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Saint John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana
Motto: "Heart of the River Parishes"
Map of Louisiana highlighting Saint John the Baptist Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the U.S. highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded 1807
Named for Saint John the Baptist
Seat Edgard
Largest city LaPlace
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

348 sq mi (901 km²)
219 sq mi (567 km²)
129 sq mi (334 km²), 37.07%
 - (2010)
 - Density

197/sq mi (76/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

St. John the Baptist Parish (French: Paroisse de Saint-Jean-Baptiste) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Edgard, an unincorporated area and the unofficial parish captial is LaPlace, an unincorporated area. St. John the Baptist is one of the original 19 parishes in Louisiana. In 2010, its population was 45,924.

St. John the Baptist Parish is part of the New OrleansMetairieKenner Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the New Orleans–Metairie–Bogalusa Combined Statistical Area.

This was considered part of the German Coast in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, named for numerous German migrants who settled in the 1720s. On January 8, 1811, the largest slave insurrection in US history, known as the German Coast Uprising, started here. It was short-lived, but more than 200 slaves gathered from plantations along the river and marched through St. Charles Parish toward New Orleans.

The parish includes three nationally significant examples of 19th century plantation architecture: Evergreen Plantation, Whitney Plantation Historic District, and San Francisco Plantation House.

Communities[edit | edit source]

Map of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana With Municipal Labels

The whole of St. John Parish comprises eight communities. On the west bank of the river lie the sprawling towns of Lucy, Edgard and Wallace, which cover primarily agricultural land. Rows of sugar cane cover the fields. On the east bank of the river are the towns of LaPlace, Reserve, Lions, Garyville and Mt. Airy each a thriving, bustling community with industries along the river, including a chemical plant, sugar refinery, grain elevators and an oil refinery. However, a ninth community which was settled on the southern shore of the northern arm of the Parish between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain just north of LaPlace it is now abandoned, this community was named Ruddock; But the residents of the parish still refer to this area as Ruddock. St. John Parish has no incorporated areas.

Education[edit | edit source]

St. John the Baptist Parish School Board operates public schools in the parish.

Public Elementary/Middle Schools:

  • Laplace Elementary/Middle in LaPlace, La
  • Garyville-Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School in Garyville/Mt. Airy, La
  • Fifth Ward Elementary School in Reserve, La
  • East St. John Elementary in Reserve, La
  • Emily C. Watkins Elementary/Middle in LaPlace, La
  • John L. Ory Communications Magnet in LaPlace, La
  • Lake Pontchartrain Elementary/Middle in LaPlace, La
  • West St. John Elementary in Reserve, La

Private Elementary/Middle Schools: Archdiocese of New Orleans run Schools

  • Ascension of Our Lord Catholic School in LaPlace, La
  • St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in LaPlace, La
  • St. Peter's Catholic School in Reserve, La
  • Our Lady of Grace School in Reserve, La
  • Reserve Christian in Reserve, La(Run by the Reserve Christian Church)

Public High Schools:

  • East St. John High School in Reserve, La
  • West St. John High School in Edgard, La

Private High Schools: Archdiocese of New Orleans run Schools

  • Riverside Academy in Reserve, La K-12
  • St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace, La

Leadership[edit | edit source]

Parish President Natalie Robottom "pending for election"
Chief Administrative Officer Theresa H. Rodgers
Council Chair Ronnie Smith "pending for election"
Council Vice Chair Cheryl Millet
Judge Madeline Jasmine- Division "A"
Judge Mary Hatard Becnel- Division "B"
Judge J. Sterling Snowdy- Division "C"
District Attorney Thomas F. Daley
Clerk of Court Eliana DeFrancesch "pending for election"
Sheriff Wayne L. Jones "pending for election"
Assessor Whitney Joseph, Jr. "pending for election"
State Senators "Jody" Amedee D-18 & Joel T. Chaisson D-17 "pending of election"
State Reps Nickie Monica D-57, Elton Aubert D-58, & Gary L. Smith, Jr. D-56 "pending for election"
U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter
U.S. Rep Jeff Landry- 3rd District

History[edit | edit source]

St. John the Baptist Parish was the second permanent settlement in Louisiana and considered part of the German Coast The parish was established in the early 1720s by a group of German colonists. Many families established towns around the Mississippi River in the areas now known as Lucy, Garyville, and Reserve. The area was under the French regime until 1768, when France ceded Louisiana to the Spanish after the Seven Years' War.

Around this time period, many Acadians, people of French descent, began arriving in south Louisiana due to being expelled by the British from what is now Nova Scotia, when the British were victorious in the Seven Years War and took over French territory in Canada. The first Acadian village was established in what is now Wallace. The German and French cultures thrived alongside one another, but French came to be the dominant language. They developed a culture known as Cajun.

