Caldwell Parish Data
Caldwell Parish Neighbors
- Catahoula Parish
- Franklin Parish
- Jackson Parish
- La Salle Parish
- Ouachita Parish
- Richland Parish
- Winn Parish
Welcome to Caldwell Parish!
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About Caldwell Parish...
In 1592 The Spanish explorer DeSoto traveled down the Ouachita River and visited an Indian village near the present-day town of Columbia, La. One hundred and fifty seven years later Iberville and Bienville passed through the area.
A settlement of approximately 60 pioneers led by an Irish gentleman is believed to have been established in the area in 1719. Other settlements followed, but by 1729 most of these early pioneers had moved out of the area after the Natchez massacre by hostile Indians. The hysteria following the reprisal also drove away friendly Indians and much of the trade in the area. Resettlement of the area did not occur until long after the Spanish took possession of the territory. By then Fort Miro had been built near Monroe, La. and traffic along the Ouachita River increased. When the territory of Orleans was divided, present day Caldwell Parish was part of Ouachita Parish.
The majority of settlers in the area were French speaking with land grants secured from the French, then the Spanish governments. Soon, however, a group of Scandinavians, believed to be Danish, established the village of Copenhagen eight miles south of Columbia. Americans also began to move into the area, anticipating Louisiana's statehood.
Columbia, La. achieved its greatest importance during the period marked by the steamboat era. It became a shipping point rivaled only by Monroe and Old Trenton to the north. Most of its business was drawn from farmers in the hill sections west of the river, where there were few slaves and no landed aristocracy. They brought their cotton, timber and other products for shipment to New Orleans and other markets.
As talk of civil war began, Caldwell Parish did not agree with the growing sentiment of secession from the Union. The war was disastrous for Caldwell Parish's agricultural trade. The embargo on cotton and its sale prohibited by the Confederate government made a vast change in the prosperous conditions of the parish. Caldwell's participation in the war was limited to the soldiers being transported up and down the river by steamboat. Only one serious blow was struck at Columbia, when two federal gunboats on the way up river to Monroe stopped and confiscated two steamers laden with cotton. The ferry, the only means of crossing the river, was destroyed. The aftermath of the war meant impoverishment for Caldwell.
In the 1880s cotton was being grown again in quantity and river trade was reaching its zenith. The timber resources of the region began to be developed and the industry became a rival of cotton. Also during this time, serious efforts were made to bring new blood into the parish. In 1882, a member of the Louisiana Legislature sought to interest a wealthy Irish landlord in transferring his 200 tenant families from Ireland to Caldwell Parish. The proposal involved the purchase of 20,000 acres of land, but was never completed.
The Ouachita River was the main source of transportation from the time of the Indians until the building of the Missouri Pacific Railway in 1888. Columbia, having been a trading post since 1823, had extended its trade territory into Jackson, Winn, Grant, LaSalle and Catahoula parishes during the ox-hauling of cotton period when shipments were being made to New Orleans. The river packet lines did a good business despite the railroad until gravel roads reached the community in 1918. Since that time, paved highways have almost eliminated boat shipments.
Caldwell Parish was established on March 6, 1838, by a bill in the Louisiana Legislature signed by Governor E. D. White. The land was taken from parts of the old Ouachita and Catahoula territories and named for a prominent family living in the area. After also considering Copenhagen, Columbia was selected as the parish seat and land was donated to establish a courthouse and streets along the Ouachita River. The parish is divided into seven wards, with one elected police jury member representing each ward. The police jury, the governing body for the parish, held its first meeting at the home of Noble Fleming in 1838. The first post office was established in Copenhagen on August 2, 1834. Three years later, on August 9, the Columbia post office was established. In 1839, Judge Henry Boyce presided over the first district court to be held in the parish.
Some of the early settlements in the parish included a trading post and settlement of Scandinavians located in Copenhagen, a settlement established by Scotch, English and Irish immigrants in the western section of the parish on Bayou Castor and a settlement east of the Ouachita where a number of French immigrants lived in the parish.
Farming and forestry have for generations been cornerstones of the economy. Although cotton is still grown in the parish, other row crops including corn, soybeans and rice have moved to the forefront in recent decades as diversified farming practices improve. Beef cattle production and horse breeding operations also contribute to the parish economy. More than 60,000 acres are in either row crops or improved pasture. Approximately 250,000 acres are used for commercial forestry.
The parish has a total area of 541 square miles, of which 529 square miles is land and 11 square mile (2.09%) is water. The population recorded in the 1900 Federal Census was 6,917. The 2010 census recorded 10,132 residents in the Parish.
Neigboring parishes are Ouachita Parish (north), Richland Parish (northeast), Franklin Parish (east), Catahoula Parish (southeast), La Salle Parish (south) Winn Parish (southwest), and Jackson Parish (northwest). Communities in the parish include Grayson, Kelly, Clarks, Columbia, Holum, Hebert, Corey, Copenhagen, Mount Pleasant, Vixen and Banks Springs.
Caldwell Parish Records
Birth Records - The Louisiana State office maintains records for 100 years after the date of birth. Birth records are considered confidential for the first 100 years. For current information on who may obtain a birth record as well as how to submit a request visit the Office of Public Health, Vital Records Registry website or write to them at PO Box 60630, New Orleans, LA 70160.
Birth records older than 100 years are available through the Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. (225) 922-1000.
Death Records - The Louisiana State office maintains records for 100 years after the date of death. Death records are considered confidential for the first 100 years. For current information on who may obtain a death record as well as how to submit a request visit the Office of Public Health, Vital Records Registry website or write to them at PO Box 60630, New Orleans, LA 70160.
Death records older than 100 years are available through the Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. (225) 922-1000.
Marriage Records - For current information on how to submit a request for a certified copy of an Orleans Parish marriage record less than 50 years old, see the Louisiana Office of Public Health Director, Vital Records and Statistics website or write to PO Box 60630, New Orleans, LA 70160.
Marriage records over 50 years are stored by the Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. (225) 922-1000.
Divorce Records - To obtain current information on how to submit a request for a certified copy of divorce records contact the Clerk of Court. For the address of the parish Clerk of Court visit the Caldwell Parish Important Addresses page.