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Contributing Writer

When reading the story of Opelousas, one can’t help but notice how the art of printing played a role in its history. The printing industry started in Opelousas when the first newspaper was founded.

Opelousas Newspapers – 1827

According to a survey conducted in the 1930s by the WPA, the first printery made its appearance in the town of Opelousas with the establishment of the Opelousas Gazette newspaper in 1827.  J. Keays was publisher of the Gazette, with Charles Thieneman as its editor. Besides printing the paper, the Gazette, with an office on Court Street directly across from the parish courthouse, did job printing of envelopes, stationary, invoices, calling cards, etc. for their customers.[1]

Soon another newspaper followed with the establishment of the Hebdomadal Enquirer, and St. Landry, Lafayette, Avoyelles and Calcasieu Advertiser, doing business in Opelousas by 1841. As time marched on, other newspapers opened in Opelousas including the St. Landry Whig (1844-1850), the Opelousas Courier (1852-1910), the Opelousas Patriot (1855-1863), Southern Sentinel (1865-1867), the St. Landry Progress (1867-1868), St. Landry Republican (1876), Saint Landry Real Estate Journal (1878-1881), St. Landry Democrat (1878-1894), St. Landry Clarion (1890-1921), The Evangelist (1895), The Evening Call (1895), People’s Tribune (1896-1898), St. Landry Press (1911), St. Landry Commoner (1910-1912), Opelousas Enterprise (1915-1916), St. Landry Progress (1916-1917), Star Progress (1917-1921), Clarion Progress (1921-1928), Daily Clarion Progress (1921-1923), The Bureau Letter (1923), Opelousas News (1927-1928), Opelousas News and Clarion Progress (1928), Clarion News (1929-1951), Opelousas Herald (1929-1951), Opelousas St. Landry Today (1978-1987), Daily World (1939) and St. Landry Now (2022). Many of these newspapers also offered job printing.  

Bodemuller The Printer – 1891

Bodemuller The Printer building on Bellevue Street, constructed in 1930, housed the business for 58 years.

For most of the 19th century, printing in Opelousas was done through the newspaper businesses. That all changed in 1891 when Herman Bodemuller opened his printing business.

Herman was the youngest son of Herman Karl Bodemuller (1830-1873) (sometimes called Karl Herman Bodemuller or H. K.) and Helena A. Hils (1837-1867), German immigrants who came to Opelousas during the 1850s. The couple were the parents of five children: Rudolph Bodemuller (1853-1907), Emile Bodemuller (1855-1924), Laura Bodemuller (1862-1938), Nina Bodemuller (1860-1906), and Herman Bodemuller (1865-1935). After Helena Bodemuller died in 1867, Herman remarried Rosalie Evela Prevot (1850-1932), and had two more children: Octave Charles Bodemuller (1872-1939) and Charles Eugene Bodemuller (1873-1874).

The Bodemuller family immediately became involved in Opelousas, owning businesses and participating in community life. By 1857 Herman Bodemuller had a barbershop on Main Street, he also repaired musical instruments. He taught private music lessons on the guitar and violin and taught at the Opelousas schools. Following the Civil War, he formed a brass band that performed at most events in the Opelousas area. He died suddenly in 1873.

The Bodemuller children remained in Opelousas following the death of their father. Most of them were involved in the Opelousas commercial district, working as barbers, watchmakers, and store owners.

The youngest Bodemuller son Herman also remained in Opelousas and married Lillie Castain on January 10, 1887. Following that he moved to Crowley and learned the printing business from a well-known businessman and land developer named W. W. Duson. Duson operated a printing company in Crowley, a town he helped to establish with his brother legendary Sheriff C. C. Duson. In 1891, Herman moved back to Opelousas and opened his own company he called Bodemuller The Printer in February of that year.

The printing office was in a building, owned by the Littell family, that also housed the St. Landry Clarion newspaper on the corner of Court and Bellevue streets, known as Gibbs Corner. His business remained on that corner until 1905 when the Opelousas Development Company, headed by John W. Lewis, purchased the property to use for the new Lacombe Hotel that opened a few years later.

When the Gibbs Corner property was sold, Bodemuller moved the printing company to the Moock Building on Bellevue Street, between Court and Main streets. He remained there until a new building was constructed for his printing shop in 1930, on Bellevue Street, in the middle of the South block, where the printing business remained for 58 years.

