Louisiana Parish records vary vastly from parish to parish in both quality and quantity. Some have already been carefully preserved while others have been much neglected and overlooked. A certain amount of Louisiana records have purely vanished.
For genealogists undertaking research in Louisiana there’s no valuable replace for an on-site search of parish court house records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
Louisiana Parishes – Louisiana was formed from French and Spanish colonies, which were both officially Roman Catholic. Local government was based upon parishes, as the local ecclesiastical division.
Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Territorial Legislative Council divided the Territory of Orleans into twelve counties. The borders of these counties were poorly defined, but they roughly coincided with the colonial parishes, and hence used the same names.
On March 31, 1807, the territorial legislature divided the state into 19 parishes without abolishing the old counties (which continued to exist until 1845). In 1811, a constitutional convention was held to prepare for Louisiana’s admission into the Union.
This organized the state into seven judicial districts, each consisting of groups of parishes. In 1816, the first official map of the state used the term, as did the 1845 constitution. Since then, the official term for Louisiana’s primary civil divisions has been parishes.
Louisiana Map of Parishes
Parishes, not counties, are the political jurisdictions for recording land (conveyances), probate (successions), marriage, and court records in Louisiana.
Parish clerks hold the majority of these records, while some cities have these functions divided among register of conveyances and district court clerks.
The Louisiana Section of the State Library of Louisiana provided some of the information on parish formation. Select a Parish from the table below to to view more information on genealogical information & records pertaining to each parish.
Court records, marriage records, and other documents are recorded according to parish, not county, in Louisiana. Probate and land records are also recorded that way. Parish clerks should be consulted for information concerning those records.
However, district court clerks and registers of conveyances also exist in some parishes. Their records should be consulted as well.
The FHL has many records on file for Louisiana. Those records were compiled by the Genealogical Society of Utah and may include the following record types: Court, Property, Notarial, Probate, Tax, Vital.
Information on the formation of parishes can be found at the State Library of Louisiana. The Parish Clerks of Court and State Office of Vital Records can provide copies of birth certificates. However, access may be restricted unless relationship to the person of interest can be proven. See also a list of links to parish and county seat government run websites.
Louisiana seems to have counties that no longer are in existence. They were set up by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. Most of these counties were created and disbanded in the Nineteenth century; parish borders have adjusted little since 1900 in the vast most of states.
These counties needs to be considered when performing genealogy and family history research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the parish was abolished or combined with another parish.
- Acadia County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Ascension Parish and St. James Parish on March 31, 1807
- Attakapas County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into St. Martin Parish on March 31, 1807
- Attakapas Parish was formed on on March 31, 1807 from Attakapas County, and was divided on March 31, 1807 into St. Martin Parish and St. Mary Parish on April 17, 1811
- Baton Rouge Parish: Created in 1792 in the West Floridas area. The land was divided into East & West Baton Rouge Parishes in 1810.
- Biloxi Parish was formed on January 4, 1811 from Feliciana Parish, it was eliminated in 1812 when part of West Florida was transferred to Mississippi Territory.
- Carroll Parish: Formed from in Ouachita and Concordia Parishes 1832, it was split into East Carroll and West Carroll Parishes in 1877
- Concordia County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Concordia Parish on March 31, 1807
- Dugdemonia Parish was formed on March 18, 1850 from Catahoula Parish, Natchioches Parish, Rapides Parish, Dissolved
- Feliciana Parish: Formed in 1810 from Spanish West Florida, it was split into East Feliciana and West Feliciana in 1824
- German Coast County was formed on 10 April 10, 1805 from the louisiana Territory and was divided on March 31, 1807 into St. Charles Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish
- Iberville County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Iberville Parish and Baton Rouge Parish on March 31, 1807
- Lafourche County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Assumption Parish and Lafourche Interior on March 31, 1807
- Lafourche Interior was formed on on March 31, 1807 from Lafourche County, renamed Lafourche Parish on March 23,1853
- Natchitoches County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Natchitoches Parish on March 31, 1807
- Opelousas County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into St. Landry Parish on March 31, 1807
- Orleans County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Orleans Territory, St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish on March 31, 1807
- Pointe Coupee County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Pointe Coupee Parish on March 31, 1807
- Rapides County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Avoyelles Parish and Rapides Parish on March 31, 1807
- Ouachita County was formed as one of 12 original counties formed by the Orleans Territory on April 10, 1805, Dissolved into Ouachita Parish on March 31, 1807
- Warren Parish was formed on March 20, 1811 from Concordia Parish, merged into Concordia Parish and Ouachita Parish in 1814
The destruction to Louisiana courthouses tremendously has a effect on genealogists in just about every way. Not only are these historic structures torn from each of our lifetimes, so are the files they stored: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others.
Once destroyed they’re lost permanently. Despite the fact that they happen to have been placed on microfilm, computers and film burn up too. The most tragic aspect of this is the reason that almost all of our courthouses are destroyed from arsonist.
Though, not all records were damaged or lost. Many Louisiana counties have experienced a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.
- Avoyelles Parish Courthouse – There was records destruction in 1856? from Unknown causes.
- Bossier Parish Courthouse – In 1888, the courthouse at Bellevue was partly burned.
- Calcasieu Parish Courthouse– Courthouse was destroyed by a disastrous fire on April 23, 1910, as well as most of downtown Lake Charles, and many of the records of the parish were burned or damaged.
- Catahoula Parish Courthouse – There was a total records destruction in the early 1900’s due to unknown causes
- Claiborne Parish Courthouse – The courthouse at Old Athens along with all parish records were destroyed by fire on November 6, 1849
- Concordia Parish Courthouse – A tornado destroyed the courthouse around 1843 (most records were destroyed) and it was destroyed by flood in 1927.
- Grant Parish Courthouse – The Courthouse had an unknown records loss in the 1880’s.
- Jackson Parish Courthouse – A courthouse fire in Vernon, before the parish seat was moved to Jonesboro, destroyed most of the records prior to then. The first courthouse, built in Jonesboro in 1912, was almost completely destroyed by an explosion. Fortunately few, if any, of our records were destroyed.
- Livingston Parish Courthouse – On October 15, 1875, the parish courthouse at Port Vincent burned, apparently destroying the official records which were maintained there.
- Madison Parish Courthouse –
- Morehouse Parish Courthouse – Had a Record Loss in 1870 due to unknown reasons.
- Ouachita Parish Courthouse – In April of 1864, Yankee gunboats partially destroyed the second courthouse. In 1882 the third courthouse was destroyed by fire.
- Plaquemines Parish Courthouse – Courthouse destroyed by a fire in 2001.
- Rapides Parish Courthouse – 1864?
- Vermillion Parish Courthouse – The Courthouse suffered a total records Loss in around 1885.
- Washington Parish Courthouse – The courthouse burned twice, first in 1854, then again in 1897. The fires resulted in a loss of nearly 68 years worth of records. Records from the 1820-1830 decade were kept on file in the state land office and escaped the fire. Some of the records from the second fire were salvaged and others were brought in to be re-recorded. So, only the records from the 1840-1860 period are completely lost.
- West Feliciana Parish Courthouse –
- Winn Parish Courthouse – 1886?