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Lafayette (City), Louisiana

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  • Brig. General Alfred Mouton (CSA) (1829 - 1864)
    "Alfred" Mouton (February 10, 1829 – April 8, 1864) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, and spent most of his life in Lafayette. Beloved by those u...

Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in the city of Lafayette, Louisiana.

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The Attakapas Native Americans inhabited this area at the time of the first European encounter. French colonists founded the first European settlement, Petit Manchac, a trading post along the Vermilion River. In the mid-to-late eighteenth century, numerous Acadian refugees settled in this area, after being expelled from Canada after Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years' War. They intermarried with other settlers, forming what became known as Cajun culture, which maintained use of the French language and adherence to the Roman Catholic Church.

Jean Mouton, an Acadian settler, donated land to the Catholic church for construction of a small Catholic chapel at this site. In 1824 this area was selected for the Lafayette Parish seat and was named Vermilionville, for its location on the river. In 1836 the Louisiana Legislature approved its incorporation.

The area was initially developed by Europeans for agriculture, primarily sugar plantations, which depended on the labor of numerous enslaved Africans and African Americans. They made up a large percentage of the Antebellum-era population. According to U.S. Census data, in 1830 some 41 percent of the population of Lafayette Parish was enslaved. By 1860, the enslaved percentage of the parish population had increased to 49.6 percent. A percentage of free people of color lived in Lafayette Parish as well; they made up three percent, to a low of 2.4 percent between 1830 and 1860.

In 1884, Vermilionville was renamed for General Lafayette, a French aristocrat who had fought with and significantly aided the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The city and parish economy continued to be based on agriculture into the early 20th century. After the Civil War, most of the labor was done by freedmen, who worked as sharecroppers. From the 1930s, mechanization of agriculture began to reduce the need for farm workers.

In the 1940s, after oil was discovered in the parish, the petroleum and natural gas industries expanded to dominate the economy.

Lafayette is considered to be the center of Acadiana, the area of Cajun culture in the state. It is also a center of Louisiana Creole culture. The Cajun culture developed among settlers here over the decades and centuries following the relocation of Acadians after their expulsion by the British from eastern Canada in the late 18th century following France's defeat in the Seven Years' War. There is also a strong Louisiana Creole influence in the area, as this mixed-race population became landowners and businesspeople.

Lafayette is the parish seat of Lafayette Parish.







Borden's Ice Cream

Acadian Village

Jean LaFitte National Park

Vermilionville Historic Village