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History of Natchitoches Parish
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana
The Southern Publishing Company, 1890

The act of April 10, 1805, divided Louisiana Territory into twelve parishes, Orleans, German Coast, Acadia, La Fourche, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, Attakapas, Opelousas, Natchitoches, Rapides, Ouachita and Concordia. Avoyells was established in 1808. The Constitution of 1812 established three parishes out of original Orleans. In the fall of this year De. Sibley reported to Congress on the topography and people of the Red River Valley. The original parish comprised al the territory in the ecclesiastical parish of St. Francis, or an area 120 miles long by seventy broad, Caddo, Claiborne, Webster, Bossier, part of Lincoln, Sabine, De Soto, Bienville, part of Winn, Red River, and part of Grant, all were organized out of Natchitoches. Natchitoches, in 1880, raked third in number of inhabitants and fifth in cotton production of all the upper parishes.

South of the old town and outside the bottom the uplands partake of a pine hill character, except on Bayou Kasatchie. Joseph Henry, of Willow, stated that the cotton plant reaches eight feet in height, and that fresh land produces 2,000 pounds of seed cotton, and after fifteen years of cultivation yields 1,800 pounds. The alluvial land produces one bale and the hill land a half bale of cotton per acre.

Assessor Stafford in his very careful review of the assessment of 1890, fixes the total taxable property at $2,787,260 (*see foot note) which is less than that of 1889. The poll tax is $4,400, $1,000 more than that of last year, and the taxes accruing from all sources at 16 mills, State and parish, are $49,030. The decrease in the taxable property is due to the fact that the assessment of the railroads was reduced from $7,500 to $6,000 a mile.

In 1785 the population of Natchitoches was 756, the figures being obtained for Capt. Gen. Galvez. The total population of Natchitoches in 1810 was 2,870, including 1,213 Caucasians, 181 free colored, and 1,476 slaves; in 1820, 7,486 or 4,725 whites, 415 free colored, and 2,326 slaves The United States census for 1890 places the population of the parish at 25,836.

The village of the Boluxa Indians (near Colfax) stood where the river divides into two branches, forming an island about fifty miles in length and three to four in width. On the right hand ascending was the stream called Rigolet de Bon Dieu (now Red River), on which there were no settlements in 1812. On the left hand (now Cane River), was the boat channel to Natchitoches, and on this branch, for twenty four miles, were several rich plantations. Above the old River Cane settlement the river divided again, forming an island thirty miles in length, called Isle Brevel.

This island was subdivided by a bayou, which crossed it from one river to the other. The middle or Cane River was called Little River, and was the boat channel. The westward channel, old river or false river, was navigable; but, owing to the lowness of its banks there were no settlements visible in 1812. The river passed through Lac Occasee (where Prudhomme now is), and above, at Natchitoches, the two channels met, while the Rigolet du Bon Dieu (now the main channel) left the present Cane River at Perot's plantation, one mile below Grand Ecore Bluffs, six miles up the stream from Natchitoches.

When De Soto came here in 1540 the Chickasaws were the most ferocious of all the tribes, and Red River deserved its name then as it does now. The gallant discover died at the mouth of this river, conferring the command on Muscoso de Alvarado. After the death of the chief, the Spaniards essayed to reach Mexico, but had not yet arrived at the mountains when Quiqualtanqui, chief of the Indian confederacy, opposed their advance and drove them back to the Gulf, reduced in number to 300 men.

July 7, 1678, the venerable Marquette and the daring Joliet entered the Mississippi and floated down to the mouth of the Arkansas. In 1682 La Salle sailed down the Mississippi to its mouth. His second voyage, on which he discovered the Indian village where Natchitoches stands, resulted in his unfortunate death in 1687. A few years later the French and English hastened to claim part of the Spaniard's discovery, and the "Pelican," under Iberville and Bienville, silenced forever the British ships which attacked her.

In March, 1699, the two captains with Pere Anastase (who was on La Salle's expedition of 1682) entered the Mississippi and explored the country to the Red River. Prior to 1694 the Spaniards established a colony of Canary Islanders at and around Adayes. In 1718 the Marquis de la Jonquiere, and the officers appointed under Crozat's charter arrived in Louisiana.

Lamotte Cadillac, one of the principal officers disappointed in trading with the Gulf Spaniards, determined to push French commercial enterprise into the interior of Mexico and to hold back the Spaniards. He established the post at Natchitoches, sending thither St. Denys with thirty Canadians and a number of Indians. This was in 1714, but St. Denys left only a few Canadians there, and pushed westward to the Presidio del Norte on Rio Bravo. In 1715 Du Pisne was sent to build a fort on Natchitoches Island. In 1716 St. Denys returned to Natchitoches, received supplies there from the Canadians and set out for the village of Adayes, were thirty warriors resided. Fording the river they very soon arrived at the Adeyches village, where there were ten cabins.

The Catholic mission was at this point, and near by was the house of two friars, the barrack of three soldiers and the cabin of the devout housekeeper of the convent. Thirty miles farther up was the first village of the Assinais, where a church was attended by two friars, and some distance away was the first Spanish Presidio, a captain, lieutenant and twenty five troops. Immense herds of buffalo were seen. When La Harpe arrived at Natchitoches with his fifty men he found Commandant Blondel in charge, with Father Manuel, of the Adayes Mission, as his guest. On an island near the fort were 200 members of the Natchitoches, Dulcinoes and Yattassee tribes. La Harpe went as far as latitude 33 35', and erected a post there, 250 miles from Natchitoches.

