Red River Parish, Louisiana

Red River Parish, Louisiana

Red River Parish, Louisiana
The Red River Parish Courthouse in Coushatta
Map of Louisiana highlighting Red River Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the United States highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded March 2, 1871
Named for Red River
Seat Coushatta
Largest town Coushatta
 • Total 402 sq mi (1,041 km2)
 • Land 389 sq mi (1,008 km2)
 • Water 13 sq mi (34 km2), 3.3%
 • (2010) 9,091
 • Density 23/sq mi (9/km²)
Congressional district 4th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Red River Parish (French: Paroisse de la Rivière-Rouge) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 9,091,[1] making it the fourth-least populous parish in Louisiana. Its seat is Coushatta.[2] It was one of the newer parishes created in 1871 by the state legislature under Reconstruction.[3] The plantation economy was based on cotton cultivation, highly dependent on enslaved labor before the American Civil War.

In 1880, the parish had a population with more than twice as many blacks as whites.[4] They were essentially disfranchised in 1898 under a new state constitution after the white Democrats regained power in the state in the late 1870s through paramilitary intimidation at the polls. Most of the former slaves worked as sharecroppers and laborers, cultivating cotton. Because of the mechanization of agriculture, many blacks left the parish during the mid-20th century Great Migration to seek better job opportunities elsewhere. By 2000, the parish population was 9,622, with a white majority, but Coushatta itself was still two thirds black.


  • History 1
    • 20th century 1.1
  • Geography 2
    • Major highways 2.1
      • U.S. 2.1.1
    • Adjacent parishes 2.2
    • National protected area 2.3
  • Demographics 3
  • Education 4
  • National Guard 5
  • Communities 6
    • Towns 6.1
    • Villages 6.2
    • Unincorporated communities 6.3
  • Hospital 7
  • Prison 8
  • Notable people 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11


As in many other rural areas, Red River Parish and the Red River Valley were areas of white vigilante and paramilitary violence after the Civil War, as insurgents tried to regain power after the South's defeat. The state legislature during Reconstruction created the parish in 1871, one of a number established to develop Republican Party strength.

Marshall H. Twitchell was a Union veteran who moved to the parish from Vermont and married a local woman. With the help of her family, he became a successful cotton planter and local leader. He was elected in 1870 as a Republican to the state legislature and filled four local offices with his brother and three brothers-in-law, the latter native to the parish. He won support from freedmen by appointing some to local offices and promoting education.[5][6] The unpublished dissertation, Carpetbagger Extraordinary: Marshall Harvey Twitchell, 1840-1905 by the historian Jimmy G. Shoalmire studies Twitchell's life within the context of the social unrest in Red River Parish at the time.[7]

During the 1870s, there were regular outbreaks of violence in Louisiana, despite the presence of two thousand federal troops stationed there.[8] The extended agricultural depression and poor economy of the late 19th century aggravated social tensions, as both freedmen and whites struggled to survive and to manage new labor arrangements.

The disputed gubernatorial election of 1872 increased political tensions in the state, especially as the outcome was unsettled for months. Both the

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Red River Parish". Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b , Chapter IV, Chicago: The Southern Publishing Co., 1890Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana"Red River Parish History", , accessed 25 April 2008
  5. ^ Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, New York: Perennial Classics, 1988; edition 2002, pp.356-357
  6. ^ a b , January/February 2004, vol.25/No.1HumanitiesDanielle Alexander, "Forty Acres and a Mule: The Ruined Hope of Reconstruction", , accessed 14 April 2008
  7. ^ New Masters: Northern Planters During the Civil War and Reconstructioncited in Lawrence N. Powell, Carpetbagger Extraordinary: Marshall Harvey Twitchell, 1840-1905 Footnote No. 2, Chapter 7, Jimmy G. Shoalmire,. Retrieved July 5, 2010. 
  8. ^ Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, New York: Perennial Classics, 1988; edition 2002, p. 550
  9. ^ a b Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, New York, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006, p.76
  10. ^ Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, New York: Perennial Classics, 1988; edition 2002, p.551
  11. ^ a b Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, New York, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006, p.76-77
  12. ^ , Vol.17, 200, pp.12-13Constitutional CommentaryRichard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", , accessed 25 April 2008
  13. ^ "African American Migration Experience: The Second Great Migration", New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, accessed 24 April 2008
  14. ^ William H. Frey, "The New Great Migration: Black Americans' Return to the South, 1965-2000," The Brookings Institution, May 2004, pp.1-3, accessed 14 April 2008
  15. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Gubernatorial primary election returns, October 20, 2007
  16. ^
  17. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  23. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  24. ^ "Henry W. Bethard, III". Retrieved September 6, 2014. 
  25. ^ "James McGoldrick McLemore". Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b c "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2016: Red River Parish" (PDF). Retrieved September 6, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Wilkinson, W. Scott". Retrieved September 17, 2010. 


See also

Clint Courtney, major league baseball player and manager; named Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year.

Joe Adcock, major league baseball player and manager; set record for total bases (18) in one game with four home runs and a double; hit 336 homeruns in the majors, played basketball at LSU.

