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Washington Parish, Louisiana

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Official Website

History

Washington Parish was formed in 1819 is the most northeasterly of what are called the Florida Parishes. Great Britain took over control of this French territory east of the Mississippi River in 1763 after defeating France in the Seven Years' War. But France had also ceded some territory to Spain. This area was under contention, and English and American settlers tried to set up an independent state here in 1810. The United States annexed the territory, later settling with Spain in a treaty. Through much of this period, the French influence remained strong in the region, especially in its former colonial cities.

This area was rural and forested with virgin longleaf pine (Pinus palustris L.) In the early 20th century, entrepreneurial brothers Frank and Charles W. Goodyear, already successful businessmen from Buffalo, New York, purchased hundreds of thousands of acres of forest in this area and in southwestern Mississippi. They established the Great Southern Lumber Company, constructed a huge sawmill (the largest in the world at the time) in the middle of the forest, and developed Bogalusa, Louisiana, as a company mill town. In the early 20th century, there were numerous confrontations as workers attempted to unionize and companies hired private militia to suppress such activities.

The company housing for workers was divided by Jim Crow custom and state laws on racial segregation into sections for "Americans" and another for "colored" and foreign workers. It also built housing for supervisors, and supporting facilities, such as several hotels, churches, a YMCA and YWCA, schools, and other services within a year, opening facilities in 1907. To access the timber and transport processed lumber from the mill to markets, the company built the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad, connecting Bogalusa to the port of New Orleans.

Well before World War II, the virgin forest was harvested. Great Southern Lumber Company closed the sawmill in 1938. Its paper mill and chemical operations continued. Gradually in the late 20th century, these operations declined. As jobs left, the population dropped in such industrial towns. Some people moved to new or emerging industries in New Orleans and other major cities.

Adjacent Parishes & Counties

Cities, Towns, Villages & Communities

  • Angie
  • Bogalusa
  • Enon
  • Franklinton (Parish Seat)
  • Mount Hermon
  • Pine
  • Thomas
  • Varnado
  • Warnerton

Links

Wikipedia

RAOGK

Genealogy Trails

Nat'l Reg. of Hist. Places

Bogue Chitto Nat'l Wildlife Ref. (part)