It has been said that "you don't know where you're going until you know where you have been.” St. James Parish has been through a beautiful and historic past, and we have been left with a legacy unmatched by any other parish. If our future is as successful as our past, then we have much to look forward to. Our forefather carved this parish from a wilderness on both banks of the river. Great plantations and small settlements grew out of that wilderness, bearing the beautiful names given to them by our forefather.
Settlement of Louisiana
History records that Hernando Desoto was one of the first Europeans to enter what is now the State of Louisiana, claiming the region for Spain as part of Florida in 1541. Late, LaSalle, sailed down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, and claimed this territory for France, naming it "Louisiana” in honor of the French Kind Louis XIV.
Creation of St. James Parish
St. James Parish, located midway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge on the mighty Mississippi River and divided in two by the Father of Waters, is one the original nineteen parishes created on March 31, 1807, by an act of the Orleans Territorial Legislature. Prior to its creation as a civil parish, St. James Parish formed a part of the "Comte' d' Acadie” or Country of Acadia, which was composed of the old ecclesiastical parishes of the St. James and "The Ascension,” commonly referred to than as the First and Second Acadian Coasts.
The original seat of government was in St. James on the west bank of the river, but in 1869 it was changed to the east bank, near the "Convent of the Sacred Heart” and a new courthouse was erected. This structure was destroyed by a fire in 1970 and another was built in the same location. In 1971 the present courthouse was constructed. The area is now known as Convent and is at present the parish seat.
St. James Parish is bounded by Ascension Parish on the north, St. John the Baptist on the east, Assumption on the west and southwest, and Lafourche on the south.