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Parish History

Legend has it that Ponce de Leon visited this area east of the Mississippi and named it "Nueva Feliciana", which in Spanish means "New Happy Land". The salubrious climate, unequaled flora, flowing waters, and fertile soil were likely the major attractions to this area. From its bluffs, to the Tunica hills in the Northwest, and pine hills in the East; West Feliciana Parish is fascinatingly diverse in topography. Besides the mighty Mississippi River, the area's major streams are Thompsons' Creek, Bayou Sara, and Alligator Bayou.

It is believed that the area was first settled near the Tunica Indian Villages in about 1712, with slow settlement thereafter. By 1729, the French began to settle this area where a small fort was built, called St. Reyne aux Tonicas. Settlement did not begin in earnest until about 1770.

As a result of the "Second Battle of Baton Rouge" with the Spanish; the independent West Florida Republic was established. This republic became part of the U.S. in late 1810.

The area of New Feliciana Parish had grown so populated that by 1824, it was divided into East and West Feliciana Parish. Cotton was primarily grown in this area, which was transported via the waterways to ports. There were two main Villages, that of St. Francisville and Bayou Sara. By 1838, there was even a horse drawn coach line which frequented these two settlements. Soon after, the 24 mile long road to Woodville, Mississippi brought more commerce to the area.

The major crops in 1850 were corn, rice and predominately sugar cane. West Feliciana Parish was full of large plantations and a great wealth had grown from the cultivation of cotton and sugar cane.

St. Francisville is the oldest town originally chartered in the Florida parishes. The majority of this city is on the National Register of Historic Places. The West Feliciana Parish Courthouse has some of the earliest intact and indexed records of the area. For those with both American and African-American ties to the Felicianas, genealogical research here should prove fruitful.

Facts about the Louisiana Purchase

bullet The Territory: 828,000 square miles including New Orleans and parts of what would become 13 states west of the Mississippi River
bullet The Price: $15 million
bullet The Buyer: The United States of America
bullet The Seller: France
bullet The International Principals: Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon Bonaparte, James Monroe, Robert Livingston, Francois de Barbe-Marbois
bullet The Deal: Negotiated in Paris during 1802 and 1803
bullet Signing Agreement: April 30, 1803 in Paris
bullet Ratified: By the United States Senate in October, 1803
bullet Retrocession: From Spain to France November 30, 1803 in New Orleans
bullet New Orleans, Louisiana Territory Principals: Pierre Clement de Laussat, William Charles Cole Claiborne, General James Wilkinson
bullet Transfer from France to the United States: December 20, 1803 in the Sala Capitular in the Cabildo located in the historic French Quarter on Jackson Square in New Orleans


Copyright 2013: Allen D. Herring
Last updated: 2013-12-11