employees, over 300 physicians,<br />

34 medical specialties and 7 subspecialties.<br />

In paving <strong>the</strong> way for future healthcare<br />

needs and assuring fur<strong>the</strong>r growth <strong>of</strong> necessary<br />

healthcare services, TGMC continues to partner<br />

with o<strong>the</strong>r strong organizations to create strong<br />

allegiances in <strong>the</strong> constantly changing world<br />

<strong>of</strong> healthcare. As always, TGMC continues to<br />

take a proactive approach to <strong>the</strong> health and<br />

wellness <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> community it serves by providing<br />

exceptional, compassionate care to <strong>the</strong><br />

people <strong>of</strong> Sou<strong>the</strong>ast Louisiana, today, tomorrow<br />

and always. We call it a New Way <strong>of</strong> Health.<br />

<br />

Above: TGMC has grown to<br />

1,400 employees, 300 physicians,<br />

34 medical specialties and<br />

7 subspecialties to meet <strong>the</strong><br />

needs <strong>of</strong> Sou<strong>the</strong>ast Louisiana.<br />

Below: TGMC’s A New Way <strong>of</strong><br />

Health means <strong>of</strong>fering programs such<br />

as Community Sports Institute, which<br />

supports student athletes by providing<br />

education, prevention and care at all<br />

sporting events.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 0 9


HAYDEL<br />

MEDICAL AND<br />

SURGICAL CLINIC<br />

<br />

Above: Dr. Henry Lawrence Haydel.<br />

In June 1929, young physician Henry<br />

Lawrence Haydel moved to Houma after<br />

completing his medical internship at Charity<br />

Hospital in New Orleans. His older bro<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

Paul, had already completed his education and<br />

was working as a pharmacist with Leon Cabrol<br />

in <strong>the</strong> latter’s drug store.<br />

Dr. Haydel opened a medical <strong>of</strong>fice in <strong>the</strong><br />

rear <strong>of</strong> Cabrol’s drug store, a business that Paul<br />

acquired in 1935. After several years and with a<br />

growing practice, Dr. Haydel purchased a house<br />

at 502 Barrow Street and retr<strong>of</strong>itted it into<br />

a clinic and small hospital to serve residents<br />

<strong>of</strong> Houma and <strong>the</strong> <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> areas.<br />

Dr. H. L., as he was known, operated as a solo<br />

practitioner for several years before inviting<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r medical pr<strong>of</strong>essionals into <strong>the</strong> practice<br />

with him. Tenants included dentists, orthodontists,<br />

an orthopedic surgeon, and even a psychiatrist.<br />

Through <strong>the</strong> years, <strong>the</strong> building was<br />

renovated several times and recognized today<br />

as <strong>the</strong> Haydel Medical and Surgical Clinic.<br />

Dr. H. L. was so passionate about his career<br />

that he set up an examination room under <strong>the</strong><br />

carport <strong>of</strong> his Point Street home to accommodate<br />

after-hour and weekend patients.<br />

Many considered Dr. H. L. to be a local pioneer<br />

in <strong>the</strong> field <strong>of</strong> medicine, but he was also a<br />

beloved family man. He and his wife, Judith<br />

Ayme, had eleven children. There were six boys<br />

and five girls, but <strong>the</strong> oldest son, Henry<br />

Lawrence, Jr., (Larry), died accidentally at <strong>the</strong><br />

age <strong>of</strong> four. The remaining children were raised<br />

and educated in <strong>the</strong> Houma-Thibodaux area. As<br />

fate would have it, all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> boys pursued careers<br />

in healthcare while <strong>the</strong> girls became educators.<br />

Dr H. L. always dreamed that his sons would<br />

follow in his footsteps and return to Houma to<br />

practice medicine. His dreams were realized<br />

1 1 0 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


when Dr. K. Gerald (Jerry) became a surgeon;<br />

Dr. Robert D. (Bobby) became a pediatrician;<br />

and Dr. K. Thomas (Tommy) and Dr. Richard M.<br />

(Dicky) both became general practitioners.<br />

Ronald J. (Ronnie) became a pharmacist who<br />

owned and operated his pharmacy directly<br />

across <strong>the</strong> street from <strong>the</strong> clinic. The legacy<br />

