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Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana
Parish of Calcasieu
Calcasieu Parish District Courthouse
Calcasieu Parish District Courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of Louisiana
Location within the U.S. state of Louisiana
Louisiana's location within the U.S.
Louisiana's location within the U.S.
Country United States
State Louisiana
FoundedMarch 24, 1840
Named forAtakapa word for crying eagle
Parish seat (and largest city)Lake Charles
 • Total2,830 km2 (1,094 sq mi)
 • Land2,760 km2 (1,064 sq mi)
 • Water80 km2 (31 sq mi)  2.8%
 • Total216,785
 • RankLA: 7th
 • Density77/km2 (200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
Congressional district3rd
WebsiteCalcasieu Parish Police Jury

Calcasieu Parish (/ˈkælkəˌʃ/; French: Paroisse de Calcasieu) is a parish located on the southwestern border of the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2020 census, the population was 216,785.[1] The parish seat is Lake Charles.[2]

Calcasieu Parish is part of the Lake Charles metropolitan statistical area; 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 after the United States acquired the territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.[3] The original parish seat was Comasaque Bluff, a settlement east of the river and later called Marsh Bayou Bluff. On December 8, 1840, it was renamed as Marion, Louisiana.

In 1852 Jacob Ryan, a local planter and businessman, donated land and offered to move the courthouse in order to have the parish seat moved to 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.


The name Calcasieu [p] comes from the Atakapa word, spelled quelqueshue in a French transliteration, and meaning "singing eagle." This was the name of an Atakapa chief, which French colonists applied to the local river, the Calcasieu River. When the Spanish controlled this area, they referred to this river as the Rio Hondo[citation needed] (Rio Stondo or "Deep River"). The Americans adopted an English transliteration of the French name for the parish. There is also some speculation that Calcasieu is simply an anglicized spelling of "quelque chose" (pronounced kel-ka-showz) which is French for "something," therefore potentially being named "Something Parish" after "Something River".[citation needed]

Early history

The early history of the parish dates to the period of the Spanish occupation of Louisiana, after France had ceded this territory following its defeat by Great Britain in the Seven Years' War. In 1797, Jose M. Mora was granted a large tract of land between the Rio Hondo (now Calcasieu River) and the Sabine River,[citation needed] known for years as the "Neutral Strip" between Louisiana and Texas. The area became a refuge for outlaws and filibusters from Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi of the United States, which had recently gained independence from Great Britain.

The territory was disputed for years between Spain and the United States after France had ceded Louisiana to the American government as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. It was definitively acquired by the United States from Spain 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 of the Louisiana Territory south of the Red River.

Early settlers to the area included the Ryan, Perkin, Hodges, Bilbo, LeBleu, Deviers, and Henderson families. Some of these families also brought along a few enslaved servants. Acadian settlers, from the eastern parishes of Louisiana, also migrated to this area. Of French descent and exiled by the British from Acadia (eastern Canada), many of these refugees had settled in Louisiana. The parish had a diverse ethnic mix of French and Spanish Creoles, Acadians, Anglo-Americans, Enslaved African Americans, Free African Americans, and Indians. Data compiled from historical volumes of the US Center of Population and Housing indicate that in 1850, 240 of 3914 Parish residents were "Free Men of Color". By 1860 that number had risen to 305 of 5928. The 1860 U.S. census of Louisiana counts 1171 Slaves among Calcasieu Parish residents.

"Imperial Calcasieu" era

Calcasieu Parish was created in 1840 from the Parish of Saint Landry. The new parish was the largest in the state, larger than either of the two smallest states, Delaware and Rhode Island.[3] This size, which ultimately was divided into five parishes, led to the parish's nickname "Imperial Calcasieu."[3]

On August 24, 1840, six men met at a private home near present-day Chloe to organize as the parish police jury representing six wards. The first order of business was to elect officers, appoint a parish clerk, and settle on simple parliamentary rules that would enable the president to keep the meetings orderly and progressive. The jury adopted all of the laws then in force in Saint Landry Parish. They appointed 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 to assess all of the property in the parish and a salary of $90.

On September 14, 1840, a survey was authorized of land known then as Marsh Bayou Bluff in order to establish a seat of justice (parish seat) and construct a courthouse and jail. On December 8, 1840, the jury chose to rename this community as Marion. In 1843, the Legislature authorized a vote to move the parish seat.

