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History and Facts of Louisiana Parishes

Today’s Louisiana parishes did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.

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Louisiana Parishes were formed from French and Spanish colonies, which were both officially Roman Catholic. Local government was based upon parishes, as the local ecclesiastical division.

The Territory of Orleans or Orleans Territory existed from October 1, 1804, until the State of Louisiana entered the union as the 18th state on April 30, 1812 with 25 parishes.

1805 Louisiana Counties

Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the territorial legislature organized 12 Louisiana counties. Those (Orleans County, LaFourche County, German Coast, Acadia County, Iberville County, Attakapas County, Pointe Coupée County, Opelousas County, Rapides County, Concordia County, Natchitoches County, and Ouachita County.) on April 10, 1805.

The borders of these counties were poorly defined, but they roughly coincided with the colonial parishes, and hence used the same names.

The parish or parishes referred to the Act of April 10, 1805 were existing ecclesiastical jurisdictions (established under previous Spanish rule) rather than precisely defined civil divisions.

The ecclesiastical districts had never been precisely bounded, nor did such parishes exist throughout the new territory. As a result, county boundary lines can only be estimated.

After creation of civil parish system in 1807, the early county divisions were generally used for certain electoral and taxation purposes.

1807 Louisiana Parishes

The 19 Louisiana parishes established on April 14, 1807 were civil divisions which reused the earlier ecclesiastical boundaries and names. The division into civil parishes did not abolish the original 12 counties established on April 10, 1805.

This and subsequent laws set up a dual system in which the counties existed “for the purpose of making the election of the representatives of the territory, and levying the territorial taxes”, while the parishes took over jurisdiction of all civil, criminal, probate and other judicial matters.

The 19 original Louisiana parishes were joined by Catahoula Parish in 1808, and in 1810 four additional parishes were created from the formerly Spanish West Florida territory.

In 1811, Louisiana was organized into 7 judicial districts, each consisting of groups of parishes. In 1816, the first official map of the state used the term parish, as did the 1845 constitution.

1845 Louisiana Constitution

In 1843 the county was abolished as an electoral unit. The dual county / parish system remained in effect until the state constitution of 1845.

Though there was no legislative act formally abolishing the old counties, but when the state constitution was rewritten in 1845 all remainders of the county system were eliminated.

Since then, the official term for Louisiana’s primary civil divisions has been parishes.

Louisiana Parishes Today

Louisiana is currently divided into 64 parishes. States bordering Louisiana are ArkansasMississippi and Texas.

Today, 38 Louisiana parishes are governed by a council called the Police Jury. The remaining 26 parishes have various other forms of government, including: council-president, council-manager, parish commission, and consolidated parish/city

Fun Facts about Louisiana Parishes

Parishes by Year

  • Orleans, LaFourche, German Coast, Acadia, Iberville, Attakapas, Pointe Coupée, Opelousas, Rapides, Concordia, Natchitoches, and Ouachita counties was the original 12 counties created on April 10, 1805.
  • Allen, Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis parishes was the last parishes created on June 12, 1912.

Parish Size Facts

Parish Population Facts

Louisiana City Facts

Louisiana’s 10  largest cities (2010) are:

  1. New Orleans (343,829) is in Orleans Parish
  2. Baton Rouge (229,493) is in East Baton Rouge Parish
  3. Shreveport (199,311) is in Bossier and Caddo Parishes
  4. Lafayette (120,623) is in Lafayette Parish
  5. Lake Charles (71,993) is in Calcasieu Parish
  6. Kenner (66,702) is in Jefferson Parish
  7. Bossier City (61,315) is in Bossier Parish
  8. Monroe (48,815) is in Ouachita Parish
  9. Alexandria (47,723) is in Rapides Parish
  10. Houma (33,727) is in Terrebonne Parish

Boundary Changes of Louisiana Parishes from 1805 to 1990

This Interactive Map of Louisiana Parishes show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every parish, extinct parish and unsuccessful parish proposal from 1805 to 1990.

List of Louisiana Parishes

List of Old Former / Extinct Louisiana Parishes

Louisiana contains some parishes that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another parish. These are important for genealogy research purposes.

The below Louisiana parishes and counties no longer exist:

Acadia County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory. The name of the parish is derived from the former French colony of Acadia in Canada.

