Trief built a cabin on the meandering coulee six miles west of Crowley about 1816. He was described as tall, dark, and "sinister-looking," and wore large earrings like pirates once did.
He lived as a recluse, but when he did mingle with neighbors, he told rambling stories about seafaring days with a band of notorious buccaneers. Nobody knew whether the tales were real or made up.
When Trief died, probably about 1842, his name was given to the little stream next to his cabin Jacob Kollitz and A.D. LeBlanc built stores near the Trief cabin in the early 1890s, and the little settlement that began to grow around them was also called Coulee Trief.
The area kept that name until the railroad came through in the early 1880s and folks, including railroad officials, decided the station ought to be named for someone other than a pirate.
The railroad section foreman thought, for example, his name would work just fine, and a Dr. Wood who had established a practice in the area and may have had some political ambitions, thought his name should be used.
Eventually the two compromised and the town's new name combined the first name of the section foreman's wife, Esther, and the last name of the doctor, to become Estherwood.
That was about the same time the Acadia Social Club was "organized primarily to give the young men of Estherwood a place of amusement without compelling them to resort to the bar-room and gave the farmers and businessmen a clubroom where they could exchange ideas and for social recreation."
The club maintained a reading room, which may have been the first library in Acadia Parish.
The settlement began to grow just after the turn of the century when the Miller-Morris Canal, one of the first large rice irrigation systems, helped establish the rice industry in the area, followed shortly by the opening of the Eureka rice mill at Estherwood.
By the spring of 1900, there were more than 30 residences in the town, new streets were being graded, and sidewalks were being put down. The town got a further boost, when Abrom Kaplan, the pioneer developer in Acadia and Vermilion parishes, and some other businessmen organized the Estherwood Development Co. and began to promote the place. In addition to town lots, the company owned 1,000 acres of rice and timber acreage in the area.
Estherwood's first church, the Methodist Northern, was built in 1900 and a regular pastor was assigned there in December 1901. Catholic services were first held in the village in 1904 in the home of Agricole LeBlanc. A chapel was finished in 1910 and ministered as a mission of St. John the Evangelist Church in Mermentau. A school was built in 1900, probably the first in the town.
Estherwood was incorporated as a village on March 12, 1901, and Henry Feitel was elected its first mayor.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.