Notable people

Name Address Zip Aged
Red River Parish Detention Center E. Carroll Street, Coushatta, Louisiana 71019 18+


Christus Coushatta Health Care Center is the Red River Parish Only Hospital


Unincorporated communities



Map of Red River Parish, Louisiana With Municipal Labels


Coushatta is the home of C Troop 2-108th Cavalry Squadron, a unit dating back to the Confederate Army during the Civil War under the nickname "the Wildbunch". This unit was formerly known as A Company 1-156 Armor Battalion and served recently in Iraq during 2004-5 under the 256th Infantry Brigade. This unit just returned from its second deployment to Iraq in 2010.

National Guard

Public schools in Red River Parish are operated by the Red River Parish School District.


The median income for a household in the parish was $23,153, and the median income for a family was $27,870. Males had a median income of $27,132 versus $17,760 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $12,119. About 26.00% of families and 29.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.10% of those under age 18 and 18.90% of those age 65 or over.

In the parish the population was spread out with 30.10% under the age of 18, 9.30% from 18 to 24, 24.80% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 14.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 90.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.40 males.

There were 3,414 households out of which 35.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.50% were married couples living together, 18.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.00% were non-families. Individuals made up 23.10% of all households, and 11.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.23.

As of the census[23] of 2000, there were 9,622 people, 3,414 households, and 2,526 families residing in the parish. The population density was 25 people per square mile (10/km²). There were 3,988 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 57.87% White, 40.91% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.09% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 0.61% from two or more races. 1.01% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 9,091 people residing in the parish. 59.0% were White, 39.5% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.3% of some other race and 0.6% of two or more races. 1.1% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).


National protected area

Adjacent parishes


Major highways

Loggy Bayou flows south from Lake Bistineau, traverses Bienville Parish, and in Red River Parish joins the Red River.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 402 square miles (1,040 km2), of which 389 square miles (1,010 km2) is land and 13 square miles (34 km2) (3.3%) is water.[17]


Louisiana was the last state to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2015 after a landmark Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage in all 50 U.S. states. Red River Parish was the final holdout of Louisiana's 64 parishes when it continued to deny marriage licenses after 63 other parishes began doing so in late June 2015. Parish Clerk of Court Stuart Shaw was the only official besides Governor Bobby Jindal to continue to defy the Supreme Court's ruling even after the Clerks of Court Association reversed their "wait and see" position. [16]

Despite its Democratic heritage, Red River Parish is represented in the Louisiana State Senate by a Republican, Gerald Long, the only member of the Long dynasty not to have been elected to office as a Democrat. Long defeated the Democratic candidate, Thomas Taylor Townsend, in the 2007 nonpartisan blanket primary. Both candidates came from Natchitoches.

Red River was one of only three parishes that did not vote for the Republican gubernatorial candidate, U.S. Representative Bobby Jindal in the October 20, 2007, jungle primary. The others were nearby Bienville and St. Bernard, located southeast of New Orleans.[15]

Red River Parish has been a Democratic Party stronghold since the party reestablished dominance in 1876. As in other southern states, recent decades have brought a realignment in politics in Presidential elections, with the conservative white majority of the parish voting for Republican George W. Bush in his 2004 reelection. The majority of the parish voters, however, has continued to support Democratic candidates at the state and local level.

Additional outmigration from the parish occurred as late as the 1980s, when African Americans from Louisiana migrated within the South to jobs in developing metropolitan areas of New South states.[13][14]

To seek better opportunities and escape the oppression of segregation, underfunded education, and disfranchisement, thousands of African Americans left Red River and other rural parishes in the Great Migration north and west. As may be seen in the census table below, most left from 1940–1970, when the parish had steep population decreases. Regional agricultural problems contributed to outmigration, especially after increasing mechanization in the 1930s reduced the need for laborers. At this time many African Americans from Louisiana went to California, where the defense industry associated with World War II was growing and workers were needed.

20th century

With increased voter fraud, paramilitary violence against Republican blacks and whites, and intimidation at the polls preventing people from voting, white Democrats regained control of the state legislature in 1876. The population of the parish in 1880 was 8,573, of whom 2,506 were whites and 6,007 were blacks.[4] In 1898 the state achieved disfranchisement of most blacks and many poor whites through a new constitution that created numerous barriers to voter registration.[12]

Historians came to call the events the Coushatta Massacre. The murders contributed to Republican Governor William Pitt Kellogg's request to President Grant for more Federal troops to help control the state. Ordinary Southerners wrote to President Grant at the White House describing the terrible conditions of violence and fear they lived under during these times.[11]

In August 1874 the White League forced six white Republicans from office in Coushatta and ordered them to leave the state. Members assassinated them before they left Louisiana. Four of the men murdered were the brother and three brothers-in-law of state Senator Marshall Twitchell.[10] The White League also killed five to twenty freedmen who had accompanied the Twitchell relatives and were witnesses to the vigilante acts.[6][11]

[9] Operating openly, the White League used violence against officeholders, running some out of town and killing others, and suppressed election turnout among black and white Republicans.[9]