Mossville History Project


Size: 59 interviews on 77 recordings

Time period covered: 1940s-1990s

Dates of interviews: 2015-2017

Principle Interviewers: Chelsea Arseneault, Jennifer Cramer, Jamie Digilormo, Stephanie Dragoon, Rebecca Cooper, Douglas Mungin, Teresha Ussin, Elizabeth Gelvin, Kathleen Donner

Finding Aids: Abstracts

Audio Availability: MP3

Access Restrictions: See individual abstracts

Description: This project is a collaboration between the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and LSU Libraries to document the history of Mossville, a historic African American community in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. Many Mossville residents today are descendants of families who settled in what was known as "Shoat’s Prairie" until 1916, when it was renamed Mossville after James Moss, a descendant of the original settlers. Many Mossville residents today are descendants of original families, yet they have been largely absent from any written or oral records. Adjacent to Lake Charles, Sulphur, and numerous industries, this community has been the focus of much media attention in relation to environmental justice issues, especially since the ‘90s.

In 2015, Sasol, a chemical company out of South Africa, provided a grant to the Imperial Calcasieu Museum, who partnered with the Center, with the aim to capture, record, preserve, and make available the written and oral history of the people and community of Mossville. By 2017, the majority of Mossville residents relocated due to property buy-outs, and the landscape of the area continues to evolve as the Mossville community members face an uncertain future.

In addition to sharing family histories, interviewees discuss their upbringing, home remedies, the importance of religion, education, and athletics, local leaders and politics, gardening, raising livestock, integration, and what Mossville means to them personally. Other topics discussed include the impact of industrialization, segregation, property buyouts, water contamination, and environmental justice. Most interviewees were raised in Mossville, but several grew up elsewhere and they offer a unique perspective of Mossville’s place in history.

Interview Abstracts

Lenoria Ambrose

Shirley Andrus and Carolyn Marshall

Ronnie Banks

Delma and Christine Bennett

Charlotte Bernard

John Bernard

Helen Bradley

Donald Braxton

George Braxton and Velma Carheel by Doug Mungin

George Braxton and Velma Carheel by Stephanie Dragoon

Joseph and Kathy Charles

Rose Charles (feat. children Joseph, Wayne and Kathy)

Daren Dotson, Sr.

Della Dotson

Barry Edwards

McKenneth Edwards

Dorothy Felix and Evelyn Gasaway Shelton

Kevin Fondel, Sr.

Janie Gardner

Edward Julia Lemelle Gordwin

Mildred Calvin Guidry

Audrey Sims Guillory

Jawanna Mayo Huntsberry

Roger Clay Jackson

Brenda Cole Jones

Mary Jane Jones

Jourdan Family (Emma, Carol, Kathy, Claudia, Preston)

Enola Margaret LaTour-Pitre

Arthur Kenneth Lee by Douglas Mungin

Arthur Kenneth Lee by Chelsea Arseneault

Theresa Lee

Edward Butch Lemelle, Jr

Hal McMillin

Wesley Montgomery

Judy Montgomery-Gauthia by Kathleen Donner

Judy Montgomery-Gauthia by Jamie Digilormo

Judy Montgomery-Gauthia and Elaine Robinson

Julia Paige

Barbara Payne

Joseph Payne

Larry Payne

Vera Payne by Douglas Mungin

Vera Payne by Chelsea Arseneault

Larry and Wilson Payne et al. (Joseph, Larry, Barbara, Wilson)

Morris Prater

Jimmie Lee Williams Riggs

Carolyn Rigmaiden-Frank

Gloria Rogers

Myrtle Marie Rosamore

Patricia Prater Rubit

Evelyn Gasaway Shelton

Huber Smith

Marie Towner and Lenoria Ambrose

Perry Trahan

Rufus Victorian

Haki Vincent

Lillian Washington

LaSalle Williams by Chelsea Arseneault

LaSalle Williams by Stephanie Dragoon

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