continued as three <strong>of</strong> Dr. H. L.’s sons actually<br />

joined <strong>the</strong>ir fa<strong>the</strong>r in practice; Dr. Jerry in<br />

general surgery; and Drs. Tommy and Dicky<br />

as general practitioners. Dr. Bobby would be<br />

right around <strong>the</strong> corner, practicing solo as<br />

a pediatrician.<br />

Dr. H. L. practiced medicine until a few weeks<br />

prior to his death at <strong>the</strong> age <strong>of</strong> seventy-eight.<br />

His sons have carried on <strong>the</strong> family tradition <strong>of</strong><br />

medicine since that time, and now, <strong>the</strong> third and<br />

fourth generations <strong>of</strong> Haydel doctors are following<br />

in his footsteps, as well. Currently, <strong>the</strong>re are<br />

six grandchildren who practice medicine inand-around<br />

<strong>the</strong> Houma area; Dr. K. Gerald, Jr.,<br />

and Dr. Michael in anes<strong>the</strong>siology; Dr. Henry<br />

Lawrence II in orthopedic surgery; Dr. Robert, Jr.,<br />

in allergy/immunology; and Drs. Patrick and<br />

Ronald II as chiropractors. Dr. Scott Haydel,<br />

fourth generation, Dr. Mat<strong>the</strong>w Watkins and<br />

Dr. Lisa Black, all joined Dr. Richard Haydel<br />

at <strong>the</strong> Barrow Street clinic in family medicine,<br />

while Richard, Jr., (Chad) operates <strong>the</strong> business<br />

with a background in healthcare administration.<br />

The Haydel Medical and Surgical Clinic’s<br />

experienced physicians and caring staff seek to be<br />

<strong>the</strong> leader in providing quality, compassionate,<br />

and comprehensive medical care to patients in <strong>the</strong><br />

tri-parish area. It is evident <strong>the</strong>y accomplished<br />

that goal as it has enjoyed a steady, five to ten<br />

percent growth in new patients within <strong>the</strong> past<br />

ten years. Recent changes in healthcare reform<br />

present new challenges; and, Chad hopes to<br />

“wea<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> healthcare storm” by continuing<br />

to provide <strong>the</strong> high-quality healthcare that its<br />

patients have known for generations.<br />

Haydel Medical and Surgical Clinic is a freestanding,<br />

multi-specialty facility housing both a<br />

general surgery and family medicine department.<br />

Ancillary services provided in-house include<br />

laboratory, radiology, minor orthopedic and<br />

surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary testing<br />

(EKG, Holter heart monitoring, stress testing),<br />

bone densitometry, hemodynamic monitoring,<br />

and ultrasound technology.<br />

The clinic boasts seven physicians and<br />

approximately thirty support staff. Patient<br />

volume exceeds 30,000 patients annually.<br />

<br />

Below: H. L. Haydel Medical &<br />

Surgical Clinic, located at<br />

502 Barrow Street in Houma.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 1 1


THIBODAUX<br />

REGIONAL<br />

MEDICAL<br />

CENTER<br />

Thibodaux and <strong>the</strong> surrounding region<br />

are grateful that <strong>the</strong> medical center in <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

hometown is a nationally-recognized leader<br />

for quality care, cost efficiency, innovation,<br />

safety, and outstanding patient experiences.<br />

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center has<br />

numerous industry awards for its care and its<br />

innovative technology—some <strong>of</strong> which is <strong>the</strong><br />

first in <strong>the</strong> region or state.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> early twentieth century, <strong>the</strong>re was no<br />

