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Jennings, Louisiana
Jennings LA W. H. Tupper General Merchandise Museum2008.jpg
The front facade of the W. H. Tupper General Merchandise Museum, circa 2008
Motto: "Cradle of Louisiana Oil"
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish Jefferson Davis
Elevation 26 ft (7.9 m)
Coordinates 30°13′20″N 92°39′25″W / 30.22222°N 92.65694°W / 30.22222; -92.65694
Area 10.3 sq mi (26.7 km²)
 - land 10.2 sq mi (26 km²)
 - water 0.04 sq mi (0 km²), 0.39%
Population 10,383 (2000)
Founded May 2, 1888
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 70546
Area code 337

Jennings is a city in and the parish seat of Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, United States, near Lake Charles. The population was 10,383 at the 2010 census, a small decline from the 2000 tabulation. The city is 68 percent white.

Jennings is the principal city of the Jennings Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Jefferson Davis Parish. It is also part of the larger Lake Charles-Jennings Combined Statistical Area. It is also part of the large, 22-parish Acadiana region of the state, with a large Francophone population, many descended from early Acadian settlers.

The City of Jennings is also the home to musical artists such as the Hip/Hop duo, W!$3 + G00DW!N.


Jennings McComb, for whom the town was named, was a Irish contractor of the Southern Pacific Railroad. He built the Jennings depot on a divide peculiar to southwest Louisiana. This became the center of new development based on the railroad. The first settler was recorded as A. D. McFarlain, who came in 1881 from St. Mary Parish and opened a store. McFarlain also became the first rice grower, postmaster, brick maker, and builder in the community. Prospering with Jennings’ growth, McFarlain was considered one of the town’s prominent businessmen and civic leaders.

The Jennings area attracted numerous wheat farmers from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and other Midwestern states. The new settlers of southwest Louisiana were referred to as "Yankees" by the natives, who were of Acadian French and African-American descent. They had settled along the waterways in the parish, which they had relied on for transportation before the railroad. They fished in the bayous. The Cajuns gave appreciable aid to the settlers in homesteading and homemaking. The people grew rice, cotton, sweet potatoes and corn.

Sylvester L. Cary reached this area on February 7, 1883 from Iowa. He became known as the town's "father," as he persuaded other Iowans to relocate there. He said he was "seeking a home where there was neither winter or mortgages." So impressed was Cary by the fertile country around the Jennings depot that he shared his findings with others. He attracted fellow Midwesterners to southwest Louisiana by writing to friends in Iowa, extolling the area. When he returned to Iowa to pack up his family for the move to Jennings, he persuaded several neighbors preparing to migrate west, to follow him to Jennings and southwest Louisiana.

Much of southwest Louisiana was developed by the North American Land and Timber Co, which owned large portions of land. Seaman A. Knapp, president of the Iowa State College of Agriculture, was engaged in 1885 to demonstrate the region's suitability for rice production. Knapp attracted a number of Iowans to settle the area. The land company placed advertisements in newspapers published in the Midwestern states.

On May 2, 1888 the settlement of Jennings was incorporated as a village. In 1901, a fire destroyed a large portion of the wooden structures in Jennings.

That same year, Jennings was the site of the first oil well to produce in the state of Louisiana, revealing its first oil field. Oil brought a boom to the town for a period. When oil production declined, the basic agricultural economy of the parish supported the town.


Jennings is located at 30°13′20″N 92°39′25″W / 30.22222°N 92.65694°W / 30.22222; -92.65694 (30.222207, -92.656880) and has an elevation of 26 feet (7.9 m).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.3 square miles (27 km2), of which 10.2 square miles (26 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.19%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 412
1900 1,539 273.5%
1910 3,925 155.0%
1920 3,824 −2.6%
1930 4,036 5.5%
1940 7,343 81.9%
1950 9,663 31.6%
1960 11,887 23.0%
1970 11,783 −0.9%
1980 12,401 5.2%
1990 11,305 −8.8%
2000 10,986 −2.8%
2010 10,383 −5.5%
Est. 2015 10,180 −2.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 10,986 people, 4,090 households, and 2,875 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,072.6 people per square mile (414.2/km²). There were 4,541 housing units at an average density of 443.4 per square mile (171.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.42% White, 28.00% African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.22% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.92% of the population.

There were 4,090 households out of which 34.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.1% were married couples living together, 18.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% 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 3.16.

In the city, the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 87.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,410, and the median income for a family was $30,783. Males had a median income of $26,630 versus $19,010 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,357. About 22.4% of families and 26.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.3% of those under the age of 18 and 18.1% of those ages 65 or older.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Jennings has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.

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