Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana

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Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
Map of Louisiana highlighting Avoyelles Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the United States highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded March 31, 1807
Named for Avoyel Native Americans
Seat Marksville
Largest city Marksville
 • Total 866 sq mi (2,242 km2)
 • Land 832 sq mi (2,156 km2)
 • Water 33 sq mi (86 km2), 3.84%
 • (2010) 42,073
 • Density 50/sq mi (19/km²)
Congressional district 5th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Avoyelles (French: Paroisse des Avoyelles) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,073.1 The parish seat is Marksville.2 The parish was named by French colonists for the historic Avoyel people, one of the local Indian tribes at the time of European encounter.

Today the parish is the base of the federally recognized Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe, who have a reservation there. Theirs is the only land-based gaming casino in the state; it is located in Marksville, the parish seat, which is partly within reservation land.


Avoyelles Parish is known for its French-speaking history, with creole traditions in both music and food, which reflect European, African and Native American influences. While having a distinctive history of immigrants directly from Europe, it is considered the most northern of the 22 "Acadiana" parishes, settled initially by exiles from Acadia. They contributed strongly to the development of Cajun culture in this area, as did Africans and Native Americans. The parish is noted for its brand of Cajun music and its gumbo, a popular soup in this area with roots in the three major ethnicities noted above.

The area was first settled by Native Americans around 300 BC. Varying indigenous cultures flourished there in the following centuries. Today on the banks of the old Mississippi River channel in Marksville, three large burial mounds have been preserved from the Mississippian culture. A museum and a National Park commemorate this early culture. The Tunica people, with bands extending into the central Mississippi Valley at one time, absorbed the remnant Avoyels nearly two centuries ago. They intermarried with the more numerous Biloxi people. Together, they were federally recognized in 1981 and are known as the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe. They are the largest Native American group in Avoyelles Parish. Descendants of other smaller tribes are also enrolled in this tribe.

Spanish and Afro-Spanish traders were probably the first foreigners to arrive in the area by 1750, and Spain ruled it for a time, attracting some Spanish colonists. French speakers formed the majority of the early European population. In the late 18th century, French-Canadian families from Quebec, as well as French from Normandy and other parts of France, immigrated here following the British defeat of France in the Seven Years War. France ceded Canada and areas east of the Mississippi River to the British. Colonists imported enslaved Africans as workers on their plantations.

Immigrants from Scotland, Belgium, Italy, and Germany in the nineteenth century also settled here, and together established today's towns and villages. Their direct ties to Europe set them apart from the Acadians (Cajuns) of southern Louisiana. At the turn of the 19th century, free people of color of African-French descent settled in Avoyelles. They included refugees from Haiti and the French West Indies, and others who served under Napoleon. The blending of these three cultures: Native American, European and African, created a distinct Louisiana Creole culture noted in the local language, food, Catholic religion, and family ties.

Today, the Avoyelles Parish culture is classified as "Cajun" because of the perceived similarities in speech, food, and various folk traditions with southern parishes. But, few families in Avoyelles are of Acadian descent. In the 1800s until the mid 1900s, local Confederate units and local newspaper reports in The Villager always referred to the Avoyelles French families as Creoles, the term then for native-born people of French descent.

In 1906, V.L. Roy served as education superintendent in both Avoyelles and Lafayette parishes. In 1908, he helped with the founding of the Corn Club, later known as the Louisiana 4-H Club.3


The parish has a total area of 866 square miles (2,242.9 km2), of which 832 square miles (2,154.9 km2) is land and 33 square miles (85.5 km2) (3.84%) is water.

Major highways

Adjacent parishes

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 1,209
1820 2,245 85.7%
1830 3,484 55.2%
1840 6,616 89.9%
1850 9,326 41.0%
1860 13,167 41.2%
1870 12,926 −1.8%
1880 16,747 29.6%
1890 25,112 49.9%
1900 29,701 18.3%
1910 34,102 14.8%
1920 35,300 3.5%
1930 34,926 −1.1%
1940 39,256 12.4%
1950 38,031 −3.1%
1960 37,606 −1.1%
1970 37,751 0.4%
1980 41,393 9.6%
1990 39,159 −5.4%
2000 41,481 5.9%
2010 42,073 1.4%
Est. 2012 41,632 −1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census4
2012 Estimate5

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 42,073 people residing in the parish. 67.0% were White, 29.5% Black or African American, 1.2% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.4% of some other race and 1.6% of two or more races. 1.4% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 34.6% were of French, French Canadian or Cajun and 11.3% American ancestry.6

As of the census7 of 2000, there were 41,481 people, 14,736 households, and 10,580 families residing in the parish. The population density was 50 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 16,576 housing units at an average density of 20 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 68.47% White, 29.49% Black or African American, 1.01% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.19% from other races, and 0.66% from two or more races. 0.97% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 17.64% reported speaking French or Cajun French at home, while 2.12% speak Spanish.

There were 14,736 households out of which 36.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.70% were married couples living together, 15.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 25.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.11.

In the parish the population was spread out with 26.80% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 29.00% from 25 to 44, 21.30% from 45 to 64, and 13.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.90 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $23,851, and the median income for a family was $29,389. Males had a median income of $27,122 versus $18,250 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $12,146. About 21.70% of families and 25.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.50% of those under age 18 and 25.00% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns

Map of Avoyelles Parish with municipal labels


All primary public schools are run by the Avoyelles Parish School Board. It operates 10 schools with an enrollment over 6,000 students. The school board website is http://www.avoyellespsb.com/.8


  • Cottonport Elementary
  • Bunkie Elementary
  • Lafargue Elementary
  • Marksville Elementary
  • Plaucheville Elementary
  • Riverside Elementary

High school

  • Avoyelles High School
  • Bunkie High School
  • LASAS (Louisiana School for the Agricultural Sciences)
  • Marksville High School9

National Guard

The 1020th Engineer Company (Vertical) of the 527th Engineer Battalion of the 225th Engineer Brigade is located in Marksville, Louisiana. The 1086TH Transportation Company of the 165TH CSS (Combat Service Support) Battalion of the 139TH RSG (Regional Support Group) resides in Bunkie, Louisiana.

Notable people

Political leaders:


Artists, authors and entertainers:

Sports notables from Avoyelles: Moon Ducote, Cottonport, set records on Tulane Football team

Tommy Neck, Marksville, LSU great.14 Chad Lavalais, Marksville, LSU football national championship team15 D'Anthony Baptist, Marksville, Arizona pro team Al Moreau, Marksville, set world's record in track, 1938

See also


  1. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Philip Timothy (18 March 2007). "Ex-governor [Edwin Washington Edwards] tops list of colorful parish politicians". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  4. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder"
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ "About Us", Avoyelles Parish School Board
  9. ^ http://www.avoyellespsb.com/?PN=Schools2
  10. ^ Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Avoyelles 1890-1990, compiled by Randy DeCuir, page 31-32; Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Louisiana (8 Feb 1898), additional text.
  11. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana Senate, 1880-Present". senate.la.gov. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "Obituary of Sue Lyles Eakin". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, September 19, 2009. Retrieved September 21, 2009. 
  14. ^ avoyellestoday.com
  15. ^ http://www.avoyellestoday.com

External links

Coordinates: 31°04′N 92°00′W / 31.07°N 92.00°W / 31.07; -92.00

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