The early settlers in the area received land grants from the Spanish or French governments, depending upon which country owned the territory at the time of application. These grants generally included some narrow frontage on the river for access to transportation of goods to and from New Orleans and world markets. The remaining property extended away from the river deeply into the wetlands. This was a French style of property allotment.

Most transportation was done by boat, mainly on the bayous and lakes, but the Mississippi River as well, for decades into the 19th century. St. John, with its fertile land being nine feet above sea level, proved to be an excellent settlement for farming and agriculture. In the late 18th century, planters began to invest more in labor-intensive sugar cane cultivation and processing, increasing their demand for slave labor. Sugar production meant prosperity for the planters and New Orleans.

With the sugar wealth, some wealthy planters built elaborate houses and outbuildings. Three survive in St. John parish; each is recognized for its national architectural and historic significance. On the west bank are the major complex of house and outbuildings designated Whitney Plantation Historic District and the National Historic Landmark (NHL) of Evergreen Plantation. San Francisco Plantation House, also a designated NHL, is on the east bank. San Francisco and Evergreen plantations are open to the public for tours. The Whitney plantation house is planned for renovation. Whitney and Evergreen plantations are both included among the first 26 sites on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.

In January 1811, the German Coast Uprising started in this parish. It was the largest slave insurrection in US history, but it was short-lived. The slaves killed two whites, but suffered 96 deaths among their forces at the hands of the militia and quick trials afterward. They attacked five plantations and burned three houses to the ground. Charles Deslondes, a mulatto slave from Haiti, was one of the leaders of the insurrection. He and his followers were influenced by the ideals and promises of the French and Haitian revolutions. He gathered more than 200 slaves from plantations along the way, marching into St. Charles Parish toward New Orleans before meeting much resistance. Unable to get the arms they had planned on, the slaves were defeated by well-armed informal and territorial militias. During these confrontations and executions after brief trials, Deslondes and ninety-five slaves were killed. Decades before the American Civil War and emancipation, their actions expressed the people's deep desire for freedom.[1]

As the families of the settlement grew, their need for education for their children grew also. Before the Civil War, typically planters would hire tutors, often college graduates from the North, who would live with the family for an extended period of time, typically two years. The tutor would teach all of the planter's children, and sometimes the family would arrange for neighborhood children to join the classes as well. In 1869, following the Civil War, families wanting French instruction founded private schools to continue their culture. This was when the Reconstruction legislature established public schools for the first time in the state. The first high schools at Edgard and Reserve were built in 1909. Children traveled to the schools by horse-drawn buses or by train.

Geography[edit | edit source]

The parish has a total area of 348 square miles (901 km²), of which, 219 square miles (567 km²) of it is land and 129 square miles (334 km²) of it (37.07%) is water.

St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana is located on the Mississippi River approximately 130 miles (210 km) upriver from the Gulf of Mexico and 30 miles (48 km) upriver from the City of New Orleans. The area, known as the River Region, has an abundance of natural resources and a mild "Sunbelt" climate. The average monthly temperature in New Orleans ranges from 55.1° in January to 83.7° in July, and rainfall averages 53.2² per year with monthly averages running from 2.52² in October to 7.17² in July. The New Orleans/River Region contains a good supply of raw materials, which has helped Louisiana maintain a high rank in the United States in the production of natural gas, petroleum, sulphur, salt, and fur pelts. High silica sands, lime, clays, timber, seafood, and various agricultural products are also produced in abundance.

St. John the Baptist Parish is bisected by the Mississippi River. Though the River actually separates the Parish into northern and southern parts, the former is still referred to as the "east bank" and the latter as the "west bank". The Mississippi provides an important transportation corridor which supports the heavy industry located in the area.

St. John the Baptist Parish is bordered by St. Charles Parish and Lake Pontchartrain to the east, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas to the north, Lafourche Parish and Lac des Allemands to the south, and St. James Parish to the west. It is one of four parishes which comprise the "River Parishes", in addition St. John Parish is the heart of the "River Parish". . This section of the state, also consisting of St. James, Ascension and St. Charles Parishes, makes up the area along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. All of these parishes are home to at least one major chemical and/or petroleum processing facility, the primary sources of employment in the region.

St. John the Baptist Parish contains approximately 239 square miles (620 km2) of land area, a large percentage of which consists of either open water or wetlands. The wetlands are currently protected by federal law and development is limited to what is permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and/or the Federal Wildlife and Fisheries Department.

