Ascension Parish, Louisiana

Coordinates: 30°12′N 90°55′W / 30.20°N 90.91°W / 30.20; -90.91
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ascension Parish
Ascension Parish Courthouse in Donaldsonville
Ascension Parish Courthouse in Donaldsonville
Flag of Ascension Parish
Map of Louisiana highlighting Ascension Parish
Location within the U.S. state of Louisiana
Map of the United States highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 30°12′N 90°55′W / 30.2°N 90.91°W / 30.2; -90.91
Country United States
State Louisiana
Founded1807
Named forAscension of Jesus Christ
SeatDonaldsonville
Largest cityPrairieville
Area
 • Total303 sq mi (780 km2)
 • Land290 sq mi (800 km2)
 • Water13 sq mi (30 km2)  3.75%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total126,500
 • Density420/sq mi (160/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts2nd, 6th
Websitewww.ascensionparish.net

Ascension Parish (French: Paroisse de l'Ascension) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2020 census, the population was 126,500.[1] Its parish seat is Donaldsonville.[2] The parish was created in 1807.[3] Ascension Parish is part of the Baton Rouge metropolitan statistical area.

Ascension Parish is one of the 22 parishes that make up Acadiana, the heartland of the Cajun people and their culture. This is exhibited by the prevalence of the French or Cajun French language heard throughout the parish, as well as the many festivals celebrated by its residents, including the Boucherie Festival, Lagniappe Music and Seafood Festival, Crawfish Festival, and the Jambalaya Festival.[4][5][6][7] The largest incorporated city in Ascension Parish, Gonzales, is celebrated as the "Jambalaya Capital of the World".[8]

History[edit]

Early European settlers of the area that was developed as Ascension and Gonzales were, for the most part, of French and Spanish ancestry. They settled among the Houma Indians who lived in the area.

Among the projects and plans carried out by Luis de Unzaga 'le Conciliateur' while he was governor of Louisiana between 1769 and 1777 was the promotion of new settlements by Europeans, among them were French Acadians and Malaga in the fertile Mississippi region and more specifically in the Unzaga Post or 'Puesto de Unzaga' that he created in 1771 in Pointe Coupee, the parish of Saint Gabriel in 1773 and Fort Manchac in 1776; the Ascension people occupied land at the confluence of the aforementioned European settlements.[9]

During the historic 2016 Louisiana Floods, around one-third of all homes in Ascension Parish were flooded; 15,000 homes and businesses took on water, mostly in the Galvez-St. Amant area, prompting a visit to St. Amant by then-presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump.[10][11]

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 303 square miles (780 km2), of which 290 square miles (750 km2) is land and 13 square miles (34 km2) (4.2%) is water.[12] It is the fourth-smallest parish in Louisiana by total area.

Waterways[edit]

  • Alligator Bayou
  • Amite River
  • Amite River Diversion Canal
  • Anderson Canal
  • Babin Canal
  • Bayou Antoine
  • Bayou Manchac
  • Bayou Narcisse
  • Bayou Pierre
  • Bayou Reponds Pas
  • Bayou Conway
  • Bayou Francois
  • Bayou Lafourche
  • Bayou Napoleon
  • Bayou Verret
  • Bayou Vicknair
  • Black Bayou
  • Blind River
  • Boudreau Bayou
  • Boyle Bayou
  • Braud Bayou
  • Cocodrie Bayou
  • Cotton Bayou
  • Crowley Ditch
  • Duckroost Bayou
  • Flat Lake
  • Grand Goudine Bayou
  • Hackett Canal
  • Heath Bayou
  • Henderson Bayou
  • Jim Bayou
  • Johnson Bayou
  • Lake Millet
  • Lake Villars
  • Laurel Ridge Canal
  • McCall Bayou
  • Mississippi River
  • Muddy Creek
  • New River
  • New River Canal
  • Old New River
  • Panama Canal
  • Pipeline Canal
  • Rocky Canal
  • Roddy Bayou
  • Saveiro Canal
  • Sides Bayou
  • Smith Bayou
  • Spanish Lake
  • Welsh Gully

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent parishes[edit]

Communities[edit]

Cities[edit]

