New Iberia Enterprise and Independent Observer

Iberia Parish                                                    

Founded in 1779 by settlers from Spain, the town of New Iberia was at the heart of Louisiana’s prosperous sugar-growing region by the 19th century. 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 New Iberia Enterprise and Independent Observer was formed in 1902 by the consolidation of the New Iberia Enterprise [LCCN: sn88064327], whose editor, Joseph Lawton, sold out after surviving an assassination attempt, and Melvin W. Fisher’s Observer, the offices of which had recently burned. Fisher (1873-1933), formerly an apprentice at the Enterprise, edited the journal for many years.

The four- to eight-page weekly carried news from around the state, as well as miscellaneous national and international reports. Agricultural columns provide historical information on important local crops, particularly sugar and pecans. Also of interest are stories about the development of the south Louisiana oil industry, as well as articles on efforts to attract filmmakers to the area (see, for example, “Movie Corporation May Take Pictures in City,” May 28, 1921). Film debuts at New Iberia’s popular Elks Theatre were covered in some detail. Other notable topics reported include life in Louisiana during World War I and the activities of conservationist and businessman Edward Avery McIlhenny, president of his family’s Tabasco sauce enterprise at Avery Island.

Also published were marriage notices, obituaries, the proceedings of the New Iberia school board, minutes of the parish police jury (similar to county councils in other states), charters of local businesses, and notices of public sales. The paper dropped the words Independent Observer from its title in December 1944 and continued publication until 1946, when it was consolidated with the Weekly Iberian [LCCN: sn88064323] to form the Daily Iberian [LCCN: sn88064324].