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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


Louisiana, one of the United States, so called by La Salle, in 1682, in honor of his royal patron of France.  It is situated between 29° and 33° north latitude, and 88°40' and 94°25' west longitude from Greenwich; and is bounded north by Arkansas and Mississippi, east by Mississippi, from which it is separated by the Mississippi and Pearl rivers, southeast and south by the Gulf of Mexico, and west by Texas, from which it is separated in part by the Sabine river.  Its Superficial area is 46,341 square miles.

Physical Aspect-- The entire border of the state, from Pearl river to the Sabine, presents itself in a vast tract of irreclaimable sea marsh from 20 to 30 miles in width, extending farthest inland in the regions between the streams; for it is a singular feature, in all the rivers which flow into this part of the Mississippi, that narrow strips of arable land, of greater or less width, occur on their banks, extending far beyond the interior limits of the sea marsh; none, however, retain these elevated borders to the Mexican gulf.  Contiguous to the sea marsh are vast prairies, with which the former has often been confounded, in consequence of their similarity in appearance.  On the water of the Sabine, Calcasieu and Mermentau, the prairies have generally a thin sterile soil, while on the Vermilion, Teche and Cortableau, they are almost uniformly good.  The Alluvial banks of the rivers of Louisiana, in their natural state, are more or less subject to inundation; but in many cases, where valuable tracts are situated in the rear of the elevated strips on their borders, in order to prevent them from being overflowed, artificial embankments, or dikes, called "levees" are raised, on the margins of the streams,  These arable river borders are usually composed of a fine loose, rich soil; but the interior plains are hard, stiff and less fertile. In some instances, when these plains are laid dry, the soil becomes almost as hard as stone.  Taken as a whole, Louisiana consists of inundated and non inundated lands.  Above the mouth of the Red River, the tract liable to periodical inundation is narrow, but below that stream it widens and expands like a fan, and finally embraces the whole gulf border.  All of the soil, sufficiently elevated for cultivation within the inundated region, is of superior quality.  The northern part of the state has an undulating surface.  Northward from the prairies of Opelousas, and westward of the inundated border near the Mississippi, lies what has been denominated the "pine region."  The surface has been some what broken into hills, though of moderate elevation, and within the tract of some snow, and even waterfalls appear.  The banks of the Vermilion, which, are generally fertile, are high, broken and diversified, above the termination of the timber near the sea marsh.  The country between the Mississippi, Iberville and Pearl rivers, is an important part of the state.  The southern or level portion is highly productive of the staple crops, and the northern portion, which, is undulating, has been considered as the "garden of Louisiana."

Rivers, Lakes and Bays-- Louisiana is intersected by numerous, creeks (bayous), and lakes, dividing the state into a great number of islands, or "deltas", similar in some respects to those at the mouths of the Ganges, the Nile and the Parana.  The principal rivers are the Mississippi, Pearl, Bogue Chitto, Chifuncte, Tangipao, Tickfoha, Lafourche, Teche, Vermilion, Tenasa, Red, Mermentau, Atchafalaya, Amite, New, Calcasieu, Black, Bodcau, Dacheet, Saline, Washita, Plaquemine and the Sabine.  The principal lakes are Ponchartrain, Maurepas, Brogne, Chetimaches, Mermentau, Calcasieu and Sabine.  The chief bays are, Vermilion, Cote, Blanche, Atchafalaya, Timbalier, West and Chandeleur.

Climate-- In the southern part of the state the climate, in summer, is hot, sultry, and unhealthy; in the northern part it is more temperate and salubrious.  The winters are usually mild, though snow sometimes falls at Opelousas, from ten to twelve inches deep; such instances are rare.  The creeks and ponds at New Orleans are sometimes closed with ice and snow has been known to fall sufficiently deep for sleighing.

Productive Resources-- The staple products are cotton, sugar, molasses, tobacco and rice.  This state also produces to some extent, horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, wool, hay, lumber, tar, turpentine, wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, Indian cor, wine. oranges and figs.

Manufactures-- The manufactures of Louisiana are confined chiefly to the eastern portion of the state.  In 1850 there were 1,021 manufacturing establishments producing $50 and upward annually.  The articles manufactured are principally to supply the immediate wants of the community.

