German Influences in Acadiana

When one thinks of Southwest Louisiana, most of the time they are thinking that it is inhabited by mostly French-speaking Acadians. Yet there is a small portion of Acadiana where some of the state’s earliest German settlers arrived in the late 19th century. In Acadia Parish lies the small community called Roberts Cove. 

Established in 1880 by Father Peter Thevis, a native priest from Langbroich, Germany, Roberts Cove was named for Benjamin Roberts who was an original owner of a Spanish land grant. Father Thevis first came from Germany to settle in New Orleans due to the increasing amount of German immigrants who were there. When he received word of the railroad that was being completed connecting New Orleans to Texas, Father Thevis along with three colleagues traveled along the railroad and ended up in Rayne. 

After their arrival, they settled on a piece of land three miles north of Rayne, which is known today as Roberts Cove. After the first establishment of the community, 13 German families went to Roberts Cove to join Father Thevis. The German settlers were very devout Catholics and the establishment of the parish of Saint Leo IV soon followed the early settling of Roberts Cove. Today, Roberts Cove has approximately 175 families living in or around the area. It is a unique place where German culture and heritage is kept alive in a place mostly inhabited by French-speaking Acadians.

The Church of Saint Leo IV has been the heart of the community for well over 100 years. Even though the Roberts Cove community is surrounded by French-speaking Acadians, the German settlers still keep traditions that were handed down from their ancestors alive today. Some of these traditions include the singing of German hymns for the feasts of Corpus Christi, All Saints, Christmas and funerals. Another event that takes place is on the eve of Saint Nicholas I (December 5th) in which the Saint Leo IV choir, Saint Nicholas and many other towns people travel around to the homes in Roberts Cove to sing German Christmas carols. This humble and noble tradition still takes place in present-day Roberts Cove.
One event that has become a tradition is the annual Germanfest, which is held during the first weekend in October. It was started by Father Charles Zaunbrecher who was the historian for all German families who settled in Roberts Cove. The festival has become a nationwide tourism spot and visitors from all over the world travel to Roberts Cove during the first weekend in October to celebrate the community’s German heritage. The Germanfest offers a wide variety of German foods that are linked to the German culture as well as the kitchens of many residents of the Roberts Cove community. The two-day festival has much to offer to people of all ages.