Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
|Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana|
Location in the state of Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
|Founded||March 31, 1807|
|Named for||Avoyel Native Americans|
|• Total||866 sq mi (2,243 km2)|
|• Land||832 sq mi (2,155 km2)|
|• Water||33 sq mi (85 km2), 3.8%|
|• Density||51/sq mi (20/km²)|
|Time zone||Central: UTC-6/-5|
Avoyelles (French: Paroisse des Avoyelles) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,073. The parish seat is Marksville. The parish was created in 1807, with the name deriving from the French name for the historic Avoyel people, one of the local Indian tribes at the time of European encounter.
Today the parish is the base of the Federally recognized Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe, who have a reservation there. The tribe also has a land-based gambling casino; it is located in Marksville, the parish seat, which is partly within reservation land.
Avoyelles Parish is known for its French-speaking history, with Creole traditions in both music and food, which reflect European, African and Native American influences. While having a distinctive history of immigrants directly from Europe, it is considered the most northern of the 22 "Acadiana" parishes,(with the parishes to the south settled by exiles from Acadia). They contributed strongly to the development of Cajun culture in this area, as did Africans and Native Americans. The parish is noted for its brand of Cajun music and its gumbo, a popular soup in this area with roots in the three major ethnicities noted above.
The area was first settled by Native Americans around 300 BC. Varying indigenous cultures flourished there in the following centuries. Today on the banks of the old Mississippi River channel in Marksville, three large burial mounds have been preserved from the Mississippian culture. A museum and a National Park commemorate this early culture. The Tunica people, with bands extending into the central Mississippi Valley at one time, absorbed the remnant Avoyels nearly two centuries ago. They intermarried with the more numerous Biloxi people. Together, they were federally recognized in 1981 and are known as the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe. They are the largest Native American group in Avoyelles Parish. Descendants of other smaller tribes are also enrolled in this tribe.
Records from the Catholic Churches in both Mansura and Marksville document the establishment of a Trading Post and a Catholic School by the French to bring Christianity to the Tunica Tribe. This trading post was located until the mid -1960s near the Tunica Reservation (next to a Native American run Casino). The settlement was called Hydropolis, meaning water city. There is ahistoric road side markers on LA 1 showing where the Catholic School was located. . The central part of Avoyelles Parish sits on a large plateau, which prior to the Great Flood of 1927 and the construction of levees by the Army Corps of Engineers was frequently surrounded by water. The placement of the trading post was to allow French settlers an opportunity to hunt and trade for furs and animal skins with the Tunica Indians. The major mode of transportation was by Indian canoes and piraques (French dug out canoe). Detailed church records show settlers arriving in Avoyelles with a list of their family members, possessions and even in some cases names of slaves. Church records and documentation go from being recorded in French during the first French period, to Spanish during the Spanish Period, and then back to French when France reacquired Louisiana. Sometime after Louisiana was sold to Thomas Jefferson and the United States, the documents began to be recorded in English.
When Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States, The United States sent expeditions to survey the Louisiana Territory. These French soldiers, surveyors and doctors eventually settled in the area.
The French people that settled Avoyelles immigrated from France via New Orleans, which is evidenced by the fact that many of the French words commonly used today date back to terms used during the Napoleon period in France, i.e. they are no longer used in modern French. The Spanish influence in Louisiana was much more dominant in New Iberia — this was named after the Iberian Peninsula, commonly known as Spain and Portugal. There are no Spanish surnames in Avoyelles. A few families from French Canada (Quebec) arrived in Avoyelles. They were from a different geographic area of Canada than the Acadians of Nova Scotia who were expelled to parishes south of Avoyelles by the British.
Immigrants from Scotland, Belgium, Italy, and Germany in the nineteenth century also settled here, and together established today's towns and villages. Their direct ties to Europe set them apart from the Acadians (Cajuns) of southern Louisiana. At the turn of the 19th century, free people of color of African-French descent settled in Avoyelles. They included refugees from Haiti and the French West Indies, and others. The blending of these three cultures: Native American, European and African, created a distinct Louisiana Creole culture noted in the local language, food, Catholic religion, and family ties.
Today, the Avoyelles Parish culture is classified as "Cajun" because of the perceived similarities in speech, food, and various folk traditions with southern parishes. But, few families in Avoyelles are of Acadian descent. In the 1800s until the mid 1900s, local Confederate units and local newspaper reports in The Villager always referred to the Avoyelles French families as Creoles, the term then for native-born people of French descent.
National protected areas
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 42,073 people residing in the parish. 67.0% were White, 29.5% Black or African American, 1.2% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.4% of some other race and 1.6% of two or more races. 1.4% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 34.6% were of French, French Canadian or Cajun and 11.3% American ancestry.
