Vermilion Parish History

The present courthouse is in the heart of Abbeville’s central business district.
It is the most massive and distinctive building in the downtown area.

Vermilion Parish, once described by Wakeman E. Edwards, in his “Historical Sketches of Vermilion Parish”, as ”…an ocean of grass, with a few groves of trees scattered here and there over the broad expanse.” was sparsely populated by the year 1844.

During the mid-1700s many Acadian families exiled from old Acadie settled in south Louisiana. The Spanish government awarded land grants to new settlers before 1899 on the condition that they would clear the land, and help build and keep up levees, bridges, and roads. The first land grants in Vermilion Parish were on waterways because there we few roads. Prairie areas were settled later.

Drawn here by fertile fields, abundant wildlife, and grazing land for cattle, some of the early families that helped settle Vermilion Parish included: Peter Lee, Jr. and his brother Mark Lee, Sr. who made land claims along the Vermilion River as early as 1796; Claude Broussard, son of Joseph (Beausoleil) Broussard, who held early claims on both sides of the Vermilion River; A Pedro Perrot and Pierre Gaillard, from La Rochelle, France, who held early grants on the river in the Mouton Cove area; an Acadian, Charles Hebert, who held land on both sides of the river that joined with Coulee Kinney; and Victor Boet, a native of France, who held lands on the east side of the river. Other settlers included Christoval Simon Abreo, a native of Aragon, Spain, and Charles Comeaux, an Acadian.

VERMILION PARISH COURTHOUSE (2019)

The present courthouse is in the heart of Abbeville’s central business district. It is the most massive and distinctive building in the downtown area.

This structure is the third courthouse building to be located on this site. In 1847 a wooden structure was erected on property donated by our city’s founder, Father Antoine Megret. Following the Civil War the courthouse fell into disrepair and succumbed to a fire in 1885. A replacement began in 1890 and lasted until 1951 when it was deemed too small to serve the needs of the parish. It was replaced by the A. Hays Town designed building at a cost of $725,884.00. The dedication ceremonies were held on May 30, 1952.

The facade features a portico based on the typical Greek temple front with six columns. The rear facade is patterned after the Classic Revival Louisiana plantation home. It has an eight column veranda with an outside staircase. At the left side is a secondary entrance with an “old New Orleans” cast iron portico. The body of the building is brick and is entered through a vestibule which contains a free standing circular stairway to the second floor courtrooms.

Dates in Vermilion Parish History

1800

November 1760

Fusilier de la Clair purchases from the Attakapas Chief Kimino, the land bounded on the west by the Vemilion River and on the east by the Teche.

1802

1802

Marin Mouton pays $50 to the Attakapas Indian Chief Bernard for land on the Vermilion River that would become Mouton Cove.

1835

1835

Kimbal Chapel Methodist Church is established at Indian Bayou.

1843

July 25, 1843

Father A. D. Megret pays $900 to Joseph LeBlanc for the tract of land upon which he would eventually found; Abbeville.

1844

March 25, 1844

Vermilion Parish is carved out from Lafayette Parish and created by the legislature.

1847

November 4, 1847

A post-office is established at Abbeville with Nicholas Desmary as the first postmaster.

1852

1852

Val Veazey publishes The Independent, the first newspaper in Vermilion Parish.

1853

December 5, 1853

Father A. D. Megret dies ministering to his flock during an epidemic of Yellow Fever that swept through the region claiming 73 lives in Vermilion Parish.

1854

January 1854

Father S. J. Foltier is appointed the first resident pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville.

1854

March 3, 1854

Abbeville becomes the seat of Justice for Vermilion Parish.

1856

1856

St. Mary Magdalen Church, Abbeville, is blown down by a storm.

1857

January 1, 1857

The first edition of the Abbeville Meridional is published.

1877

1877

A post-office is established at Grand Marias, as Delcambre was first called.

1884

1884

Jean-Pierre Gueydan and his brother buy 40,000 acres of land in western Vermilion Parish.

1885

1885

The Sisters of Mount Carmel opens a convent and school in Abbeville.

1885

April 6, 1885

Fire destroys the first Vermilion Parish Courthouse in Abbeville.

1891

1891

The Iberia and Vermilion Railroad gets its charter.

1892

1892

August Erath bought land from the Primeaux family to which the town bears his name.

1893

January 1893

St. Alphonsus Catholic Church built in Maurice.

1894

1894

The railroad connects Gueydan, Midland, and Eunice.

1895

1895

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church is established at Bancker. It would be moved to Henry in 1939 and become St. John’s Catholic Church.

1897

1897

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church opens at Delcambre.

1898

1898

The Fenwick Sanitarium #1(Palms Hospital) was built (**according to Ken Dupuy, was actually built in 1902). Destroyed by fire in 1906.

1899

1899

Gueydan town assembly holds first meeting after incorporation.

1906

1906

Delcambre Commercial College opens with 42 students.

1907

January 1907

The Fenwick Sanitarium #2 (Palms Hospital) was dedicated (closed 1965). Re-building started in 1906 immediately after fire destroyed the first building.

1907

March 22, 1907

St. Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville is destroyed by fire.

1907

November 7, 1907

Delcambre is incorporated.

1909

1909

Erath Sugar Refinery established by the Caldwell and Moresi brothers (closed 1969). Smokstack is presently the only remaining reminder.

1910

1910

C. S. Steen, Sr. started Syrup Mill that remains currently in operation.

1911

1911

The new (and present) St. Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville is completed.

1911

December 27, 1911

Maurice is incorporated, known as the “Gateway to Vermilion Parish”.

1913

1913

The Sagrera family opens a hotel and spa at Cheniere au Tigre.

1917

1917

First road is built to Forked Island.

1925

1925

The first class, five students, graduates from Indian Bayou High School.

1926

1926

Purchase of a generator brings electricity to the Sagrera hotel and cottages at Cheniere au Tigre.

1928

1928

A Catholic Church is established in Erath.

1936

1936

E. Broussard at Cow Island becomes an accredited high school.

1948

1948

Reverend James A. Herod dies.

1949

September 24, 1949

The1st annual Dairy Day Festival is established (later changed in 1979 to the present Louisiana Cattle Festival).

1952

1952

Maltrait Memorial School in Kaplan and St. Peter’s School in Gueydan are opened by the Grey Nuns.

1955

1955

Herod High School opens (closed 1969-1970 due to the end of segregation). It was the first and last African-American school of Abbeville and taught a curriculum that covered 1st through 12th grades.

1967

1967

Mount Carmel School is split into Mount Carmel Elementary and Vermilion Catholic.

1980

September 1980

A new high school consisting of the communities and towns of Maurice, Indian Bayou, Leroy and Meaux areas combined to form the current North Vermilion High School.