West Baton Rouge Parish Bicentennial

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Marker Name: West Baton Rouge Parish Bicentennial

Marker Dedicated: March 31, 2007

Marker Sponsor: West Baton Rouge Parish Council

Marker Location: Heroes Plaza between West Baton Rouge Parish Library and Governmental Complex, off Hwy 1, Port Allen

Marker Text: Side #1: West Baton Rouge Parish Bicentennial 1807 – 2007.

On March 14, 1699, Iberville and Bienville arrived in the “Bayagoula nation,” where the Bayougoula Indians inhabited the country west of the Mississippi River near Bayou Manchac. The parish’s original 600 square miles were bordered by the Mississippi, Atchafalaya, and False rivers with a boundary across from Bayou Manchac. In 1717, the French Company of the West began issuing land grants in the Territory of Louisiana. The next large group of immigrants were Acadian refugees who settled there in the latter part of the 18th century.

On March 31, 1807, Governor William C. C. Claiborne approved a measure dividing the Territory of Orleans into19 parishes.

The eleventh of the 19 was named Baton Rouge, which is now West Baton Rouge Parish. The first parish courthouse was established in St. Michel, now present day Port Allen. In 1812 when the State of Louisiana was admitted into the Union, the Parish of Baton Rouge became West Baton Rouge Parish and the land directly to the east across the Mississippi River became East Baton Rouge Parish.

Marker Text: Side #2: West Baton Rouge Parish Bicentennial 1807 – 2007

On April 8, 1826, the Legislative Council of the Territory of Orleans attached the area around Grosse Tête to Iberville Parish. Our parish boundaries were permanently fixed on March 11, 1859, making West Baton Rouge the smallest rural parish with a total land area of 209 square miles.

For millennia, soils deposited along the Mississippi banks helped to create a rich agricultural heritage and later successful industries and international commerce would flourish along with the plentiful crops. The parish’s 21,601 citizens live in 3 incorporated towns (City of Port Allen and the towns of Addis & Brusly) and in communities such as Lobdell, Erwinville, and Lukeville. The parish government seat and largest population is in Port Allen. The Port of Baton Rouge ranks as the ninth largest U.S. port and the U.S. Gulf Intracoastal Waterway flows to the Mississippi through the Port Allen Lock.

In 2007 with a rich and diverse history, we celebrate this Bicentennial anniversary.

Background: West Baton Rouge Historical Association President Sue Blanchard opened the program and welcomed everyone to the ceremony held on Saturday, March 31, 2007. Over 50 guests were on hand to witness the unveiling of the marker and participate in the ceremony. Ellis Gauthier, Jasper “Mr. Penny” Pennington, and J.C. Hebert representing McKinley Bourg Post #160 of Port Allen and American Legion representatives were on hand to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The parish’s new Bicentennial flag flew overhead along with our American flag as Director Claudette Purnell lead the West Baton Rouge Parish Choir in the “National Anthem”. Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot, Jr. read the Parish’s Bicentennial Proclamation. A copy of this proclamation can be found on this web site. America the Beautiful” was sung by the West Baton Rouge Parish Choir. Closing remarks were made by Sue Blanchard before Ms. Blanchard, West Baton Rouge Museum Chairman Jim Charleville and President Berthelot unveiled the marker. Guests were invited to the Library for refreshments. The program was hosted by the West Baton Rouge Parish Library and West Baton Rouge Museum.

Compiled by Genie Hendry, West Baton Rouge Historical Association

For more information:

• Elizabeth Kellough and Leona Mayeux, Chronicles of West Baton Rouge, Published by Kennedy Print Shop, Copyright 1979, Baton Rouge, pages 1-5

• Mary Ann Sternberg, Along the River Road, Revised and Expanded Edition, Published by Louisiana State University Press, Copyright 1996, Baton Rouge, pages 1-17, 34, 217-232.

• West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce Membership Directory & Relocation Guide, Published by West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, Copyright 2006, West Baton Rouge Parish, page19 and 23.

• Milburn Calhoun, Editor, Louisiana Almanac 2206-2007 Edition, Published by Pelican Publishing Company, Copyright 2006, Gretna, Louisiana, pages 270, 326-327.

• Louisiana Courthouses by Brasseau, Published by The Center for Louisiana Studies, Copyright 1997, Lafayette, LA, pages 189-190.

• Julia Rose, Director, “The Bicentennial of West Baton Rouge Parish”, Published by the West Baton Rouge Museum, Fall 2006, Port Allen, Louisiana, pages 1-4.

• County-Parish Boundaries in Louisiana, Prepared by The Historical Records Survey Division of Professional and Service Projects, Work Projects Administration, Published by The Department of Archives, Louisiana State University, October 1939, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pages iii-vi, Table of Contents, West Baton Rouge Parish Boundaries section, pages 1-7, and 16-27.

• West Baton Rouge Sugar Planter, March 15, 1856, Reprinted in the West Baton Rouge Genealogical Society newsletter Vol. XVI, No. 2, April 2001, pages 2-3.

• Reference files at the West Baton Rouge Museum and Library