In 1718 St. Denys was commandant. After a short investigation, he learned that the Marquis de Gallo, governor of Texas, was in the vicinity with 400 cavalry and $50,000 worth of goods, and had begun to burn brick for a fort. Again he brought diplomacy to aid him, and received a promise from De Gallo that the French territory would not be occupied. Biloxi was settled by the French under Iberville in 199, Natchez, settled by the French under Iberville and De Touti in 1700; Fort St. Louis, settled by the French under Bienville in 1701; Mobile, settled by the French under Bienville in 1710; Fort Rosalie, settled by the French under Bienville in 1716; Natchitoches Fort, erected by the French under Bienville in 1717; New Orleans, settled by the French under Bienville in 1718. At this time (1699) the Natchez numbered 600 warriors.

In 1700 Bienville arrived at Natchitoches and Yattassee, forty miles above, where St. Denys subsequently had a post. They attacked Natchez Post, and in January, 1730, attacked the settlers at the Yazoos. St Denys, who was commander at Natchitoches in 1730, won the respect of the Texan Indians. Against this post the Natchez directed their strength, but their approach was discovered. After diplomacy failed them to gain possession of the post, they burned a French woman in sight of the fort. At this time St. Denys had forty French soldiers and twenty settlers inside the stockade, and forty Natchitoches warriors close by. Driven to vengeance by the sight of the burning woman, he made a sortie, killed sixty savages, wounded a greater number and rove all to flight. Later the Avoyelles, Tunicas and other small tribes became allies of the French.

In December, 1730, the Red River expedition set out under Salverte, brother of Gov. Perier. The third and last stand of the Natchez was made at Battle Ground plantation, on Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, La., forty miles across the swamp fro Natchez, Miss. Here they were found by Gov. Perier, January 20, 1732, and many of them torn to pieces by the artillery. That night a heavy rain storm came up to end the butchery, as it were, and in the darkness the remnant of the tribe escaped, leaving the wounded warriors, an aged woman and some no combatants in the stockade. The refugees reorganized under Chief of the Flour, and attacked Natchitoches early in 1831.

The old post, called by the Yankees For Claiborne, was surrounded by a deep ditch. In the northeastern section was the cemetery, and there in 1827, the last interment was made. An iron cross marks the grave and date.

In January, 1707, M. de La Motte's expedition arrived at Natchitoches, but six years before this the church of San Miguel at Adayes, near Robeline, was established. During the century ending in 1816, Adayes disappeared, and the newer town on Cane River could only boast of 150 houses. On March 29, 1823, the church, presbytery and Rost's house were burned. On March 17, 1838, fire destroyed the new church here, being the second fire in the history of the town. The fort at Bayou Pierre Bluffs, near Grand Ecore, was a substantial set of structures covering one acre and surrounded by a stone wall. Parts of the wall and house foundations are still to be seen.

On the Natchitoches and San Antonia trace evidence of a fort exist, and throughout the country bordering the old western trails the crosses of the missionaries or the swords of the soldiers of ancient days are unearthed at intervals. The Sanchez' grant at Los Tres Llanos, where Louis Latham resided in the twenties, was one of the oldest Spanish grants by Gov. Lavois, who resided at Adizes. Sanchez' son was eight six years old in 1820, when District Judge William Murray took testimony in the case.

In June, 1772 the inhabitants were driven out of Adizes, by Gov. Rippardo, leaving their crops and three sick families behind. In 1770 Pierre and Julien Besson settled on the Ecore Rouge, six leagues above Natchitoches, granted by Athanase Mazieres, commandant at this post. The Michael Crow claim on the Sabine, was presented in 1797. His father, Isaac, married the widow Chabineau, and purchased lands on the east bank of the river from Vincente Michele, on the Natchitoches road.

In September, 1769, Chevalier de St. Denys, commandant, granted to Marie de St. Denys, wife of De Soto, a tract in this vicinity. Athanase Poisot claimed lands at Three Cabins, and also Prairie Nabutscahe, under a deed given by chief Antoine and other Indians of the Hyatasses, approved by Vaugine in 1784. This land is near the large bayou flowing into Natchitoches. In 1790 Andrew Rambin purchased from the Indians, Cayacaille and wife, some lands in this parish, and in 1778 a lot in the town from Chevalier Poiret. In 1813 Richard K. McLaughlin, representing twenty six claimants each for a square league in Natchitoches, signed the claims in presence of justice Marcel De Soto. The fraudulent methods were exposed by De Soto soon after, and the claims set aside.

In 1787 Francois Grappe purchased from Cahada or Cajahdet, and Indian of the Caddo tribe, a tract at Lake Bastiano, on the road from Campti to Little Caddo. Pierre Gagnier bought lands on Lake auk Meures from John Sohano and other Chesteaur Indians at Natchitoches. In 1790 Hypolite Bourdelin bought lands from the Indian chief, Dehuste, of Natchitoches, under whom the tribe was remove from the post to the lake named, ten leagues above the post, after the death of Chief Tomac.


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