hospital in Thibodaux, but <strong>the</strong>re was a dream.<br />

Dr. J. L. Danos and <strong>the</strong> Reverend Monsignor<br />

Alexandre Barbier, pastor <strong>of</strong> St. Joseph Catholic<br />

Church, recognized <strong>the</strong> need for adequate<br />

healthcare and set out to do something about<br />

it. When Fanny Knobloch <strong>of</strong>fered her home to<br />

be used as a school, asylum, or hospital, some<br />

residents were against <strong>the</strong> home being used for<br />

such purposes. They agreed that <strong>the</strong>re was a<br />

need; but were against <strong>the</strong> location. Dr. Danos<br />

and <strong>the</strong> Monsignor came up with a new<br />

idea: renovate <strong>the</strong> old church rectory. For<br />

<strong>the</strong> cost <strong>of</strong> $500 in donations, <strong>the</strong> converted<br />

building, on January 19, 1930, became<br />

St. Joseph Hospital—Thibodaux’s first hospital.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>r founders were physicians Theo Beatrous;<br />

Benton Ayo; Leo Kerne; Ruth Danos, nurse;<br />

Sidney Toups, contractor; and Harvey Peltier,<br />

local businessman.<br />

The twenty-six bed facility had a ward for<br />

children, emergency and operating rooms,<br />

and sleeping quarters for nurses. Occupancy<br />

increased along with staff and physicians; and<br />

two wings were added in 1935. St. Joseph<br />

Hospital considered its service to humanity as<br />

a primary reason for its existence. However,<br />

during its twenty-two years in <strong>the</strong> converted<br />

rectory, <strong>the</strong> nurses and staff faced tough odds<br />

in serving <strong>the</strong> sick. Despite <strong>the</strong> odds, <strong>the</strong> quality<br />

<strong>of</strong> service was considered outstanding.<br />

By 1945 a vote <strong>of</strong> approval was given<br />

to build a new facility. Peltier undertook<br />

fundraising efforts, acquired property, and<br />

construction on an all-new hospital got<br />

underway. On January 27, 1953, a new forty<br />

bed facility opened. The Catholic Sisters <strong>of</strong><br />

Mount Carmel were called upon to operate<br />

<strong>the</strong> hospital. Three years later, <strong>the</strong> hospital<br />

had grown again and approval was given from<br />

<strong>the</strong> hospital’s board for an addition and more<br />

beds. Then, in 1961, with Peltier’s assistance,<br />

<strong>the</strong> hospital raised enough money to construct<br />

a two story, sixty bed addition.<br />

In 1967 <strong>the</strong> hospital board initiated <strong>the</strong><br />

formation <strong>of</strong> a hospital service district under <strong>the</strong><br />

Lafourche <strong>Parish</strong> Police Jury as a way to raise<br />

money for an expansion or to construct a new<br />

1 1 2 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


hospital. As plans were underway, <strong>the</strong> hospital<br />

earned accreditation by <strong>the</strong> Joint Commission<br />

for Accreditation <strong>of</strong> Hospitals. In 1971, Joel<br />

Champagne assumed administrative duties. On<br />

April 14, 1975, St. Joseph closed its doors; and<br />

Thibodaux General Hospital, a new 101 bed,<br />

$4.75 million facility opened its doors <strong>the</strong> same<br />

day at 602 North Acadia Road.<br />

The community grew; and with it, <strong>the</strong><br />

hospital. By 1990 <strong>the</strong> now Thibodaux Hospital<br />

and Health Centers had become a 149 bed<br />

facility, serving Thibodaux and surrounding<br />

areas. The medical staff had grown to forty-two.<br />

Greg Stock was <strong>the</strong> new CEO. Plans were<br />

made for more improvements. Along with a<br />

master site facility plan, <strong>the</strong> hospital launched<br />

many new programs and services, and acquired<br />

advanced technology. In 1994 a $3.5 million<br />

Regional Cancer Center was added, as was an<br />

Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. Cardiovascular<br />

surgery was a new service <strong>of</strong>fered in 1995.<br />

A year later, <strong>the</strong> hospital changed its name<br />

to Thibodaux Regional Medical Center to reflect<br />

its growth and expanded areas serviced. It<br />

was no longer a local, rural hospital, but a<br />

state-<strong>of</strong>-<strong>the</strong>-art medical center serving all <strong>the</strong><br />

people <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> region. The hospital continues to<br />

