A Brief History of New Iberia, Louisiana
Background: Mrs. Gosnell begins keeping the Sabbath
Sometime around 1923, a lady named Mrs. Bringham came into possession of a book, The Marked Bible by Charles L. Taylor. She was impressed with what she read and then passed it on to Rosella Gosnell, who recognized that it contained Bible truth. Rosella began to keep the Sabbath (Larson, 2001).
The Work Begins
In 1931, Elder Ira C. Pound held tent meetings at Bayou Plaquemine. Some who accepted the message had formerly lived at Bayou Chene, and they wanted their friends and relatives to hear the message. This little Bayou Chene settlement was located in the bayou country of south Louisiana between Plaquemine and New Iberia. Elder Pound described this entire country as “a system of deep flowing rivers, bayous, lakes, and islands. There were no roads whatever, all travel being by boat” (Pound, 1941)
Bayou Chene Group Begins
One Sunday in August 1932, one of the new Plaquemine members, William Watson, who was in the business of towing and barge building, heard that Elder Pound had no funds to hold evangelistic meetings. William agreed to convey their equipment to Bayou Chene free of charge (Pound, 1941). He took Elder and Mrs. Ira Pound to Bayou Chene, on a large stern-wheel boat named the Buffalo. A huge tent, church benches, a pulpit, and a piano were the provisions brought by Elder Pound for conducting evangelistic meetings. The boat landed close to a cluster of pecan trees and soon the men began putting up the tent. Woody Larson stood and watched the unloading of the boat but wouldn’t offer to help because it was Sunday. Having no available beds, the Pounds spread their sheets over moss that had been gathered from the nearby trees and that is where they slept each night for six weeks until the close of the meetings. News passed by word-of-mouth from one to the other until all in the village knew about the meetings to be held (Burns, 1970b). When opening night came, motorboats approached the site from the waterways flowing in all directions (Pound, 1941). By the end of the series many believed but only four people were baptized: Julia Case, Florence Crowson, Kate Daigle, and Woodrow Larson, son of Lorena Crowson. A few weeks later six more were baptized: Lorena Crowson; two of her daughters, Alma Crowson and Stella Case; sisters-in-law Pearl Ferguson and Mable Stockstill; and Leona Verrett (Larson, 2001). For four-and-a-half years following these meetings, Sabbath school was held at the home of Mrs. Willie Crowson. Elder Pound left some church benches and the piano for this new company (Burns, 1970b). A small church was built on what may be called “squatter’s” property, and was dedicated on September 13, 1941 (Benton, 1941).
New Iberia Church Organized in 1969
In 1936, the United States government, in an attempt to relieve the flooding problems, built a spillway at Bayou Chene (Larson, 2001). The people living there were relocated so the church was disbanded in 1945 and the little church building was sold to Florence Crowson (Minutes, 1945). Lorena Crowson and her family moved to New Iberia. When they found no church there, Lorena began faithfully gathering the little company together each week to meet in her home (McNabb, 1974). Then, one day they learned of another Adventist in town, Rosella Gosnell, who had been converted by reading The Marked Bible. She became a faithful member of this group. In 1958, this small group of six very earnest believers began saving money toward the erection of a new church building (Stevens, 1958). For twenty-eight years they met in Lorena’s home, but finally in 1966, they were able to purchase a small church at 503 Harriet Street in New Iberia, and remodel it to fit their needs (Wright, 1966; cf. Minutes, 1966). New Iberia was organized as a church on December 20, 1969, with sixteen members, and their church on Harriet Street was dedicated on the same day (Burns, 1969).
A New Church in 1989
In 1988, the New Iberia members began building a new church on a lot they had bought in 1987 on Highway 14. They began worshiping in their new church in December 1988 (Theriot, 1990), but attendance was the highest ever at the dedication of the New Iberia church on April 2, 1994. In just five years the little congregation had completely paid for the project. Three charter members, Alma Crowson, Pearl Ferguson, and Stella Case, burned the mortgage. Alma Crowson who, together with four other members of her family, had been baptized in the early years when the conference president, Elder I. C. Pound, held a tent effort in Bayou Chene, felt like this was a dream come true. “For many years we had no church,” Alma stated. “We met in someone’s home. Later we were able to purchase a small church from another denomination for about $1,500. And now we have our very own church, and it’s all paid for” (Copsey, 1994).
(1945, Jul. 24). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1966, Jan. 23). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
Benton, Roy L. (1941, Oct. 6). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 1, 8.
Burns, Wallace R. (1969, Dec. 13). Ibid., p. 8.
Ibid. (1970a, Feb. 14). p. 8.
Ibid. (1970b, Feb. 28). p. 7
Copsey, David. (1994, Jul. 1). Ibid., p. 5.
Evans, I. M. (1954, Dec. 8). Ibid., p. 3.
Larson, Woodrow and Theriot, Bernice. (2001, Sep. 1). Ibid., p. 10.
McNabb, Keith. (1974, Feb. 9). Ibid., p. 18.
Pound, I. C. (1941, Oct. 13). Ibid., p. 1.
Sanders, F. O. (1949, Jul. 27). Ibid., pp. 2, 3.
Stevens, George S. (1958, Apr. 30). Ibid., p. 10.
Theriot, Bernice. (1990, Mar. 1). Ibid., p. 11.
Wright, O. D. (1966, Mar. 2). Ibid., p. 5.