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Attakapas County, Orleans Territory facts for kids

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Attakapas Parish was a former parish (county) in southern Louisiana and was one of twelve parishes in the Territory of Orleans, newly defined by the United States federal government following the Louisiana Purchase. At its core was the Poste des Attakapas trading post, now St. Martinville.

Foundation

Attakapas Parish was formally created from the Attakapas and Opelousas Districts in 1805 by Governor William C. C. Claiborne. It occupied the triangle between the Mermentau River on the west, the Atchafalaya River on the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south.

In 1811, the parish was divided into St. Martin Parish and St. Mary Parish. The region was further subdivided in 1823, 1844, and 1868 to create Lafayette, Vermillion, and Iberia parishes, respectively.

Early history

Prior to European colonization, the area was primarily home to the Atakapa tribe.

Colonial settlement

The first Europeans arrived in the 1730s, and they were predominantly French or of French descent.

In the 1760s and 1780s, the area received a sizable influx of Acadian immigrants, who had been deported from their homes in Nova Scotia and scattered among various French and (other) British domains: the thirteen British Atlantic coast colonies, England, France, Saint-Dominigue (Haiti), Cayenne (French Guiana), and the Falkland Islands.

Approximately 193 Acadians who had been involved in guerilla warfare against the British in Canada were led by Joseph Broussard also known as Beausoleil to settle in the Attakapas Territory in 1765. These early settlers established themselves between modern Breaux Bridge and Loreauville This was two years after France had transferred most of its Louisiana colony to Spain (after losing the Seven Years' War), although the French colonial governor Charles Philippe Aubry was still in charge.

These settlers became the nexus for future waves of Acadian immigration, when their dispersed relatives were able to gather sufficient funds and permissions from the various national entities under whose control they found themselves.

Slavery

By the time that the former Attakapas Territory/District became Attakapas Parish, the Acadians living there had developed a prosperous agricultural economy based on cattle, enhanced by small-scale vegetable and corn farming; and powered, to a significant degree, by slave labor. The Attakapas District census of 1803 listed "2,270 whites, 210 free people of color, 1,266 slaves; in all 3,746 souls.

The region became a major center of both Cajun culture and Creole culture in Louisiana.

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