St. Landry Parish
The St. Landry Parish Courthouse in Opelousas during the Civil War
The St. Landry Parish Courthouse in Opelousas during the Civil War
Map of Louisiana highlighting St. Landry Parish
Location within the U.S. state of Louisiana
Map of the United States highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 30°36′N 92°00′W / 30.6°N 92°W / 30.6; -92
Country United States
State Louisiana
Named forSt. Landry Catholic Church
Largest cityOpelousas
 • Total939 sq mi (2,430 km2)
 • Land924 sq mi (2,390 km2)
 • Water15 sq mi (40 km2)  1.6%
 • Total82,540
 • Estimate 
 • Density88/sq mi (34/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts3rd, 4th, 5th

St. Landry Parish (French: Paroisse de Saint-Landry) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 82,540.[1] The parish seat is Opelousas.[2] The parish was established in 1807.[3]

St. Landry Parish comprises the Opelousas, LA Micropolitan Statistical Area (μSA), which is also included in the Lafayette-Opelousas-Morgan City, LA Combined Statistical Area. It is at the heart of Creole and Cajun culture and heritage in Louisiana.


French and Spanish Territory

The land that became St. Landry Parish was inhabited since at least 10,500 B.C., as deduced from excavations of three prehistoric dwelling sites. By the 15th century, the Opelousa Indians settled in the area situated between Atchafalaya River and Sabine River (at the border of Texas-Louisiana). The Opelousa were war-like and preyed on neighbors to defend their own territory.

The first European recorded in the Opelousa territory was a French trader named Michel de Birotte. He came in 1690 and negotiated with the Opelousa nation.[citation needed] Nine years later, France named Louisiana as a colony and defined the land occupied by the Opelousa as the Opelousas Territory. The area south of the Opelousas Territory between the Atchafalaya River, the Gulf of Mexico and Bayou Nezpique, occupied by the Atakapas Indians (Eastern Atakapa), was named Atakapas Territory.

In 1764, France established the Opelousas Post slightly north of the contemporary city of Opelousas (near present-day Washington).[4] It was a major trading organization for the developing area. In addition, France established the Attakapas Post (near the present-day St. Martinville) in the Attakapas Territory, in 1765. France gave land grants to soldiers and settlers to encourage development. Most settlers were French immigrants. Tradition says that Jean Joseph LeKintrek and Joseph Blainpain, who had formed a partnership to trade with the Opelousa Indians, came in the early 1740s. They brought three enslaved Africans, the first to live in the area.[5]

Some Indians sold land to the newcomers. When the Eastern Attakapas Chief Kinemo sold all the land between Vermilion River and Bayou Teche to Frenchman Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire in 1760, however, the angry Opelousa tribe exterminated the Attakapas (Eastern Atakapa).

France ceded Louisiana and its territories to Spain in 1762. Under Spanish rule, Opelousas Post became the center of government for Southwest Louisiana. By 1769 about 100 families were living in Opelousas Post. Between 1780 and 1820, the first settlers were joined by others coming from the Attakapas Territory, from the Pointe Coupée Territory, and east from the Atchafalaya River area. They were joined by immigrants from the French West Indies, who left after Haiti/St. Domingue became independent in a slave revolution. Most of the new settlers were French, Spaniards, French Creoles, Spanish Creoles, Africans and African-Americans.

The group from Attakapas Post included many Acadians. These were French who migrated from Nova Scotia in 1763, after their expulsion by the English in the aftermath of France's defeat in the Seven Years' War (known in North America as the French and Indian War). They were led by Jean-Jacques Blaise d'Abbadie. D'Abbadie was Governor of the territory from 1763 to 1765. The French community built St. Landry Catholic Church by 1766, dedicated to St. Landry (Landericus) of Paris, the Bishop of Paris in the 7th century.[6][7]

On April 10, 1805, after the United States had acquired the Louisiana Purchase, the post was named the town of Opelousas and became the seat of the County of Opelousas, part of the Territory of Orleans. In 1807, when the territory was reorganized into parishes, Opelousas was designated the seat of St. Landry Parish.[8]

Purchase by the United States

1893 Map of St. Landry

The United States gained control of the territory in 1803 through the Louisiana Purchase. Americans from the South and other parts of the United States began to migrate to the area, marking the arrival of the first large English-speaking population and the introduction of the need for more general use of English.[4]

St. Landry Parish was officially established on April 10, 1805, by a legislative act, becoming the largest parish in the Louisiana state. The new parish was named after the St. Landry Catholic Church located near the Opelousas Post.[4] The parish's boundaries encompassed about half the land of the Opelousas Territory, between the Atchafalaya River and Sabine River, between Rapides Parish and Vernon Parish, and Lafayette and St. Martin Parishes. Since then, the area of the parish has decreased, as six additional parishes have been created from its territory. These include Calcasieu, Acadia, Evangeline, Jeff Davis, Beauregard, and Allen.[4]

