The history of Acadia Parish

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Every Acadiana parish is unique, but as we found out during the course of our research, Acadia Parish really stands out from its neighbors, for a number of reasons.

“It is by far the one that develops the latest.”

That's Dr. Michael Martin, the Director of the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette talking about the establishment of Acadia Parish in comparison to its other neighboring parishes in the Acadiana area.

Dr. Martin says Acadia Parish was established in 1886 by carving out a portion of what was then the southwest corner of St. Landry Parish. It was about that time a man by the name of W.W. Duson came along.

“Duson was a land speculator. He also owned a newspaper which was to benefit in his speculative ventures. Duson got the railroad to locate a switch on property owned by his land company which included a couple of hundred acres of what is today downtown Crowley.” said Martin.

Now that Duson has secured a good location he went about attracting people to the area. And for that he used his newspaper and the railroad to bring folks in from near and far.

So the cattle call went out. Not so much to the people of Louisiana, but also to the folks of the Midwest, the grain belt. People of German descent, wheat farmers by profession, who were told Acadia Parish was the ideal spot for growing wheat but when they arrived they soon found out wheat wouldn't grow here.

So according to Dr. Martin the new arrivals did what any good farmer does, they improvise.

“They rapidly discovered rice would work down here and so it wasn't very long before Crowley had its first rice mill.” said Martin.

And today Crowley is the Rice Capital of the World.

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