T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Family ties to street names
Vera Payne by Chelsea Arseneault, 2015.
CHELSEA ARSENEAULT: What can you tell me about the street names of Mossville?

VERA PAYNE: Prater Road is named after my grandfather [Earthy Prater]. It was nothing but woods from Old Spanish Trail to Highway 90. And once he moved from the corner of Evergreen and Old Spanish Trail, which was a large, large house that had a hall that ran from the front door to the back door. The Praters lived on one side and the Lemelles lived on the other side. So my grandfather, Earthy Prater, took a horse and a wagon and kind of carved out a trail that we now call Prater Road and he built their home on that. And the home was still standing until [Hurricanes] Rita and Katrina came through. And it was demolished at that particular time. These particular areas in here, Moss Avenue is named after, I believe, the Edy Mosses, because that’s who lived across the street where the big, big oak trees are. And then some of the others was just named after local people or some of the merchants that had came in within the last forty or fifty years.

ARSENEAULT: . . . So if you lived here long enough, then the road just got named after you eventually?

PAYNE: [Agrees] Right.

ARSENEAULT: That’s easier.

PAYNE: More or less. I think they named Coach Williams [Drive] about maybe three, four years ago. And I think they named it because he had been in this area for a number of years and had worked as a teacher, a principal, and then on the sheriff department force and everything. So they gave it to him as an honorary name.


PAYNE: And Benjamin, possibly, I can’t swear to it, on the next corner over there, was a man that was blind. And his first name was Benny [Benjamin Harris]. So more than likely it was named after him.

ARSENEAULT: So most of the street names are family . . .

PAYNE: Family names. Yes.

ARSENEAULT: . . . last names. What about the King and the Prince and the Duchess roads? Was that Mossville?

PAYNE: That was a subdivision that was probably added in the ‘50s. Because when I went . . . I graduated in 1962. And in that area, there was maybe at that time ten, twelve homes that was back there. So someone had the property, divided it into subdivisions, and it was that person who decided to name it. I’m thinking it was someone who was white who had purchased the property. And then they made the subdivisions and named it what they wanted to name it. Because across the street over there [Perkins Avenue], unless it’s changed recently, Powell Lumber owned all of that over there. So it’s possible that they could have sold a tract of land, whatever, added that.
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This project is a collaboration between the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and LSU Libraries to document the history of Mossville, a historic African American community in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
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