Higher ground in the parish is found in an alluvial plain which generally borders the Mississippi River on both sides. Soil deposits from the Mississippi's annual flooding created a rich and fertile area which has historically been intensively farmed (sugar cane, soybeans, feed corn, and occasional cotton). This fact, and the natural transportation corridor supplied by the river, resulted in the creation of numerous farms and plantations along the lower Mississippi Valley.

Many of these plantations were merely large tracts of land with modest or average-sized homes and outbuildings found on the higher ground. Several, however, were improved with palatial mansions. Three of the larger homes have survived in St. John Parish, as noted in the History above.

The higher ground along the banks was used to grow crops, while the wetlands were valued for their abundant timber, hunting and fishing. For years development in the River Parishes was limited to those areas that were high and less prone to flooding. Until the existing levees and pump systems were built, however, few places were truly safe from high water. Even today, most of the parish is considered a flood hazard area (as per FEMA Flood Maps).

Major highways[edit | edit source]

East Bank - The primary artery on the east bank of St. John Parish is Airline Highway (U.S. Highway 61). This five-lane, asphalt-paved road was once the predominant route linking Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Though it is still heavily traveled, much of the New Orleans-Baton Rouge traffic has been diverted to Interstate 10, located in the northern part of the parish. Interstate 10, a divided, controlled-access highway, has two interchanges in St. John Parish; one at Belle Terre Boulevard and the second at U.S. Highway 51/Interstate 55, both in LaPlace. Both Belle Terre Boulevard and Highway 51 intersect Airline Highway approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of Interstate 10.

Interstate 55, a north-south route leading to Jackson, Mississippi and beyond, intersects Interstate 10 in the northeastern sector of LaPlace. A third Interstate 10 interchange exists just west of the St. John Parish Line near Gramercy (St. James Parish).

River Road, also known as Jefferson Highway or Louisiana Highway 44, is a two-lane, asphalt-paved, winding highway which parallels the Mississippi River. Most of the heavy industry in the Parish fronts on this road.

West Bank - Most of the development on the west bank lies along Louisiana Highway 18 (the Great River Road), a two-lane, asphalt-paved highway which parallels the Mississippi River similarly to Highway 44 on the east bank. In addition to Louisiana 18, the west bank has Louisiana Highway 3127 or the River Parishes Highway, which is roughly equivalent to the east bank's Airline Highway in that it follows the Mississippi. It is not as winding nor as populated as River Road. Highway 3127 leads to Donaldsonville upriver from St. John Parish. It is home of the "Sunshine Bridge" over the Mississippi River in Ascension Parish. This road has little development on either side and is generally surrounded by wetlands in St. John Parish.

Veterans Memorial Bridge or Gramercy Bridge - (Louisiana Highway 3213) This bridge originates on the east bank of St. James Parish near Gramercy/Lutcher and has access to I-10 and Airline Highway via Louisiana Highway 641. The foot of the bridge on the west bank is in St. John Parish near Wallace, with a tie-in to Louisiana Highway 3127 that opened June 18, 2008. The opening of this bridge has spurred the development hoped for along the west bank of St. John Parish. The Bridge is known as the "Bridge to No Were".

Access to the west bank of St. John Parish is also provided by a ferry crossing at Reserve/Edgard (currently not in operation as of 20 June 2010) and by the Hale Boggs Bridge over the Mississippi in St. Charles Parish.

Adjacent parishes[edit | edit source]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1900 12,330
1910 14,338 16.3%
1920 11,896 −17.0%
1930 14,078 18.3%
1940 14,766 4.9%
1950 14,861 0.6%
1960 18,439 24.1%
1970 23,813 29.1%
1980 31,924 34.1%
1990 39,996 25.3%
2000 43,044 7.6%
Est. 2006 48,537 [2] 12.8%
St. John the Baptist Parish Census Data[3]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 43,044 people, 14,283 households, and 11,312 families residing in the parish. The population density was 197 people per square mile (76/km²). There were 15,532 housing units at an average density of 71 per square mile (27/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 52.58% White, 44.76% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.86% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. 2.86% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 14,283 households out of which 43.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.10% were married couples living together, 18.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.80% were non-families. 17.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.38.

In the parish the population was spread out with 31.20% under the age of 18, 9.70% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 21.10% from 45 to 64, and 7.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 94.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.70 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $39,456, and the median income for a family was $43,925. Males had a median income of $37,293 versus $22,323 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $15,445. About 13.90% of families and 16.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.70% of those under age 18 and 17.80% of those age 65 or over.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Adam Rothman, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South, pp. 106-117, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007 paperback
  2. ^ United States Census Bureau. "St. John the Baptist Parish Quickfacts". Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  3. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Louisiana Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links[edit | edit source]


Coordinates: 30°07′N 90°30′W / 30.12, -90.50

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