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Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana

Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana
Calcasieu Parish District Courthouse
Map of Louisiana highlighting Calcasieu Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the United States highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded March 24, 1840
Named for Atakapa word for crying eagle
Seat Lake Charles
Largest city Lake Charles
 • Total 1,094 sq mi (2,833 km2)
 • Land 1,064 sq mi (2,756 km2)
 • Water 31 sq mi (80 km2), 2.8%
 • (2010) 192,768
 • Density 181/sq mi (70/km²)
Congressional district 3rd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Calcasieu Parish[p] (French: Paroisse de Calcasieu) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 192,768.[1] The parish seat is Lake Charles.[2]

Calcasieu Parish is part of the Lake Charles, LA Metropolitan Statistical Area with a population of 194,138. It is also located near the Beaumont–Port Arthur (Texas), Lafayette, and Alexandria metropolitan areas.

Calcasieu Parish was created March 24, 1840, from the parish of Saint Landry, one of the original nineteen civil parishes established by the Louisiana Legislature in 1807.[3] The original parish seat was chosen as Comasaque Bluff, that was east of the river and later called Marsh Bayou Bluff. On December 8, 1840, the seat of justice was named Marion. Jacob Ryan was successful, in 1852, in having the parish seat moved from Marion to the east bank of Lake Charles. As the population in this area grew over the years, the original Calcasieu Parish has since been divided into five smaller parishes. The original area of Calcasieu Parish is called Imperial Calcasieu.


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
  • Law and government 2
    • Courthouse 2.1
  • Geography 3
    • Major highways 3.1
    • Adjacent counties and parishes 3.2
    • Major waterways 3.3
  • Demographics 4
  • Politics 5
  • Education 6
  • National Guard 7
  • Communities 8
    • Cities 8.1
    • Towns 8.2
    • Census-designated places 8.3
    • Unincorporated community 8.4
  • Notable residents 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The name Calcasieu [p] comes from the Atakapan word, "quelqueshue", meaning "crying eagle". It was originally the name of an Atakapa chief, but became the name given to what was formerly the Rio Hondo River (Rio Stondo or "Deep River"), now the Calcasieu River. The parish then inherited this name.

Early history

The early history of the parish dates back to the time of the Spain and the United States, after France had ceded Louisiana to the American government in 1803, was definitively acquired by the United States with the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819. The treaty was formally ratified on February 22, 1821. By an act of Congress, approved on March 3, 1823, this strip of land was attached to the district south of the Red River.

Early settlers to the area included the Ryans, Perkins, LeBleus, Deviers, and Hendersons. Acadian settlers, from the eastern parishes of Louisiana, also emigrated to this area, resulting in a diverse ethnic mix in the population, consisting of Creoles, Acadians, Anglo-Americans, and Indians.

When "Imperial Calcasieu Parish" was created in 1840 from the Parish of Chloe. The first jury men were David Simmons, Alexander Hebert, Michel Pithon, Henry Moss, Rees Perkins, and Thomas M. Williams. They first order of business was the elected officers, a parish clerk, and a set of simple parliamentary rules which would give the president authority to keep the meetings orderly and progressive. The jury adopted all of the laws then in force in Saint Landry Parish. Appointments were made for a parish constable, a parish treasurer, two parish assessors, and an operator of the ferry at Buchanan's crossing. The assessors were given two months and to assess all of the property in the parish and given a salary of $90. On September 14, 1840, a survey was authorized of land known then as Marsh Bayou Bluff for the purpose of establishing a seat of justice and for the erection of a courthouse and jail. On December 8, 1840 it was resolved that the seat of justice be given the name of Marion. In 1843, the Legislature authorized a vote on moving the parish seat, but it was not until 1852, that Jacob Ryan was successful in having the parish seat moved from Marion to the east bank of Lake Charles. This parish seat was incorporated as a town in 1857 as Charleston and was reincorporated in 1868 as Lake Charles. It is located about six miles (10 km) from the original parish seat of Marion, which is now known as Old Town. The name, Lake Charles, perpetuates the memory of one of the first settlers, Charles Sallier, an Italian who took up land in this area at the beginning of the 19th century.[4]

In 1870 Cameron Parish was taken from the south portion of Imperial Calcasieu that remained until 1912, at which time it comprised an area of over 3,600 square miles (9,300 km2), was the largest parish in the state, and for this reason is sometimes called "Imperial Calcasieu". In 1912, the three parishes of Allen, Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis, with a total area of approximately 2,548 square miles (6,600 km2), were formed from the Parish of Calcasieu. Being the last parishes created in Louisiana it is believed to be the reason for the apparent population decline of Calcasieu Parish, between 1910 and 1920, as seen in the censuses for those years.

