On Friday afternoon, October 7, 2016, Erath Mayor John Earl LeBlanc, Alderman Robert Vncent, Timmy Landry, Guy Nerren, Loretta Milliman as well as the Robert and Frances Dozier's great-great-granddaughter Dana Comeaux along with the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade Dozier Elementary students and faculty members were on hand for the renaming of the nearby Peach Street.

The new street name was renamed for Robert and Frances Dozier who helped establish the original R. F. Dozier school for the town's African American children in Erath beginning in 1911.

The new street name was renamed for Robert and Frances Dozier who helped establish the original R. F. Dozier school for the town's African American children in Erath beginning in 1911.

On Saturday morning, Comeaux and her Dozier cousins met near the street again to begin their 2016 family reunion.

Robert Dozier and his wife Frances, native Kentuckians, moved to Avery Island, Louisiana. Shortly afterwards, the couple settled in Erath, with their ten children, Adeline, Arthur, Frank, Henry., Libby, Lizzie, Mary, Pinkie, Sally and Willie. Robert Dozier was employed at a local lumberyard, while his wife worked as a mid-wife in the area. Together, they decided to provide their children with the advantages of an education.

Around 1911, the Dozier’s hired an educator to enter their home and teach the African American children in the area. Mrs. Gracie Milton Neal of Abbeville was the teacher selected by the Dozier Family. She offered these children the advantages of a new learning environment. During this time, Mrs. Neal lived in the Dozier home. To help accommodate the students, each morning Mrs. Dozier would lean the bed against the wall, instantly transforming the bedroom into a school room.

This routine continued until 1916, when it was decided that the Beard Congregation Christian Church would serve the dual purpose of a school and a church. Mrs. Alberta Price of New Orleans was the first teacher.

Student enrollment steadily increased and by 1941, the church could no longer accommodate the classes. At this time, concerned parents approached the Vermilion Parish School Board for assistance. Land was purchased for the school site in August, 1941. The School Board purchased 1.01 acres of land from Phillip Richard for $1,000.

Construction of the small building was estimated at $890. Doors to the new two room wooden school opened in 1942, Due to limited space, the building could only house grades one through six. To continue their education, the older children would then attend school either in Abbeville or New Iberia.

Reverend B, T. Whitt of Lake Charles became the first Principal in 1942 and remained in that capacity until the school closed its doors in 1968. Earning seventy five dollars a month, this devoted educator was determined to offer his students the benefits of a good education. Additional land purchases were made in May and November of 1948. The widow and heirs of Phillip Richard, for the consideration of $7,460, granted to the Vermilion Parish School Board a total of 4.69 acres of land. By the early 1950′s, it was apparent that additional space was needed for the growing student body. Construction costs of a new brick school for grades one through eight was estimated at $236,837; with the assistance of the Vermilion Parish School Board, allocated funds were made available for the building of the new structure.

Bearing the proud name, “R. F. Dozier Elementary” this new school opened in 1954, in honor of Robert and Frances Dozier. The original brick structure still exists as part of the present school. For the next fourteen years, Reverend B. T. Whitt and his dedicated faculty were committed to providing their students with the best possible education, the R. F. Dozier Elementary School closed its doors in May 1968 to integrate with Erath High School, which accommodated grades one through twelve. The controversial issue of school desegregation had entered an era where it became possible for all students to embark on an equal education.

During the 1968-69 school year R. F. Dozier Elementary remained closed. The following year, this small school progressed through a new phase.

In 1972, additional classrooms were built and Dozier Elementary was established as the primary school for Erath children in first, second and third grade. Erath High School would now accommodate grades four through twelve. Johnnie Suire a Math teacher at Erath High School was named the new Principal. Under the Supervision of this dedicated administrator, Dozier Elementary took its first steps as a new school. An eager faculty greeted two hundred seventy six “anxious” students in the fall of 1972. As expected, the initial years at this primary school, proved to be difficult, but productive.

Principal Johnnie Suire would voice later that although the name could have been changed at the time of renovation, he felt it was too important to keep the name RF Dozier for the school for the two people who fought to educate their children and grandchildren in the early years.

In 2015, Dana Comeaux began on a quest to have the Beard Congregation Church near over 100 years old placed on the National Registry of Historical places. With a Go Fund Me account set up, the church did indeed get the historical marker to honor forward thinking of Robert and Frances Dozier.

In 2016, Comeaux approached the town council asking if there was any way they could name the street behind the original Dozier home and church to "RF Dozier." The Council agreed.

On the afternoon of October 7, 2016, the Dozier Elementary students in 3rd-5th grade were able to participate in a lesson which not only touches the future with the "new street" name, but focused on the past and Robert and Frances Dozier's legacy.






Dozier Elementary (Pre K-5)
"We Care"

415 West Primeaux
Erath, LA 70533

Fax: 937-0630

Website address http://www.vrml.k12.la.us/dozier

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