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Vernon Parish, Louisiana
Map of Louisiana highlighting Vernon Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the U.S. highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded March 30, 1871
Named for Mount Vernon
Seat Leesville
Largest city Leesville
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

1,342 sq mi (3,474 km²)
1,328 sq mi (3,441 km²)
13 sq mi (34 km²), 0.98%
 - (2000)
 - Density

40/sq mi (15/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Vernon Parish (French: Paroisse de Vernon) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Leesville and as of 2000, the population was 52,531.

Vernon Parish is part of the Fort Polk South Micropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Fort Polk South–DeRidder Combined Statistical Area.

History[edit | edit source]

The Vernon Parish Courthouse in Leesville, LA in 2010.

On March 30, 1871, the Louisiana General Assembly passed an act designating the creation of Vernon Parish, by taking territory from the parishes of Natchitoches, Rapides, and Sabine. While there seem to be four stories surrounding the naming of the Parish, only one of which is affirmed officially by the State[1] and that being it was named in honor of Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington. Other stories, though folklore, are: 1) That it was named after a race horse owned by Joe Moore, one of the members of the committee chosen to name the parish, who claimed that by naming the parish after his fast horse the committee would insure the growth of the parish to be as fast as his horse. 2) Was named after a popular teacher who had been an officer in the Royal Navy, only mentioned as "Mr. Vernon". This was not to honor him, but to avoid disputes among the parish founders whom each wanted to name the parish after themselves. The final story is similar to the first and claims that the committee had been arguing over the name while drinking in a store, and in an attempt to preserve his precious whiskey and profits, the host suggested the committee stop a local man with a mule pulling a cart and that they should name the parish whatever the man said. The man answered them "I calls him Vernon, 'cause he's the fastes' mule in de country."[2] Originally the area comprising Vernon was apart of a tract of land that was in dispute between the United States and Spain, this land was called the "Neutral Strip". As a result of this dispute the area became a haven for outlaws. Prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the only persons who came to the area were a few French and Spanish settlers. It was also during this period that Dr. Burr established the community of Burr Ferry. This community was known as the "Gateway to Louisiana". Also located near this community, there still stands an artillery site (now called the "Confederate Breast Works"), which was manned by the Confederacy to guard against Union movements along the Nolan Trace[3] during the Civil War.[4]

Vernon Parish Map, 1895.[5]


The Old First National Bank Building in downtown Leesville, LA, now the new Courthouse Annex building.

Leesville has been the parish seat of Vernon since the parish was created, though it wasn't incorporated until February 15, 1900. The city, although founded by Dr. Edmund E. Smart, was named by Senator R. Smart, his father, in honor of General Robert E. Lee. At the time of Leesville's founding, the site was the home of a plantation owned by Dr. Smart. The house from that plantation may still be found today at the corner of Lula and First street.[6]


The Main Entrance to the new Vernon Parish Courthouse Annex in the old First National Bank Building.

In the late 1890s the timber industry, which was the dominant industry in the parish from its creation, began to boom with the arrival of the Kansas City Southern Railway in 1897, which is still in operation today.[7]

In the period after World War I, Vernon became the site of two socialist based communities; the Llano Del Rio Cooperative Colony[8] (which became New Llano) established in 1917 and the Christian Commonwealth Colony. These colonies attempted to attract economists and sociologists for the purpose of conducting an experiment in communal membership and the sharing of labor duties. Of the two colonies the Llano Del Rio was the largest with over 10,000 people and was also the longest surviving community. Both colonies failed in the 1930s when the depression hit.[9]

In 1941, the United States Army opened Camp Polk, shortly after the 1939-40 maneuvers. Camp Polk quickly surpassed the timber industry as the dominant force in the parish's economy, which became evident in the parish seat of Leesville when its population jumped from 3,500 to 18,000 after the camp opened. The Camp receives its name from Leonidas Polk, the first Episcopal Bishop in Louisiana, known as the "Fighting Bishop of the Confederacy" and served as one of the major training camps during World War II. Today, now called Fort Polk is the 5th largest military installation in the nation, containing approximately 200,000 acres (800 km²). With the constant movement of soldiers and their dependents in and out of the parish, Vernon experiences a unique blend of culture from numerous states and countries creating a true "melting pot."[10] Hodges Gardens???.[11] Fullerton Sawmill[12] ghost town???

Geography[edit | edit source]

The parish has a total area of 1,342 square miles (3,474 km²), of which, 1,328 square miles (3,441 km²) of it is land and 13 square miles (34 km²) of it (0.98%) is water.

