West Feliciana Parish
|Parish of West Feliciana|
Location within the U.S. state of Louisiana
Louisiana's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Marie Félicité de Gálvez|
|Largest town||St. Francisville|
|o Total||426 sq mi (1,100 km2)|
|o Land||403 sq mi (1,040 km2)|
|o Water||23 sq mi (60 km2) 5.3%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||37/sq mi (14/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
West Feliciana Parish (French: Paroisse de Feliciana Ouest) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 15,625. The parish seat is St. Francisville. The parish was established in 1824.
In 1824 Feliciana Parish was divided into East Feliciana Parish and West Feliciana Parish, in recognition of the increases in population throughout the parish. West Feliciana Parish is part of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The River Bend Nuclear Generating Station, operated by Entergy Nuclear, is located in West Feliciana Parish below St. Francisville. It produces approximately 10 percent of the total electric power demand in Louisiana.
Following the founding of the Bayou Sara settlement by French Franciscan/Capuchin monks in the late 17th century, the area was explored further by France, Spain, and Great Britain. The original settlement was flooded repeatedly and finally lost to the waters of the Mississippi River.
After 1763, when France was defeated by Britain in the Seven Years' War, it ceded its territories of La Louisiane east of the Mississippi River to Great Britain, which included it in its West Florida province. Spain gained control of the area in about 1780 – during the American Revolutionary War – and maintained its authority in the area for the next three decades.
In 1810, the colonists, many of whom were of British descent, rebelled against the Spanish colonial regime and established the short-lived independent Republic of West Florida. Within a few months, the United States declared the area to be part of the territory included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. (Today this region is called the Florida Parishes).
Feliciana Parish was established in 1810, in the Territory of Orleans, which was admitted to the Union two years later as the state of Louisiana. With continued growth of population, in 1824 Feliciana Parish was divided into the East Feliciana and West Feliciana parishes.
During the American Civil War, West Feliciana Parish provided financial assistance to the families of soldiers fighting for the Confederate States of America. Wives and children of soldiers were to receive from $10 to $40 per month, depending on family size.
Since before the Civil War, white conservative voters in West Feliciana historically supported the Democratic Party. After Louisiana effectively disenfranchised most black voters under provisions of its 1898 constitution, the state joined others in the South as being a one-party state. The white-dominated legislature passed increasingly stringent Jim Crow and segregation legislation.
But after passage of Federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s, including protection of constitutional voting rights, many white conservatives in the South began to shift to the Republican Party, at least in terms of supporting Presidential candidates. In 1972, the year of Richard Nixon's re-election as President, after widespread anti-war protests and other cultural changes, West Feliciana was the only Louisiana parish to support the Democratic ticket of George McGovern and Sargent Shriver. During the same period, most African Americans in the South began to support the national Democratic Party, which had helped their drive for civil rights.
Since 2000, white voters in the parish have supported the Republican Party candidates in Presidential elections. That year Bush-Cheney polled 2,512 votes (55 percent), compared to 2,187 (45 percent) for Democrats Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. West Feliciana voters helped to re-elect George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in 2004, with 2,932 (56 percent) to 2,214 (42 percent) over Democratic candidates John Kerry and John Edwards. Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin won the parish in 2008, but they lost the Presidential/Vice-Presidential contest to Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
The parish is located on the Mississippi River, and is bordered by Pointe Coupee Parish to the west and East Feliciana Parish to the east. The parish is about 30 miles (48 km) north of Baton Rouge and about 60 miles (97 km) south of Natchez, Mississippi.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 15,625 people living in the parish. 52.0% were White, 46.5% Black of African American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.6% of some other race and 0.6% of two or more races. 1.6% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
As of the census of 2000, there were 15,111 people, 3,645 households, and 2,704 families living in the parish. The population density was 37 people per square mile (14/km²). There were 4,485 housing units at an average density of 11 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 50.51% Black or African American, 48.63% White, 0.20% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.03% from other races, and 0.44% from two or more races. 1.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 3,645 households out of which 38.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.10% were married couples living together, 15.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.80% were non-families. 23.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the parish the population was spread out with 20.30% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 40.00% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 7.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 191.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 223.60 males.
The median income for a household in the parish was $39,667, and the median income for a family was $47,239. Males had a median income of $35,046 versus $21,922 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $16,201. About 15.00% of families and 19.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.30% of those under age 18 and 23.40% of those age 65 or over.
Louisiana State Penitentiary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections is located in unincorporated West Feliciana Parish.
West Feliciana Parish Public Schools serves the parish. All residents are zoned to Bains Lower Elementary School, Bains Elementary School, West Feliciana Middle School, and West Feliciana High School. Tunica Elementary School, a parish elementary school, was closed after the parish school board voted to close the school in May 2011.
Founded in 1892, the St. Francisville Democrat was the parish's local newspaper and served as the official journal for the parish's governmental bodies. The paper, founded by W. W. Leake and his wife May, was originally called "The True Democrat." After Leake's death, May Leake married Elrie Robinson and they continued publication of the newspaper. After May's death in the 1920s, Robinson remarried. The paper was later published by Elrie's son James M. Robinson, who sold it to Marilyn and David Goff in the 1970s. The newspaper was bought by Louisiana Suburban Press in 1979. Louisiana Suburban Press is part of Louisiana State Newspapers, owned by B.I Moody.
The Feliciana Explorer is an independent publication mailed to residents of East and West Feliciana. It is owned and published by Daniel Duggan, who also owns the Zachary Post.