Mozella Town History
Courtesy of L'Observateur
| First Published in 'River Current' magazine, January 2000
Mozella is the Angelicized version of “Mosella,” a river in
southern France which flows into Germany. That river was the subject of a
classic Fourth Century Latin poem. “Evening on the Mosella,” by Demicus Magnus
Ausonius, which translates as follows:
“What colour are they now, thy quiet waters?
The evening star has brought the evening light,
And filled the river with the green hillside;
The hill-tops waver in the rippling water,
Trembles the absent vine and swells the grape
In thy clear crystal.”
It’s no surprise, then, that Moselle white German wine comes
from the same area.
In some references, there is noted “Mosella Townsite,” and
in earlier ones, “Mosella Plantation,” between Boutte and Paradis. During 1945
to 1965, it was known as the “Mozella Strip,” a string of nightclubs, bars,
motels and lounges. Its origins go back to the Youngs family, prominent
citizens for several decades in the Boutte/Paradis area.
PHOTO: Hicks Lewis Youngs (Photo courtesy of Rev. Fred Youngs)
Hicks Lewis Youngs and his brother, Elias, were born in New
York City – Hicks in 1832 and Elias in 1836. The family had emigrated from
England in the mid-1700s. Hicks and Elias came to Louisiana in 1851, and Hicks
became the first railroad engineer making the run on the New Orleans and
Opelousas Railroad, predecessor of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, which
still runs thought the area.
He married Melissa Turnage of Springfield, La., apparently
in 1857, and had a son, George, but she dies in 1861.
During the Civil War, he served with the Confederate Navy
and was in charge of a gunboat at Morgan City. He married Isidora Stansbury of Morgan City, but it seems,
died in childbirth in 1862. In 1865, he married Frances “Lizzie” Culpepper of
Mississippi, and they settled in their plantation, raising cotton, sugar cane
and timber for the railroad.
His brother, Elias, joined them as well, along with his wife
Mosella Turnage Youngs from Springfield, La. Mosella was likely the sister of
Melissa Turnage Youngs.
According to Kicks Youngs’ great grandson, the Rev.
Frederick Youngs of Baton Rouge, family traditions was that there was a
falling0out between the brothers, and Elias and Mosella moved to Florida.
Hicks, however, stayed and raised six children. Hicks was
postmaster in Boutte for 16 years, a police juror for 15 years (serving as
president throughout) and a school board member for 25 years.
In addition, he was a parish delegate to the 1898 Louisiana
Constitutional Convention. Hicks Youngs died in 1905. Elias and Mosella Youngs
bother died in 1923.
Public service apparently ran in the blood. Son Luther
Archibald Youngs became a physician and became a prominent citizen in Paradis.
(See Paradis Town History.) Another son, Hicks Jr., born in Mosella in 1867, became
a pharmacist and served two terms as Mayor of Berwick. He died in 1926. His
daughter, Emma, a teacher and distributor of Esso products in her mule-drawn
wagon, married Thomas Sellers Jr., school superintendent.
The earliest landowner maps and record located in the St.
Charles Parish Clerk of Court’s office, an 1856 map of land grants, note that
ownership of the later Mosella Plantation area was a property owner, Joseph
Mariomeaux, who applied on Oct. 15, 1853 for a parent to establish a plantation
in the area. The practice at the time was for plantation establishment as a
business enterprise to be done thought a government patent. A lease for cutting
timber for railroad maintenance is noted with area property owner, Hicks Lewis
However, thought a series of buyouts, it appears that Elias
and Hicks Youngs consolidated the area’s smaller farms into a plantation and
established a sugar mill and cotton gin, called Mosella Plantation.
Mosella Plantation made a good attempt, it seems and lasted
approximately 20 years, before the property was broken up into smaller tracts
though a series of purchases until it went into receivership at the outset of
the Depression. It was sold out of receivership in February 1937 to Allan B.
Crowder for $500, then to Charles Lynn Thompson in May 1941.
PHOTO: "This is a photo of Mosella Plantation, which was located located just west of where I-310 now meets Highway 90 and east of Sellers Pond.
While the old house is long gone, the Youngs Cemetry remains at the site of the Mosella Plantation house, and the property has remained in the family. In 1955 John L. Sellers, son of Thomas B. Sellers and Emma Youngs Sellers, daughter of Hicks L. Youngs and Frances "Lizzie" Culpepper Youngs, built a a house on the property. Phoebe Sellers Cellos, daughter of John L. and Hazel Shadell Sellers, and husband Greg Cellos, have restored the house and currently reside there.
This raises questions as to the receivership history presented. All heirs of Hick L. Youngs inherited sizable tracts of what was Mosella Plantation, much of which remains in the family."
- Greg & Phoebe S. Cellos (Web Audience Contributors)
PHOTO: Charles LeGarde Sr. (Photo courtesy of Charles LeGarde Jr.)
Enter Charles LeGarde, Sr.
According to his son, retired attorney, Charles Jr., (still
a resident of Mozella), “It was a little plantation, about a mile along the
Charles Sr. and his partners, Archille Mongrue and Jack
Pizzolato, bought the site and planned to develop a townsite there.
“He spearheaded the buying, and wanted the part across the
railroad tracks,” Charles Jr. recalled.
