Saw your names and correspondence on Ancestry.com
and I see that you tie to Ben Dossman and to Aunt Mable.
Craig, you said Ben Dossmann had a brother named Charles Arthur Dossmann.
Here's what I know:
My great grandfather was Charles Dossmann (1835-1899), of St. Landry, LA.
He had a brother, Francois Joseph Dossmann (1832-1897)
And they had a half-brother, Aloise Dossmann (1854-1938)
Their father was Laurent Dossmann.
The mother of Charles and Francois Joseph Dossmann was Marie Magdaleine Schreir.
The mother of Aloise Dossmann is not known to me.
The three brothers came to the states from (we believe) Strasbourg, France, according to the following
1855: "Charles Dossmann came to America on the S/S Gasport, embarked at Harve, France, and disembarked at New Orleans, LA, on
January 15, 1855. He gave his age on the ship's list as 22 years, but he was only 19 years old. He also spelled his name on the ship's list a s
Charles Dofsmann, but this was the common way for the double-s to be written." (National Archives, Washington, D.C., filed under ships
landing at American ports during 1800-1875)
He came to the United States ignorant of its language and people, but at once identified himself with the people of his adopted country and,
like his brother, Francois Joseph, became at once an excellent American citizen. He started in life without any family influence or other
outside aid to help him along, and for the success which he attained, he was indebted to himself alone.
1855: He went to St. Landry Parish in 1855 and to Ville Platte, LA, where he joined his other brother, Francois Joseph Dossmann, who had
arrived in Ville Platte two years previously.
1861: He married Elenore Fontenot (sister to the Honorable T. S. Fontenot) in 1861. She was born in 1846, died 13 May 1879 at 33 years
of age. She is also buried in Ville Platte, LA, next to Charles.
17 Sep 1862: He was conscripted into the Confederate Army at Camp Pratt, Alexandria LA, Roll 281 Co. B-16 Batt'n LA Inf. Confederate
Guards Response Batt'n. Private. (National Archives, Washington, D.C., filed under Civil War Confederate soldiers)
He defected and returned to France.
1865 or 1866: He returned to this country and brought five others with him: Pierre LaCalle (hide tanner and farmer), Raoul Guillaumin
(farmer), Andrew Seifert (farmer), John Castete (hide tanner and farmer), and Aloise Dossmann (half-brother to Charles Dossmann).
1880: He married Meremere Lyons Lemontey, widow of Eugene Lemontey. She survived him.
The three brothers (Charles, Francois, and Aloise) were farmers and mechanics. Each began life working at the carpenter's bench, and all
three, by energy, economy, and thrift, acquired sizeable properties.
19 Aug 1899: He died at 3 a.m. at his residence on Bayou Cocodrie.
Craig, you say that Ben Dossmann said he had a brother from France... well that fits my family, and the names fit my family, and the
locations tie together.
The following newspaper article, dated December 14, 1971, from the local paper, The Gazette, quotes Ben Dossman talking about
"the old days..." where he worked... what he did...
RECALLS DOSSMAN SPRINGS CLEARLY
One of Ville Platte's older residents, Ben Dossman, who will be 84 in March, stated to The Gazette this week that he still has a vivid
recollection of Dossmann Springs, subject of a feature article last week by Miss Mable Thompson.
Dossmann, who was born and reared in the St. Landry area, has been a resident of Ville Platte since 1943. He says his early childhood days
were spent around the old Dossmann Store, sawmill and cotton gin.
"How well do I remember when they floated those big logs down Bayou Cocodrie to the sawmill, then dragged the logs by oxen and mule
team up to the mill itself," he recalls.
There was a big general store and saloon built right on the bayou bank with a portion that extended over the bayou itself, he claims. "And
there was always a demi-john with a cup for the folks to help themselves to some of that real good whiskey," reminisces the old man.
The Dossmann Springs and Hotel were quite a ways back into the woods, away from the mill and store, according to Dossman, not far from
where the spillway is now located.
