Grant Parish Data
Grant Parish Neighbors
Welcome to Grant Parish!
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About Grant Parish...
Each fall of the year came the Buffalo in their annual fall-migration, out of the Grant Plains area of the present United States, through Oklahoma they passed, and in Texas at the Trinity River they turned eastward and the Buffalo being a large and heavy beast left a well-marked trail, past the present day areas of Nacogdoches, San Augustine and Milam in Texas. They crossed the Sabine River into Louisiana and then past the areas of Many, Natchitoches fording the Red River there, then near Montgomery. They crossed the stream of water, later to be called the Rigolet de Bon Dieu past Verda, Dry Prong, Bentley and Pollock in Grant Parish. Then they went past Jena, Jonesville, to the Ferriday-Vidalia area near the Mississippi River. Many parts of the different herds of Buffalo spread out to graze on the lush grasses of Texas and Louisiana. That part of this old Buffalo trail from the Trinity River in Texas to Natchitoches, La., became known as El Camino Real and from Natchitoches, La., to Vidalia, La., that portion of the Buffalo trail became known as the Natchitoches to Natchez Trace.
The passing of the Buffalo each fall of the year attracted Indians of many different tribes and federations for here along this trail was their winters supply of meat to be taken with little effort. Many Indian tribes came to settle permanently along this trail. There are many relics of these past tribes which have been found and many are being found today. The locations of the discovery of these Indian relics bring out the true locations of the Natchez Trace, which followed the Buffalo Trail. In the year 1000 A.D. came the Mound Indians to settle along the Buffalo Trail and mounds have been found in many locations along the buffalo Trail as far west as Nacogdoches, Texas some of the mounds were Burial-Mounds and others were prayer mounds. Only the burial mounds contained artifacts, which give us information as to the abilities of the Indians of that early period. The Millage Indians were somewhat earlier than the Mound Indians and artifacts found of these Indians do not show the intelligence of the Mound Indians.
During the early to mid 1700s the area of Grant Parish and the Natchitoches to Natchez Trace was intermittently inhabited by French trappers, hunters and traders. And along the Red River Post Du Rapides was established in 1723 to protect the portage at the rapids (near Alexandria, Louisiana) with Captain Etienne Layssard as Commandant. This French post was to have considerable bearing concerning the future of the area of Grant Parish. Layssard at Post Du Rapides had a company of fifteen men. Of the very early families to develop from the personnel at the Natchitoches Post and Post Du Rapides and whose descendants are living in Grant Parish are: Derbonne, Lemoine, Dupuy, Layssard, Prudhomme, Poissot, Le Caze, Vallerie, Lavesphere, Vercher, Levasseur, Barberousse, Rachal and Lacour. These family names are listed today in Grant Parish, Natchitoches, Winn, Rapides, Vernon, Red River and DeSoto Parishes. Trading posts and overnight resting-places were established for the flatboarmen who began navigating the Mississippi and Red Rivers from New Orleans to Natchitoches. One such place was established by the Layssard brothers, Nicholas and Jean at the present-day site of Colfax, Louisiana in 1742. In this same year two ex-French soldiers, Lavesphere and Brosselier began maintaining "Travasser" (a kind of flatboat) service from New Orleans to Natchitoches. These two men had rigged their boats with pulleys, which enabled them to pull their boat through the shallow places in the river at the low-water stage. Thus these two men became the talk of the year as they maintained year-round water service in the Louisiana frontier.
Grant Parish was originally a part of the more populous Rapides Parish to the south. Prior to the American Civil War, the center of activity focused upon "Calhoun's Landing," named for the cotton and sugar planter Meredith Calhoun, a native of South Carolina. Calhoun also published the former National Democrat newspaper in what became Colfax, the seat of government of the new parish.
Grant was one of several new parishes created by the Reconstruction legislature in an attempt to build the Republican Party. Founded in 1869, it had a slight majority of freedmen. It was named for U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. The parish seat of Colfax was named for Grant's first vice president, Schuyler M. Colfax (pronounced COAL-facks) of Indiana. However, the town of Colfax is prounounced CAHL-facks. The parish encompassed both cotton plantations and pinewoods. It was one of several areas along the Red River that had considerable violence during Reconstruction, as whites tried to maintain social control.
The gubernatorial election of 1872 was disputed, leading to both parties' certifying their slates of local officers. The election was finally settled in favor of the Republican candidates, but the decision was disputed in certain areas. As social tensions rose, Republican officials took their places at the courthouse in Colfax. They were defended by freedmen and state militia (mostly made up of freedmen), who feared a Democratic Party takeover of the parish. Amid widespread rumors, whites organized a militia and advanced on the courthouse on Easter Sunday, 1873. In the ensuing violence, three whites and 120-150 blacks were killed, including 50 that night who were held as prisoners. Leading 20th-century historians renamed the Colfax Riot, the original state designation, as the Colfax Massacre. The total number of freedmen deaths were never established because some of the bodies were thrown into the river and woods.
The white militia was led by Christopher Columbus Nash, a Confederate officer who had been a prisoner of war at Johnson's Island in Ohio. It consisted of veterans from Grant and neighboring parishes. The following year, Nash gathered many of the white militia members as the basis of the first chapter of the White League. Other chapters quickly grew up across the state. The White League's organized violence in support of the Democratic Party included widespread intimidation of black voters. The League was integral to white Democrats' regaining power in the state by 1876. Soon after, they effectively disfranchised most blacks, a situation that persisted until after the Civil Rights-era legislation of the mid-1960s.
The parish has a total area of 665 square miles, of which 645 square miles is land and 19 square mile (2.93%) is water. The population recorded in the 1900 Federal Census was 12,902. The 2010 census recorded 19,879 residents in the Parish.
Neigboring parishes are Winn Parish (north), La Salle Parish (east), Rapides Parish (south), Natchitoches Parish (west). Communities in the parish include Colfax, Dry Prong, Georgetown, Montgomery, and Pollock.
Grant 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 Grant Parish Important Addresses page.