Major highways[edit | edit source]

Adjacent parishes and counties[edit | edit source]

National protected area[edit | edit source]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Census Pop.
1900 10,327
1910 17,384 68.3%
1920 20,493 17.9%
1930 20,047 −2.2%
1940 19,142 −4.5%
1950 18,974 −0.9%
1960 18,301 −3.5%
1970 53,794 193.9%
1980 53,475 −0.6%
1990 61,961 15.9%
2000 52,531 −15.2%
Est. 2006 46,748 [13] −11.0%
Vernon Parish Census Data[14]

As of the census[15] of 2000, there were 52,531 people, 18,260 households, and 13,713 families residing in the parish. The population density was 40 people per square mile (15/km²). There were 21,030 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 73.70% White, 17.06% Black or African American, 1.46% Native American, 1.58% Asian, 0.30% Pacific Islander, 2.50% from other races, and 3.40% from two or more races. 5.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 18,260 households out of which 42.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.20% were married couples living together, 10.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.90% were non-families. 22.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the parish the population was spread out with 29.10% under the age of 18, 14.70% from 18 to 24, 31.40% from 25 to 44, 16.80% from 45 to 64, and 7.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 109.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.70 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $31,216, and the median income for a family was $34,680. Males had a median income of $26,451 versus $20,417 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $14,036. About 12.20% of families and 15.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.60% of those under age 18 and 14.80% of those age 65 or over.

Map of Vernon Parish, Louisiana With Municipal Labels

Communities[edit | edit source]

Cities[edit | edit source]

Towns[edit | edit source]

Villages[edit | edit source]

Census Designated Areas[edit | edit source]

Unincorporated Areas[edit | edit source]

Notable natives and residents[edit | edit source]

File:VPPJ Govt Complex 001.JPG

This is the Vernon Parish Police Jury's Gov't Complex located in the old First Liberty Federal Savings building.

Education[edit | edit source]

The Vernon Parish Library in Leesville

All public schools in Vernon Parish are operated by the Vernon Parish School Board, which operates 18 public schools and one optional school.

Primary and Secondary Education[edit | edit source]

Elementary Schools[edit | edit source]

Junior High Schools[edit | edit source]

High Schools[edit | edit source]

PK-12 Schools[edit | edit source]

Alternative[edit | edit source]

Continuing Education[edit | edit source]

A satellite campus for Northwestern State University (NSU) is operated at Fort Polk. NSU at Fort Polk allows students to obtain two year and four year degrees in certain programs; for most degree programs students have to attend classes at NSU's main campus in Natchitoches.

The Louisiana Technical College (LTC) system operates the Lamar Salter campus south of New Llano. The Lamar Salter campus is one of 40 LTC campuses across the state.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ The State of Louisiana maintains an official website for each of the State's 64 parishes at
  2. ^ All four found in "Tall Pines II: A History of Vernon Parish, Louisiana and its People" / Wise, Erbon, Library Of Congress # 87-51644
  3. ^ The Nolan Trace
  4. ^ Information in the History section may be found on the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce Website.
  5. ^ The map may be found at this website, and is the result of the hard work of Pam Rietsch.
  6. ^ Information in the History section may be found on the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce Website.
  7. ^ Information in the History section may be found on the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce Website.
  8. ^ Not to be confused with the Llano Del Rio established in Antelope Valley, California in 1915 and abandoned in 1917.
  9. ^ Information in the History section may be found on the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce Website.
  10. ^ Information in the History section may be found on the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce Website.
  11. ^ Hodges Gardens was originally a private park until it was offered to the State in 2005; some information about the park may be found at the State's website for the park[1] or on Wikipedia Hodges Gardens State Park; also, it should be noted that Hodges Gardens isn't in Vernon Parish, but is halfway between Hornbeck and Florien in Sabine Parish.
  12. ^ Some rather lengthy documented information about Fullerton Sawmill may be found at the US GenWeb Archives website
  13. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Vernon Parish Quickfacts". Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  14. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Louisiana Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  15. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ North Fort Polk is actually a military community contained within Fort Polk Army Installation.
  17. ^ South Fort Polk is actually a military community contained within Fort Polk Army Installation.
  18. ^ "Rep. Frank A. Howard". Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Obituary of Bryan A. Poston, Sr.". Shreveport Times, October 4, 2009. Retrieved October 4, 2009. 
  20. ^ Representative Frank A. Howard's legislative personal page.

External links[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 31°07′N 93°11′W / 31.11, -93.19

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