Railroads and Canals-- Louisiana is so well provided with navigable channels, that little attention has been given to artificial means of internal communication.  The public mind, however, has recently been awakened to the subject, and we may confidently predict that this state will ere long be traversed by iron bands, connecting New Orleans with important points within her own borders, and extending to other states.  At present there are but about 50 miles of railroads and 100 miles of canal in the state.

Commerce-- The exports and imports of Louisiana are about $50,000,000 annually.  Its coasting and river trade amounts to about double that sum.  Shipping owned within the state is about 250,000 tons.

Education-- The principal collegiate institutions in Louisiana are, the St Charles college at Grande Coteau founded in 1833; the Baton Rouge college in 1838; the Franklin college at Opelousas in 1839; the Centenary college of Louisiana at Jackson in 1841; and the University of Louisiana at New Orleans.  There are about 100 academies and 300 common schools in the state.

Government--The Legislative power is vested in a senate and house of representatives.  The senators, 32 in number, are elected by the people, by districts, for the term of four years, one half being chosen every two years; the representatives are elected by the people by parishes, for a term of two years.  The number of representatives can not be more than 100, nor less then 70, divided among the parishes, according to their total population, but each parish is entitled to a representative.  The executive power is vested in a governor, who is elected by the people, for a term of four years, and is ineligible for the next four years.  The elections are held in November, and the legislature meets biennially at Baton Rouge, the third Monday in January.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court of five judges, which has appellate jurisdiction only, and such inferior courts as the legislature may establish.  The chief justice is elected for ten years, and the associate judges for eight years.  The right of suffrage is extended to all white males, above 21 years of age, who have resided in the state one year, and in the parish six months, next preceding the election.  All citizens are disfranchised, both as to voting and holding office, who may fight, or in any way be connected with fighting, a duel, with a citizen of the state, either in or out of it.  The constitution provides for the establishment of free public schools throughout the state.

Population-- In 1732 was about 7,500; in 1810 was 76,556; in 1820 was 153,407; in 1830 was 215,739; in 1840 was 352,411 and in 1850 was 517,739. Number of slaves in 1800 was 3,489; in 1810 was 34,660; in 1820 was 69,064; in 1830 was 109,588, in 1840 was 168,452 and in 1850 was 244,786.

History--Louisiana embraces a part of the ancient territory bearing this name, once so comprehensive, including the entire valley of the Mississippi and its tributary streams, consisting of all the present states of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and California, a portion of Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and all the undefined regions between the Rio del Norte and the northern sources of the Mississippi, extending westward to the Pacific.  It also constitutes a portion of Florida, as named by Ponce de Leon, in 1512.  The first permanent settlement in the present Louisiana was made at New Orleans, in 1718, by the emigrants of the "Mississippi Company" under the Auspices of John Law, who received a royal grant the year before of a complete monopoly of the trade and mines of the territory of 27 years. In 1732 for the want of success, this company surrendered its chartered rights to Louisiana, and the control of its commerce reverted to the King. In 1763, France was compelled to cede to England, not only Canada and Acadia, but all of Louisiana east of the Mississippi, as far south as the river D'Iberville, and hence all their territory north and east of a line running along that stream and Amite river, through Lakes Meurepas and Ponchartrain, to the Gulf of Mexico.  The same year she formed a treaty with Spain, surrendering the remaining portion of Louisiana, not ceded to England, and thus deprived herself of all her possessions to the continent of North America. 

In 1800, it was retro ceded to France by a secret treaty, who formally took possession of the country, in 1803, and immediately sold it to the United States for $15,000,000.  In the meantime the Revolution had occurred, and all the former territory of Louisiana, lying east of the Mississippi, which had been ceded to England in 1763, had also become a part of the Union.  By the act of Congress, in 1804, Louisiana was definitely subdivided; the northern part, above latitude 31° was called "The Territory of Mississippi," and the lower division, "The Territory of Orleans."  In 1811, the latter was authorized to form a constitution of government, which, together with that portion of West Florida, west of Pearl river, was formally received into the Union, in 1812, under the name of Louisiana, as a sovereign state.  Subsequently to this other lands were annexed to this state, until it received its present bounds.  The original constitution was revised in 1845, and a new one adopted in 1852.  Motto of the seal, "Union and Confidence."

