In 1972, “The Houma Daily Courier” traced the early days of Bayou Black in Terrebonne Parish. It’s an interesting read about dance halls, large families and 5 cent sandwiches.
Founders: The first settlers included Maximan Hebert, Bannon Bonvillain, Harris Bergeron, William “Billy” Antill, Armond “Tema” Thibodaux, Ωzema Blanchard, Pierro (sic) Hebert, Delmar and Emile Breaux and Claiborne Daspit.
Sugar mills: Sugar mills were located at Greenwood, Orange Grove and Argile. Superintendents were Tucker Boudreaux at Greenwood, Clay Jolet at Orange Grove (daughter Minnie became the first lady sugar boiler) and Felix Bonvillain at Argile (where the Ramada Inn is – or was as of 1972).
Syrup mills: Dalmar Breaux operated a mill with his sons in the early 1900s. Belonie Blanchard also owned a mill that he operated with his own sons on his property. Belonie’s son Ellis worked alongside his father until he bought property from Oscar Daspit at Flora plantation and built a home and syrup mill. That mill operated until 1941, when a worker shortage because of the war forced its closure. A third mill was owned by Jules Breaux.
Blacksmiths: Plantations used to have their own blacksmiths who shoed the horses, kept the plows sharp and made sure the tools were in working order. Local blacksmiths included Leo Trahan, Allen Arceneaux and Felix Giroir. Arceneaux also worked with his father as a carpenter building houses, wagons and coffins.
Getting to Gibson: At one time, Bayou Black was just a narrow stream which ended at Magnolia Plantation. A narrow trail through the woods led to Gibson, where folks would get their mail, groceries and freight at the depot.
Dance halls: The oldest dance hall belonged to Rene Hebert. On Saturdays, a rider would mount a horse and ride up and down the bayou inviting people to dance at the hall that night. The hall also hosted weddings, including the marriages of Clay Thibodaux and Volcair Hebert. Rene Hebert and his wife had twin boys: Ramie and Rene. Rene Sr. died in 1916, leaving the running of the dance hall to his wife, who operated it until 1926 or 1927.
Polly: A large boat named Polly visited every year. It was owned by a couple from New York who would throw peppermints and baseballs to people on the banks.
Shopping in Houma: David Giroir piloted a boat that took people to Houma for shopping trips. There was a landing at the foot of Main Street. Sandwiches in town cost five or 10 cents.