The meeting was held at 10:00 AM at the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center.
President Estelle Perrault called the meeting to order. Charles Lauret asked to address the membership. He stated that The Sons of Confederate Veterans and The Daughters of Confederate Rose are planning a brief ceremony, which is to be presented on Friday, August 3, 2001, at 11:00 AM at Chretien Point. A color guard and commemorative service will pay tribute to the two unidentified Civil War soldiers who were killed in the battle at Buzzard's Prairie, near Chretien Point, during the Civil War.
Miss Perrault announced that JoAnne Savoie, the genealogical society's treasurer, has purchased for the society, two new computer software programs. The cemetery data software enables the society to utilize cemetery records. She stated that this software company also issues forms and charts which offer varied genealogy programs, allowing a different approach to the data. The old "PAF" files at the Mormon Church are now available as "Windows" version.
JoAnne Savoie is still working on updating the society's address list.
Miss Perrault announced that the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Department will present a crime prevention workshop on Wednesday, July 18, 2001, from 9:30 AM until noon, at the Northwest Community Center on Dresser Drive, in Eunice.
The next meeting of the society will be held in the Opelousas General Hospital auditorium, on Saturday, August 11, 2001, at 10:00 AM. Guest speaker will be Dr. Florent Hardy, Director of the Louisiana Archives.
Guest speaker, Sue Deville, director of the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center, was introduced. She stated that the museum, which was in committee planning stage for four years, opened in 1992. The building and land were purchased by the City of Opelousas at a cost of $85,000, with an initial start-up cost of $8,295. About 98% of the items in the museum are of local origin, with many of them donated or on loan to the museum. The items on display represent roughly 15% of the available research materials owned by the museum. Exhibits are changed often, reflecting the appropriate time of year or the themes of importance to our area.
Mrs. Deville presented a brief overview of coming exhibits. Planned for the year 2003 is "Silent Histories, Crumbling Memories", which will highlight the forgotten cemeteries of Imperial St. Landry. She said that the cemetery project has been very involved, partly because of vandalism and lack of respect for burial sites on private property. Many of the burial sites are permanently lost due to destruction of the cemeteries, with buildings constructed over them. The remaining cemeteries are being documented as archeological sites.
Another planned exhibit will feature textiles, with "everyday" clothing items from the 1930's and 1940's, along with bathing suits from the 1920's. The museum is asking for donations of any items which could be used in teaching history. It was noted that students who visit the museum are tested upon return to the classroom. A visit to the museum serves as a valuable history lesson.
The museum plans a permanent exhibit in honor of Opelousas native, Rod Milburn, who was an Olympic champion. His competitors and the members of the U.S. Olympic Committee have been invited to attend the opening ceremonies, scheduled for August.
Wal-Mart has agreed to work with the museum to retain any artifacts unearthed in the excavation of the warehouse site near Opelousas. Freddie Herpin, Daily World photographer, is working with the museum director on a photo series titled "In the Blink of an Eye". Old landmark Opelousas buildings will be presented "as they were", along with photographs of the demolished remains, pointing out that demolition is irreversible. It is hoped that this will raise public awareness of the importance of historical preservation.
Mrs. Deville invited society members to call for an appointment if they are interested in using the museum resources for research. Files, maps, books and photographs of local interest are available upon request.
Jim Higginbotham announced that he is working with a committee on applying for available grants which would promote the establishment of a genealogy research center in Opelousas. Opelousas mayor, Mr. Vallien, is working closely with the efforts toward preservation of our local history.
Miss Perrault stated that another project is under consideration, which would feature, perhaps twice a year, a "reunion weekend". Courthouse records and library facilities would be open on a Saturday or Sunday for genealogists wishing to return to the area for research purposes.
Meeting adjourned at 11:30 AM
Sylvia D. Morel