Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana

Coordinates: 30°37′36″N 90°24′20″W / 30.62665°N 90.40568°W / 30.62665; -90.40568
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tangipahoa Parish
Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Hammond
Map of Louisiana highlighting Tangipahoa 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°37′36″N 90°24′20″W / 30.62665°N 90.40568°W / 30.62665; -90.40568
Country United States
State Louisiana
FoundedMarch 6, 1869
Named forAcolapissa word meaning ear of corn or those who gather corn
SeatAmite City
Largest cityHammond
 • Total823 sq mi (2,130 km2)
 • Land791 sq mi (2,050 km2)
 • Water32 sq mi (80 km2)  3.9%
 • Total133,157
 • Density160/sq mi (62/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts1st, 5th
Footbridge across a tributary of Ponchatoula Creek leading to North Oak Street Park on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Tangipahoa Parish

Tangipahoa Parish ( /ˌtænɪpəˈhə/) is a parish located on the southeastern border of the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2020 census, the population was 133,157.[2] The parish seat is Amite City,[3] while the largest city is Hammond. Southeastern Louisiana University is located in Hammond. Lake Pontchartrain borders the southeastern side of the parish.

The name Tangipahoa comes from an Acolapissa word meaning "ear of corn" or "those who gather corn." The parish was organized in 1869 during the Reconstruction era.[4]

Tangipahoa Parish comprises the Hammond, LA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Baton Rouge–Hammond, LA Combined Statistical Area.[5] It is one of what are called the Florida Parishes, at one time part of West Florida.


Tangipahoa Parish was created by Louisiana Act 85 on March 6, 1869, during the Reconstruction era.[6] The parish was assembled from territories taken from Livingston Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. Tammany Parish, and Washington Parish. It was named after the Tangipahoa River and the historic Tangipahoa Native American people of this area. Tangipahoa is the youngest parish in the Florida Parishes region of southern Louisiana.

Parts of this area had already been developed for sugar cane plantations when the parish was organized, and that industry depended on numerous African American laborers who were freedmen after the war. Mostly white yeomen farmers occupied areas in the piney woods and resisted planters' attempts at political dominance. African Americans comprised about one-quarter of the population overall in the Florida Parishes before the war but were prevalent in the plantation areas, where they had been enslaved laborers.[7]

The region developed rapidly during and after Reconstruction. Both physical and political conflicts arose in Tangipahoa Parish among interests related to construction of railroads, exploitation of timber, yeoman farmers in the piney woods keeping truck farms, and the beginning of manufacturing.

Sugar cane had depended on the labor of large gangs of enslaved African Americans before the Civil War. After the war and emancipation, some freedmen stayed to work on the plantations as laborers. Others moved to New Orleans and other cities, seeking different work. This area had rapid development and received a high rate of immigrants and migrants from other areas of the country. Through the turn of the twentieth century, the eastern Florida Parishes had the most white mob violence and highest rate of lynchings (primarily of black men) in southern Louisiana.[7]

Especially after Reconstruction, whites helped black communities with flowers and food. Piney woods whites resisted the planters' efforts to restore their political power, but imposed their own brutal violence on freedmen.

Tangipahoa Parish became more socially volatile by a "pronounced in-migration" of northerners (from the Midwest) and Sicilian immigrants, coupled with "industrial development along the Illinois Central Railroad, and crippling political factionalism."[7]

During the period of 1877–1950, a total of 24 blacks were lynched by whites in the parish as a means of racial terrorism and intimidation. This was the sixth highest total of any parish in Louisiana[8] and the highest number of any parish in southern Louisiana.[7] Twenty-two of these murders took place from 1879 to 1919, a time of heightened violence in the state. Unlike some other parishes, Tangipahoa did not have a high rate of legal executions of blacks; the whites operated outside the justice system altogether.[7] Among those lynched and hanged by a mob was Emma Hooper, a black woman who had shot and wounded a constable.[9]

In 1898 the Louisiana state legislature disenfranchised most blacks by raising barriers to voter registration. They effectively excluded blacks from politics for decades, until after passage and enforcement of federal civil rights legislation.

