Chiasson writes the book on BC history
By Dave Rogers
For the record
A two-year job with a former Orange County newspaper launched Charlotte Schexnider Chiasson as a story teller.
Her biggest story, “The History of Prairie View – Bridge City,” is about to hit print just in time for Christmas.
Prairie View was the name of the town that became Bridge City in 1941.
“The original settlers called it Prairie View because there were no trees,” said Chiasson, who moved to Bridge City with her family in 1955. “You could see for miles and miles.”
The writer said it was her time working for editor Glenda Dyer at the Orange Countian that opened her mind to the many fascinating stories from the early days of the Orange County community.
“She’s really the person I credit with sparking my interest in history and feature stories,” Chiasson said of Dyer, who was later editor at the Orange Leader.
Chiasson went to work for the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce in 1987. That 15-year association naturally brought her into contact with many of Bridge City’s movers and shakers.
“Whenever I’d talk to civic leaders, I’d take notes,” the author said. “I always thought, ‘Someday, I’ll write a book.’”
Stories in the book emerged from a variety of sources: a man she met during the 1991 dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge had fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II; naturalist Sue Bailey relayed to Chiasson things her grandmother had shared with her about life before electricity; Robert Kibbe told stories about his heirs who were the Blands, one of the first big landowners in the Bridge City area.
“The last four or five years, I’ve tried to get it done, all written and edited,” said Chiasson, an administrative assistant at Lamar State College-Orange. “I interviewed about 100 local families. The book will have everything from local family histories, histories of our bridges and road system, schools, oil and Orangefield. There’s a whole section on sports, and one on how the post office started.
“I don’t know of anyone else who’s written the history of our town. I hope it will be a go-to book. It tells about when the school district was built, how the town consolidated.”
“The History of Prairie View – Bridge City,” a 400-plus page hardback book, is set for publication Nov. 30, in time for Christmas gift-giving. The book is available for pre-orders at the Bridge City Public Library, 101 Parkside Dr.
Cost is $40 per copy ßpayable by check to The Friends of the Bridge City Public Library, P.O. Box 1103, Bridge City 77611. All proceeds from the book go to The Friends of the Bridge City Public Library.
“I’ve been a member since 1988, when we formed Friends to try to get a library in the community,” Chiasson said. “We did not have a library until 1990. We just finished an expansion, but the Friends have to raise all the funds.”
For an additional $4.50 fee, the book can be mailed to buyers. Otherwise, the books can be picked up at the library, which is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.