French-speaking Acadians settled the area now known as Lafayette Parish. In the
mid-1700s, the British tried to force the French to take an oath of allegiance to
the English crown.
Rather than deny the culture they treasured, they sought refuge in south Louisiana.
Here, Creole settlers from Africa, the West Indies and Europe joined the Acadians.
The Spanish who ruled the area at that time welcomed both groups. These three strong,
vibrant cultures mixed together to create the unique flavor that south Louisiana
The city experienced several name changes as it grew. The area became known as Petit
Manchac in the mid-1700s. In 1821, Jean Mouton, an Acadian refugee, formally designed
the city with St. John Church in the center. Two years later, the legislature established
Lafayette Parish, naming it after Marquis de Lafayette, a French general and revolutionary
war hero visiting the country at the time.
The community incorporated in 1836 as Vermilionville and prospered as a farming
community. Then the Yellow Fever epidemic struck, followed by the Civil War, and
the two nearly destroyed the area. In 1881, when the railroad was extended from
New Orleans to Houston, the community once again thrived.
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