In the first half of the 20th century, many African Americans left Tangipahoa Parish to escape the racial violence and oppression of Jim Crow, moving to industrial cities in the Great Migration. Especially during and after World War II, they moved to the West Coast, where the buildup of the defense industry opened up new jobs. In the 21st century, blacks constitute a minority in the parish.

Timber, agriculture and industry are still important to the parish. It suffered flooding in 1932 and in the early 1980s. In 2016, Tangipahoa was one of many parishes declared a Federal disaster area due to historic flooding from rainfall and storms in both March and August.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 823 square miles (2,130 km2), of which 791 square miles (2,050 km2) is land and 32 square miles (83 km2) (3.9%) is water.[10] Lake Pontchartrain lies on the southeast side of the parish.

Most of the parish south of Ponchatoula consists of Holocene coastal swamp and marsh—gray-to-black clays of high organic content and thick peat beds underlying freshwater marsh and swamp.[11]

Adjacent counties and parishes[edit]



Amtrak's daily City of New Orleans long-distance train stops in Hammond, both northbound (to Chicago) and southbound. It serves about 15,000 riders a year, and Hammond-Chicago is the ninth-busiest city pair on the route.[12]

The historic main line of the Illinois Central that carries freight through the parish is now part of CN. It continues to be busy.



Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790-1960[14] 1900-1990[15]
1990-2000[16] 2010[17]
Tangipahoa Parish racial composition as of 2020[18]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 79,825 59.95%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 39,770 29.87%
Native American 409 0.31%
Asian 942 0.71%
Pacific Islander 23 0.02%
Other/Mixed 4,946 3.71%
Hispanic or Latino 7,242 5.44%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 133,157 people, 46,526 households, and 31,420 families residing in the parish.

As of the census[19] of 2000, there were 100,588 people, 36,558 households, and 25,773 families residing in the parish. The population density was 127 people per square mile (49 people/km2). There were 40,794 housing units at an average density of 52 per square mile (20/km2). The racial makeup of the parish was 69.76% White, 28.35% Black or African American, 0.39% Asian, 0.24% Native American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. 1.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 36,558 households, out of which 35.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.90% were married couples living together, 16.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.50% were non-families. 24.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the parish the population was spread out, with 27.70% under the age of 18, 12.70% from 18 to 24, 27.70% from 25 to 44, 21.20% from 45 to 64, and 10.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 93.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.60 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $29,412, and the median income for a family was $36,731. Males had a median income of $31,576 versus $20,066 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $14,461. About 18.00% of families and 22.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.60% of those under age 18 and 20.10% of those age 65 or over.

Government and politics[edit]

The parish is part of both Louisiana's 1st congressional district and Louisiana's 5th congressional district. Since the late 20th century most of the conservative, white-majority voters have left the Democratic Party and shifted to the Republican Party. African Americans have largely continued to support the Democratic Party and its candidates.

The parish government is governed by the Louisiana State Constitution and the Tangipahoa Parish Home Rule Charter. The Parish Government of Tangipahoa is headed by a parish president and a parish council (president-council government). The council is the legislative body of the parish, with authority under Louisiana State Constitution, the Parish Home Rule Charter, and laws passed by the Louisiana State Legislature. The Parish Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer; other elected officers include the coroner, assessor, and clerk of court.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for the parish's 8th ward (Robert, Louisiana), attracted attention in October 2009 for refusing to officiate the wedding of an interracial couple. Bardwell, a justice of the peace for 34 years, had concluded that "most black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society". He said he does not perform weddings for interracial marriages because "I don't want to put children in a situation they didn't bring on themselves."[20] Bardwell said he had refused to perform the weddings of four couples during the 2½-year period before the news of his actions was publicized, resigned effective November 3, 2009.[21] Governor Bobby Jindal said that the resignation was "long overdue."[21]

Despite the parish's Republican leanings, the parish is also the home of Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. Edwards won over 60% of the parish vote in 2015 and carried the parish again in 2019, outperforming Democratic presidential candidates by over 30 points in both elections.