be a healthcare leader with <strong>the</strong> new 242,000<br />

square foot Wellness Center set to open in 2016.<br />

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, with<br />

180 beds now has 1,100 employees on staff.<br />

Its medical staff has grown to more than<br />

250 physicians. It has an annual payroll <strong>of</strong><br />

$74 million; and has a total economic impact<br />

<strong>of</strong> $389 million in <strong>the</strong> community. The medical<br />

center continually is recognized with industry<br />

awards for excellence in patient care, cost<br />

efficiency, and technology.<br />

Thibodaux Regional’s mission is to provide<br />

<strong>the</strong> highest quality, most cost-effective healthcare<br />

services possible to <strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong> Thibodaux and<br />

surrounding areas.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 1 3


HOSPICE OF<br />

SOUTH LOUISIANA<br />

<br />

Above: Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana,<br />

located at 205 Bayou Gardens<br />

Boulevard, Suite E, Houma,<br />

Louisiana 70364.<br />

Below: Left to right, Reverend Ray<br />

Marcel and Deacon Joey Lirette.<br />

Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana (HSL) began as<br />

a labor <strong>of</strong> love for Dottie Landry, a <strong>Terrebonne</strong><br />

<strong>Parish</strong> nurse who was <strong>the</strong> founder <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first<br />

hospice in <strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>.<br />

Landry, a local R. N. and Great 100 Nurse,<br />

opened Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana as a<br />

nonpr<strong>of</strong>it organization in 1988, becoming <strong>the</strong><br />

fifth hospice company in <strong>the</strong> state and<br />

maintained an average census <strong>of</strong> sixty patients.<br />

Dr. Tommy Haydel was <strong>the</strong> first medical director,<br />

followed by Dr. Raul Doria.<br />

The philosophy <strong>of</strong> Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana<br />

was: Every human deserves to live until <strong>the</strong>y die<br />

with dignity and comfort care surrounded by<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir loved ones.<br />

A nonpr<strong>of</strong>it foundation, <strong>the</strong> Foundation for<br />

Health Care Research, was established in 1989<br />

to assist clients with unreimbursed expenses for<br />

patient care needs. Oxygen, pain control, and<br />

medical equipment were non-covered or limited<br />

in coverage by payors. The foundation helped<br />

clients obtain <strong>the</strong> needed items that provided<br />

comfort and relief.<br />

Following fifteen years <strong>of</strong> service and<br />

leadership in state and national healthcare<br />

associations, including serving on <strong>the</strong> Governor’s<br />

Advisory Board for Senior Citizens, Landry<br />

separated from <strong>the</strong> home health and hospice<br />

companies in 2002. Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana<br />

became a locally managed organization again<br />

in 2004 when Stephanie Schedler acquired <strong>the</strong><br />

organization from an investment company<br />

headquartered in Lafayette.<br />

With twenty-five years’ experience in <strong>the</strong><br />

hospice industry, Schedler was <strong>the</strong> ideal person<br />

to assume ownership. Hers has proven to be an<br />

intense, long-lasting love and commitment for<br />

providing top quality care for hospice patients<br />

and <strong>the</strong>ir families. She has been a member <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative<br />

Care Organization for over twenty-four years.<br />

1 1 4 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


She has served as a board member and held<br />

<strong>the</strong> position <strong>of</strong> president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Louisiana-<br />

Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care<br />

organization where she remains active.<br />

Schedler continues to run Hospice <strong>of</strong> South<br />

Louisiana on <strong>the</strong> premise <strong>of</strong> a non-pr<strong>of</strong>it<br />

organization rooted in <strong>the</strong> original philosophy<br />

created by its founder. HSL proudly accepts<br />

referrals without regard to diagnosis, gender, sexual<br />

orientation, national origin, race, creed, disability,<br />

and age, place <strong>of</strong> residence or payor source.<br />

Ashley Tauzin Guidry, R. N., a true Cajun<br />

from Lower Bayou Lafourche, is currently <strong>the</strong><br />

Administrator and Director <strong>of</strong> Nursing. She is<br />

committed to <strong>the</strong> advancement <strong>of</strong> quality hospice<br />