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parishes of Ascension and St. James created within Acadia County.  

Acadia County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Allen Parish, (Proposed) Louisiana

Legislature authorized creation on June 28, 1910 from Calcasieu Parish. It was dependent on a vote in election on November 8,1910.

The vote failed and the act was not ratified. The creation of Allen Parish never became effective.

Attakapas County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory from the Attakapas and Opelousas Districts.

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parish of Attakapas was created within Attakapas County.  

On April 17, 1811, the Civil Parishes of St. Mary and St. Martin created within Attakapas County.  

Acadia County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Attakapas Parish, Orleans Territory

One of 19 parishes created on April 14, 1807 within Pointe Coupee County.  

Attakapas Parish was abolished on April 17, 1811, when it was divided into St. Martin Parish and St. Mary Parish.

Baton Rouge Parish, Orleans Territory

One of 19 parishes created on April 14, 1807 within Pointe Coupee County.  On December 14, 1812, Baton Rouge Parish was renamed West Baton Rouge Parish.

Biloxi Parish, Orleans Territory

Created on January 4, 1811 from Feliciana County in the formerly Spanish West Florida colony. Biloxi Parish was a U.S. territorial jurisdiction which existed for approximately one year.

It was located in the area which is today the coastal part of the state of Mississippi. When Louisiana became a State in 1812, Biloxi Parish was eliminated when it was transferred to the Mississippi Territory.

Biloxi Parish was never within the modern borders of Louisiana.

Carroll Parish, Louisiana

Created on March 14, 1832 from Concordia and Ouachita parishes. The Parish was was named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, of  Maryland, the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. 

On March 26, 1877, Carroll Parish was divided into East Carroll and West Carroll Parishes.

Concordia County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory from unorganized land areas.

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parish of Concordia was created within Concordia County.  

Concordia County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Dugdemonia Parish, (Proposed) Louisiana

Legislature authorized creation on March 18, 1850 from Catahoula, Natchitoches and Rapides Parishes. It was dependent on an enumeration to determine whether the proposed new parish contained the number of electors required by the Constitution.

The numbers were insufficient so the creation of Dugdemonia Parish never became effective.

Feliciana County, Orleans Territory

Created on December 7, 1810 by Orleans Territory from Spanish West Florida. Known as West Florida the disputed area was claimed by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase but actually controlled by Spain.

On December 22, 1810, the Civil Parishes of East Baton Rouge, Feliciana, St. Helena and St. Tammany was created within Feliciana County.

On April 30, 1812, Feliciana County lost to Mississippi Territory when the United States created the state of Louisiana, with modern boundaries, from Orleans Territory.

Feliciana County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Feliciana Parish, Orleans Territory

Created on December 22, 1810 within Feliciana County. Feliciana is a Spanish word meaning “happy land”.

On February 17, 1824, due to a large increase in population, Feliciana Parish was divided into East Feliciana Parish and West Feliciana Parish.

German Coast County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory from unorganized land areas.

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parishes of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist was created within German Coast County.

German Coast County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Iberia Parish, (Proposed) Louisiana

Legislature authorized creation on March 21, 1850 from St. Mary and St. Martin Parishes. It was dependent on a survey “to decide whether or not a new parish can be created in conformity to article eighth of the Constitution.”

No boundary description for this proposal appears in the session laws. This first attempt to create Iberia Parish was unsuccessful.

Iberville County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory  to “comprehend the Parish of St. Gabriel and such part of St. Bernard as lies within the Territory of Orleans.” 

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parishes of Iberville and Baton Rouge was created within Iberville County.  

Iberville County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Jefferson Davis Parish, (Proposed) Louisiana

Legislature authorized creation on June 121, 1910 from Calcasieu Parish. It was dependent on vote in election on November 8, 1910.

The vote failed and the act was not ratified. The creation of Jefferson Davis Parish never became effective.

Lafourche County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory  to “comprehend the parish of Assumption.” 

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parish of Assumption and Lafourche Interior was created within Lafourche County.  

Lafourche County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Lafourche Interior Parish, Orleans Territory

Created on April 14, 1807 within Lafourche County. On March 23, 1853, Lafourche Interior Parish was renamed Lafourche Parish.

