History & Facts of Louisiana Parishes

Louisiana Parish records vary vastly from parish to parish in both quality and quantity. Some have already been carefully preserved while others have been much neglected and overlooked. A certain amount of Louisiana records have purely vanished. For genealogists undertaking research in Louisiana there's no valuable replace for an on-site search of parish court house records.

Louisiana Parishes  •  Louisiana Extinct Parishes  •  Louisiana Burned Courthouses

Louisiana is divided into 64  Parishes. Each parish serves as the local level of government within its borders. Forty-one parishes are governed by a council called the Police Jury. The other twenty-three have various other forms of government, including: president-council, council-manager, parish commission, and consolidated parish/city.

Louisiana was formed from French and Spanish colonies, which were both officially Roman Catholic. Local government was based upon parishes, as the local ecclesiastical division. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Territorial Legislative Council divided the Territory of Orleans into twelve counties. The borders of these counties were poorly defined, but they roughly coincided with the colonial parishes, and hence used the same names.

On March 31, 1807, the territorial legislature divided the state into 19 parishes without abolishing the old counties (which continued to exist until 1845).

In 1811, a constitutional convention was held to prepare for Louisiana's admission into the Union. This organized the state into seven judicial districts, each consisting of groups of parishes. In 1816, the first official map of the state used the term, as did the 1845 constitution. Since then, the official term for Louisiana's primary civil divisions has been parishes.

Parishes, not counties, are the political jurisdictions for recording land (conveyances), probate (successions), marriage, and court records in Louisiana.  Parish clerks hold the majority of these records, while some cities have these functions divided among register of conveyances and district court clerks. The Louisiana Section of the State Library of Louisiana provided some of the information on parish formation. Select a Parish from the table below to to view more information on genealogical information & records pertaining to each parish.

Louisiana Parishes

Court records, marriage records, and other documents are recorded according to parish, not county, in Louisiana. Probate and land records are also recorded that way. Parish clerks should be consulted for information concerning those records. However, district court clerks and registers of conveyances also exist in some parishes. Their records should be consulted as well. The FHL has many records on file for Louisiana. Those records were compiled by the Genealogical Society of Utah and may include the following record types: Court, Property, Notarial, Probate, Tax, Vital.

