Vernon Parish, Louisiana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Vernon Parish, Louisiana
Vernon Parish Courthouse, LA.jpg
Vernon Parish Courthouse
Map of Louisiana highlighting Vernon Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the United States highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded March 30, 1871
Named for Mount Vernon
Seat Leesville
Largest city Leesville
 • Total 1,342 sq mi (3,474 km2)
 • Land 1,328 sq mi (3,441 km2)
 • Water 13 sq mi (34 km2), 0.98%
 • (2010) 52,334
 • Density 39/sq mi (15/km²)
Congressional district 4th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Vernon Parish (French: Paroisse de Vernon) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 52,334.[1] The parish seat is Leesville.[2]

Vernon Parish is part of the Fort Polk South Micropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Fort Polk South–DeRidder Combined Statistical Area.


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 seem to be four stories surrounding the naming of the Parish, only one is affirmed officially by the State[3] which is 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."[4] Originally the area comprising Vernon was a part 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[5] during the Civil War.[6]

Vernon Parish Map, 1895.[7]
The Old First National Bank Building in downtown Leesville, LA, now the new Courthouse Annex building.

Leesville has been the parish seat of Vernon since the parish was created, though it was not 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.[6]

The Main Entrance to the new Vernon Parish Courthouse Annex in the old First National Bank Building.

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.[6]

In the period after World War I, Vernon became the site of two socialist based communities; the Llano Del Rio Cooperative Colony[8] (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.[6]

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 (800 km²). 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."[6] Hodges Gardens???.[9] Fullerton Sawmill[10] ghost town???


The parish has a total area of 1,342 square miles (3,474 km²), of which, 1,328 square miles (3,441 km²) of it is land and 13 square miles (34 km²) of it (0.98%) is water.

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent parishes and counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 5,160
1890 5,903 14.4%
1900 10,327 74.9%
1910 17,384 68.3%
1920 20,493 17.9%
1930 20,047 −2.2%
1940 19,142 −4.5%
1950 18,974 −0.9%
1960 18,301 −3.5%
1970 53,794 193.9%
1980 53,475 −0.6%
1990 61,961 15.9%
2000 52,531 −15.2%
2010 52,334 −0.4%
Est. 2012 53,869 2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
2012 Estimate[12]

As of the census[13] of 2010, there were 52,334 people residing in the parish. The population density was 39.4 people per square mile (15/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 75.70% White, 14.2% Black or African American, 1.4% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.50% Pacific Islander, and 4.1% from two or more races. 7.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In the parish the population was spread out with 9.2% under 5 years of age, 27.7% under the age of 18, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. Vernon parish residents are 48.8% female and 51.2% male.

There were 18,590 households with an average household size was 2.644. The median income for a household in the parish was $42,322. The per capita income for the parish was $14,036. About 16.2% of the population were below the poverty line,

Map of Vernon Parish, Louisiana With Municipal Labels






Census Designated Areas[edit]

Unincorporated Areas[edit]

Notable natives and residents[edit]

This is the Vernon Parish Police Jury's Gov't Complex located in the old First Liberty Federal Savings building.


The Vernon Parish Library in Leesville

Primary and Secondary Education[edit]

All public schools in Vernon Parish are operated by the Vernon Parish School Board, which operates 18 public schools and one optional school.[19] Schools providing a secondary education include:

Continuing Education[edit]

Central Louisiana Technical College[edit]

The Louisiana Technical College (LTC) system operates the Lamar Salter campus south of New Llano. The Central Louisiana Technical College Lamar Salter campus is one of 40 LTC campuses across the state.[21]

  • Adult Education/WorkReady U/GED
  • Air Conditioning & Refrigeration
  • Automotive Technology
  • Building Technology Specialist
  • Business Office Technology
  • Care & Development of Young Children
  • Carpentry
  • Industrial Electronics Technology
  • Outdoor Power Equipment Technology
  • Practical Nursing
  • Welding

College Campuses[edit]

NSU Leesville/Fort Polk Campus[edit]

Northwestern State University (NSU), is a four-year public university primarily situated in Natchitoches, Louisiana and a part of the a part of the University of Louisiana System. The NSU-Leesville/Fort Polk Campus is located on Highway 467 near Fort Polk and serves the civilian communities of Vernon, Beauregard, and Sabine parishes, as well as the military community at Fort Polk. In addition to providing the first two years of preparation for almost any degree NSU offers, NSU-Leesville/Fort Polk students can earn the following complete degrees on this campus:[22]

  • Associate of Nursing
  • Associate of Business Administration
  • Associate of General Studies (Flexible/Child Development options)
  • Associate of Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Bachelor of General Studies (Interdisciplinary)
  • Master of Education, Administration and Supervision
  • Master of Education in Counseling

