Schambers Street’s significance
The road that runs in front of the Basile Care Center is named East Schambers. A separate road that extends from the west side of the St. Augustine Church Cemetery is called West Schambers. At one time, the two roadways were joined and ran behind the Catholic church. When the church purchased additional land for a cemetery, the church straddled the south side of Schambers Street and the cemetery was on the north side. Eventually, the road between the church and cemetery was closed and became church property thus separating Schambers Street into two parts. According to the late Asa Buller, Schambers was an important thoroughfare when it was first laid out because it continued northwest into the woods leading to a bridge that crossed the Bayou Nezpique into Allen Parish, leading on to Elton to the south and Oberlin to the north. This was the only local crossing of the Bayou Nezpique until the mid 1930s when the Highway 190 Bridge was erected.
Who was Schambers? The naming of Schambers Street was to honor L. F. Schambers, Jr., Basile’s first postmaster. First Basile post office L. F. Schambers, Jr., was not only the first postmaster of the new village of Basile beginning in 1906; but he was also the first postmaster in a small neighborhood located 3 1/2 miles south of today’s Basile. The post office there was originally named Schambers (April 24, 1888)). It was common at the time to name post offices using the name of the postmaster at the location. The post office there was inside Schambers’ grocery store, located in an area known as Berwick Point or Berwick Cove.
Leader in new Acadia parish
Anyone looking through old copies of the Crowley Post Signal from the 1880s to 1906 will quickly realize that Schambers was not only the postmaster of the Berwick Point area but probably the most active community leader there. For a time, he was the local correspondent for the Crowley newspaper, served on the Acadia Parish School Board, and actually made repairs himself to the Berwick Point school, which at two separate times was called the Schambers school. He was a deputy sheriff, a notary public, and a justice of the peace.
Schambers moves northwest with the Basile post office
When a new settlement was laid out just northwest of the community in 1905 by landowners and business partners J.J. Lewis, Louis Bourg, and Gus Fusilier, it was believed that the new site would be called St. Louis. In 1906 as the railroad came through and homes and businesses began to be built in the new community, the post office in Acadia parish was closed and moved to the new settlement, keeping the name of Basile. Schambers made the move as well and retained the position of postmaster, continuing to handle the mail at his store (pictured above) which he and his son Mayo moved from its original site to the new settlement. By 1911, the place was incorporated as the village of Basile with 267 citizens, and Schambers continued as postmaster until July 24, 1914.
Schambers was more than just postmaster
In 1909 when locals organized a grade school at the new townsite, Schambers became one of the school’s trustees. He also served the village as mayor for one year (1916), replacing the town’s first mayor Dr. E.S. Taylor during a leave of absence during his terms as mayor which lasted from 1911 to 1917. In 1922, after Mayor Walter McCain was run out of town after only a few months in office, Schambers again stepped up to serve as mayor to complete the two-year term. (Records indicate that the mayor and council were elected to two-year terms prior to 1926.)
Schambers was born July 5, 1850, in New Orleans, a mere 10 years after his family moved there from Strasburg, France in Alsace-Lorraine. He received most of his education in New Orleans during the Civil War before the family moved to LaFourche parish. In 1870, his family, led by his father, L.F. Schambers, Sr., moved to Berwick Point on a 160 acre homestead on the vast Mamou Prairie in what was then a part of Imperial St. Landry parish. The Schambers family was among the first to settle the area that stretched from what is now the town of Mamou to the present community of Evangeline near Jennings.
In 1876, young Schambers married Severin Fusilier. Eight children were born to the couple, including Cleveland, who would become the village of Basile’s third police chief, serving the community in the police department for 44 years. For his leadership role at the original Basile settlement in Acadia parish as well as the new village site in what would become Evangeline parish, Schambers could be given the title of “Father of Basile”. A framed photo of the leader has been a part of Basile’s town hall for most of the town’s history.