Vernon Parish Data
Vernon Parish Neighbors
- Allen Parish
- Beauregard Parish
- Natchitoches Parish
- Newton County, Texas
- Rapides Parish
- Sabine Parish
Welcome to Vernon Parish!
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About Vernon Parish...
On March 30, 1871, the Louisiana General Assembly passed an act designating the creation of Vernon Parish, by taking territory from the parishes of Natchitoches, Rapides, and Sabine.
While there seems to be four stories surrounding the naming of the Parish, only one is affirmed officially by the State. That it was named in honor of Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington. Other stories, though folklore, are: 1) that it was named after a race horse owned by Joe Moore, one of the members of the committee chosen to name the parish, who claimed that by naming the parish after his fast horse the committee would insure the growth of the parish to be as fast as his horse: 2) that it was named after a popular teacher who had been an officer in the Royal Navy, only mentioned as "Mr. Vernon". This was not to honor him, but to avoid disputes among the parish founders whom each wanted to name the parish after themselves. The final story is similar to the first and claims that the committee had been arguing over the name while drinking in a store, and in an attempt to preserve his precious whiskey and profits, the host suggested the committee stop a local man with a mule pulling a cart and that they should name the parish whatever the man said. The man answered them "I calls him Vernon, 'cause he's the fastes' mule in de country."
Originally the area comprising Vernon was apart of a tract of land that was in dispute between the United States and Spain, this land was called the "Neutral Strip". As a result of this dispute the area became a haven for outlaws. Prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the only persons who came to the area were a few French and Spanish settlers. It was also during this period that Dr. Burr established the community of Burr Ferry. This community was known as the "Gateway to Louisiana". Also located near this community, there still stands an artillery site (now called the "Confederate Breast Works"), which was manned by the Confederacy to guard against Union movements along the Nolan Trace during the Civil War.
Leesville has been the parish seat of Vernon since the parish was created, though it wasn't incorporated until February 15, 1900. The city, although founded by Dr. Edmund E. Smart, was named by Senator R. Smart, his father, in honor of General Robert E. Lee. At the time of Leesville's founding, the site was the home of a plantation owned by Dr. Smart. The house from that plantation is still found today at the corner of Lula and First street.
In the late 1890s the timber industry, which was the dominant industry in the parish from its creation, began to boom with the arrival of the Kansas City Southern Railway in 1897, which is still in operation today.
In the period after World War I, Vernon became the site of two socialist based communities; the Llano Del Rio Cooperative Colony (which became New Llano) established in 1917 and the Christian Commonwealth Colony. These colonies attempted to attract economists and sociologists for the purpose of conducting an experiment in communal membership and the sharing of labor duties. Of the two colonies the Llano Del Rio was the largest with over 10,000 people and was also the longest surviving community. Both colonies failed in the 1930s when the depression hit.
In 1941, the United States Army opened Camp Polk, shortly after the 1939-40 maneuvers. Camp Polk quickly surpassed the timber industry as the dominant force in the parish's economy, which became evident in the parish seat of Leesville when its population jumped from 3,500 to 18,000 after the camp opened. The Camp receives its name from Leonidas Polk, the first Episcopal Bishop in Louisiana, known as the "Fighting Bishop of the Confederacy" and served as one of the major training camps during World War II. Today, now called Fort Polk is the 5th largest military installation in the nation, containing approximately 200,000 acres. With the constant movement of soldiers and their dependents in and out of the parish, Vernon experiences a unique blend of culture from numerous states and countries creating a true "melting pot."
The parish has a total area of 1,342 square miles, of which 1,328 square miles is land and 13 square miles (0.98%) is water.
Vernon 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 Vernon Parish Important Addresses page.