New Iberia Enterprise
The town of New Iberia was founded in 1779 by settlers from Spain. By the 19th century, it was at the heart of Louisiana’s prosperous sugar-growing region. The area is perhaps best known today for its association with Tabasco hot pepper sauce, which has been produced at Avery Island, a few miles from New Iberia, since 1868.
The earliest surviving issue of the New Iberia Enterprise dates from February 1885. Declaring that it was “Devoted to the Advancement of Home Interests,” the paper was originally published twice a week with three pages in English and one in French. The French-language section had disappeared by the 1890s. Readers were offered a mix of local, national, and international news, brief reports related to education, business, agriculture, and economic development, and the minutes of the Iberia Parish police jury (the governing body of the parish, similar to county councils in other states). Generally Democratic, in 1897 the paper carried a regular column titled “People’s Party Department,” edited by Richard A. Pomeroy, a local labor activist.
The Enterprise’s founder, Joseph Benjamin Lawton (1860-1936), had worked as an apprentice at several Louisiana newspapers before starting his own. In 1902, after a political dispute led to an assassination attempt that nearly cost him his life, Lawton sold the paper and moved to Florida to grow pineapples. The Enterprise was consolidated with another paper in 1903 to form the New Iberia Enterprise and Independent Observer [LCCN: sn88064328].