Information on the formation of parishes can be found at the State Library of Louisiana. The Parish Clerks of Court and State Office of Vital Records can provide copies of birth certificates. However, access may be restricted unless relationship to the person of interest can be proven.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Acadia 1886 from part of St. Landry Parish. Crowley
Allen 1912 from part of Calcasieu Parish. Oberlin
Ascension 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Donaldsonville
Assumption 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Napoleonville
Avoyelles 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Marksville
Beauregard 1912 from part of Calcasieu Parish. DeRidder
Bienville 1848 from part of Claiborne Parish. Arcadia
Bossier 1843 from part Claiborne Parish. Benton
Caddo 1838 from part of Natchitoches Parish. Shreveport
Calcasieu 1840 from part of St. Landry Parish. Lake Charles
Caldwell 1838 from part of Catahoula Parish and Ouachita Parish. Columbia
Cameron 1870 from parts of Calcasieu Parish and Vermilion Parish. Cameron
Catahoula 1808 from parts of Ouachita Parish and Rapides Parish. Harrisonburg
Claiborne 1828 from part of Natchitoches Parish. Homer
Concordia 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Vidalia
De Soto 1843 from parts of Caddo Parish and Natchitoches Parish. Mansfield
East Baton Rouge 1810 from West Florida territory. Baton Rouge
East Carroll 1877 when Carroll Parish was divided. Lake Providence
East Feliciana 1824 when Feliciana Parish was divided. Clinton
Evangeline 1910 from part of St. Landry Parish. Ville Platte
Franklin 1843 from parts of Carroll Parish, Catahoula Parish, Madison Parish and Ouachita Parish Winnsboro
Grant 1869 from parts of Rapides Parish and Winn Parish. Colfax
Iberia 1868 from parts of St. Martin Parish and St. Mary Parish. New Iberia
Iberville 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Plaquemine
Jackson 1845 from parts of Claiborne Parish, Ouachita Parish and Union Parish Jonesboro
Jefferson 1825 from part of Orleans Parish Gretna
Jefferson Davis 1912 from part of Calcasieu Parish. Jennings
La Salle 1823 from part of St. Martin Parish. Lafayette
Lafayette 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Was named Interior Parish until 1812 and Lafourche Interior Parish until 1853. Thibodaux
Lafourche 1908 from part of Catahoula Parish. Jena
Lincoln 1873 from parts of Bienville Parish, Claiborne Parish, Jackson Parish and Union Parish. Ruston
Livingston 1832 from part of St. Helena Parish. Livingston
Madison 1838 from Concordia Parish. Tallulah
Morehouse 1844 from parts of Carroll Parish and Ouachita Parish. Bastrop
Natchitoches 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Natchitoches
Orleans 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Today coterminous with the City of New Orleans. New Orleans
Ouachita 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Monroe
Plaquemines 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Pointe a la Hache
Pointe Coupee 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. New Roads
Rapides 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Alexandria
Red River 1871 from parts of Bienville Parish, Bossier Parish, Caddo Parish and Natchitoches Parish. Coushatta
Richland 1868 from parts of Carroll Parish, Franklin Parish, Morehouse Parish and Ouachita Parish. Rayville
Sabine 1843 from parts of Caddo Parish and Natchitoches Parish. Many
St. Bernard 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Chalmette
St. Charles 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Hahnville
St. Helena 1810 from West Florida territory. Greensburg
St. James 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Convent
St. John the Baptist 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Edgard
St. Landry 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Opelousas
St. Martin 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Saint Martinville
St. Mary 1811 from part of St. Martin County. Franklin
St. Tammany 1810 from West Florida territory. Covington
Tangipahoa 1868 from parts of Livingston Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. Tammany Parish and Washington Parish. Amite
Tensas 1843 from part of Concordia Parish. Saint Joseph
Terrebonne 1822 from part of Lafourche Parish. Houma
Union 1839 from part of Ouachita Parish. Farmerville
Vermilion 1844 from part of Lafayette Parish. Abbeville
Vernon 1871 from parts of Natchitoches Parish, Rapides Parish and Sabine Parish. Leesville
Washington 1819 from part of St. Tammany Parish. Franklinton
Webster 1871 from parts of Bienville Parish, Bossier Parish and Claiborne Parish. Minden
West Baton Rouge 1807 One of the original 19 parishes. Was named Baton Rouge Parish until 1812. Port Allen
West Carroll 1877 when Carroll Parish was divided. Oak Grove
West Feliciana 1824 when Feliciana Parish was divided. Saint Francisville
Winn 1852 from parts of Catahoula Parish, Natchitoches Parish and Rapides Parish. Winnfield

Louisiana Extinct Parishes

Louisiana seems to have counties that no longer are in existence. They were set up by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. Most of these counties were created and disbanded in the Nineteenth century; parish borders have adjusted little since 1900 in the vast most of states. These counties needs to be considered when performing genealogy and family history research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the parish was abolished or combined with another parish.