Natchitoches County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory  to “comprehend the parish of Saint Francis.” 

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parish of Natchitoches was created within Natchitoches County.  

On April 30, 1812, Natchitoches County lost land to Spain when the United States created the state of Louisiana, with modern boundaries, from Orleans Territory.

Natchitoches County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Opelousas County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory  to “comprehend the parish of St. Landry..” 

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parish of St. Landry was created within Opelousas County.  

Opelousas County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Orleans County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory  to “comprehend all that portion of the country lying on both sides of the river Mississippi from the Balize to the beginning of the parishes of Saint Bernard and Saint Louis.” 

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parishes of St. Bernard, Orleans and Plaquemines was created within Orleans County.  

Orleans County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Ouachita County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory  to “comprehend all that country commonly called and known by the name of the Ouachita settlements.” 

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parish of Ouachita was created within Ouachita County.  

Ouachita County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Pascagoula Parish, Orleans Territory

Created on January 4, 1811 from Feliciana County in the formerly Spanish West Florida colony. Pascagoula Parish was a U.S. territorial jurisdiction which existed for approximately one year.

It was located in the area which is today the coastal part of the state of Mississippi. When Louisiana became a State in 1812, Pascagoula Parish was eliminated when it was transferred to the Mississippi Territory.

Biloxi Parish was never within the modern borders of Louisiana.

Pointe Coupee County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory  to “comprehend the parish of Saint Francis.” 

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parishes of Pointe Coupee and Baton Rouge was created within Pointe Coupee County.  

Pointe Coupee County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Rapides County, Orleans Territory

One of 12 original counties created on April 10, 1805 by Orleans Territory  to “comprehend the settlements of Rapides, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Bayou Boeuf, Bayou Robert, and all other settlements which are now or may be made in the vicinity thereof and which may in the opinion of the Superior court lie nearer or more conveniently to the court house or seat of justice of the said county of Rapides than to the court house of any other county.” 

On April 14, 1807, the Civil Parishes of Avoyelles and Rapides was created within Rapides County.  

Rapides County was abolished on January 25, 1846, when the new constitution shifted all previous county functions to the control of the civil parishes.

Red River Parish, (Proposed 1st) Louisiana

Legislature authorized creation on March 16, 1848 from Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto and Natchitoches Parishes. It was dependent on an enumeration to determine whether the proposed new parish contained the number of electors required by the Constitution.

The numbers were insufficient so this first attempt to create  Red River Parish failed.

Red River Parish, (Proposed 2nd) Louisiana

Legislature authorized creation on March 17, 1859 from Bienville, Bossier, Caddo and Natchitoches Parishes. It was dependent on an enumeration to determine whether the proposed new parish contained the number of electors required by the Constitution.

The numbers were insufficient so this second attempt to create Red River Parish failed.

Richland Parish, (Proposed) Louisiana

Legislature authorized creation on September 29, 1868 from Carroll, Franklin, Morehouse and Ouachita Parishes. It was dependent on an enumeration to determine whether the proposed new parish contained the number of electors required by the Constitution.

The numbers were insufficient so this first attempt to create Richland Parish failed.

Spanish West Florida

On September 3, 1783, Great Britain ceded East and West Florida to Spain by the Treaty of Paris. The boundaries of the Floridas were not specified; included the part of present Louisiana located east of the Mississippi River

On April 14, 1807, the portion of present Louisiana east of the Mississippi River was claimed by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, but was under the actual control of Spain.

Feliciana County was created on December 7, 1810 by Orleans Territory from the area also claimed by Spanish West Florida. Territory within Feliciana County did not initially contain any internal parish divisions

On April 15, 1813, American forces captured the city of Mobile from Spain, effectively extending U.S. control over the territory between the Mississippi and Perdido Rivers; Spanish control and claims to the area effectively ended. 

Troy Parish, (Proposed 1st) Louisiana

Legislature authorized creation on July 10, 1890 from Catahoula Parish

The Louisiana Supreme Court declared the creation of Troy Parish unconstitutional because it increased the representation in the House of Representatives beyond the constitutional limit

Warren Parish, Orleans Territory

Created on March 20, 1811 from Concordia Parish within Concordia County. On February 28, 1814, Warren Parish merged into Concordia Parish and Ouachita Parish.