1850 Parishes of  Louisiana

Parish Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Ascension southeast part, crossed by Mississippi river blank Donaldsonville 10,752
Assumption southeast part, water by Mississippi river & Bayou La Fourche blank Assumption 10,538
Avoyelles west side of the Mississippi river, water by Atchafalaya & Red Rivers 1,080 Marksville 3,326
Bienville NW part, on east side of Lake Bisteneau blank blank 5,539
Bossier NW corner, between Red river & lake Bisteneau, also lake Bodeau 880 Belleview 6,962
Caddo northwest corner, on western side of Red river & water by Caddo lake 2,500 Shrewsport (Shreveport) 8,864
Calcasieu southwestern corner, on east side of Sabine river &Gulf of Mexico on the south 5,000 Lisbon 3,914
Caldwell north part, crossed by Wachita river blank Columbia 2,815
Carroll northeast corner, on west side of Mississippi river 1100 Providence 8,789
Cataholla eastern part, water by Catahoola lake, Catahoola & Washita rivers 2,100 Harrisonburgh 6,982
Claiborne northern boundary, on east side of Bayou Dorchest blank Oveston 7,471
Concordia east boundary, between Tensas & Mississippi rivers 1300 Vidalia 7,758
De Soto western boundary, Sabine river on west blank Mansfield 8,019
East Baton Rouge southeastern part, Mississippi river on west blank Baton Rouge 11,977
East Feliciana northern boundary, lies on east side of Mississippi river 560 Clinton 13,298
Feliciana see East & West Feliciana      
Franklin north eastern part blank Winnisborough 3,251
Iberville south eastern part, crossed by Mississippi river 350 Plaquemine 12,216
Jackson northern part blank blank 5,566
Jefferson south eastern part, crossed by Mississippi river, bounded by bayous & inlets of Gulf of Mexico 720 La Fayette 25,091
Lafayette southern part, crossed by Vermillion river blank Vermillionville 6,720
La Fourche Interior southeast part, Gulf of Mexico on south 1100 Thibodeauxville 9,533
Livingston toward southeast part 730 Springfield 3,385
Madison east boundary, Mississippi river on east 800 Richmond 7,863
Morehouse north boundary, Wachita river on west blank Bastrop 3,913
Natchitoches western part, crossed by Red river 4000 Natchitoches 14,201
Orleans southeast part, Lake Pontchartrain on northwest, Lake Borgne on southeast, Mississippi river on southwest 160 New Orleans 119,461
Plaquemine southeast extremity on the Gulf of Mexico, including the main embouchure of the Mississippi river 2500 Fort Jackson 7,390
Point Coupee in central part, Mississippi river on northeast & Atchafalaya on west 600 Point Coupee 11,339
Rapides toward western part, crossed by Red river 600 Alexandria 16,561
Sabine western boundary, Sabine river on west blank Manny 4,515
St Bernard southeast part, Mississippi river on northwest, surrounded by Gulf of Mexico 150 blank 3,802
St Charles in southeast part, Lake Pontchartrain on north, crossed by Mississippi river 512 St Charles Court House 5,120
St Helena on north boundary of southeast section 1700 Greensburgh 4,561
St John Baptist southeast part, Lakes Maurepas & Ponchartrain on northeast & east, Lake Allemande on south & crossed by Mississippi river 260 St John Baptist Court House 7,317
St Landre toward southern part, Atchafalaya river on east 2000 Opelousas 22,353
St Martin's toward southern part, Chetimaches lake on south 850 St Martinsville 11,765
St Mary's on south boundary, Gulf of Mexico on south, Chetimaches lake on northeast 870 Franklin 13,700
St Tammany on east boundary, Pearl river on east, Lake Ponchartrain on south 972 Covington 6,364
Tensas east boundary, Mississippi river on east, Tensas river on west blank St Joseph 8,940
Terre Bonne in southern part, on the Gulf of Mexico 1850 Houma 7,724
Union on northern boundary, Wachita river on east 1200 Farmersville 8,203
Wachita in northern part, crossed by Wachita river 2090 Monroe 5,308
Washington on northern boundary, Pearl river on east 792 Franklinton 3,408
West Baton Rouge central part, Mississippi river on east, Red river on west 700 West Baton Rouge 6,270
West Feliciana on northern boundary, Mississippi river on southwest 600 St Francisville 13,245

Baton Rouge, LA

The seat of justice of East Baton Rouge parish, and capital of Louisiana.  It occupies a pleasant slope on the east bank for the Mississippi river, 117 miles NW of New Orleans.  Upon the elevation east of the city stands the United States barracks; it also contains Baton Rouge college and other prominent public buildings.  This place is not otherwise particularly remarkable, except in being the seat of the state government, having succeeded New Orleans in that relation in Dec 1849.  Opposite is the village of West Baton Rouge.  The town is pleasantly located with good facilities for business, being nearly equally distant from Natchez and from New Orleans from which places and other points on the Mississippi come steamboats to its wharves.