Fort Polk Education Center[edit]

The Fort Polk Education Center offers self-development opportunities for Service members, military family members, Department of the Defense employees, military Retirees, Department of Defense contractors, and civilians from the local community in the classroom, distance learning, and online environments. Civilian students coming to the post for classes are required to use the main entrance located off U.S. Highway 171.[23]

Central Michigan University[edit]

Central Michigan University (CMU)[24]

Programs Offered at This Location[edit]
Master of Science in Administration
General Administration
Human Resources Administration
Central Texas College (CTC)[edit]

Central Texas College (CTC) is a public, open-admission community college offering associate degrees and certificate programs in academic, professional and vocational/technical fields. Due to its proximity to Fort Hood, CTC has evolved from a small junior college into a college catering to the military. CTC also help students transition from a 2-year to a 4-year degree through numerous articulation agreements with 4-year institutions nationwide.[25]

Associate degrees offered at the Fort Polk campus of CTC[edit]
  • Applied Management
  • Applied Management w/Computer Applications
  • Business Management
  • Business Programmer Analyst
  • Core Curriculum
  • Criminal Justice
  • Hotel Management Specialization
  • Information Technology
  • General Studies
  • Paralegal/Legal Assistant
  • Restaurant and Culinary Management
  • Social/Behavioral Science
Louisiana State University (LSU)[edit]

Master of Arts in Liberal Arts[26]

Upper Iowa University (UIU)[edit]

The Upper Iowa University (UIU) at Fort Polk offers classes on post to both military personnel and civilians in the area. It was opened in 1995 and offers bachelor’s of science degree in nine majors. Courses can also be blended with UIU distance learning programs (online and independent study) to complete 11 other majors. Certificate programs are also available. UIU offers courses on post during five eight-week terms during the academic year. All courses are offered during the evenings and on weekends.[27] Although the list is always subject to change, these majors are currently offered at the Fort Polk center: (descriptions of the majors)

  • Business Administration
  • Human Resources Management
  • Human Services
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration (with optional certification in Law Enforcement)
  • Social Science

Certificate programs are available in Marketing on post. Students can also combine distance learning courses to earn certificates in Human Resources Management, Organizational Communications, and Organizational Leadership.

Public libraries[edit]

The Vernon Parish Library operates public libraries. It operates the main library and the Dunbar Branch Library in Leesville and the Pitkin Branch Library in Pitkin.[28]

National Guard[edit]

The Louisiana Army National Guard maintains a maintenance facility which services its vehicles on Fort Polk. 3-156 IB part of 256th Tiger Brigade is located at fort polk.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ The State of Louisiana maintains an official website for each of the State's 64 parishes at
  4. ^ All four found in "Tall Pines II: A History of Vernon Parish, Louisiana and its People" / Wise, Erbon, Library Of Congress # 87-51644
  5. ^ The Nolan Trace
  6. ^ a b c d e Information in the History section may be found on the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce Website.
  7. ^ The map may be found at this website, and is the result of the hard work of Pam Rietsch.
  8. ^ Not to be confused with the Llano Del Rio established in Antelope Valley, California in 1915 and abandoned in 1917.
  9. ^ Hodges Gardens was originally a private park until it was offered to the State in 2005; some information about the park may be found at the State's website for the park [1] or on Wikipedia Hodges Gardens State Park; also, it should be noted that Hodges Gardens isn't in Vernon Parish, but is halfway between Hornbeck and Florien in Sabine Parish.
  10. ^ Some rather lengthy documented information about Fullerton Sawmill may be found at the US GenWeb Archives website
  11. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  13. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  14. ^ North Fort Polk is actually a military community contained within Fort Polk Army Installation.
  15. ^ South Fort Polk is actually a military community contained within Fort Polk Army Installation.
  16. ^ "Rep. Frank A. Howard". Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Obituary of Bryan A. Poston, Sr.". Shreveport Times, October 4, 2009. Retrieved October 4, 2009. 
  18. ^ Representative Frank A. Howard's legislative personal page.
  19. ^ "Vernon Parish School District - School List". 
  20. ^ "Vernon Parish Optional School History". 
  21. ^ "Central Louisiana Technical College-Lamar Salter-Campus". 
  22. ^ "NSU-Leesville/Fort Polk". 
  23. ^ "Fort Polk Education Center". 
  24. ^ "Central Michigan University at Fort Polk, Louisiana". 
  25. ^ "Central Texas College - Fort Polk Site". 
  26. ^ "Louisiana State University - Special Programs". 
  27. ^ "The Upper Iowa Center at Fort Polk, LA". 
  28. ^ "Sexual Predator Policy." (Archive) Vernon Parish Library. Retrieved on March 23, 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°07′N 93°11′W / 31.11°N 93.19°W / 31.11; -93.19