Marcella and Guy Chadwell, brothel madam and bootlegger


 Jones' One customer at Deutsers was a woman who owned a new car, hired a chauffeur, and arrived at the store carrying a purse filled with cash. Upon learning that the woman was a bordello owner, Marcella rented a house on the west side of Port Arthur in 1917. She invited some "ladies of the night" to ply their trade there; by 1920 Marcella had profited sufficiently that she moved her bordello to a 2 story, brick and stone stuccoed residence on Fifth Street.
For Guy's 21st birthday, his wealthy father, Benjamin Chadwell, bought his son a large speed boat, powered with a powerful inboard engine. After Prohibition was enacted, Chadwell employed some bootleggers on Johnson Bayou, and often, he rode out to an offshore rum runner to buy cases of bonded whiskey. In that decade, when many police and county officials were both corrupt and KKK members, Port Arthur's kingpin racketeer and bootleg whiskey wholesaler was Rusty Woodyard, whose wife ran a bordello on the westside. Rusty soon took note of Chadwell's Sabine Lake competition.
One day in 1921, Guy arrived at Marcella's bordello; he was young, charming, and nattily dressed, and after a brief courtship he and Marcella were married. Although Chadwell treated Marcella gently, he was violent, was prone to fist fighting, and possessed an obsessive hatred of black people. His first arrest in Port Arthur was for pulling a black man off a bus and beating him up.
Although details of the event still remain sketchy, a police paddy wagon pulled up at Marcella's on Aug. 10, 1925, with a warrant for Guy's arrest. When Guy opened up the "black mariah," he saw that he would have to be seated by a black man, which he refused to do. When he got out, uttering a litany of obscene oaths, he took a few steps forward, at which time a policeman shot him 3 times in the back; he claimed that Chadwell was trying to escape. Until recent years, some still believed that Guy's death was due to a conspiracy engineered by his competitor Woodyard.
Marcella gave her husband a fancy funeral before his body was taken to Cameron for burial. Mrs. Chadwell kept her bordello open for 25 years until January, 1961, when Rep. James' crime commission forced her to close. Marcella died in 1989 at age 94. She cared nothing about what "polite society" said or thought of her, but she had one secret to hide from others. She always wore long sleeves to hide the tattoos on her upper arms.