Finally in 1852, Jacob Ryan was successful in having the parish seat relocated from Marion to the east bank of Lake Charles. This parish seat was incorporated in 1857 as the town of Charleston; it was reincorporated in 1868 as Lake Charles. It is located about six miles (9.7 km) from Marion, now known as Old Town. The name Lake Charles commemorates one of the first European settlers, Charles Sallier, a Frenchman who acquired land in this area at the beginning of the 19th century.[4]


In 1870 Cameron Parish was created from the southern portion of Imperial Calcasieu. It was one of several parishes organized during the Reconstruction era by the Republican-dominated legislature, in an effort to build Republican strength. Many Freedmen had joined the Republican Party elsewhere in the state. However, while other areas of Louisiana had been developed as cotton plantations, Calcasieu Parish had not. Although the parish had been larger in land mass than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island it was primarily utilized as grazing land for cattle with no significant plantings of cotton, sugar cane or other crops requiring the utilization of slave labor.[5] Therefore, Calcasieu before the Civil War was home to a lower percentile of African-American slaves than many other parts of the State.

In 1912 Calcasieu Parish still comprised an area of more than 3,600 square miles (9,300 km2), and remained the largest parish in the state by geographic area. In 1912, "Imperial Calcasieu" was further divided with the creation of the three new parishes of Allen, Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis, with a total area of approximately 2,548 square miles (6,600 km2).[3][4] These were the most recent parishes organized in Louisiana. Following these jurisdictional changes, Calcasieu Parish lost almost half of its population between the 1910 and 1920 United States census.


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


Map of Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana with municipal labels.



Unincorporated areas

Census-designated places

Unincorporated community


Historical population
2021 (est.)205,282−5.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790-1960[9] 1900-1990[10]
1990-2000[11] 2010-2019[12]
Calcasieu Parish racial composition as of 2020[13]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 137,110 63.25%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 54,825 25.29%
Native American 902 0.42%
Asian 3,797 1.75%
Pacific Islander 137 0.06%
Other/Mixed 8,630 3.98%
Hispanic or Latino 11,384 5.25%

According to the 2020 United States census, there were 216,785 people, 77,232 households, and 53,308 families residing in the parish. In 2010, 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.[14] In 2020, the racial and ethnic makeup was 63.25% non-Hispanic white, 25.29% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 1.75% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 3.98% other or two or more races, and 5.25% Hispanic or Latino of any race.[13]

In 2010, 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, 27.40% of the population was 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% was 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 according to the 2010 census. 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.

Law and government

Calcasieu Parish Police Jury building

Calcasieu Parish is governed by an elected body known as the Police Jury. Some 15 single-member districts have been defined, with a population of approximately 12,200 persons per district (based on the 2000 census). Each district elects one Juror for representation, in keeping with the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court of the "one man, one vote" principle.

The Court had found that Louisiana and a number of other states had failed to reapportion their state legislatures for decades, in many cases keeping representation based on geographic boundaries, such as counties or parishes, rather than population. This had resulted in under-representation for decades of urban and industrialized districts in the state legislature. Redistricting was also required at the parish level for election of police juries. By the constitution, reapportionment (or redistricting) of the parish is required following each official census. This can change the boundaries of the single-member districts, to ensure that each Juror represents approximately the same number of people.

A 2003 report found that the office of the public defender in Calcasieu Parish used an expert in only 1 of 171 cases. The criminal defense lawyers in that parish visited their clients in jail in only 1 out of 14 cases.[15]


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 cart and transported the small building through the piney woods to Lake Charles. A new wooden courthouse was completed within a year.

This courthouse was replaced in 1891 by a colonial-style brick building erected at a cost of $20,000. In 1902 the parish added an annex to this building. A disastrous fire on April 23, 1910, destroyed the courthouse as well as most of downtown Lake Charles. 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.

It is a brick and terracotta structure completed in 1912 at a cost of $200,000. It is a replica of the famous Villa Copra, known as the Rotunda in Vicenza. The villa was designed by noted Italian architect, Andrea Palladio. His work became internationally known in the 17th and 18th centuries, and was influential both in Great Britain and the United States. 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. 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. A separate building was completed in 1991 for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. A Judicial Center was constructed on the site of the old jail to house the Fourteenth Judicial District, and was completed in March 1994.

Between 1993 and 1998 an extensive interior and exterior restoration and renovation was performed on the 1912 Parish Courthouse. 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.