Parish officers[edit]

  • Parish President – Charles Robert "Robby" Miller, Jr. (R), since 2016
  • Sheriff – Daniel H. Edwards (D), since 2004
  • Clerk of Court – Gary Stanga (D), since 2017
  • Coroner – Dr. Rick Foster (D), since 2000
  • Assessor – Joaquin "Junior" Matheu (D), since 2005

Parish Council[edit]

Tangipahoa Parish is governed by an elected ten-member Council, each representing a geographic district and roughly equal populations. As of October 2016 its chairman was Bobby Cortez. Kristen Pecararo is the clerk of the council.[22]

The council members are:[22]

District 1 – Trent Forrest (D) from Kentwood

District 2 – John Ingraffia (R) from Husser

District 3 – Louis Nick Joseph (D) from Independence

District 4 – Carlo S. Bruno (R) from Independence

District 5 – H. G. "Buddy" Ridgel (D) from Hammond

District 6 – Emile "Joey" Mayeaux (R) from Hammond

District 7 – Lionell Wells (D) from Hammond

District 8 – David Vial (R) from Hammond

District 9 – Brigette Delatte Hyde (R) from Ponchatoula

District 10 – Kim Landry Coates (R) from Hammond

President of Tangipahoa Parish[edit]

In 1986, the former governing body of Tangipahoa Parish, the Tangipahoa Police Jury, and the voters of the Parish approved a "home rule charter" style of government. The charter provided for the election of a parish president, essentially a parish-wide mayor. Democrat Gordon A. Burgess was elected to an initial one-year term and re-elected the following year for a four-year term. Burgess was repeatedly re-elected as parish president until he retired in 2015.

In 2016, Republican businessman Robert "Robby" Miller succeeded Burgess. In April 2016, the Parish hired its first chief administrative officer, Shelby "Joe" Thomas, Jr. to handle operating functions.[23]

President Terms of Office Party
Gordon Burgess October 27, 1986 – January 11, 2016 Democratic
Robby Miller January 11, 2016 – incumbent Republican
United States presidential election results for Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana[24]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 37,806 65.57% 18,887 32.76% 968 1.68%
2016 33,959 64.79% 16,878 32.20% 1,579 3.01%
2012 31,590 63.06% 17,722 35.37% 787 1.57%
2008 31,434 64.68% 16,438 33.82% 730 1.50%
2004 26,181 62.14% 15,345 36.42% 609 1.45%
2000 20,421 54.96% 15,843 42.64% 891 2.40%
1996 15,517 41.28% 18,617 49.53% 3,457 9.20%
1992 14,128 41.26% 15,194 44.37% 4,923 14.38%
1988 16,669 54.32% 13,527 44.08% 492 1.60%
1984 19,580 60.10% 12,799 39.29% 200 0.61%
1980 15,187 48.46% 15,272 48.73% 883 2.82%
1976 9,242 38.02% 14,432 59.36% 637 2.62%
1972 11,607 62.89% 5,227 28.32% 1,623 8.79%
1968 2,907 13.86% 4,983 23.75% 13,088 62.39%
1964 9,732 57.79% 7,109 42.21% 0 0.00%
1960 3,285 22.89% 6,648 46.32% 4,418 30.79%
1956 5,788 51.75% 4,831 43.19% 566 5.06%
1952 5,166 46.90% 5,850 53.10% 0 0.00%
1948 1,287 17.37% 2,184 29.48% 3,937 53.15%
1944 1,572 26.24% 4,419 73.76% 0 0.00%
1940 1,284 17.87% 5,900 82.09% 3 0.04%
1936 1,374 22.90% 4,624 77.07% 2 0.03%
1932 455 9.36% 4,404 90.58% 3 0.06%
1928 1,415 33.30% 2,834 66.70% 0 0.00%
1924 479 22.76% 1,626 77.24% 0 0.00%
1920 440 22.67% 1,501 77.33% 0 0.00%
1916 159 10.62% 1,326 88.58% 12 0.80%
1912 40 3.02% 1,061 80.02% 225 16.97%

Law enforcement[edit]

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office is headquartered in Hammond.[25] The Sheriff's office was excluded from a DEA task force in 2016 after the Justice Department charged two deputies with stealing money and drugs seized in raids.[26]

The office maintains:

  • a uniformed patrol unit
  • a SWAT unit, called the "Special Response Team."
  • a police-dog unit
  • a mounted unit
  • a system of reserve deputies
  • the parish's jail[25]


The parish is served by the Tangipahoa Parish School System.[27] Southeastern Louisiana University is located in Hammond.