In 1821 the second educational institution west of the Mississippi was founded in Grand Coteau. In this community south of Opelousas is the Academy of the Sacred Heart, a private Catholic school founded by the French Creole community.[9]

The city of Opelousas has been the seat of government for the St. Landry Parish since its formation.[4] After Baton Rouge fell to the Union troops during the Civil War in 1862, Opelousas became the state capital for nine months. The capital was moved again in 1863, this time to Shreveport when Union troops occupied Opelousas.[10][11]

St. Landry Parish originally consisted of all the territory in the current parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, and St. Landry. Over time, it was separated into three different parishes. The southwestern portion of St. Landry was broken off to become Acadia Parish in 1886. A bill was introduced in the Louisiana House of Representatives entitled "An act to create the parish of Nicholls, and to provide for the organization thereof."[12] The title was later changed to read: "An act to create the parish of Acadia." Father Joseph Anthonioz, the first pastor of the Catholic Church at Rayne, is credited with having suggested the name, Acadia Parish. The bill passed the house on June 11, the senate on June 28, and was approved by Governor Samuel D. McEnery on June 30.[13] On October 6, an election was held to affirm the creation of the parish, with 2,516 votes for and 1,521 votes against the creation.

St. Landry was divided again when the northwestern portion was broken away. In June 1908, a bill was passed to create a new parish out of a portion of St. Landry Parish. This new parish became named Evangeline Parish in 1910. Prior to creation of the new parish, Eunice and Ville Platte were in competition for the new parish seat. Ville Platte was selected by voters on April 12, 1909. After the election, Eunice declared it would remain in St. Landry Parish.[14]

Opelousas massacre

In the aftermath of the ratification of Louisiana's Constitution of 1868 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, tensions between white Democrats and Black Republicans in St. Landry Parish escalated throughout the summer of 1868. On September 28, white schoolteacher and Republican newspaper editor Emerson Bentley was attacked and beaten by three white supremacists while teaching a classroom of Black children in Opelousas, Louisiana. Rumors of Bentley's death, while unfounded, led both Black Republicans and white supremacist Democrats, including the St. Landry Parish chapter of the Knights of the White Camelia, to threaten violent retribution. In the days following Bentley's subsequent covert flight to New Orleans, the massacre began. Heavily outnumbered, Black citizens were chased, captured, shot, murdered, and lynched during the following weeks. While estimates of casualties vary widely, several sources number the deaths between 200 and 300 black people and several dozen whites, making it the bloodiest massacres of the Reconstruction Era and among the deadliest in American history. Following the massacre, the Republican Party in St. Landry Parish was eliminated for several years.[15]

2019 black church fires

During 10 days, three black churches, the St. Mary Baptist Church over 100 years old (March 26, 2019), Greater Union Baptist Church (April 2, 2019), and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (April 4, 2019) set on fire by a vandal and this incident raised officials concern that the fires started by racist and radical group or person. Finally, police arrested the vandal who was the son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff's deputy. Holden Matthews, 21, has been charged with the arson attack on black churches.[16][17][18]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 939 square miles (2,430 km2), of which 924 square miles (2,390 km2) is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) (0.6%) is water.[19]

Adjacent parishes

National protected areas

Major highways


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
1790-1960[21] 1900-1990[22]
1990-2000[23] 2010[24]
St. Landry Parish racial composition as of 2020[25]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 43,225 52.37%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 34,218 41.46%
Native American 153 0.19%
Asian 374 0.45%
Pacific Islander 12 0.01%
Other/Mixed 2,380 2.88%
Hispanic or Latino 2,178 2.64%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 82,540 people, 30,441 households, and 20,790 families residing in the parish.

Law enforcement

St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionUnited States
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersOpelousas, Louisiana
Agency executive

The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office (SLPSO) is the primary law enforcement agency of St. Landry Parish. It falls under the authority of the Sheriff, who is the chief law enforcement officer of the parish. As of 2022 the sheriff of St. Landry Parish is Bobby J. Guidroz.[26]

The office briefly became the subject of national attention in 2015 when its eccentric Crime Stoppers videos, starring public relations officer (later U.S. Representative) Clay Higgins, went viral and were featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[27] Higgins left the department after the videos attracted criticism from the ACLU and Sheriff Guidroz ordered that future videos be "toned down".[28][29]