  • Acadia County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Ascension Parish and St. James Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Attakapas County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into St. Martin  Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Attakapas Parish was formed on on March 31, 1807 from Attakapas County, and was divided on March 31, 1807 into St. Martin Parish and St. Mary Parish on April 17, 1811
  • Baton Rouge Parish: Created in 1792 in the West Floridas area. The land was divided into East & West Baton Rouge Parishes in 1810.
  • Biloxi Parish was formed on January 4, 1811 from Feliciana Parish, it was eliminated in 1812 when part of West Florida was transferred to Mississippi Territory.
  • Carroll Parish: Formed from in Ouachita and Concordia Parishes 1832, it was split into East Carroll and West Carroll Parishes in 1877
  • Concordia County   was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Concordia Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Dugdemonia Parish was formed on March 18, 1850 from Catahoula Parish, Natchioches Parish, Rapides Parish, Dissolved
  • Feliciana Parish: Formed in 1810 from Spanish West Florida, it was split into East Feliciana and West Feliciana in 1824
  • German Coast County was formed on 10 April 10, 1805 from the louisiana Territory and was divided on March 31, 1807 into St. Charles Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish
  • Iberville County   was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Iberville Parish and Baton Rouge Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Lafourche County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Assumption Parish and Lafourche Interior on March 31, 1807
  • Lafourche Interior was formed on on March 31, 1807 from Lafourche County, renamed Lafourche  Parish on March 23,1853
  • Natchitoches County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Natchitoches  Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Opelousas County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into St. Landry  Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Orleans County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Orleans Territory, St. Bernard  Parish and Plaquemines Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Pointe Coupee County   was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Pointe Coupee  Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Rapides County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Avoyelles Parish and Rapides Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Ouachita County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Ouachita Parish on March 31, 1807
  • Warren Parish was formed on March 20, 1811 from Concordia Parish, merged into Concordia Parish and Ouachita Parish in 1814

Louisiana Parishes with Burned Courthouses

The destruction to Louisiana courthouses tremendously has a effect on genealogists in just about every way. Not only are these historic structures torn from each of our lifetimes, so are the files they stored: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they're lost permanently. Despite the fact that they happen to have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn up too. The most tragic aspect of this is the reason that almost all of our courthouses are destroyed from arsonist. Though, not all records were damaged or lost. Many Louisiana counties have experienced a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Avoyelles Parish Courthouse - There was records destruction in 1856? from Unkown causes.
  • Bossier Parish Courthouse - In 1888, the courthouse at Bellevue was partly burned.
  • Calcasieu Parish Courthouse- Courthouse was destroyed by a disastrous fire on April 23, 1910, as well as most of downtown Lake Charles, and many of the records of the parish were burned or damaged.
  • Catahoula Parish Courthouse - There was a total records destrustion in the early 1900's due to unkown causes
  • Claiborne Parish Courthouse - The courthouse at Old Athens along with all parish records were destroyed by fire on November 6, 1849
  • Concordia Parish Courthouse - A tornado destroyed the courthouse around 1843 (most records were destroyed) and it was destroyed by flood in 1927.
  • Grant Parish Courthouse - The Courthouse had an unkown records loss in the 1880's.
  • Jackson Parish Courthouse - A courthouse fire in Vernon, before the parish seat was moved to Jonesboro, destroyed most of the records prior to then. The first courthouse, built in Jonesboro in 1912, was almost completely destroyed by an explosion. Fortunately few, if any, of our records were destroyed.
  • Livingston Parish Courthouse - On October 15, 1875, the parish courthouse at Port Vincent burned, apparently destroying the official records which were maintained there.
  • Madison Parish Courthouse -
  • Morehouse Parish Courthouse - Had a Record Loss in 1870 due to unknown reasons.
  • Ouachita Parish Courthouse - In April of 1864, Yankee gunboats partially destroyed the second courthouse. In 1882 the third courthouse was destroyed by fire. 
  • Plaquemines Parish Courthouse - Courthouse destroyed by a fire in 2001.
  • Rapides Parish Courthouse - 1864?
  • Vermillion Parish Courthouse - The Courthouse suffered a total records Loss in around 1885.
  • Washington Parish Courthouse - The courthouse burned twice, first in 1854, then again in 1897. The fires resulted in a loss of nearly 68 years worth of records.  Records from the 1820-1830 decade were kept on file in the state land office and escaped the fire.  Some of the records from the second fire were salvaged and others were brought in to be re-recorded.  So, only the records from the 1840-1860 period are completely lost.
  • West Feliciana Parish Courthouse -
  • Winn Parish Courthouse - 1886?
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