BLACK TOWNS LOUISIANA
In 1898, Robert "Bob" Celestin, a twenty-five year old man of African and Native American ancestry, and his father-in-law, Bob Creary purchased a large parcel of land. The property was eventually cleared and the settlement of Bobtown was created.
Robert and his wife Betsy had twelve children; nine boys and three girls. After the death of his wife in 1921, Robert partitioned the settlement and gave an equal share to each child. As the children grew up and raised their own families, they assisted each other in building homes and making improvements to the property. The community eventually grew to include a family-owned store, a church and two taverns. There was also a barbershop that was built around a tree, leaving it undisturbed and extending through the roof of the building.
Located an hour’s drive from New Orleans, Bobtown continues today as a quaint community of about twenty-five homes. The original home of Bob Celestin, who died in 1952 at the age of seventy-nine, is being considered for designation as a historic landmark. Most of the Bobtown citizens are direct decedents of the original families, the most legendary being Beatrice "Aunt Lulee" White-Bolden. Aunt Lulee who passed away in 1985, received national attention in 1983 when she registered to vote at the age of 107 years old.
Situated on the Morgan railroad, about six miles above Opelousas, Washington was incorporated in 1830 and had a population of about 1000 people. The town was recognized as a prosperous community which grew to include factories, warehouses, several fine stores and a large cotton and rice shipping business.
Still flourishing into the early 19th century, Washington also had a local newspaper, both a Catholic and a public school and several churches. One of the earliest residents, Antoine Lemel, was reported to be "a rich negro who owned a large tract of land and a great number of slaves."
The town was settled by former enslaved Africans who were granted the land through a "fee-simple title acquired by squatters rights." In this manner, anyone who agreed to improve the property while residing for a specified number of years could attain ownership.
After the Civil War, these individuals mostly from nearby farms, settled on the land and began growing crops and raising cattle. Originally known as Shoats Prairie, Mossville has a current population of 8,000 inhabitants.
The area remained rural until the early 1900s, when the Locke-Moore Company built a sawmill. Lumbering became the major industry and was later joined by sugar refinement.
The greatest period of growth occurred in the 1940s and 1950s, when petrochemical and industrial plants moved into the area. Today, these plants remain the primary source of employment for Mossville residents.
Established in the 1850s and located in an area of rolling clay hills in southwest Winn Parrish, the town was originally a shipping and supply depot for inhabitants of the Red River Valley. In 1900 the town had a population of 416 people and included many prosperous businesses; a telegraph station, several cotton gins, sugar refineries and mercantile establishments.