United States presidential election results for St. Landry Parish, Louisiana[30]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 23,171 56.30% 17,372 42.21% 611 1.48%
2016 21,971 54.96% 17,209 43.05% 797 1.99%
2012 21,475 51.56% 19,668 47.23% 504 1.21%
2008 21,650 50.95% 20,268 47.70% 575 1.35%
2004 18,315 49.82% 18,166 49.42% 279 0.76%
2000 15,449 45.24% 18,067 52.90% 635 1.86%
1996 12,273 34.62% 20,636 58.21% 2,544 7.18%
1992 11,882 32.27% 20,383 55.37% 4,550 12.36%
1988 15,790 44.53% 19,091 53.84% 576 1.62%
1984 19,055 51.19% 17,950 48.22% 218 0.59%
1980 14,940 45.72% 17,125 52.41% 613 1.88%
1976 9,956 37.94% 15,613 59.49% 674 2.57%
1972 12,510 57.01% 7,421 33.82% 2,014 9.18%
1968 3,508 13.90% 9,075 35.95% 12,659 50.15%
1964 10,920 48.05% 11,807 51.95% 0 0.00%
1960 3,083 15.22% 14,625 72.18% 2,554 12.60%
1956 5,141 51.56% 4,435 44.48% 394 3.95%
1952 5,303 52.69% 4,761 47.31% 0 0.00%
1948 829 10.70% 1,179 15.22% 5,739 74.08%
1944 784 15.06% 4,423 84.94% 0 0.00%
1940 561 8.11% 6,358 91.89% 0 0.00%
1936 441 7.25% 5,639 92.75% 0 0.00%
1932 297 7.31% 3,766 92.69% 0 0.00%
1928 718 17.46% 3,394 82.54% 0 0.00%
1924 357 20.86% 1,354 79.14% 0 0.00%
1920 942 48.09% 1,017 51.91% 0 0.00%
1916 117 31.03% 139 36.87% 121 32.10%
1912 101 8.31% 938 77.20% 176 14.49%


St. Landry Parish is served by the St. Landry Parish School Board

Main article: St. Landry Parish School Board

St. Landry Parish is also served by the Diocese of Lafayette with five schools:

Additionally, St. Landry Parish is served by four unaffiliated private schools:

St. Landry Parish is served by two institutions of higher education:


Map of St. Landry Parish, Louisiana With Municipal Labels




Unincorporated areas

Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: St. Landry Parish, Louisiana". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "St. Landry Parish". Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e Hartley, Carola (2003). "Imperial St. Landry Parish". LAGenWeb. Archived from the original on September 21, 2007. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
  5. ^ Harper, John, N. (2018). Mississippi Valley Mélange: A Collection of Notes and Documents for the Genealogy and History of the Province of Louisiana and the Territory of Orleans (1st ed.). Baton Rouge: Provincial Press. pp. 12–16. ISBN 1-59804-201-7.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Harper, John, N. (1993). The Mother Church of Acadiana: The History of the St. Landry Catholic Church in Opelousas, Louisiana (1st ed.). Rayne, LA: Hébert Publications. pp. 5–9, 18–19.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Harper, John N. (November 3, 2013). ""Who was Saint Landry?"". The (Opelousas) Daily World. pp. 13–14. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  8. ^ "History of Opelousas | City of Opelousas: Perfectly Seasoned". Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  9. ^ Central Acadiana Gateway: Opelousas and St. Landry Parish, LSUE Office of Public Relations, 2000 Archived April 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, accessed April 27, 2008
  10. ^ "Opelousas and St. Landry Parish". Louisiana State University - Eunice. Archived from the original on April 1, 2007. Retrieved March 19, 2007.
  11. ^ "Opelousas Facts and History". City of Opelousas. Archived from the original on July 5, 2007. Retrieved March 19, 2007.
  12. ^ "Official Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the State of Louisiana". 1886.
  13. ^ Fontenot, Mary.Acadia Parish, Louisiana. The Center for Louisiana Studies, 1976, p. 244.
  14. ^ "Evangeline Parish History" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on September 10, 2016.
  15. ^ Boissoneault, Lorraine (September 28, 2018). "The Deadliest Massacre in Reconstruction-Era Louisiana Happened 150 Years Ago". Smithsonian Magazine. Archived from the original on September 30, 2021. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  16. ^ Ingber, Sasha (April 11, 2019). "'Evil Acts': Son Of Sheriff's Deputy Is Chief Suspect In Louisiana Church Arson Cases". National Public Radio. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  17. ^ Blinder, Alan; Fausset, Richard; Eligon, John (April 11, 2019). "A Charred Gas Can, a Receipt and an Arrest in Fires of 3 Black Churches". New York Times.
  18. ^ McLaughlin, Eliott C. "Prosecutor adds hate crimes to charges against Louisiana church fire suspect". CNN. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  19. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  20. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  21. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  22. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  23. ^ "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 September 1, 2014.
  24. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  25. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  26. ^ "Information about Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz, St. Landry Parish". St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Guidroz is a 1994 graduate of the F.B. I. National Academy. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
  27. ^ Stickney, Ken (December 16, 2016). "Higgins carves unlikely path to Capitol". The Daily Advertiser.
  28. ^ gunn, billy. "ACLU blasts St. Landry's law and order sheriff's captain over comments on latest viral video". The Advocate. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  29. ^ "Higgins Leaves St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office". February 29, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  30. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  31. ^ "Our Colleges". Louisiana's Technical and Community Colleges. Retrieved June 3, 2021.



30°36′N 92°00′W / 30.60°N 92.00°W / 30.60; -92.00