Catahoula Parish Data
Catahoula Parish Neighbors
Welcome to Catahoula Parish!
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About Catahoula Parish...
The first known inhabitants of the area that would become Catahoula Parish were the Mound Builders, 2000 B.C. – 900 A. D. Four tribes made up this woodland couture: Cole’s Creek, Deasonville, Troyville, and Marksville. In 1542 DeSoto’s travels brought him to the area. His company, because of sickness and war, was now reduced to about 400 men. DeSoto himself was in a very precarious state of health. Traveling along the banks of Lake Lovelace in a southernly direction, DeSoto and his men saw before them on the bluffs the largest assembly of Indians they had encountered in all their travels at the the Indian Village Tianto. Situated high on the bluffs overlooking Lake Lovelace, this truly must have been a beautiful setting, for DeSoto wintered here. Shortly after their departure in the spring DeSoto died.
Situated high on the bluffs overlooking Lake Lovelace, this truly must have been a beautiful setting, for DeSoto wintered here. Shortly after their departure in the spring DeSoto died. In the year 1682 LaSalle visited this area. One hundred and forty years after DeSoto’s visit, LaSalle reported that all the Indians present in DeSoto’s day had vanished from the area.
In the early 1700’s the area was settled by French settlers. In 1729 their settlements were abandoned and the people met in Harrisonburg, where they fled to safety in New Orleans to escape a feared massacre by the Natchez Indians. In 1731 the last battle of the Natchez Indians was fought at Battleground Plantation, four miles north of the town of Sicily Island. This was the first and only time in American history that the American Indians fought behind entrenchments.
Richard, Thomas, and George Lovelace, who migrated from the Carolinas, settled in the region in the 1760’s. Traveling on flatboats and using the same water route as the French before them, they came up Lake Lovelace, previously called Squirrel Lake or Silver Creek by the Indians, and built a log cabin at the head of the lake. It was on Ferry Plantation that the Catahoula Cur came into being. The Lovelace brothers brought with them Dalmatians which had been used as coach dogs. These bred with Indian dogs here, and the result was the Catahoula Cur.
Prior to 1800, few families lived between Rodney, Mississippi and Natchitoches, Louisiana. However, some people from Tennessee, the Carolinas, Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia had settled there. Henry Holstein; Edward, Richard and Thomas Lovelace; Richard Green; Rezin Bowie; George Lovelace; Zachariah Kirkland; Moses King; and John Lovelace, Sr. were early settlers of the area.
Kirk’s Ferry Landing, which was located near Hedgeland Plantation, was in operation until around 1910. It provided tavern facilities and lodging for travelers. To ship cargo across land was a task not easily taken on and in many cases nearly impossible. Natural waterways provided early settlers with a quicker and certainly more efficient mode of transportation. In George W. Lovelace’s mercantile book is seen this bill of articles of commerce: "Shipped on keel or flatboat in 1835, bear skins (243), deer skins (450), beaver skins (28)". In 1820 the Independence, commanded by Captain Rarick, was the first steamboat to journey into Bayou Louah and Lake Lovelace. It was this same winter that the Bayou was cleared for navigational purposes. There had been much planning and work in order to secure a steamboat line for Sicily Island. This line evolved into a profitable business for the parish.
As life advanced prior to the Civil War, many people found themselves in the midst of a booming economy, which introduced a far more lavish life-style. Philip J. Hooter built the first brick home in Catahoula Parish in 1835. This house stood at the head of Lake Lovelace in the present township of Sicily Island. During the Civil Wart, Union soldiers enroute to Harrisonburg passed through Sicily Island. Given notice of their advancement, most of the farms were left desolated by their owners. Also, Confederate soldiers camped on Sicily Island. One Confederate soldier, Pierre Poche, wrote the following: "Tonight a dance was given at the home of Dr. Lovelace in honor of General Grey’s general staff. Miss Florence Lovelace was the belle of the ball. Dr. Lovelace served good food, especially coffee, but Dr. Lovelace had engaged an old Negro man to play the fiddle and the music was less than desirable."
In 1927 the whole countryside in and around Sicily Island was affected by one of the worst floods in its history. Sicily Island became a haven for as many as 600 refugees. Some families who had settled on high ridges in the Tensas River swamp chose to remain in their homes, though surrounded by water. Miss Bessie (Katherine Elizabeth) Carter, and her family who lived on Copeland Plantation, then known as McGraw’s Station, were among those who rode out the flood.
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 739 square miles, of which 704 square miles is land and 35 square mile (4.84%) is water. The population recorded in the 1900 Federal Census was 16,351. The 2010 census recorded 10,407 residents in the Parish.
Neigboring parishes are Franklin Parish (north), Tensas Parish (northeast), Concordia Parish (east), Avoyelles Parish (south), La Salle Parish (west), and Caldwell Parish (northwest). Communities in the parish include Aimwell, Enterprise, Fouls, Harrisonburg, Jonesville, Larto, Leland, Manifest, Sandy Lake and Sicily Island.
Catahoula 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 Catahoula Parish Important Addresses page.