As of the census of 2000, there were 41,481 people, 14,736 households, and 10,580 families residing in the parish. The population density was 50 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 16,576 housing units at an average density of 20 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 68.47% White, 29.49% Black or African American, 1.01% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.19% from other races, and 0.66% from two or more races. 0.97% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 17.64% reported speaking French or Cajun French at home, while 2.12% speak Spanish.
There were 14,736 households out of which 36.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.70% were married couples living together, 15.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 25.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the parish the population was spread out with 26.80% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 29.00% from 25 to 44, 21.30% from 45 to 64, and 13.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.90 males.
The median income for a household in the parish was $23,851, and the median income for a family was $29,389. Males had a median income of $27,122 versus $18,250 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $12,146. About 21.70% of families and 25.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.50% of those under age 18 and 25.00% of those age 65 or over.
- Cottonport Elementary
- Bunkie Elementary
- Lafargue Elementary
- Marksville Elementary
- Plaucheville Elementary
- Riverside Elementary
- Avoyelles High School
- Bunkie High School
- LASAS (Louisiana School for the Agricultural Sciences)
- Marksville High School
The 1020th Engineer Company (Vertical) of the 527th Engineer Battalion of the 225th Engineer Brigade is located in Marksville, Louisiana. The 1086TH Transportation Company of the 165TH CSS (Combat Service Support) Battalion of the 139TH RSG (Regional Support Group) resides in Bunkie, Louisiana.
- Bill Callegari, Republican former member of the Texas House of Representatives from Harris County; engineer and businessman in Katy, Texas, born in Cottonport in 1941
- F.O. "Potch" Didier, sheriff of Avoyelles Parish, 1956–1980
- Edwin Washington Edwards, four-term governor of Louisiana.
- Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards, first wife of Edwin Edwards and appointed U.S. Senator, serving August–November 1972
- Harvey Fields, Avoyelles Parish native, state senator for Union and Morehouse parishes from 1916 to 1920, member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission from 1927 to 1936; former law partner and political ally of Huey Pierce Long, Jr.
- Donald E. Hines, physician in Bunkie, politician and president of the Louisiana State Senate from 2004 to 2008
- Jeannette Theriot Knoll, associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, a resident of Marksville
- Adras LaBorde, longtime managing editor and political columnist of the Alexandria Daily Town Talk
- Raymond Laborde, mayor of Marksville (1958–1970), state representative (1972–1992), commissioner of administration (1992–1996)
- Adolphe Lafargue, Marksville native, newspaper publisher, state legislator from 1892 to 1899, and judge from 1899 to 1917
- Alvan Lafargue, Marksville native, physician, and the mayor of Sulphur from 1926 to 1932
- Malcolm Lafargue, Marksville native, U.S. attorney in Shreveport in 1940s; unsuccessful Senate candidate in 1950 against Russell B. Long
- James Nelson Lee, judge of the Bunkie City Court 1956-1978 and the 12th Judicial District Court in Avoyelles Parish 1978-1985; born in Lake Providence, c. 1923, interred in Evergreen in Avoyelles Parish
- Charles Addison Riddle III, District Attorney, 2003-current, former state representative, 1992-2003.
Artists, authors and entertainers:
- Sue Eakin, historian, author of Avoyelles Parish: Crossroads of Louisiana
- Alcide "Blind Uncle" Gaspard, early recording artist of traditional Cajun music.
- Ruth McEnery Stuart, Marksville
- Solomon Northup, free black from New York, was held for nearly 12 years as a slave in Avoyelles Parish after being kidnapped; he was freed in 1854 by New York and Marksville officials after being traced here. Published his memoir, Twelve Years a Slave (1854), a best-selling book before the American Civil War and a 2013 film.
- Little Walter, Marion Walter Jacobs. Harmonica player. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Norma McCorvey, "Jane Roe" in the landmark Roe v. Wade lawsuit.
- Felix Eugene Moncla, Jr., United States Air Force pilot who disappeared over Lake Superior in 1953.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Avoyelles Parish". Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
- Philip Timothy (18 March 2007). "Ex-governor [Edwin Washington Edwards] tops list of colorful parish politicians". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved December 19, 2009.
- "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- "American FactFinder"
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "About Us", Avoyelles Parish School Board
- "Harvey Goodwyn Fields, Sr.". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
- "Membership in the Louisiana Senate, 1880-Present". senate.la.gov. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
- Jodi Belgard (August 7, 2014). "Retired Bunkie judge Lee dies at 90". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- "Obituary of Sue Lyles Eakin". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, September 19, 2009. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- Heinrich, P. V., 2008, Woodville 30 x 60 minute geologic quadrangle. Louisiana Geological Survey, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
- Snead, J., P. V. Heinrich, and R. P. McCulloh, 2002, Ville Platte 30 x 60 minute geologic quadrangle. Louisiana Geological Survey, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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