He said his daughter, Mrs. Mable Bradley, is now living in what was then the old grocery store and post office on the banks of Cocodrie
"about a mile or so" from the CLECO plant [Louisiana].
Dossman said he was a teamster (driver) all of his working days and handled everything from mules and oxen teams to trucks and
automobiles. Says he still does his own driving.
Miss Thompson's very interesting account of the old Dossmann Springs appeared on the front page of section four in last Thursday's issue of
The Gazette. Anyone else having information on the subject is invited to contact Miss Mable at Bayou Chicot.
The Dossmann Springs and Hotel, Store, sawmill and cotton gin
were owned by my great grandfather Charles Dossmann.
The following tells that part of the story:
DOSSMANN SPRINGS - A SUMMER RESORT
by Mabel Thompson, in the December 9, 1971,
issue of "The Gazette" Ville Platte, LA (Section 4, Page 1)
Everyone has heard of Mineral Springs or Health Spas, but did you know we once had a Summer Resort with mineral springs right in our
These springs were found on the land of Mr. Charles Dossmann, who had come to America from Alsace-Lorraine. Mr. Dossmann was the
grandfather of A. J. Dossmann, principal of Bayou Chicot High School.
Mr. Joel Guillory of Ville Platte supplied the location of these springs and also an entry in land sales where Mr. Charles Dossmann and Mr.
Jacques Siffert on November 20, 1875, bought from Marcellus McDavitt, County of Logan, State of Kentucky a piece of land which contained
104 acres. This sale also gave these two men the right to maintain a perpetual dam across the mouth of Mountain Bayou where it empties into
Mr. Dossmann bought more land until he had something over 500 acres where he built a home, store, cotton gin, sawmill and grist mill on the
west bank of Bayou Cocodrie. This land was in Section 18, Township 2 S, R 2 E, La. Meridian. Part of it it was in Mountain Bayou Lake,
and located in St. landry Parish at this time.
After Mr. Dossmann found the springs he decided to develop them back in the early 1870's. There were about six (6) springs that ran
continuously and all were located rather close together at the foot of a steep hill. No one knows their output per day but it must have run into
thousands of gallons. It is claimed that each spring had a different mineral in it -- some had iron while others had sulfur. No one knows for
sure if they had any health value but it has been told that any skin irritation cleared up immediately after the person took baths here. Probably
the springs' biggest asset was that it was a good place to go when it was very hot, get into the cold water and cool off. You know this was in
the day before electricity so there were no fans or air conditioning.
Here Mr. Dossmann built cabins to rent to families or groups who had come to stay a week or longer. A hotel was built here also with rooms
on either side of a long hall, the rooms on one side for the women and on the other side for the men. n. People from Opelousas, Washington,
and all the surrounding communities came and stayed in the hotel or in the cabins. They boarded in the boarding house with rates set at $1.50
per day for board, room, and baths, quite different from our prices today.
Many say the meals at the boarding house were very good and plenty was served. They served fresh vegetables supplied by the owner's
gardens and some bought from the neighbors. Chickens raised in the area by the farmers were bought and served or or perhaps beef meat
from Mr. Dossmann's herd. One of the things most liked was the fried chicken served with breakfast. A Negro woman by the name of
"Sissy," who came from Washington, was the cook and from all accounts an excellent one.
Wine was served with the meals. During Mr. Dossmann's ownership whiskey and wine were the only drinks served. Wine was shipped in
barrels from New Orleans by train to Gold Dust, the nearest station, to the store and the springs. As soon as the wine was brought in by mule
teams every one had to get busy and bottle it to keep it from souring.
Since the land owned by Mr. Dossmann had much fine timber growing on it, he knew he should have a sawmill, and since cotton was king,
and the only money crop, the farmers needed a nearby cotton gin. He had a two-story building built with the he cotton gin located upstairs,
with the sawmill on the ground floor. The sawmill was operated by steam engines. The sawmill was supplied by logs hauled by ox teams.