care and is Hospice and Palliative Care Certified<br />

both as an RN and as an Administrator.<br />

Dr. Jules Dupont is <strong>the</strong> current Medical<br />

Director along with Assistant Directors Dr.<br />

Michael Marcello, Dr. Mistie Charlemagne and<br />

Dr. LaSandra Barton.<br />

Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana has been <strong>the</strong><br />

trendsetter for many healthcare options for <strong>the</strong><br />

public for Home Care and Hospice Care in<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. The work <strong>of</strong> this organization<br />

helped prove that infusions and IV pain control<br />

could be safely given at home and as an outpatient,<br />

which predated and led to <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong><br />

local infusion centers. Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana<br />

has had a pr<strong>of</strong>ound impact on <strong>the</strong> community<br />

and has served approximately 5,000 families over<br />

<strong>the</strong> past twenty-eight years. HSL continues to<br />

raise <strong>the</strong> bar by providing Palliative Care Certified<br />

nurses, Oncology Certified nurses and nurses<br />

with many years <strong>of</strong> Critical Care experience. HSL<br />

has progressed with social media to maintain a<br />

constant relationship with <strong>the</strong> community that<br />

serves as both a resource and an extended family<br />

to those in need <strong>of</strong> education and support when<br />

caring for <strong>the</strong>ir terminally ill loved ones.<br />

Approved by Medicare, Medicaid, and most<br />

private insurances, Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana<br />

provides physician’s medical management <strong>of</strong> pain<br />

and symptoms; skilled nursing for appropriate<br />

care, nurses’ aides for personal care needs;<br />

medical social workers for emotional support<br />

and counseling; chaplains for spiritual guidance;<br />

<strong>the</strong>rapy when ordered; twenty-four hour<br />

emergency support, medications related to<br />

symptom management <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> admitting diagnosis;<br />

medical supplies and equipment, bereavement,<br />

and grief support to family members are <strong>of</strong>fered<br />

for one year after a death; and an annual memorial<br />

service for all family members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> deceased<br />

patients within <strong>the</strong> previous year.<br />

Hospice <strong>of</strong> South Louisiana continues to<br />

remain a leader in <strong>the</strong> Hospice industry serving<br />

a fifty-mile radius from its <strong>of</strong>fice location in<br />

Houma, Louisiana. We are Hospice!<br />

<br />

Above: Staff and children<br />

participating in a relay walk<br />

for charity.<br />

Below: Left to right, Founder, Dottie<br />

Landry; Owner, Stephanie Schedler;<br />

Administrator and Director <strong>of</strong><br />

Nursing, Ashley Guidry.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 1 5


FLYNN<br />

CLINIC OF<br />

CHIROPRACTIC<br />

<br />

Above: Raymond Flynn with his<br />

parents, prior to his deployment<br />

to Vietnam.<br />

Below: Dr. Jack Flynn with former<br />

Governor Edwin Edwards.<br />

As a young man returning to Detroit from his<br />

service during World War II, John "Jack" Flynn,<br />

greeted by his mo<strong>the</strong>r, said, "Son, I want you to<br />

consider becoming a chiropractor." Although he<br />

had never heard <strong>of</strong> chiropractic before, he<br />

discovered that, while he was away, his mo<strong>the</strong>r's<br />

disabling headaches had been relieved after<br />

several appointments with a chiropractor.<br />

He followed mom’s advice and moved with his<br />

wife, Pat, and son, Raymond, to Davenport, Iowa,<br />

in 1950. There, he enrolled and spent four years<br />

at Palmer College <strong>of</strong> Chiropractic. Two more<br />

children, Michael and Sharon, were born <strong>the</strong>re;<br />

and, upon graduation <strong>the</strong>y returned to Detroit<br />

where Jeffrey was born. Shortly, <strong>the</strong> Flynn family<br />

packed up <strong>the</strong>ir belongings with a decision to<br />

begin his chiropractic practice in Louisiana.<br />

Louisiana did not have many chiropractors,<br />

as it was one <strong>of</strong> four states in 1954 that had not<br />

yet passed legislative approval. With an adventurous<br />

spirit, full <strong>of</strong> confidence in his skills as a<br />

chiropractor, and seeing opportunity in<br />

Louisiana, <strong>the</strong>y said <strong>the</strong>ir good-byes to family<br />

and friends and departed south.<br />

Chiropractic is an American-born pr<strong>of</strong>ession<br />

dating back to 1895. The first state to license<br />

chiropractors, as part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> healing arts, was<br />

