|Ouachita Parish Police Jury |
300 St. John Street
P. O. Box 3007
Monroe, LA 71210-3007
Monday - Thursday
7:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Friday: 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Ouachita Parish is located in north Louisiana. Monroe and Ouachita Valley have a long and impressive history which dates several centuries prior to the official founding of organized government in 1783: It was during a period when the vast territory west of the Mississippi was a pawn of the Spanish crown.
Ouachita Parish was established March 31, 1807. It is one of the 19 parishes, which were created by dividing the Territory of New Orleans. The original Ouachita Parish was subsequently divided into the parishes of Morehouse, Union, Caldwell, Franklin, Tensas, Madison, East and West Carroll with the present Ouachita Parish remaining.
The parish is named after the Ouachita Indians who held the area when it was first discovered and explored. There is disagreement as to the meaning of the word "Ouachita." Its Choctaw meaning is "Big Hunting Ground," but it also means, "silver water." Years before the "Louisiana Purchase" the present site of Monroe was a more or less established point of contact on the banks of the Ouachita River for the fur traders and Indians of the region. It was a half-defined gateway into the land of adventure and mystery that lay beyond the great lone wilderness.
The Ouachita River was first explored by Hernando de Soto in 1542, and later by the French. In March and April 1700 "Father of Louisiana", Jean Baptist LeMoyne, the Sieur de Bienville came on a fact finding tour for his brother Iberville. He visited a Ouachita Village where the present day town of Columbia is Located.
There were five huts and 70 men to record. A French trading post called: Prairie de Canots was established on the "Washita," but there were no permanent settlements until after the close of the French and Indian War in 1763, when Louisiana was ceded to Spain. This was near where the present day Monroe is located/Prairie de Canots (Prairie of the Canoes) was named this probably because it was a landing place for the Indians of the region who came to trade with the hunters and trappers.
Spain sent Don Juan Filhiol as commandant of the post, and he built the Post of Ouachita around 1780 to protect the settlers against the Indians. He later renamed it to Fort Miro. This fort was on the site of the present Monroe. He was commandant until 1800.
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