Washington Parish History
Washington Parish was named in honor of our first president of the United States. It is located in the part of Louisiana that is called “The Florida Parishes”, which derived its name from the treaty signed by France and England on February 10, 1763. This area was immediately organized as an English colony and named “West Florida”. The United States purchased the Territory of Louisiana in 1803, but “West Florida” was not specifically included in the transfer because Spain felt as if she had acquired “West Florida” by conquest over the British and not by donation from France. In 1810 the “Rebellion of West Florida” overthrew the Spanish rule, which resulted in the establishment of “The Republic of West Florida”, with Fulwar Skipworth as Governor. Seventy-four days after the forming of this republic within a republic, President Madison ordered troops into the area, and they forcibly took possession. Louisiana became a state in 1812, but “West Florida” didn’t become a part of it until several months later.
In 1814 Andrew Jackson marched his mountaineer soldiers across the Pearl River and improvised a road through the forests. By this time the people in the area had become enthusiastic citizens, and found friends and kinsmen among “Old Hick’ry’s” troops, and so they eagerly joined them in the Battle of New Orleans. The “Military Road”, constructed by General Jackson, crossed the Pearl River into present day Bogalusa. Records of the War Department show that Jackson crossed into Louisiana just north of Angie on Nov. 28, 1814, and camped at a spring five miles west of Bogalusa.
Parish government was organized March 6, 1819 when the parish of St. Tammany was divided by a state legislative act. The act defined the boundaries of the severed area and it also declared that the new subdivision was to be called Washington Parish.
The town of Franklinton became the permanent parish seat from an election July 4, 1826. Bogalusa, called “The Magic City of the Pinelands’, the only city in Washington Parish, was founded in 1906 by the Goodyear family of Buffalo, New York.
Photos at right show how our area was carved out of virgin forest land. The top photo of an oxen team pulling logs out of the piney woods in the early 1900s, gives a brief glimpse of the rich heritage played by the lumber, saw mill, & turpentine industries in the Florida Parishes. The photo was made between the Pine & Hackley communities and shows a member of an early pioneer family in our parish, W.T. Alford with his team. This photo was used to promote an educational and historical display last year at the Varnado Museum, “Logging in the Piney Woods of Washington Parish”. The original is owned by Mr. Eric Fussell and was loaned to the museum for the exhibit. The bottom photo is a reproduction of an historic Bogalusa postcard, “Long Leaf Southern Pine Forest”. (See additional views in our photo gallery.) Rather than clear-cutting and moving on, some of the earliest methods and techniques of reforestation were developed right here in our area by the Great Southern Lumber Company, which became a sustainable industry using renewable resources.
Washington Parish is one of the southern parishes of Louisiana and covers an area of 676 square miles. The Mississippi state line is on the east and north borders of our parish. Its western boundary is Tangipahoa Parish and the southern boundary is St. Tammany Parish.