Kansas in 1913. By <strong>the</strong> 1960s, chiropractors were<br />

licensed and regulated in forty-eight states.<br />

Their journey south ended in Houma where<br />

son, Victor, and daughter, Jackie were born. In<br />

1954, Flynn Clinic <strong>of</strong> Chiropractic was established.<br />

Those early years were challenging for Dr.<br />

Flynn and his family. He practiced for twenty<br />

years without a license, <strong>of</strong>ten under duress, until<br />

<strong>the</strong> law was passed in 1974, making Louisiana<br />

<strong>the</strong> last state to license chiropractors. Dr. Jack was<br />

president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> state association that year.<br />

The Flynn Family chiropractic story was<br />

featured in two documentaries–Doctored in 2012<br />

and Undoctored in 2016.<br />

The documentaries cover <strong>the</strong> decade long<br />

legal battle that chiropractors won in 1987<br />

when a Federal Judge found <strong>the</strong> American<br />

Medical Society (AMA) guilty <strong>of</strong> violating <strong>the</strong><br />

Sherman Antitrust Act. Court documents<br />

revealed a strategy in 1963 by a designated<br />

1 1 6 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


committee <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> AMA to “contain and eliminate”<br />

<strong>the</strong> chiropractic pr<strong>of</strong>ession. The chairman <strong>of</strong> this<br />

committee was from New Orleans.<br />

The chiropractic approach to healthcare brings<br />

a focus to whole body structure and function with<br />

an emphasis on movement biomechanics. The<br />

philosophy centers on <strong>the</strong> relationship <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

brain and spine to <strong>the</strong> nervous system. The art is<br />

corrective manual adjustments by hand (or in<br />

some cases instrument assisted devices) to<br />

improve joint motion and effect posture, balance,<br />

and <strong>the</strong> neurological expression <strong>of</strong> pain.<br />

After seven years <strong>of</strong> education to receive<br />

his doctor <strong>of</strong> chiropractic degree, Dr. Mike Flynn<br />

joined his fa<strong>the</strong>r’s practice in 1975. This was one<br />

year after <strong>the</strong> law was passed. Today, he continues<br />

<strong>the</strong> Flynn Clinic <strong>of</strong> Chiropractic tradition,<br />

established by his fa<strong>the</strong>r in 1954, at Holistic<br />

Health Medical Center on Corporate Boulevard.<br />

Dr. Mike is a past state association president,<br />

past president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Louisiana Board <strong>of</strong><br />

Examiners, past Chairman <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Board <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

American Chiropractic Association and past<br />

president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> World Federation <strong>of</strong><br />

Chiropractic, which represents eighty-five<br />

countries where chiropractic is practiced.<br />

In his community, Dr. Mike was elected<br />

president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce in 1998.<br />

He was <strong>the</strong> recipient <strong>of</strong> a Community Activist<br />

Award for his work as chairman <strong>of</strong> a chamber<br />

committee to downsize both <strong>the</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> Council<br />

and School Board from fifteen to nine members.<br />

As chamber president he led actions to promote<br />

national awareness to <strong>the</strong> disappearing coastline<br />

with an SOS (Save Our Soil) campaign, where<br />

thousands <strong>of</strong> local students wrote letters to <strong>the</strong><br />