Town[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
18102,219
18203,72868.0%
18305,24640.7%
18406,95132.5%
185010,75254.7%
186011,4846.8%
187011,5770.8%
188016,89545.9%
189019,54515.7%
190024,14223.5%
191023,887−1.1%
192022,155−7.3%
193018,438−16.8%
194021,21515.1%
195022,3875.5%
196027,92724.7%
197037,08632.8%
198050,06835.0%
199058,21416.3%
200076,62731.6%
2010107,21539.9%
2020126,50018.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790-1960[14] 1900-1990[15]
1990-2000[16] 2010-2019[17]
Ascension Parish, Louisiana – Racial and Ethnic Composition
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2000[18] Pop 2010[19] Pop 2020[20] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 58,378 75,949 79,645 76.18% 70.84% 62.96%
Black or African American alone (NH) 15,466 23,727 30,296 20.18% 22.13% 23.95%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 191 297 266 0.25% 0.28% 0.21%
Asian alone (NH) 249 995 1,681 0.32% 0.93% 1.33%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 18 61 32 0.02% 0.06% 0.03%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 40 133 355 0.05% 0.12% 0.28%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 402 1,029 3,842 0.52% 0.96% 3.04%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 1,883 5,024 10,383 2.46% 4.69% 8.21%
Total 76,627 107,215 126,500 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%


In 1810, the parish had a population of 2,219; since then, its population has steadily increased despite some decades of population decline. In 1900, the parish's population reached a first historic high of 24,142 before increasing again to 58,214 at the 1990 U.S. census. At the 2010 census, Ascension Parish's population grew to 107,215; and at the 2020 United States census, there were 126,500 people, 44,267 households, and 32,305 families residing in the parish.[21]

Having historic settlement by French and Spanish colonials during the periods of French and Spanish Louisiana, Ascension Parish's racial and ethnic composition has remained predominantly non-Hispanic white throughout a portion of its history. With the greater diversification of the United States at the 2020 census,[22][23] non-Hispanic white residents were 62.96% of the total population. Black or African American Louisianians and others made up 23.95% of the population, followed by Hispanics or Latinos of any race (8.21%), Asians (1.33%), multiracial Americans (3.32%), Native Americans (0.21%), and Pacific Islanders (0.03%).[21]

Among its residents at the 2021 American Community Survey's 1-year estimates program, households had a median income of $72,662 and mean income of $92,143.[24] Families had a median income of $85,632; married-couple families $111,445; and non-family households $32,498. Overall, residents of Ascension Parish are wealthier than nearby East Baton Rouge Parish.

Religiously and spiritually, Christianity is the dominant religion for the parish. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives in 2020, the Roman Catholic Church was the single-largest Christian denomination for the parish, served primarily by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. The overall Catholic population in Ascension Parish was 39,260 in 2020. Non-denominational or inter-denominational Christian churches—whether independent Bible churches, United and Uniting, etc.—were the second largest Christian group in the parish with 9,430 members. Collectively, Baptists throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, and National Baptist Convention of America made up 5,043 religious adherents.[25] Parish-wide Protestant statistics reflect an increase in non- or inter-denominational Christianity throughout Louisiana, outgrowing Methodism as the second-largest Protestant group for the state per the Association of Religion Data Archives 2020 religion census; the growth of non/inter-denominational Christianity for the area represented a broader trend nationwide, where the movement began to constitute the largest segment of American Protestantism.[26]

Education[edit]

Ascension Parish School Board operates the local public schools. The parish is also home to private schools and—since 1998, to River Parishes Community College.

Media[edit]

Two newspapers are based in Ascension Parish's two cities, Donaldsonville and Gonzales. The Gonzales Weekly Citizen is a bi-weekly newspaper formed after the merger of The Gonzales Weekly (founded 1920) and The Ascension Citizen (founded 1996). The Donaldsonville Chief, founded in 1871, is the parish's longest-continually-published newspaper.

Law, government and politics[edit]

United States presidential election results for Ascension Parish, Louisiana[27]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 40,687 65.28% 20,399 32.73% 1,239 1.99%
2016 36,143 66.10% 16,476 30.13% 2,059 3.77%
2012 33,856 66.29% 16,349 32.01% 868 1.70%
2008 31,239 67.08% 14,625 31.40% 707 1.52%
2004 24,661 63.07% 13,955 35.69% 484 1.24%
2000 16,818 54.53% 13,385 43.40% 641 2.08%
1996 10,885 37.02% 15,263 51.91% 3,252 11.06%
1992 10,275 37.03% 13,036 46.98% 4,437 15.99%
1988 10,726 46.15% 12,147 52.27% 367 1.58%
1984 11,945 51.55% 11,048 47.68% 177 0.76%
1980 7,238 35.83% 12,381 61.29% 581 2.88%
1976 4,435 31.73% 9,100 65.10% 443 3.17%
1972 5,187 54.48% 3,324 34.91% 1,010 10.61%
1968 1,338 12.69% 3,203 30.37% 6,004 56.94%
1964 3,197 39.59% 4,879 60.41% 0 0.00%
1960 1,012 13.30% 5,689 74.76% 909 11.94%
1956 1,853 40.86% 2,606 57.46% 76 1.68%
1952 1,787 33.22% 3,593 66.78% 0 0.00%
1948 433 14.52% 1,126 37.75% 1,424 47.74%
1944 364 13.71% 2,291 86.29% 0 0.00%
1940 385 13.58% 2,451 86.42% 0 0.00%
1936 350 12.92% 2,359 87.05% 1 0.04%
1932 279 13.42% 1,800 86.58% 0 0.00%
1928 436 23.72% 1,402 76.28% 0 0.00%
1924 277 28.97% 679 71.03% 0 0.00%
1920 496 44.36% 622 55.64% 0 0.00%
1916 106 15.19% 531 76.07% 61 8.74%
1912 64 10.26% 413 66.19% 147 23.56%

On March 8, 2017, Ascension Parish President Kenneth Paul "Kenny" Matassa (born September 12, 1949), a Republican,[28] along with Olin Glenn Berthelot (born August 1948), a Democratic[29] businessman from Gonzales, faced indictment in an attempted bribery scheme. The pair is charged with encouraging a candidate to withdraw from a local election on November 8, 2016.

The grand jury released its true bill to Judge Tess Stromberg of the 23rd Judicial District Court in Ascension, Assumption, and St. James parishes. Among those who testified in the case were Democratic Gonzales City Council member Neal Bourqueat. Matassa and Berthelot allegedly bribed the Democrat A. Wayne Lawson with offers of money and a government job to drop out of the city council race in Division E against Bourque,[30] who nevertheless won reelection with 61 percent of the ballots cast.[31]

Matassa and Berthelot turned themselves in to authorities and posted a $5,000 bond. Reports, meanwhile, surfaced of a move before the parish council calling for Matassa to resign. He cannot be forced from the office, however, unless convicted of the crime. Matassa and Berthelot could have received up to two years in state prison either with or without hard time and/or a fine of $2,000.[30] Matassa was instead acquitted in July 2018 of the election bribery allegations and returned to his duties as parish president with a legal cloud lifted from his shoulders.[32]

National Guard[edit]

The 922nd Engineer Company (Horizontal), a unit of the 769th Engineer Battalion and the 225th Engineer Brigade. The 1021st Vertical Engineer Company also resides in Gonzales, Louisiana.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "QuickFacts: Ascension Parish, Louisiana". United States Census Bureau.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Ascension Parish". Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  4. ^ "2021 Boucherie Festival". www.boucheriefestival.com. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  5. ^ "Lagniappe Music & Seafood Festival - Tour Ascension". Archived from the original on February 22, 2019. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  6. ^ https://tourascension.com/events/dreams-come-true-crawfish-festival/ [dead link]
  7. ^ "Welcome to the Gonzales Jambalaya Festival Website!". Jambalaya Festival Association. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  8. ^ "JAMBALAYA FESTIVAL | Gonzales Louisiana".
  9. ^ Cazorla, Frank (2019) The governor Louis de Unzaga (1717-1793) Pioneer in the Birth of the United States of America and in Liberalism. Foundation Malaga, pages 48-56, 64-72, 83
  10. ^ "Ascension officials: 15,000 homes, busineses [sic] flooded so far; levee overtopped".
  11. ^ "Donald Trump, Mike Pence meet Louisiana flood victims, tour hard-hit Baton Rouge neighborhoods".
  12. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  14. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  15. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  16. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  17. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  18. ^ "P004 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2000: DEC Summary File 1 – Ascension Parish, Louisiana". United States Census Bureau.
  19. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Ascension Parish, Louisiana". United States Census Bureau.
  20. ^ "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Ascension Parish, Louisiana". United States Census Bureau.
  21. ^ a b "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  22. ^ "New Census Reflects Growing U.S. Population Diversity, with Children in the Forefront". Carsey School of Public Policy | UNH. October 4, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  23. ^ "America is becoming more urban, more diverse and less white, 2020 Census reveals". PBS NewsHour. August 12, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  24. ^ "2021 ACS Income Estimates". data.census.gov. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  25. ^ "Maps and data files for 2020 | U.S. Religion Census | Religious Statistics & Demographics". www.usreligioncensus.org. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  26. ^ Silliman, Daniel. "'Nondenominational' Is Now the Largest Segment of American Protestants". News & Reporting. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  27. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  28. ^ "Kenneth Matassa, September 1949". Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler. Retrieved March 13, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Olin Berthelot, August 1948". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved March 13, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ a b David Mitchell (March 10, 2017). "Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa, Gonzales businessman indicted in bribery scandal". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  31. ^ "Official Results: Ascension Parish". Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  32. ^ David Mitchell (July 14, 2018). "Ascension Parish President Kenny Matasse acquitted in bribery trial: 'I believe in the legal system'". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved July 25, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

30°12′N 90°55′W / 30.20°N 90.91°W / 30.20; -90.91