“He was a country boy from Lafourche and he was running the
Luling/Hahnville Bank in the mid-1920s. He finished law school and started a
practice in Thibodaux.”
The area purchased for $7,150 included truck farmers,
notable the Puglise family, LeGarde also rented acreage for cattlemen. Cane
farming still continued in the area and, for many years, a “dummy” rail line
transported cane to the sugar mill at Ashton Plantation in Luling.
Charles LaGarde Jr., 78, lives next to Hahnville High
School, with Tiger Drive running alongside the east edge of his property, which
faces U.S. 90. “Highway 90 took 30 feet of my yard when they four-laned it
around 1960.” He recalled.
When he was a 5-year-old child, the family lived in Luling,
and, “One night, Dad got up and showed us the burning of Ellington sugarhouse,”
LeGarde recalled of that 1926 night.
His father later built a second house on River Road in
Luling, which still stands, fronted by the massive LaGarde Oak, a member of the
live Oak Society and one of the largest in the world.
LaGarde graduated from Hahnville High School in 1938. He
earned his bachelor’s degree in prelaw from Loyola University in New Orleans,
but the U.S. Army and World War II beckoned.
He was a member of the Army Air Corps of Engineers, building
airstrips, which took him all over the world in his four years, from Oran in
North Africa to Calcutta, India and Shanghai, China. “I didn’t do any fighting,
but I got a lot of geography,” he recalled.
Meanwhile, after the war, Mozella mushroomed into what might
be called the entertainment capital of the West Bank, with a host of nightclubs,
bars, motels and lounges.
PHOTO: Relic of a bygone era, the Old Betty's Music Box crumbles alongside U.S. Highway 90, a faded memory of bygone days. (L'Observateur Staff Photo)
As Angelo “Buster” Puglise recalled, there were Joe Kadak’s restaurant*; Betty’s Music Box, run by Betty Plazzo (which still stands, next to
McDaniel’s Enterprises); Mike’s Place, operated originally by Like Laque; the
two story Round House Restaurant and Lounge of Frank Matis, the Matchbox of
Jackie DePaul; the Raven, which was started by Joe Puglise as a bait shop and
who later added a night club; the After Hours Bar run by Milton Matherne (which
still stands on the south side of the highway), and Buster’s own The Angel
Motel and Angel Lounge (which was knocked down by 1965’s Hurricane Betsy).
“It was a wide-open little town,” Puglise recalled, though
with very little violence. He did recall, however, when a female armed robber
made her way into a lounge and was shot and killed herself.
“It was never too rowdy,” LaGarde added.
Anna Kadakova Keller, daughter of Joe Kadak, provides more insight into the history of the popular "Joe's Café."
"[Joe Kadak] was European born, and formerly owned a restaurant in Luling. In c.1940-1941, he and my mother bought 30 acres of land in Mozella on Hwy 90, from a Mr. Thompson, and opened their new restaurant there, 'Joe's Café.' [T]here was a bar in the restaurant, but it was primarily a restaurant with private dinning rooms, which became widely known for their food.
During WWII the staff, waitresses and bartenders, were ordered not to charge any customer in uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States for whatever they ordered.
It was a gathering place for the politicians of St. Charles and Louisiana. Daddy was the veterans service officer, co-founder of the American Legion Post in Luling, member of VFW, American Legion District Commander, Liason to the Louisiana Adjutant, served on the staff of LA governors Huey P. and Earl Long, and was a close friend of Gen. Fleming, Commander of the LANG in the 1950s, Watson B. Miller, National Commander of the American Legion, and Rep. Hale Boggs. I remember seeing these people along with parish officials in the restaurant when I was young.
On the lake in the back, he raised pigeons, ducks, chickens, guinea hens roamed freely over the land, and had a bee colony for honey. He was an avid hunter and belonged to the Boutte Hunting Club, whose clubhouse was on the Luling side of the RR tracks in Boutte. (Tinney Lane)
The restaurant had a lodge theme with taxidermed ducks, deer heads and other animals. The color scheme was cream with burgundy and light blue. We sold it in 1959 and after exchanging owners serveral times, it was gutted out by the last owner and then turned into a very large bar and pool room. It burned down in the mid 1970s."
Plans were developed in the late 1960s for a new high school
on the West Bank, to replace the 1922-era Hahnville High School, and a site was
purchased for the school in Mozella.
A committee to name the new school called for the public in
August 1973 to submit suggestions. Ideas were plentiful, including the
following: St. Charles Westgate Senior High School (the committee’s initial
favorite), Hahn Senior High School and West St. Charles Senior High School.
Finally, after public pressure was brought to bear, the name
for the new school was made – Hahnville High School, which opened in 1975. This
established a school named for a town several miles away, with a Boutte mailing
address, a Paradis telephone exchange and physically located in Mozella.
With the locating of Hahnville High School, the Mozella area
has begun a slow rebirth, as businesses have been trickling into the area to
restore its reputation and good name.
TO SEE PHOTOS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS STORY, VISIT THE PHOTO GALLERY
*Sentences in bold have been updated for accuracy.
HAVE INFORMATION TO ADD TO THIS TOWN HISTORY? E-MAIL IT TO PUBLICINFO@STCHARLESGOV.NET.