On the hilly part of his lands he cut pine timber, and in the swampy part or out in the lake now called Dossmann Lake huge cypress and
Tupelo gum logs were cut.
Since Mr. Dossmann had plenty of timber he was able to build all the cabins and buildings at the Springs with cypress lumber cut at his own
mill. There was a "coffee" house where the men gathered to drink whiskey and play cards.
Bath houses were build near the Springs after the springs had cypress curbing put in them to raise the water up so that it would run into the
troughs that carried it into the cypress tubs where the people took their baths. It is said that the water was so cold a person had to jump in and
then it almost took your breath away. There was a paddle-type closing at one end of the tube that was raised up when the bath was finished to
let the water drain out down the hill. There was one bath house for women and one or two for the men.
None of the buildings had glass windows in them but only wooden shutters, and of course there were no screens on the windows. The people
had to use mosquito bars if they got any sleep at all. All the beds in the hotel were rough, homemade ones, with very thin mattresses on them.
It was cool here at night as the houses were built up on the hill where they got a good breeze.
Mr. Dossmann sent some of his lumber to be sold by flatboat to Washington, then a thriving port, and supplies and groceries were brought
back for his store at the resort. The flatboat had a walkway all the way around the boat in order that the men could walk around and use long
poles to keep the boat in the middle of the stream and "pole" the boat along. Of course, this was a slow way to travel but back then all things
moved slowly, and who was ever in a hurry anyway? Some of his cotton bales were sent to market this way, too.
During Mr. Dossmann's time his store on Bayou Cocodrie or Crocodile as some called it, and the Sam Haas store in Bayou Chicot were the
only stores in all of this vast territory. Naturally they did a thriving business as they sold everything anyone could ever possibly need.
At the death of Mr, Charles Dossmann on August 19, 1899, his daughter Martha and her husband, Robert Helmer, took over his business, and
ran the sawmill and the Summer Resort, for several years. Mr. Helmer acquired several buggies, and good od horses and would meet people
who were coming for a stay at the resort at Gold Dust as the train came from Washington and Opelousas through this stopping place.
There was a dance hall where dances were held at least once a week. The dances drew crowds from all the surrounding countryside as
entertainment of any kind was scarce back then. A piano was in the dance hall, and one lady, Mrs. Hudy Hazleton of St. Landry remembers
as quite a pianist Miss Nana Lalonde of Washington. People came from far and wide to attend the dances while others came to stay a few
days. Some came to this spot for picnics.
Beer was served after Mr. and Mrs. Helmer took over. Ice to cool the beer was brought from Bunkie in sacks of saw dust and the 100-pound
blocks were kept in a large box and covered over with the saw dust to keep it from melting so fast. Mr. and Mrs. Helmer closed the resort
after Mrs. Helmer's health failed. The saw mill was sold to John M. Castette about 1913.
Central Louisiana Electric Co. built a dam and spillway across Mountain Bayou some years back and use the water for cooling in their plant at
St. Landry. The warm water is pumped back into a canal that goes into Dossmann Lake.
I doubt if anyone today could find the once famous springs. It is too bad our old landmarks could not be preserved.
All that is left of Mr. Dossmann's holding here is the old house to remind people of the once proud empire.
I am indebted to Mrs. Hudy Hazleton for the pictures and most of this information in the story. Also to Mr. Elmo Guillaumin of St. Landry
and Mr. Joel Guillory of Ville Platte.
Is your Ben Dossmann yet another brother of Charles Dossmann than the two that I know about (Francois Joseph and Alois)? If so,
I can't document the connection. But there are so many parts of your story and my story that connect on the names and places...
You say Ben Dossmann married an Indian woman, and that that began the black side of the Dossmann family.
Well, great! Documenting that fact will be interesting.
I have lots of info on the descendants of the three Dossmann brothers that I do know about.
I think we might tie family together if we work at it.
Let's share some info.
Sterly G. Dossmann (1938-
San Antonio, TX 78240