St. James Parish - Overview
In 1805, two years after the Louisiana Purchase, "Louisiana" only consisted of the current land west of the Mississippi River and the Isle of Orleans (the land on the east bank of the Mississippi River and south of Bayou Manchac). Our state was known as the Territory of Orleans and it's governing body, the Legislative Council, divided the territory into twelve counties: Acadia, Attakapas, Concordia, German Coast, Iberville, Lafourche, Natchitoches, Opelousas, Orleans, Ouachita, Pointe-Coupée, and Rapides. Acadia County included the Catholic Church parishes of St. James and Ascension of Our Lord, commonly called the first and second Acadian Coasts.
On March 31, 1807 the Legislative Council of the Territory of Orleans redivided the original twelve counties into nineteen parishes, based on the ecclesiastical boundaries of the period of Spanish government.
At this point Acadia county was divided into Ascension Parish and St. James Parish. The east bank of St. James Parish extended to its northern border at the Amite River. So parts of today's southern Livingston Parish and eastern Ascension where in the 1807 St. James Parish. The courthouse was established on the west bank at St. James, near the current St. James Catholic Church. The Territory of Orleans along with the West Florida Republic became the state of Louisiana in 1812. By 1861 the current boundaries of St. James Parish were in place and in 1869 the courthouse was moved to Convent on the east bank where it is located today.
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