The Lacassane Company was established in 1929 when eight Lake Charles businessmen purchased a large tract of land from Jim Gardiner. Mr. Gardiner had been unable to meet payments on the land due to financial losses suffered during the Great Depression. The original 21,000 acres, unknown numbers of cattle, work stock, farming machinery and implements were purchased for the sum of $380,000.00.
The company Organizational Meeting was held on December 27, 1929, with "messrs W. P. Weber, H. G. Chalkley, C. O. Noble, Henry Pomeroy, George M. King and Frank Roberts, representing M. J. Muller" present. Upon the organization of the company, 2,250 common shares of stock were issued.
The practice of tenant farming, still continued today in a revised form, was common in the early 1900's. Many of the Lacassane property farmers borrowed money from the company so that they could plant, maintain, and harvest their crops. The company was able to realize a profit from these farming operations; however the Organizers soon began to investigate other revenue sources including increasing the original cattle herd, establishing trapping and hunting leases, oil and gas leases, and (recently) the wetlands mitigation project. In the March 1930 meeting, "upon motion of Frank Roberts, representing H. C. Hanszen, and seconded by H. G. Chalkley, the Secretary was instructed to communicate with the Department of Conservation relative to the inspection of properties with the thought of developing the rat industry. " Evidently this idea was not further pursued.
The Lacassine Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 when the company sold 13,000 acres south of the Illinois plant to the United States Government for $51,774.00. The company retained the mineral rights on the Refuge land, except for a provision included in the sale allowing the U. S. Government to recoup its purchase price by receiving revenue from the Shell well located in the refuge. After the purchase price was recouped, these rights reverted back to The Lacassane Company. The Lacassine Wildlife Refuge is still in existence today and provides a protected habitat for wild ducks and geese.
This tract of unimproved farm and pastureland has evolved into a thriving operation involving tenant farming, annual land leases for waterfowl hunting and cattle grazing, alligator hide and egg harvesting, oil and gas exploration and wetland mitigation easements. An extensive pumping system involving a series of canals, laterals, the Bell City ditch, the Lacassine Bayou and the Mermentau River provide irrigation for the farming operations. Additional property was purchased in the Ragley, Louisiana, area and is now being used for mitigation.