St. Joseph Academy
Following the Civil War during Reconstruction, St. Joseph’s Academy, for Colored, (sometimes called St. Joseph Convent or St. Joseph School) was organized in 1874 in Opelousas. The brothers Father Gilbert and Francis Raymond, pioneers in the education of the Negroes of the community, opened the school with the help of the Sisters of the Holy Family, who taught there. In 1874, Mother Mary Josephine Charles, Superior General of the Sisters of the Holy Family, left New Orleans for Opelousas taking Sister Magdalene Alpaugh, Mother Elizabeth Bradley and Sister Cecilia Capla with her. It was a four-day journey by boat and rail. The travelers landed in Washington, St. Landry parish by way of Bayou Courtableau and endured the last few miles in a horse drawn wagon. After they arrived they began almost immediately visiting homes and organizations of instruction classes for adults, not just in Opelousas, but the entire area of St. Landry Parish. They encouraged the parents they met during these visits to send their children to Catholic school. The following week St. Joseph School was opened and Mother Josephine then returned to New Orleans.
Learn more about St. Joseph Academy and education in Opelousas in OPELOUSAS FIRSTS book.
The Evangeline Girls with Sioux Indians in Washington, DC in 1929
Susan Walker Anding proposed the idea to get the Evangeline Girls to help advertise Louisiana to the rest of the United States and boost the Evangeline Park project that she was working towards.
The Evangeline Girls were a group of young South Louisiana beauties dressed in the costumes of the days of Evangeline. The group was the brainchild of Susan, who had them attend various club meetings in Louisiana, go to area fairs and festivals and ride in festival parades, all to promote her projects. She even got them to attend the two national political conventions in 1928, the Republican Convention in Kansas City and the Democratic Convention in Houston, both in June. She created a group called “Sell Louisiana to the Nation Committee,” with her daughter Pearl Anding as the secretary. The above photo shows the Evangeline Girls with the Sioux Indians at the presidential inaugral in March of 1929. The book Opelousas Tales has more on the story of Susan Anding and the Evangeline Girls.
Main Street Opelousas - 1900
This is what is was like on Christmas Eve in downtown Opelousas in 1900. The photo is taken at the corner of Main and Landry streets. To the left is the jewelry store of Charles Ealer, on the corner known as Ealer's Corner. To the right is the Opelousas Drug Store, that was in business as early as the 1830s.
View new historic photos of old Opelousas.
For more historic photos on Opelousas and the area, go to the Opelousas Tales page on Facebook and join the group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1486604228309992/
Sandoz Opera House - 1896
Opelousas had an Opera House as early as the 1840s. Called the Opelousas Varieties, many musical performances, theatrical performances, balls and dances were held at the Varieties, located on the corner of Main and Landry streets. In the later 1870s, the old Varieties building was sold, and a new one constructed in the middle of the west side of the block between Bellevue and Main streets. In the early 1880s, the name was changed to the Opelousas Opera House and later to the Sandoz Opera House.