Louis Coulon Devillier was born April 3, 1914 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Olide Coulon “Skunk” Devillier, Sr. and Helen Stelly Devillier. He and his family moved to Bancroft, a small community just northwest of Winnie, in August of 1914. There they share-cropped with T. Simon until 1920. Devillier’s father bought a home in Beaumont so the children could go to school. At this time his father did highland farming and logging to make a living for the family.
Louis quit school in 1929 at the age of 15, to start farming with his father. This was during the period of the binder and separator method of farming. A lot of the work was done with mules. He and his dad farmed 1100 acres of rice. In 1933 he married Audrey Stutes, and together they fed and tended to the farm laborers which were as many as 40 at one time. In 1941 he started farming on his own. His first crop was 101 acres.
Devillier worked at the shipyard in Beaumont on the night shift during World War II, to make ends meet, and took care of his farm during the day.
In 1958 he formed a partnership with his sons, and together they farmed 1800 acres of rice and 800 acres of soybeans. In 1990 they were farming under the government’s rice program.
He was a partner with O. C. Devillier Jr. and Edward Devillier in the Devillier Bonded Warehouse. It was a complete operation in that they furnished the seed, cut, hauled, dried, and shipped the rice by train to the Supreme Rice Mill in Crowley, Louisiana, owned by a first cousin, Joe Dore. There the rice was sold. In 1990 the dryer was still in operation and is known as Chambers County Rice Dryer, operated by nephew Richard Devillier.
Louis and the late Audrey Devillier are the parents of two sons, Sammy and Jerry, and one daughter, Ann Austin, all of Winnie.
When asked about farming, Devillier said he has seen good times and he has seen bad times, but he managed to remain in farming. “Farming has been good to this community and this community has been good to farming and to me,” he said.
Jerry Coulon Devillier is a third generation rice farmer & rancher in Winnie, Chambers County Texas. He moved to Winnie in 1934 after being born in Rayne, Louisiana to Lewis Coulon Devillier and Audrey Stutes Devillier. They lived North of I-10 at the dead end of Devillier Road on property that is still in his family today.
His first job on a rice farm was at the age of 9 as water boy to the harvest crew. He followed behind the binders and the shocking crew. The harvest crew at the time consisted of 40 men with the binders being pulled by mules. For forty years he farmed and ranched in a partnership with his father, L. C. Devillier and brother, Sammy Devillier. Jerry has one sister, Ann Austin and a host of nieces, nephews & cousins that reside in the Winnie area.
Jerry and his wife, Mary Steele Devillier of Anahuac (Mary said Jerry told everyone he had to go to Anahuac to find a wife because he was related to everyone in Winnie) have continued to make their living in agriculture as does his two sons Culley & Steve Devillier and their families. His oldest son, Randy Devillier currently lives and works in New Orleans (2011). Agriculture is a way of life for the Devillier family and Jerry & Mary are still very active on the farm and ranch. Most days you will find him on a tractor in his own fields or planting rice & baling hay for his friends and neighbors!
Jerry is very active in the community having previously served on the boards of the Winnie Rice Farmers Co-Op, Farm Service Agency – formerly known as ASCS and was an active and founding member of Coastal Sugar Cane Co-Op. They attend the Frist Baptist Church of Winnie.
Jerry ahs seen many changes in agriculture through the years. Jerry’s grandfather, Olide Coulon Devillier and his descendants were the largest rice producing family in Winnie for any years. It is estimated the family still is the largest producer of rice in Winnie!
Jerry and Mary have 7 grandchildren – Greg, Randal, Tracy, Amy, Brady, Angela & Carley Devillier. Four of the grandchildren are actively engaged in farming so it is anticipated the Devillier family in Agriculture will continue for generations to come!
Steven “Stevie” Devillier, son of Jerry and Mary Steele Devillier, is a fourth generation farmer. His grandparents are Louis C. and Audrey Stutes (dec.) Devillier, William Thomas Steele and Hattie Redwine Steele (both deceased), and Olide Coulon and Helen Stelly Devillier (both deceased.) Stevie has two brothers, Randy and Culley, who also farm. He has been married to Deanna Douget since June 22, 1979 and they have two children, Tracy, age 9 and Amy, age 5.
Stevie has been employed on the family farm since the age of 10 and has never done any other type of work. He farmed his first crop of soybeans (90 acres) in 1976 with his cousin, Kyle Devillier, while still in high school. He graduated from East Chambers High School in 1978 and the rest of his education, according to Stevie, is called “Behind the plow degree.” In 1985 he planted his largest crop, which consisted of 600 acres of soybeans, 500 acres of grain sorghum, 400 acres of rice, and 67 acres of crawfish. At the present time (1992), he plants 200 acres of rice, 400 acres of soybeans, and does custom work on 700 acres of rice in the Winnie area. He has one full time employee, Jesus Mora, who has been working for him for ten years.
Stevie is president of the Winnie Rice Farmers Co-op and has been affiliated with he co-op since he farmed his first crop in 1976. He and his family attend the First Baptist Church of Winnie.
According to Stevie, there is nothing more rewarding to a farmer than seeing the first plowed fields in the spring and the harvesting of the crops in the fall. Because of this young man’s love and dedication to the farming industry, the Texas Rice Festival is very proud and honored to have him as our Young Farmer of 1992.
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