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Tallulah, Louisiana
City of Tallulah
Tallulah municipal building
Tallulah municipal building
Location of Tallulah in Madison Parish, Louisiana
Location of Tallulah in Madison Parish, Louisiana
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish Madison
 • Total 2.78 sq mi (7.21 km2)
 • Land 2.78 sq mi (7.21 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
85 ft (26 m)
 • Total 7,335
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,395.26/sq mi (924.79/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code
71282, 71284
FIPS code 22-74690
Walnut Bayou, Tallulah, LA IMG 0214
Brushy Bayou in Tallulah
Glimpse of downtown Tallulah, LA IMG 0212
Part of downtown Tallulah

Tallulah is a small city in, and the parish seat of, Madison Parish in northeastern Louisiana, United States. The 2010 population was 7,335, a decrease of 1,854, or 20.2 percent, from the 9,189 recorded at the 2000 census.

As this was historically a center of agriculture since the antebellum years, producing cotton and pecans, Tallulah and the parish have long had majority-African American populations. The small city is now nearly 77 percent African American; the surrounding parish is 60 percent black. Mechanization and industrial agriculture have reduced the number of jobs, and many residents have moved since the mid-20th century to larger cities with more opportunities.

Tallulah is the principal city of the Tallulah Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Madison Parish. The Madison Parish Sheriff's office operates the Steve Hoyle Rehabilitation Center in Tallulah.

Town name

When the railroad was expanding in the area, a widow who owned a large plantation became friendly with the contractor and persuaded him to change the route of the railroad to run through her plantation. After the railroad was built, she had nothing else to do with him. Feeling rejected, he named the water stop for an old girlfriend named Tallulah, instead of the plantation owner.


During the American Civil War, Union gunboats in Lake Providence headed south to Tallulah, where they burned the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Texas Railroad's depot and captured Confederate supplies awaiting shipment to Indian Territory. The Confederates in Tallulah offered no resistance. Numerous potential Confederate troops in the area were turned down for enlistment because of a lack of weapons.

Tallulah was the first U.S. city to offer shoppers an indoor shopping mall. A businessman built Bloom's Arcade in 1925, in the style of European arcades. It was one hall with stores on either side much like the ones today. The hall opened into the street on both ends. This landmark is still in Tallulah on U.S. Route 80 on the historical registry. As of late 2013, it has been restored to its original character and functions as an apartment complex. Madison Parish claims the title of birthplace of Delta Air Lines, and the original airport building, Scott's Field, still stands near Tallulah, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On April 24, 2010, an EF4 tornado touched down near Tallulah, causing numerous injuries. The tornado also damaged a tanker in a chemical plant causing a small nitrogen leak. The tornado continued on the ground across the Mississippi River. As the tornado gained strength, it struck Yazoo, Holmes, and Choctaw counties in Mississippi, causing 10 fatalities and extensive destruction. Significant damage to an industrial plant with injuries, trapped people and destroyed homes were reported in Madison Parish near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line. There were fifty-four tornadoes reported that day.

The Seviers of Tallulah

Tallulah and Madison Parish have been the center of numerous members of the prominent Sevier family, who are descended from John Sevier, a soldier in the American Revolution. Later serving as first Governor of Tennessee, he was the namesake for the city of Sevierville, Tennessee.

George Washington Sevier, Sr. (1858–1925), the father of Andrew L. Sevier, was a member of the Madison Parish Police Jury and served as the parish tax assessor from 1891–1916. Andrew Leonard Sevier, Sr. was a member of the Louisiana State Senate from 1932 until his death in 1962. His widow, the former Irene Newman Jordan, served the rest of his term. Andrew Jackson Sevier, Jr., served as sheriff of Madison Parish from 1904 until his death in office in 1941. He was succeeded for the rest of his term by his widow, Mary Louise Day Sevier. A cousin of the Seviers, Henry Clay Sevier, was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1936–52.

James D. Sevier, Sr., and his son, also named James, held the office of tax assessor for more than four decades. Except for the years 1887–90, there was at least one member of the Sevier family in public office for the 122 years preceding 2005. Mason Spencer, husband of Rosa Sevier Spencer, represented Madison Parish in the Louisiana House from 1924–36 and planned to run for governor of Louisiana in 1935 but withdrew his candidacy, and victory went to Richard Leche of New Orleans.

Among the political leaders from this family were William Putnam "Buck" Sevier, Jr., a banker, town alderman, and mayor of Tallulah from 1946-74. Sevier at the time of his death held the record at more than forty-four years as the longest-serving publicly elected official in Louisiana.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2), all land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 847
1920 1,316 55.4%
1930 3,332 153.2%
1940 5,712 71.4%
1950 7,758 35.8%
1960 9,413 21.3%
1970 9,643 2.4%
1980 11,341 17.6%
1990 8,526 −24.8%
2000 9,189 7.8%
2010 7,335 −20.2%
2019 (est.) 6,666 −9.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
First Baptist Church, Tallulah, LA IMG 0215
First Baptist Church across from Brushy Bayou in Tallulah, where outdoor baptisms took place in the bayou from the 1920s through the 1940s
Abandoned Tallulah High School across from Walnut Bayou IMG 0213
Abandoned Tallulah High School adjacent to First Baptist Church; the school was consolidated with the new Madison High School in Tallulah.
Louisiana Technical College, Tallulah campus IMG 0216
Louisiana Technical College, Tallulah campus

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,189 people, 3,016 households, and 2,078 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,396.0 people per square mile (1,309.2/km2). There were 3,226 housing units at an average density of 1,192.2 per square mile (459.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.79% African American, 23.22% White, 0.16% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 1.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.12% of the population.

There were 3,016 households, out of which 36.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.4% were married couples living together, 30.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.1% were non-families. 27.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.49.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 37.6% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $17,142, and the median income for a family was $20,100. Males had a median income of $22,346 versus $14,679 for females. The per capita income for the city was $8,324. About 35.7% of families and 43.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 59.2% of those under age 18 and 25.2% of those age 65 or over.


Madison Parish School Board operates public schools.

  • Madison High School - grades 9-12
  • Madison Middle School (grades 7 and 8)
  • Wright Elementary School (grades 4-6)
  • Tallulah Elementary School (grades PreK-3)

Louisiana Technical College operates a Tallulah campus.

Notable people

  • Clifford Cleveland Brooks, planter in St. Joseph, represented Madison Parish in the Louisiana State Senate from 1924 to 1932.
  • Buddy Caldwell, former Attorney General of Louisiana since 2008; former Madison, East Carroll, and Tensas parish district attorney
  • James Haynes, NFL player
  • John Littleton, born in Tallulah (1930) and died in France (1998), opera and gospel singer.
  • Paul Jorgensen, professional boxer
  • Edgar H. Lancaster Jr., state representative from 1952 to 1968 and interim judge, 1992-1993
  • John Little, professional football player
  • Joe Osborn, musician
  • James E. Paxton, district attorney for Madison, East Carroll, and Tensas parishes; native of Madison Parish; resides in St. Joseph in Tensas Parish
  • Andrew Jackson Sevier, Sheriff of Madison Parish from 1904 to 1941.
  • James Silas, professional basketball player.
  • Jefferson B. Snyder, district attorney of Madison Parish from 1904 to 1948.
  • Madam C. J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, near Delta, Louisiana. She was a businesswoman who became a self-made millionaire from health care products she developed and sold for African Americans.
  • Zelma Wyche, political activist, first African-American police chief, and elected mayor of Tallulah, sometimes called "Mr. Civil Rights of Louisiana".
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