About the Parish

Created in 1811, St. Mary Parish was originally part of the Attakapas District and St. Martin Parish. In the midst of French culture, exploration, and settlement during the late eighteenth century, St. Mary bears the distinction of being a primarily Anglo-Protestant settlement in the midst of French-Catholic Acadiana. Their dominance in the region is evident in the non-French towns of Franklin, Baldwin, and Patterson.

These early settlers, mostly a wealthy planter class, found the soil and climate ideal for growing sugarcane, and they transformed the existing small farms producing indigo and cotton into some of Louisiana's earliest sugar plantations. By 1840, St. Mary Parish was recognized as one of the state's major shippers of sugar.

Today, the region's economy is still dependent on revenues generated from sugarcane, as well as the petroleum industry, fishing, and other agricultural crops such as rice and soybeans. St. Mary's current population of approximately 54,650 consists of Anglo-Americans, Creoles, and African-Americans, who comprise the largest segment of the populace.

The prosperity of the sugar cane industry during the antebellum period left an enduring legacy of mansions and plantation homes throughout the area, particularly in Franklin, the seat of St. Mary Parish. Franklin also has a historic district with 420 landmark structures and a turn-of-the century commercial and railroad district. Even though equestrians and buggies are no longer present, the street lamps in Franklin still bear "no hitching” signs.

St. Mary Parish is also home to the Chitimacha Indian Reservation and Museum, Cypremort State Park, the International Alligator Festival, and the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. The Wedell-Williams Memorial Aviation Museum in Patterson is a popular attraction as well. The museum contains replicas of aircraft parts used by Harry Williams, mayor of Patterson, and his partner, speed pilot, Jimmy Wedell. At the time of his death, Wedell held more air speed records than anyone else. Natives of the area also boast of the parish's largest city, Morgan City, where two film classics were made—Tarzan of the Apes and Thunder Bay.

By: Alana A. Carmon | Reprinted with permission from the Center for Cultural & Eco-Tourism, University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

2010 Census Information

LA - St. Mary Parish

Population

Total Population

54,650

Housing Status
( in housing units unless noted )

Total

23,028

Occupied

20,457

Owner-occupied

14,354

Population in owner-occupied
( number of individuals )

38,350

Renter-occupied

6,103

Population in renter-occupied
( number of individuals )

15,432

Households with individuals under 18

7,392

Vacant

2,571

Vacant: for rent

624

Vacant: for sale

148

Population by Sex/Age

Male

26,992

Female

27,658

Under 18

13,904

18 & over

40,746

20 - 24

3,609

25 - 34

6,793

35 - 49

11,150

50 - 64

10,623

65 & over

7,052

Population by Ethnicity

Hispanic or Latino

2,920

Non Hispanic or Latino

51,730

Population by Race

White

32,406

African American

17,765

Asian

948

American Indian and Alaska Native

994

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander

29

Other

1,433

Identified by two or more

1,075

Source: http://www.census.gov/2010census/


   

 

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