United States President.<br />

Dr. Mike is a <strong>Parish</strong> Council appointed<br />

member to <strong>the</strong> Library Board <strong>of</strong> Control, a<br />

position he has served for seventeen years.<br />

The Flynn family suffered <strong>the</strong> loss <strong>of</strong> Raymond<br />

in 1964, just shy <strong>of</strong> his twentieth birthday when,<br />

as a helicopter gunner, he became <strong>the</strong> first<br />

Louisiana soldier to be killed in Vietnam.<br />

Dr. Mike's bro<strong>the</strong>r, Victor, is a chiropractor<br />

practicing in New Orleans. Darlene, Dr. Mike’s<br />

wife, is clinic manager and known for having<br />

never met a stranger. The clinic website is<br />

www.drmikeflynn.com.<br />

<br />

Above: Dr. Jack Flynn and his son,<br />

Dr. Mike Flynn.<br />

Below: Dr. Mike and his wife, Darlene.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 1 7


LEONARD J.<br />

CHABERT<br />

MEDICAL<br />

CENTER<br />

<br />

Above: The front <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center.<br />

Below: Dr. Fredrik Jenssen and<br />

medical staff caring for one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

many patients seen daily.<br />

To better serve <strong>the</strong> healthcare needs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

populations <strong>of</strong> a seven <strong>Parish</strong> area, regardless <strong>of</strong><br />

financial support, South Louisiana Medical<br />

Center (SLMC) was created in 1978 by <strong>the</strong><br />

Louisiana Legislature. Senator Leonard Joseph<br />

Chabert championed <strong>the</strong> cause for adequate<br />

healthcare for <strong>the</strong> underserved in <strong>the</strong> region.<br />

Upon Senator Chabert’s death in 1991, his legacy<br />

<strong>of</strong> fighting for <strong>the</strong> medical center was recognized<br />

by having “his hospital” renamed in his honor—<br />

Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center (LJCMC).<br />

In addition to caring for <strong>the</strong> underserved in<br />

<strong>the</strong> region, <strong>the</strong> hospital was established as a<br />

graduate medical teaching facility to provide<br />

clinical training for physicians, nurses and allied<br />

health personnel. In 1978, South Louisiana<br />

Medical Associates (SLMA) was formed as an<br />

extension <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Alton Ochsner Medical<br />

Institution to train residents and provide<br />

physicians for <strong>the</strong> community. SLMA continues<br />

to provide physician support today.<br />

In May 2013 <strong>the</strong> Louisiana State University<br />

(LSU) board <strong>of</strong> supervisors approved <strong>the</strong> cooperative<br />

endeavor between Ochsner Health<br />

System and <strong>Terrebonne</strong> General Medical Center<br />

(TGMC). Ochsner and TGMC worked collaboratively<br />

to develop sustainable solutions to<br />

deliver crucial safety-net services for <strong>the</strong> region<br />

and preserve academic training at LJCMC.<br />

LJCMC is a 156 bed licensed acute care facility<br />

accredited by <strong>the</strong> Joint Commission providing<br />

both primary and secondary levels <strong>of</strong> care.<br />

Inpatient and outpatient services include<br />

radiology, laboratory, emergency medicine,<br />

physical rehabilitation, pediatrics, oncology,<br />

pulmonary/critical care medicine, cardiology,<br />

urology, orthopedics, surgery, and psychiatric<br />

care. These services account for 2,600 inpatient<br />

discharges, 248,000 outpatient tests and<br />

procedures, 120,000 clinic visits, and 34,500<br />

emergency department encounters.<br />

LJCMC’s physician group (SLMA) is<br />

comprised <strong>of</strong> eighty-five providers including<br />

physicians, nurse practitioners, physician<br />

assistants and nurse anes<strong>the</strong>tists. SLMA<br />

physicians span eighteen specialties providing<br />

clinic and hospital services.<br />

Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center continues<br />

its long tradition as a safety-net provider for<br />

<strong>the</strong> underserved in <strong>the</strong> region while achieving<br />

unprecedented access, service, and quality <strong>of</strong><br />

care for its patients.<br />

Additional information is available on <strong>the</strong><br />

Internet at www.ochsner.org.<br />

1 1 8 ✦ T E R R E B O N N E P A R I S H : S t o r i e s o f t h e G o o d E a r t h


