It has been said that the business of a
leader is to turn obstacles into stepping stones, weaknesses into strengths and
disasters into triumphs. The early settlers of the uncharted (Erath) prairie area, were indeed true leaders
in every aspect of the word.
Although the establishment of the Erath community was a collaborative effort,
one leader played a phenomenal role before and during the turn of the century.
Dubbed the "father of Erath," Dr. Joe Kibbe skillfully guided the Erath community across the threshold of the twentieth century. Considered
the most influential figure in the early Erath community, Dr. Joe Kibbe made a
monumental mark in the town's history.
As one son of Dr. William G. Kibbe, Joe Kibbe graduated from Tulane University
in 1887. Dr. Joe Kibbe later married the former Pauline Derouen. His medical
practice began at Perry's Bridge, south of Abbeville. However, in 1893, when the
Southern Pacific Railroad Company completed the railroad in this newly
established area, he decided to relocate. Dr. Kibbe bought plots of land from
August Erath, and then set up his medical practice. At this time he also opened
a pharmacy with Frank Williams, the son of James Newton Williams and Sara
Burton. Dr. Kibbe's office was on the corner of Broadway and Lastie. The Kibbe
and Williams Drug Store was located next to the office.
As a true community leader, Dr. Joe Kibbe guided community residents in moving
toward a progressive era. With the assistance of August Erath and
Ollie Moss, Kibbe was able to help establish a post office in the new area. The first post office was located in the train depot. Kibbe
the Vermilion Parish School Board for the establishment of a school. As a
successful business venture, Kibbe built a local lumberyard in the
community. In 1899, he took office of Alderman and remained in that
capacity until 1911.
Through his guidance, leadership and determination, Kibbe assisted Erath
from it's infancy to it's toddler years. Like a father guides his children, Dr. Joe Kibbe guided the Erath community during it's formative years.
True to form, he is indeed worthy of the title, the father of Erath.