Population in 1830 was about 1000, in 1840 was 2,296, in 1850 was 3,905

New Orleans, LA

City, seat of justice of Orleans parish, and commercial metropolis of Louisiana, situated on the north bank of the Mississippi river, 100 miles from its entrance into the Gulf of Mexico, 1,185 miles below the mouth of the Missouri, and 1,172 miles from Washington.  It position and appearance are both singularly different from those of other American cities.  The ground, as it recedes from the river, descends by a gentle inclination, causing the houses, when viewed from point not much above the level of high water to seem to rise immediately from it.  A "levee" or dike, forms a margin between the city and the river, and protects the former from inundation by the latter.   It is built of wood, 200 feet wide, and extends for four miles, presenting a most animated scene of commercial prosperity.  Within, not only the houses, but the inhabitants, are of many descriptions.  Except New York, no city includes Americans from so many different states, while the number of blacks, with the French and Spanish Creoles, and the foreigners, is still greater.  These representatives of many nations are drawn to New Orleans by its geographical and commercial relations to the West Indies, South America, Mexico and the southern parts of North America.  The Creole citizens are descendants of the French, Spanish and Germans, who originally founded and peopled the city, and constitute a large portion of the population.  The position of New Orleans, with regard to the interior of the United States, is still more important.  Situated near the mouth of the great river of the American continent, the Mississippi, with its immense confluents of the Ohio and the Missouri, almost the whole trade of those streams and of their thousand tributaries, flows toward this point, as to a vast receiving and distributing reservoir.  Hence the exports of New Orleans are exceeded by those of no other American City, New York excepted.  The great staples of the southern and western states, sugar, cotton, tobacco, wheat, flour and corn, are the articles chiefly shipped from this port.    The harbor is excellent, deep and spacious.  Ships and vessels of every description, from flatboats of the Mississippi to the magnificent ocean steamer, here congregate or enliven the scene, as they move from point to point.  From the city to the bar, near the gulf 100 miles below, the river has an average depth of 100 feet, affording anchorage for several miles along the wharves.  The bed of the river, and its banks toward the mouth are gradually rising.  In 1722 there were 14 feet of water on the bar.  In 1767 there were but 20, and now there are but 9 feet.  The present mouth of the river is three miles beyond the mouth of 1724.

The city is gradually extending toward Lake Ponchartrain on the north, which communicates with the Mississippi by canal, the Bayou St John, and a railroad, 6 miles long, and with the Gulf of Mexico by Lake Borgne and intermediate passages.  The Mexican Gulf railroad communicates with Proctorville, 27 miles distance.  From the nature of commercial advantages which New Orleans possesses, it is apparent that its prosperity is almost unlimited, and is the necessary result of the settlement of the vast region of the valley of the Mississippi.  It is now the sixth city in population, and the third in commerce in the Union, and perhaps would already have held a higher rank, but from the check it receives from the prevalence of yellow fever, and other maladies, consequent upon its situation.  There were formerly three municipalities and the city of Lafayette, with district councils for the management of internal affairs in the geographical limits of the city; there were consolidated in 1852 under one municipal government.  This city was also the capital of Louisiana until 1849, when the seat was removed to Baton Rouge.  It contains churches of various ages and styles of architecture, hospitals, charitable institutions, theatres, banks, warehouses, hotels and the United States branch mint, a large building 108 feet deep, 282 feet long and three stories high; also the University of Louisiana, and many excellent schools.  The city is supplied with water, elevated by steam from the Mississippi into a reservoir, and thence distributed through iron pipes. 

Population: in 1763 was 3,190; in 1785 was 4,980; in 1810 was 17,242; in 1820 was 27,176; in 1830 was 46,310; in 1840 was 102,193 and in 1850 was 115,625.

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