Arnaudville: German Heritage, Good Beer, and Hidden History

Aug 28, 2020

St. Martin Parish, personified: Floyd Knott

Aside from two years during the Korean War when he was stationed at the Pentagon, where his Cajun French came in handy in his work as a translator, Mr. Floyd Knott, 86, has lived in Arnaudville all his life. So he knows his hometown as well as anyone. Asked to describe who his hometown would be like if it were a person, Mr. Floyd says it would be “… happy-go-lucky, hard-working; someone who loves to dance, drink, have fun, and party!”

He would know: his sons Karlos, Byron, and Dorsey Knott founded Bayou Teche Brewing, which might be Arnaudville’s best-known institution. Until March, when the coronavirus hit the “pause” button Mr. Floyd could still be found at the brewery daily, leading tours and telling stories in English and French to visitors from all over the world.

“One thing people don’t know: Arnaudville has more people of German ancestry than French,” said Mr. Floyd. “Families like the Schexnayders, the Tellers, and the Knotts. In the late 1700s/early 1800s many came from Pennsylvania by wagon train. First they came to the ‘German Coast,’ [the area along the east bank of the Mississippi River above New Orleans], but they didn’t like the government there so they followed Bayou Teche west, and settled in the Grand Coteau/Arnaudville area.” Maybe that German ancestry is what made the Knott family such good brewers.

A lifelong teacher and longtime member of the St. Martin Parish School Board, Mr. Floyd is a bit of a story machine. “Everybody thinks the first name for Arnaudville was ‘La Jonction,’ for where bayous Teche and Fuselier come together,” he explained, his accent thick with the Cajun French that was his first language growing up. “But really, it was first known as ‘La Mûriere,’—the Mulberry Tree, for a tree that once stood at that spot.

Ask, and he’ll tell you about La Portage—the little settlement five miles west, where the pirate Jean Lafitte is said to have left buried treasure, or the three Confederate ships sunk at Arnaudville during the Civil War. “Come stand by Myron’s and you’ll see a little island in Bayou Teche,” he said. “That was formed by the sinking of the ships.”

Asked what he missed most about his hometown when he was away serving at the Pentagon, he laughs and shouts “The boudin! The fricassee!,” before adding in a mock whisper “… and while my wife’s not around, the beautiful girls! I couldn’t wait to get home!”

Things to Do in Arnaudville:

Visit Bayou Teche BrewingMr. Floyd Knott leads private tours of the brewery in French upon request; call 337-754-5122. Read more about the brewery’s founding and events here.

Kayak the Bayou Teche. The T.E.C.H.E. Project has installed floating docs at each of the communities along the 120-mile stretch of the bayou.

Visit the NUNU Art and Culture CollectiveThis artistic experiment put Arnaudville back on the map, and is attracting international attention for its cultural exchange program and creative placemaking. Read more about how NUNU’s founder, George Marks, leveraged the collective into the epicenter of his hometown’s revival here.