The history of Krotz Springs, Louisiana (St Landry Parish), begins with the ideas of an entrepreneur from Ohio by the name of Charles William Krotz. Mr. Krotz was a native of Defiance, Ohio. He was a promoter who participated in large land deals in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois in the later part of the nineteenth century.
Around 1900, the Soniat-Loyons tract of land in St. Landry Parish, comprised of about 20,000 acres was made known to Mr. Krotz. Krotz acquired the tract of land around the turn of the century. A sawmill was set up on the bank, then homes were set up around the sawmill. The homes were protected from the Atchafalaya River by the natural banks formed by a silt buildup along the banks.
Oil was another field Krotz became interested in. A wooden rig was begun on the west bank of the river, not far from the present railroad bridge, and now inside the levee. This was one of the earliest wells sunk in Louisiana. The river has since taken over the well, which was then some 400 feet from the riverbank.
Much to their surprise, when the well reached 2400 feet, it blew, not oil, but water. They had struck a highly pressurized artesian well. This water well became the source of water for the community which was growing around the sawmill.
In 1909, the railroad came to this area. A post office was established on 1909. Latinier was chosen as the name for the new community. Also in that same year, the railroad bridge over the Atchafalaya River was finished. The train that came through was nicknamed the “Doodle Bug” because of the yellow color and its front end; it looked like the head of the doodlebug.
The first school was built in 1916 with only had eleven students. Around 1919, the parish Priest from Port Barre would come once a month to minister to the community.
Krotz tried to incorporate Latinier in 1915. He failed and tried again after the school was built.
There was already an incorporated town in Louisiana with the name Latinier, so the community’s name was changed to Krotz Springs in honor of its founder, to eliminate confusion. Krotz Springs was incorporated on January 6, 1917.
The St. Paul Railroad Chapel Car visited Krotz Springs for a week in October, 1917. The St. Paul was the third such chapel car built by the Catholic Church Extension Society. It was dedicated in New Orleans by James Cardinal Gibbons on March 14, 1915. Among those who attended the chapel car were the Artigue family (seven children); Mr. & Mrs. J. R. Evans, Sr.; Lily Ducote, Dennis Ducote, Clea Ducote, the Duplechin boys, and Agenard Duplechin. J. R. and Clotilde Evans had their marriage blessed, and Lily Ducote made her First Holy Communion in the chapel car.
The Diocese of Lafayette was established as an Ecclesiastical See on January 11, 1918.
Rev. Fr. John B. LaChapelle was appointed Administrator of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Port Barre around 1919. As administrator, he negotiated a donation of land for a mission church in Krotz Springs. The Krotz Springs Hotel Co., Ltd., under the presidency of Charles W. Krotz made a donation to the Congregation of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, accepted by Fr. LaChapelle. Alva William Krotz, Charles’s son, notarized the transfer of “About 4 acres of land more or less, being the North part of tract #22, being 146 ft. front on second St. and extending back 1,200 ft. equal width of front in the town of Krotz Springs, St. Landry Parish, La. T-5-S-R-7-E”. The transfer took place on September 23, 1920.
Soon after the transfer, work began on building a chapel. Monies were donated by the Catholic Extension Society in the amount of $1500. Mr. August Beyer and his adopted son, John, built the chapel accepting no fee. Mr. Byer was born in Baden, Germany in 1868. In 1882, he came to the United States where he soon converted to the Catholic Faith. Others who helped build the chapel were Barras, Artigue, and Valin. Wood was hauled from the Waterhouse Sawmill. We know the chapel was built before June, 1921. Helen Barras, born March 2, 1921, was the first person baptized in the new chapel on June 17, 1921.
The mission was named in honor of St. Anthony of Padua who has been known as the patron of lost articles and the poor. St. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal near the end of the twelfth century. Shortly after ordination to the Priesthood, St. Anthony joined the order of the Friars Minor (Franciscans) to devote himself to the spreading the Faith among the African peoples. He also preached in France and Italy and converted heretics. He is known for his sermons and teachings. St. Anthony died at Padua, Italy in 1231.