On seven occasions, the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Tangipahoa Parish School Board, along with other defendants, for having allegedly sponsored and promoted religion in teacher-led school activities.[28]

School Board[edit]

The elected school board governs and oversees the Tangipahoa Parish School System (TPSS). The board appoints the superintendent of schools, who leads the school system and oversees is functioning. The current superintendent is Melissa M. Stilley. The president of the board is Sandra Bailey-Simmons, and the vice president is Tom Tolar.

Melissa M. Stilley, superintendent

Janice Fultz Richards (D), District A

Tom Tolar (R), District B

Robin Abrams (R), District C

Glenn Westmoreland (R), District D

Brett Duncan (I), District E

Randy Bush (R), District F

Jerry Moore (D), District G

Sandra Bailey-Simmons (R), District H

Rose Quave Dominguez (R), District I

The Board has a long history of racial discrimination in the hiring of teachers. In 1975, it was ordered to ensure one-third of the teaching staff were Black. Both the Board and the Court ignored the mandate for more than thirty years. During the period from 1998 to 2008, the Board hired fewer Black teachers than any other school system in the state. In 2010, a second ruling strengthened the first.[29]

National Guard[edit]

The parish is home to the 204th Theater Airfield Operations Group and the Forward Support Company of the 205th Engineer Battalion. This 205th Engineer Battalion is a component of the 225th Engineer Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard. These units reside within the city of Hammond. A detachment of the 1021st Engineer Company (Vertical) resides in Independence, Louisiana. The 236th Combat Communications Squadron of the Louisiana Air National Guard also resides at the Hammond Airport.


Map of Tangipahoa Parish, depicting municipal boundaries




Census-designated place[edit]

Other unincorporated places[edit]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana; United States". QuickFacts. United States Census Bureau. July 1, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  2. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Tangipahoa Parish". Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Van Leuven, Andrew J. (August 4, 2023). "Recent Changes to U.S. Metropolitan and Micropolitan Areas". Andrew J. Van Leuven, Ph.D. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  6. ^ "Acts passed by the General Assembly of the state: To Create the Parish of Tangipahoa". HathiTrust Digital Library. Louisiana State Legislature: 83–86. 1869. hdl:2027/pst.000018406139. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e Michael James Pfeifer, Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947, University of Illinois Press, 2004, pp. 83-84
  8. ^ Lynching in America, Third Edition: Supplement by County Archived October 23, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, p. 6, Equal Justice Initiative, Mobile, AL, 2017
  9. ^ Pfeifer (2004), Rough Justice, p. 198, Footnote #104
  10. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  11. ^ McCulloh, R. P.; P. V. Heinrich; J. Snead (2003). "Ponchatoula 30 x 60 Minute Geologic Quadrangle" (PDF). Louisiana Geological Survey. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 28, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  12. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet" (PDF). National Association of Railroad Passengers. 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  14. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  15. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  16. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  17. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  18. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  19. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  20. ^ "JP refuses to marry couple". Daily Star (Hammond). October 15, 2009. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2009. Bardwell said he came to the conclusion that most black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society.... "I don't do interracial marriages because I don't want to put children in a situation they didn't bring on themselves," Bardwell said. "In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer."
  21. ^ a b "US judge in mixed-race row quits". BBC News. November 4, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2009.
  22. ^ a b Council page on Parish website, accessed December 1, 2019.
  23. ^ "Thomas named Tangipahoa Parish Government's first CAO". ActionNews17. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  24. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "About Us". Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  26. ^ Grueskin, Caroline; Mustian, Jim; Roberts III, Faimon A. (September 1, 2018). "In strip club sting, undercover Louisiana agents 'cross the line' with big 'no-no,' experts say". The Advocate (Louisiana). Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  27. ^ Official website of the Tangipahoa Parish School System
  28. ^ Mitchell, David. "School board sued over prayer", Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, Capital City Press, p. B01.[when?]
  29. ^ Anderson, Melinda (January 23, 2018). "A Root Cause of the Teacher-Diversity Problem". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 21, 2018.

External links[edit]

30°37′36″N 90°24′20″W / 30.62665°N 90.40568°W / 30.62665; -90.40568