Herman Bodemuller died in 1937. During that year, his daughter Lily Belle and her husband Herschall McLeod took over the business. In 1946 the McLeod’s hired Murphy Carriere (1926-2004) as a printer, and when the couple retired in 1966, Murphy and eventually with his brother Lawrence Carriere (1922-2003) were the owners and operators of Bodemuller’s. In 1988, the Carriere family purchased the old Heyman building (constructed in 1930) on Main Street. On September 7th of that year, the printing company opened in the Main Street location, where it remains today. After Lawrence Carriere retired in 1989, Murphy took over the business with his family. Following the death of Murphy Carriere on June 10, 2004, his sons Ronald, Murphy, Jr. and Steven continued to run the company.

Andrepont Printing – 1952

In 1952 when Lawrence M, Andrepont retired from his job as a newspaper job printer, he opened his own printing office, and Andrepont Printing was born.  

The printing industry and the Andrepont family of St. Landry Parish have been synonymous for over a century. Lawrence M. Andrepont, the oldest son of Martin Andrepont, Jr. and  Martha Bertrand,  prolonged a tradition in 1914 when at the age of 16 he began his first job working for the newspaper. Later jobs included working for newspapers in St. Francisville, the Bunkie News, the Ville Platte Gazette, the Clarion, the Herald, the Eunice News, and finally the Daily World in Opelousas.

In 1952 Lawrence retired from newspaper work and opened Andrepont Printing in the garage of his family home on East Grolee and Cane streets. By 1954 the new printing company was growing fast, becoming very successful. In November of that year, Lawrence partnered with printer James Bullara. They bought out the job printing department of the Daily World and moved Andrepont Printing Company to the McBride Building at 606 North Main Street, right next to the railroad track.

Through the years, as the company grew, employees were hired, and the company moved forward. It was always a family business with the owners’ children involved, many working in the business after school. Philip Andrepont and Jimmy Bullara both worked at the print shop at that time. When Philip Andrepont graduated from high school in 1961, he enlisted in the US Air Force. When he was discharged in 1965, he joined his father in the print business. Although Lawrence retired in 1969, he continued to work at Andrepont Printing and remained involved in the company for the next twenty years. In 1973, Warren Andrepont, Lawrence’s younger brother who retired after thirty years of working for the Daily World, joined the printing staff.

Following the death of James Bullara in 1977, Philip Andrepont purchased the Bullara shares of the printing company. A corporation was formed at that time, with Philip named as president of Andrepont Printing, Inc. As the company became more successful, additional employees were hired. It soon became obvious that Andrepont Printing would have to expand by adding to their Main Street location, or relocate to a new larger building. In 1985, Philip Andrepont purchased the Schlumberger building on Interstate 49 South in the city with the intention of someday moving the business operations to that location.

On July 5, 1989, Lawrence Andrepont passed away. In the tradition of his father, Philip continued to run and operate the business at the North Main Street location. Following two years of continuing growth, it was necessary to expand. In 1991, construction started on the Schlumberger building, and was completed in May of 1992. The company relocated on May 25, 1992, celebrating its grand opening a few months later on October 22, 1992.

Keeping the tradition of being a family-owned corporation, in 1997 Philip’s son André joined his father in business. The two continued to run and operate Andrepont Printing at the 1-49 location as it entered the 21st century.

Bodemuller, the Printer and Andrepont Printing Become One – 2022

As the years passed by, the two competing printing companies continued to serve the Opelousas area, that is until this year. As was announced a few days ago, Andrepont Printing is expanding again with the purchase of Bodemuller, the Printer on March 31, 2022. In an interview with Bobby Ardoin about the purchase for the St. Landry Now newspaper,  André Andrepont said he will now oversee the office supply, copier and printing business as chief operating officer at Bodemuller The Printer, located at 123 South Main Street in downtown Opelousas, as part of the Andrepont Printing ownership transaction. Philip Andrepont will continue to run Andrepont Printing as he has for over 50 years.

The story of the art of printing in Opelousas goes back almost two centuries to the establishment of the Opelousas Gazette in 1827. With the amalgamation of the two long-established local printing companies this year, a new chapter of that story is added to the long and fascinating history of the town of Opelousas.

[1] Note on the founding date of the Opelousas Gazette: The date of the establishment of the Opelousas Gazette is shown in accounts of the town’s history as being 1827. However, according to John Thistlethwaite, one of the founders of the Daily World, and the publisher of that paper for many years, the Gazette may have started publishing a decade earlier. Thistlethwaite wrote an article on the history of Opelousas newspapers for the December 23, 1955, edition of the Daily World. In that article he claimed the Opelousas Gazette was first established in 1817, with Charles Thieneman as the first publisher. He claimed the Daily World had proof of that at their newspaper office. Looking into this claim and researching for many years, I have not been able to find information that the Opelousas Gazette was operating in Opelousas prior to 1827. Therefore, I use 1827 as the founding date for the first newspaper in Opelousas.