The Lafayette Parish region of south Louisiana was settled by French-speaking Acadians in the mid 1700s. The British had driven them from Nova Scotia for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the English Crown. The Acadians were joined by another group of settlers called Creoles, descendants of African, West Indian and European pioneers. At the time of the migration, Louisiana was under Spanish rule, and authorities welcomed the new settlers.
Lafayette began as Petit Manchac is the mid-1700s when the English and Indian traders flocked to the point where the Old Spanish Trail crossed the Vermilion River. In 1821, An Acadian refugee, Jean Mouton, formally designed Lafayette with St. Jean Church in the center. The town grew around the church, and in 1824 individual parishes were formed. Louisiana is the only U.S. state divided into parishes instead of counties. The original division matched jurisdictions of the Roman Catholic Church.
The community incorporated in 1836 as Vermillionville. Agriculture and cattle raising boosted the economy, and the community prospered until the region was nearly destroyed by yellow fever and the Civil War. In 1881, when the railroad was extended from New Orleans to Houston, the area again prospered.
The town's name was changed to Lafayette in 1884. In 1940, oil companies began to establish offices in Lafayette because of its central location to oil activities. Today, Lafayette is a center of gulf oil and gas industry.Thanks to Lafayette Consolidated Government for the history information on this page.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture