ABOUT CHURCH POINT
Church Point is located in north Acadia Parish (county), Louisiana. Considered a bedroom community, Church Point (population 4,560) bestows upon its citizens the ambiance and charm of small town living with the convenience and opportunities of its neighboring larger cities, namely Crowley, Opelousas, and Lafayette, all within 20 minutes travel.
"On the Banks of Plaquemine Brulee" (Une histoire de La Pointe de l'Eglise) is a book published on the history of Church Point. Authored by Gene Thibodeaux, the volume details the history of the area from the time when the first settlers built their homes along the banks of Bayou Plaquemine Brulee in the 1770s and continues into the present day.
The book contains over 300 pages, is indexed for easy perusal, and contains 133 vintage photographs of pioneer residents, long-gone buildings, and many of the characters, structures and happenings that made the town once called La Pointe de l'Eglise what it is today. More than 1,500 names are included in the index, and almost everyone with connections to Church Point will find parents or grandparents, cousins, uncles or aunts mentioned in the history.
Church Point has a colorful history. The semi-nomadic Attakapas and Opelousas Indians once camped and hunted in the area, while explorers and Indian traders made periodic visits to the region during the French Colonial era. Frenchmen, Canadians, and Africans established cattle ranches here when Spain ruled Louisiana in the last half of the eighteenth century. These settlers were joined by Acadian refugees, English-Americans, Germans and a few Irish.
Among the early pioneers were the following families: Latiolais, Labbe, Elkins, Olivier, Bellard, Guillory, Matte, Guidry, Malveau, Cormier, Harmon, Doucet, Richard, Lyons, Savoy, Barousse, Colligan, McBride, Thibodeaux, Comeaux, LeBleu, Andrus, Higginbotham, Daigle, Carriere and Leger. By the 1840s, there were enough residents on Bayou Plaquemine for the Jesuit priests to construct a mission chapel here. The point of the bayou where this stood became known as La Pointe de l'Eglise, or in English, Church Point. Until very recently, Church Point's economy was based almost totally on agriculture. By the dawn of the Civil War, the major cash crop was switching from cattle to cotton, and cotton remained king into the 20th century.
The Civil War was a dramatic turning point for Church Point. During the war, Yankee soldiers, Confederate troops and Jayhawker bands ravaged the countryside. In the years following the confrontation, this rural area of small independent farms was transformed into a land of white and black sharecroppers with a few slightly better off landowners. Economic, social and political power was soon transferred from the landowning class to the newly rising merchant class. These business leaders, such as members of the Barousse, David, Daigle, Franques, Guidry, Breaux, and Horecky families wanted the conveniences and services that only a municipality could provide. In 1873, the first post office was established, and the town of Church Point was incorporated in 1899. A school was opened and the Catholic Church became an official parish in 1883 with a resident pastor.
Good and bad times came to the residents of Church Point in the 20th century. An early business boom was followed by the devastation of the Great Depression and the trying times of the Second World War. The boll weevil and low cotton prices brought about a diversification of agriculture with the commercial production of rice and sweet potatoes. Church Point at one time led in the politics of the area. Homer Barousse, Arthur Gardiner and Oscar Guidry were elected into the Louisiana Senate, and Edward Daigle served as a state representative. Mike Scanlan was president of the Acadia Parish Police Jury for most of the many years in which he served in that body. The town benefited greatly by the economic booms brought about by the yam industry in the 1950s and the oil industry in the 1970s, while it suffered grievously in the following market busts for both of these commodities. In 1955, the town was home to a half dozen sweet potato packing houses, fumigation and dehydration plants for the yams, and two canneries. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts wreaked havoc upon the town. The worst flood in Church Point's history inundated the town in 1940 and drowned two residents. Through hard times and good times, Church Point's spicy blend of French, English and African peoples forged a remarkable and unique culture on the banks of Bayou Plaquemine Brulee.
This hardcover book is an excellent evaluation of the town and its residents and is available for $29.50 postpaid. Orders need to be sent directly to Gene Thibodeaux, 528 N. Moss St., Church Point, La. 70525-2126. If ordering by phone (318-684-2134) for pickup, the price is $27.00. This one is a must for the Louisiana collector and for all major genealogical library collections.