Law enforcement

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office
MottoDuty, Respect and Trust
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersLake Charles, Louisiana
Sworn members980
Agency executive
  • Administration
  • Special Services
  • Enforcement
  • Civil
  • Programs
  • Corrections
  • Law Enforcement Centers
  • Investigations
  • Security Enforcement
Law Enforcement Centers
  • Bell City/Hayes
  • Carlyss
  • Central Lake Charles
  • DeQuincy
  • Iowa
  • Moss Bluff
  • South Lake Charles
  • Starks
  • Sulphur
  • Vinton
Corrections Facilities
  • Calcasieu Correctional Center
  • Calcasieu Sheriff's Prison
Patrol CarsFord Taurus Police Interceptor, Chevrolet Tahoe, Dodge Charger
Patrol MotorcyclesHarley Davidson Road King
Fixed wings1
Polica DogsYes

The primary law enforcement for the parish is the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office. In 2016, employees of the office were amongst the lowest-paid in the region.[16]

The Louisiana State Police is the primary law enforcement on state highways within the parish.


Public schools in all parts of the parish are operated by the Calcasieu Parish School Board.[17]

It is in the service area of Sowela Technical Community College.[18]

National Guard

Elements of the 256th IBCT and the 139TH RSG (Regional Support Group) are based in Lake Charles. The 256th IBCT deployed to Iraq twice, 2004-5 and 2010. De Quincy is the home of H Company of the 199th Forward Support Battalion which is a detachment of 3-156th Infantry Battalion. The Battalion's HHC is located in Lake Charles. These units deployed to Iraq with the 256TH IBCT.

Notable people


United States presidential election results for Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana[23]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 55,066 66.62% 25,982 31.43% 1,615 1.95%
2016 54,191 64.68% 26,296 31.39% 3,298 3.94%
2012 51,850 63.44% 28,359 34.70% 1,517 1.86%
2008 50,449 61.43% 30,244 36.82% 1,438 1.75%
2004 46,075 57.81% 32,864 41.24% 759 0.95%
2000 38,086 51.72% 33,919 46.06% 1,631 2.21%
1996 26,494 35.97% 38,238 51.91% 8,929 12.12%
1992 24,847 35.57% 33,570 48.05% 11,445 16.38%
1988 29,649 46.25% 33,932 52.94% 519 0.81%
1984 35,566 51.39% 33,214 47.99% 430 0.62%
1980 27,600 42.55% 35,446 54.65% 1,813 2.80%
1976 17,485 33.24% 33,980 64.61% 1,130 2.15%
1972 24,778 57.72% 15,330 35.71% 2,817 6.56%
1968 9,520 21.46% 14,593 32.89% 20,250 45.65%
1964 17,046 42.27% 23,285 57.73% 0 0.00%
1960 10,243 27.22% 24,233 64.40% 3,151 8.37%
1956 13,760 51.47% 12,255 45.84% 718 2.69%
1952 11,102 41.25% 15,814 58.75% 0 0.00%
1948 1,940 15.60% 7,074 56.87% 3,424 27.53%
1944 1,867 19.19% 7,861 80.81% 0 0.00%
1940 1,425 16.91% 6,993 82.96% 11 0.13%
1936 1,037 14.19% 6,259 85.63% 13 0.18%
1932 678 9.96% 6,105 89.71% 22 0.32%
1928 1,997 36.10% 3,532 63.85% 3 0.05%
1924 1,129 30.88% 2,494 68.22% 33 0.90%
1920 483 16.23% 2,480 83.33% 13 0.44%
1916 165 8.36% 1,798 91.13% 10 0.51%
1912 171 5.27% 2,144 66.05% 931 28.68%

See also


  1. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Ellender, Allie (May 2007). "A BRIEF HISTORY OF CALCASIEU PARISH". McNeese State University. Archived from the original on September 4, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "History of Calcasieu Parish". Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  5. ^ Some Aspects of Agricultural Retardation in Southwest Louisiana, 1865-1900 - Donald J. Millet, Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Winter, 1970), pp. 37-61
  6. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  7. ^ End of Mossville- Retrieved June 4, 2018
  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. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  12. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Explore Census Data". Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  14. ^ ""American FactFinder"". Archived from the original on January 8, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  15. ^ Kurth, Michael M.; Burckel, Daryl V. (July 22, 2003). Defending the Indigent in Southwest Louisiana (PDF) (Report). Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  16. ^ Chatelin, Kim (June 14, 2016). "How much do your police make? See list of 12 agencies". Times-Picayune. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  17. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Calcasieu Parish, LA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 31, 2022. Retrieved July 31, 2022. - Text list
  18. ^ "Our Colleges". Louisiana's Technical and Community Colleges. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  19. ^ "Mike Danahay". Archived from the original on May 2, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  20. ^ "Guide to Harry Hollins Papers" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  21. ^ "House District 35", Louisiana Encyclopedia (1999)
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved April 28, 2018.


30°14′N 93°22′W / 30.23°N 93.36°W / 30.23; -93.36