Older maps as show the Calcasieu to have been called "Bayou Quelqueshue", which means "crying eagle" in English, is said to have been the name of an Attakapas Indian chief who gave a peculiar cry like an eagle as he went into battle.

Law and government

Calcasieu Parish Police Jury

Calcasieu Parish is governed by an elected body known as the Police Jury. There are 15 single-member Police Jury districts with a population of approximately 12,200 persons per district (based on the 2000 Census), and each district has one Juror elected for representation. This is in line with the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court of the "one man, one vote" theory. The U.S. Department of Justice requires reapportionment (or redistricting) of the parish following each official census, which can change the boundaries of the single member districts, to ensure that each Juror represents approximately the same number in population.

The primary law enforcement for the parish is the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office. The Louisiana State Police is the primary law enforcement on state highways within the parish.


The first courthouse erected at Marion, a crudely built log cabin, was completed in August 1841. When the seat of justice was changed to Lake Charles in 1852, Sheriff Jacob Ryan with the help of his slave, Uncle George, and the aid of his good friend and fellow landowner, Samuel Adams Kirby, loaded the log cabin courthouse on an ox and took the small building through the piney woods to Lake Charles. A new wooden courthouse was then completed within a year. This courthouse was replaced in 1891 by a colonial brick building erected at a cost of $20,000, and in 1902 an annex was added to this building. This building 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. On April 4, 1911, the Police Jury decided to build a new courthouse on the old site.

The courthouse was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places[5] on November 2, 1989. It is a brick and terracotta structure completed in 1912 at a cost of $200,000 and is a replica of the famous Villa Copra, known as the Rotunda in Vicenza, which was designed by a noted Italian architect, Andrea Palladio, whose work became known in the 17th and 18th centuries. Calcasieu Parish's replica was designed by Favrot and Livaudais of New Orleans. The dome atop the courthouse is of solid copper.

An annex containing two additional court rooms and additional space for the Clerk of Court and the Police Jury was added in the year 1958, and another annex for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals of the State of Louisiana was completed in 1960.

In 1967, a Parish Government Building was completed to house the various offices of the Police Jury. This building was expanded in 2003, and houses the following departments: Office of the Parish Administrator, Records Department, Division of Finance/Purchasing, Facilities Management, Human Resources Department, Division of Planning and Development, Division of Engineering and Public Works, and the Government Access Channel.

In 1987, a new building was constructed to house the District Attorney's Office. A new state-of-the-art correctional center was completed in 1990 to replace the old jail which was constructed in 1956, and a separate building was completed in 1991 for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. A newly constructed Judicial Center to house the Fourteenth Judicial District was completed in March 1994, and sits on the site of the old jail.

Between 1993 and 1998 an extensive interior and exterior restoration and renovation was performed on the Parish Courthouse originally built in 1912. The Courthouse houses several offices including the Clerk of Court, Juvenile and Family Court, Registrar of Voters, Sheriff's Civil Division, Veterans Affairs Office and others.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 1,094 square miles (2,830 km2), of which 1,064 square miles (2,760 km2) is land and 31 square miles (80 km2) (2.8%) is water.[6]

Major highways

Adjacent counties and parishes

Major waterways


As of the census[12] of 2010, there were 192,768 people, 73,996 households, and 50,490 families residing in the parish. The population density was 176 people per square mile (66/km²). There were 75,995 housing units at an average density of 71 per square mile (27/km²). 70.8% of the population were White, 24.9% Black or African American, 1.1% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.9% of some other race and 1.9% of two or more races. 2.6% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 24.9% were of French, French Canadian or Cajun, 8.4% American, 6.2% Irish, 6.2% English and 6.1% German ancestry.[13] 5.98% reported speaking French or Cajun French at home, while 1.56% speak Spanish.[2]

There were 73,996 households out of which 35.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.60% were married couples living together, 14.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.50% were non-families. 24.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.11.

In the parish the population was spread out with 27.40% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 28.70% from 25 to 44, 21.80% from 45 to 64, and 11.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 94.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.30 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $35,372, and the median income for a family was $41,903. Males had a median income of $36,569 versus $21,390 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $17,710. About 12.80% of families and 15.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.90% of those under age 18 and 14.20% of those age 65 or over.


A majority of Calcasieu Parish voted for Republican John F. Kerry won 41% of the vote and 32,864 votes.[14]


Public schools are operated by the Calcasieu Parish Public School System.

National Guard

Elements of the 256th IBCT and the 139TH RSG (Regional Support Group) reside in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The 256th IBCT deployed to Iraq twice, 2004-5 and 2010. De Quincy, Louisiana is the home of both the HHC 3-156TH Infantry Battalion and F Company of the 199th Forward Support Battalion. These units deployed to Iraq with the 256TH IBCT.


Map of Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana with municipal labels.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated community

Notable residents

  • Mark Abraham (born 1953) is the incoming state representative for Calcasieu Parish, effective January 2016.
  • Mike Danahay, Democratic state representative for Calcasieu Parish since 2008; sales representative in Lake Charles; formerly resided in Sulphur and Vinton[15]
  • A. B. Franklin (born 1948) is an African-American businessman from Lake Charles who has been a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for Calcasieu Parish since 2008.[16]
  • Gilbert Franklin Hennigan (1883-1960), served in the Louisiana Senate from Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis parishes from 1944 to 1956. He worked to establish McNeese State University as a four-year college and to enact the state teacher retirement act. He was born in Meadows in Calcasieu Parish and also lived in Beauregard Parish.
  • Harry Hollins was a state representative for Calcasieu Parish from 1964 to 1980.[17]
  • Robert G. "Bob" Jones (born 1939), a Lake Charles stockbroker, served in both houses of the Louisiana legislature between 1968 and 1976 and was an unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial contender in the 1975 nonpartisan blanket primary. He later turned Republican, son of Sam Houston Jones.
  • Alvan Lafargue (1883–1962) was a 50-year physician who practiced primarily in Calcasieu Parish. He delivered more than five thousand babies. He was the mayor of Sulphur from 1926 to 1932.
  • Conway LeBleu (1918-2007) was a Lake Charles native who represented Cameron and part of Calcasieu parishes in the Louisiana House from 1964 to 1988.
  • Margaret Lowenthal (1929-2003) was the first woman to represent Calcasieu Parish in the Louisiana House, with service from 1980 to 1988.
  • Guy Sockrider (1921-2011), businessman and state senator from Jennings and Lake Charles from 1948 to 1964
  • Dennis Stine, state representative (1987-1988) and state commissioner of administration (1988-1992), Lake Charles timber businessman reared in Sulphur[20]
  • Tim Stine, state representative (1988-1996) and member of the Sulphur City Council (1986-1988), timber businessman and brother of Dennis Stine[21]

See also


  [p] - The name "Calcasieu" is pronounced "cal-cuh-shu" with even emphasis on all syllables.

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Ellender, Allie (May 2007). "A BRIEF HISTORY OF CALCASIEU PARISH". McNeese State University. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  4. ^ Calcasieu Parish Police Jury -Retrieved 2010-12-22
  5. ^ NRHP -Retrieved 2010-12-22
  6. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  12. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  13. ^ "American FactFinder"
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Mike Danahay". Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Albert Franklin's Biography".  
  17. ^ "Guide to Harry Hollins Papers" (PDF). Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  18. ^ "House District 35", Louisiana Encyclopedia (1999)
  19. ^ Staff. "MARTIN O. WALDRON IS DEAD AT 56; REPORTING LED TO A PULITZER PRIZE", The New York Times, May 28, 1981. Accessed July 13, 2010.
  20. ^ "Louisiana: Stine, Dennis Neal", Who's Who in American Politics, 2003-2004, 19th ed., Vol. 1 (Alabama-Montana) (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2003), p. 796
  21. ^ "Louisiana: Stine, Timothy D.", Who's Who in American Politics, 2003-2004, 19th ed., Vol. 1 (Alabama-Montana) (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2003), p. 796

External links

  • Calcasieu Parish government's website


  • Heinrich, P. V., J. Snead, and R. P. McCulloh, 2002, Lake Charles 30 x 60 minute geologic quadrangle. Louisiana Geological Survey, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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