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Revised 27 December 2010


Louisiana has the distinction of having been governed under 10 different flags since 1542 when Hernando de Soto first claimed it in the name of Spain.  De Soto was, however, not the first to discover the region.  Another Spaniard by the name of Alvarez de Pindea discovered mouth of the Mississippi in 1519.   Later, in 1682, Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, erected a cross at the mouth of the Mississippi River after descending the river from the Great Lakes and claims the territory for Louis XIV of France, for whom Louisiana is named.  In 1715, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis established Fort St. Jean Baptiste (Natchitoches), first permanent settlement in the Mississippi Valley.  New Orleans was founded in 1718 and named for   Phillippe Duc D'Orleans.  The St. Louis Cathedral was built that year and remains the oldest Cathedral in the United States.  Ownership wavered back and forth between these two countries for a the first 250 or 300 years since its discovery. It ran for a while under the flag of the Union Jack, the flag of Napolean of France and under the Stars and Bars of the United States.  For a six-week period at the beginning of the Civil War, it attempted to declare itself and independent republic.  In all, 13 states were carved out of the Louisiana Purchase lands.  

In 1762, Louis XIV  gave the "Island of New Orleans" and all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi to his cousin, Charles III of Spain in an effort to end the Seven Years War between France and Spain.  At the end of that war, the Treaty of Paris was signed, which ceded to Spain all of Louisiana and to England, the Florida Parishes, with Baton Rouge being renamed New Richmond.  

In 1764, the first of the Nova Scotia Acadians began arriving in Louisiana, and developed the group now known as Cajuns.  During the Revolutionary War, many loyal Britons moved their families to Louisiana from the Atlantic states rather than to fight against what they deemed to be their mother country.  

The United States finally purchased the area known as the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  This area was divided on 1 October 1804 into two parts by Congressional action.  The upper portion was given the name "District of Louisiana" and the lower portion was named 'Territory of Louisiana"  and the race for settlement was on bringing in settlers from south of the Ohio in search of land.  In 1805, Louisiana was again divided into 12 counties, and in 1807, the Orleans Territory was partitioned into 19 parishes.  On 30 April 1812, when the nation was embroiled again in the War of 1812, Louisiana was admitted as the 18th state of the Union.  Shortly thereafter, in 1815, the Battle of New Orleans was won with Andrew Jackson the victor.  There was a period when Biloxi was the Capital, but this later moved to New Orleans.

Louisiana was a rich agricultural state, housing some of the wealthiest families in America.  They came to grow Indigo for dyes, replaced much of that with sugar and then with cotton plantations.  The plantation system was shattered by the Civil War, but Louisiana continued to be a power in the agricultural world. In 1861, Louisiana ceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy, but was later re-instated in 1868.   In 1869, sulphur was discovered in Louisiana and later, in 1901, oil was discovered in the area, leading it to become one of the nations major producers of oil and natural gas in America.  It also had large timberlands as an available resource.

In 1872, one of the most enduring holiday celebrations in New Orleans was established. The first Mardi Gras parade was held that year and Rex, King of Carnival, has reigned ever since.  Louisiana is the home of Jazz, shrimp fishing and some of the best eating in the South.  You will note that Louisiana is divided into Parishes and not Counties.  Also you will find that Louisiana is one of the few states in the Union that follow Napoleonic Law as the basis for its legal structure.

Name Date formed Parent Parish Parish Seat
Acadia 1805 St. Landry Crowley
Allen 1913 Calcasieu Oberlin
Ascension 1802 St. James Donaldsonville
Assumption 1786 Original Parish Napoleonville
Attakaps 1807 Original parish discontinued after 1807
Avoyelles (reorganized 1873) 1763 Original Parish   Marksville
Beauregard 1913 Calcasieu DeRidder
Baton Rouge 1807 Divided into East and West Baton Rouge Parishes in 1810  
Bienville 1848 Claiborne Arcadia
Bossier 1843 Claiborne Benton
Caddo 1838 Natchitoches Shreveport
Calcasieu 1840 St. Landry Lake Charles
Cameron 1838 Catahoula Columbia
Cameron 1870 Calcasieu, Vermillion Cameron
Carroll before 1840 divided into East and West Carroll in 1877  
Catahoula 1808   Harrisonburg
Claiborne 1828 Natchitoches Homer
Concordia 1805 Avoyelles Vidalia
De Soto 1843 Natchitoches Mansfield
East Baton Rouge 1763 Original Parish Baton Rouge
East Carroll 1877 Carroll Lake Providence
East Feliciana 1824 Seceded from Feliciana in 1877 Clinton
Evangeline 1911 St. Landry Ville Platte
Franklin 1843 Catahoula Winnsboro
Grant 1869 Rapides, Winn Colfax
Iberia 1868 St. martin, St. Mary New Iberia
Iberville 1807 Assumption, Ascension Plaquemine
Jackson 1845 Winn Jonesboro
Jefferson 1825 Orleans Gretna
Jefferson Davis 1913 Calcasieu Jennings
Lafayette 1823 Attakaps (New Rapides), St. Landry Lafayette
Lafourche 1807 St. James, St. John, St. Charles Thibodaux
LaSalle 1910 Catahoula Jena
Lincoln 1873 Bienville, Jackson, Union, Claiborne Ruston
Livingston 1832 Baton Rouge, Ascension Livingston
Madison 1838 Tensas Tallulah
Morehouse 1844 Quachita Bastrop
Natchitoches 1763 Original Parish Natchitoches
Opelousas before 1810 dissolved.  
Plaquemines 1807 Orleans Pointe a la Hache
Pointe Coupee 1807 Feliciana, Avoyelles New Roads
Rapides 1763 Original Parish Alexandria
Red River 1871 Caddo, Bossier, Bienville, Natchitoches, DeSoto Coushatta
Richland 1868  Quachita Rayville
Sabine 1843 Natchitoches Many
St. Bernard 1775 Orleans Chalmette
St. Charles 1785 Original Parish Hahnville
St. Helena 1845 Livingston Greensburg
St. James 1785 Original Parish Convent
St. John the Baptist 1807 Original Parish Edgard
St. Landry 1807 Avoyelles, Rapides Opelousas
St. Martin 1807 Original Parish St. Martinville
St. Mary 1811 Assumption Franklin
St. Tammany 1811 Orleans Covington
Tangipahoa 1869 Livingston, St. Tammany Amite
Tensas 1843 Concordia St. Joseph
Terrebonne 1822 La Fourche Houma
Union 1838 Quachita, Claiborne Farmerville
Vermillion 1844 Lafayette Abbeville
Vernon 1871 Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine Leesville
Washington 1819 Original Parish Franklinton
Webster 1871 Claiborne Minden
West Baton Rouge 1807 Baton Rouge Port Allen
West Carroll 1877 Caroll Oak Grove
West Feliciana 1824 Feliciana Saint Francisville
Winn 1851 Natchitoches Winnfield