CARDIOVASCULAR<br />

INSTITUTE OF<br />

THE SOUTH<br />

Cardiovascular Institute <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> South (CIS) is<br />

one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nation's most respected groups <strong>of</strong><br />

cardiologists representing nearly every specialty<br />

in heart and vascular medicine. CIS began in<br />

1983 as a one-man practice under <strong>the</strong> leadership<br />

<strong>of</strong> Dr. Craig Walker in Houma, Louisiana.<br />

From <strong>the</strong> beginning, Dr. Walker envisioned <strong>the</strong><br />

institute as a center for <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> new<br />

and improved techniques and technologies for <strong>the</strong><br />

treatment <strong>of</strong> both coronary and peripheral arterial<br />

disease. At <strong>the</strong> time, Houma had one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

highest incidences <strong>of</strong> cardiovascular disease in <strong>the</strong><br />

nation.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> largest single-specialty practice in <strong>the</strong><br />

state, CIS continues to grow and prove its<br />

commitment to bring quality medical services to<br />

<strong>the</strong> region. The institute <strong>of</strong>fers a comprehensive<br />

heart and vascular program with specialized<br />

medical pr<strong>of</strong>essionals trained in nuclear cardiology,<br />

electrophysiology, prevention services, and lipid<br />

management, as well as aneurysm repair and<br />

interventional procedures.<br />

CIS has made significant advancements in<br />

<strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> non-surgical treatments for<br />

peripheral artery disease (PAD). Because <strong>of</strong> Dr.<br />

Walker’s passion and reputation for treating<br />

PAD, CIS has become a leader in <strong>the</strong> field by<br />

using interventional procedures that eliminate<br />

<strong>the</strong> need for amputations.<br />

CIS has received international acclaim<br />

as a leader <strong>of</strong> research and development by<br />

participating in clinical research trials. CIS<br />

physicians serve as clinical investigators for many<br />

new and innovative medical devices and share<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir knowledge by lecturing around <strong>the</strong> country<br />

about <strong>the</strong> latest methods <strong>of</strong> treating both cardiac<br />

and peripheral arterial disease. Dr. Walker’s<br />

commitment to education is <strong>the</strong> reason he c<strong>of</strong>ounded<br />

New Cardiovascular Horizons, <strong>the</strong> largest<br />

conference in <strong>the</strong> nation focused on preventing<br />

amputations and improving treatment for PAD.<br />

The Structural Heart Program at Cardiovascular<br />

Institute <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> South and <strong>Terrebonne</strong> General<br />

Medical Center provides treatments for valve<br />

disorders and structural heart defects. Our team<br />

is comprised <strong>of</strong> interventional cardiologists and<br />

cardiovascular surgeons who use minimallyinvasive<br />

procedures and innovative techniques<br />

to treat life-threatening valve disorders.<br />

Visit www.cardio.com to learn more about<br />

our services and our team.<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E ✦ 1 1 9


ACADIAN<br />

AMBULANCE<br />

<br />

Above: Acadian Ambulance and<br />

Southdown Plantation House in<br />

Houma, c. 1995.<br />

Below: Acadian Ambulance’s model<br />

<strong>of</strong> providing a top-notch ambulance<br />

service funded through private<br />

membership soon spread to<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> and surrounding parishes.<br />

Acadian Ambulance has a rich history with<br />

<strong>Terrebonne</strong> <strong>Parish</strong>. We began service to <strong>the</strong> area<br />

in 1973, only two years after founder Richard<br />

Zuschlag and two o<strong>the</strong>r young entrepreneurs<br />

started a small ambulance service in Lafayette,<br />

Louisiana. The company had very humble<br />

beginnings as Richard and his co-founders<br />

answered calls, drove ambulances, swept <strong>the</strong><br />

headquarters floors, kept books and did<br />

whatever else was necessary to get <strong>the</strong> company<br />

<strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> ground.<br />

Richard remains as <strong>the</strong> chairman & CEO. “Our<br />

ambulance service was supported primarily by<br />

family memberships where residents would pay<br />

an affordable once-a-year fee that would entitle<br />

<strong>the</strong> family to discounted ambulance service as<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten as needed,” he said. “We were determined<br />

to provide <strong>the</strong> best ambulance service possible<br />

and a successful membership program was a<br />

key pa