The first two trustees appointed for the new mission were J. R. Evans, Sr. and Arthur Courville.
The 1920 United State Census for Krotz Springs listed 247 persons.
In October, 1924 Louise Beyer, daughter of August Beyer, entered the sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament. She is presently living at Our Lady of Victory Convent in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She will celebrate her 60th Anniversary in 1984.
The 1927 floods devastated many in Louisiana, including the people of Krotz Springs. Many homes and businesses were destroyed.
Around 1930, an automobile bridge was built over the Atchafalya River. This was Highway 190, a busy east-west passageway across Louisiana.
On August 1, 1929, Fr. J. B. La Chappelle was transferred to Leonville to become their pastor. Rev. Fr. J. D. Morin became the new pastor of Sacred Heart in 1930. It was during his pastorate that the St. Ann Ladies Altar Society was organized, no later than in 1941. They are mentioned in a 1941 yearbook.
Rev. Fr. Eugene LeGros became pastor of Sacred Heart on March 1, 1943. Father Morin Council #3393 of the Knights of Columbus was organized in March 1951. The first Grand Knight was Raoul Meche. Catholic Daughters Court #1593 was instituted on February 10, 1952. The first Grand Regent was Gayle Meche.
Rev. Fr. J. R. Dubac, who had taken Fr. LeGros’s place, was Pastor of Sacred Heart when St. Anthony’s became a separate Parish. St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church was erected as a Parish on January 4, 1958.
Rev. Desire Senneville was appointed the first pastor of the new parish. All properties were officially transferred on March 10, 1959, at the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Congregations of Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Anthony of Padua.
In 1960, twelve certain lots were bought from the Clement Angelle family. Members of the family included Advaline Patin-Angelle, Sidonie Angelle, Rev. Ludon Angelle, Elmire Angelle, Slcidee Angelle, Ophelia Angelle, Odon Angelle and Cecile, Marie Angelle and Palmire, and Norma Marie Angelle (Watson). The final lot was bought on August 24, 1960.
In the early 1960’s, St. St Aloyisius Hall and the Krotz Springs Youth Center were built under the direction of Fr. Senneville. St. Aloyisius is the patron saint for youth and is used now for CCD classes. The youth Center is now called the Senneville Hall.
By July 1967, plans were proposed and revised for the building of a new church. The principle contractor was Fr. Senneville. The architects were D’Avy and Veltin of Opelousas. Records in the parish office show that the members of the building committee included Sidney Guidry, Clovis Meche, Charles Whitfield, Curley Melancon, Tony Collette, Robert Tally, Louis Lacassin, and Sam Morrow. The trustees of the parish were W. B. Evans and M. M. Senette.
Records in the parish office stated that the estimated cost of the church was near $80,000. The Catholic Extension Society donated 10,000 in the name Mr. & Mrs. Frank Lewis. The Bishop and his consultors gave a loan of $35,000 in 1967 and 1968. Our Lady of Seven Dolors in Welch loaned $16,000 on March 10, 1969. The American Bank & Trust of Opelousas loaned $45,000 at 6% interest. Mr. Leland Quedebeaux in 1969 loaned $10,000 with no interest. Another $5,000 was loaned to be collected on demand, by the Diocese with 5% interest. Fr. Desire Senneville loaned the parish $8,000 with no interest.
Construction on the church began in May 1968. The rectory was completed June 1, 1969. The sale of the old rectory took place in 1970.
St. Anthony Church continues to serve the community of Krotz Springs and its surrounding area. The Pastor is assisted by a capable staff and the Parish’s Pastoral Council. Our Parishioners embrace the call of the last few Popes for a new evangelization, seeking to know love, and serve Christ Jesus the Lord, and bring others into communion with His Church.