Feliciana Parish, Louisiana
Feliciana Parish is a former parish of Louisiana, formed in 1810 from West Florida territory. It was divided in 1824 into East Feliciana Parish and West Feliciana Parish. Feliciana is a Spanish word meaning Happy Land. It originated in 1775 and was named by Spanish Governor Galvez. The town of Jackson was founded in 1815 as the Seat of Justice for Feliciana Parish before the parish was divided into East and West. The town also served as a land office and as a center for learning and culture. Legend holds that the town was originally called Bear Corners for the many wild black bears crossing nearby Thompson's Creek, and that it eventually took its name from General Andrew Jackson, who reportedly camped there with his troops on a return trip north.
"Feliciana" was part of a region whose history paralleled that of the West Florida Territory.
Aboriginal residents here were Tunica Indians who had previously usurped the native Houmas. Later, the Spanish appeared, laying claim to the territory by right of exploration, until 1699. The French were not far behind, for LaSalle having explored the Mississippi River in 1682, claimed all the lands drained by it in the name of Louis XIV.
In 1763, at the French and Indian War's end, Spain ceded Florida to England, and France ceded Louisiana and the Isle of Orleans to Spain. The area that is now East and West Feliciana was claimed by England as part of the Florida Territory and thus, the name West Florida came into being.
Encouraged by land grants, emigrants, mainly from the English colonies, or from Britain, poured into West Florida to populate the frontier. By 1775, many British loyalists migrated here, establishing large, prosperous plantations.
Covering West Florida, Spain supported American colonists hoping to regain lost American territory. Bernado de Galvez, Louisiana's Spanish governor, recruited troops for surprise attacks on Fort Bute and Baton Rouge, both of which soon capitulated. Thus, West Florida became Spanish again, remaining so until 1810.
In 1800, Spain was compelled to cede Louisiana back to France and, in 1803, Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States. West Florida, however, was not included since the Louisiana Purchase was vague as to defining Louisiana's eastern boundary. Though President Jefferson insisted that West Florida was American, the Spanish denied this and continued their occupation.
Feliciana settlers, unhappy under Spanish rule, revolted in 1810 and established the short-lived Republic of West Florida. They petitioned President Madison to annex the area. Their request was honored when, in October 1810, West Florida was declared part of the Louisiana Purchase and an American possession.
The United States formed the Feliciana County, later separated to form four parishes...Feliciana, East Baton Rouge, St. Helena and St. Tammany. In 1812, Louisiana was admitted to the Union with the parish of Feliciana included.
Addressing complaints that citizens of western Feliciana Parish found it difficult to travel during bad weather to the east, Louisiana separated the area into two parishes... East and West Feliciana.
- Wilkinson County, Mississippi (north)
- Amite County, Mississippi (northeast)
- St. Helena Parish (east)
- East Baton Rouge Parish (south)
- Pointe Coupee Parish (west)
- Avoyelles Parish (northwest)
- Concordia Parish (northwest)