Most historians agree that the pre-history of Ouachita Parish is intertwined with the Poverty Point Native Americans in nearby Epps, Louisiana. The Poverty Point people had a highly developed civilianization. By 1,350 B.C., the Poverty Point Indian site was the epicenter for trade in North America.
The area that would later become Monroe was a three-way crossing point established by the Ouachita Indians. The site, which was called Prairie des Canots, attracted a transitory population of traders, trappers and hunters, but few permanent inhabitants. The first non-Indian settlers to Ouachita Parish were likely remnants of LaSalle’s expedition to Louisiana in 1680. By the time they arrived in the 17th century, little was left of the Ouachita Indians who had inhabited the area for generations.
By the late 18th century, the governor of New Orleans saw the need to establish outposts along the upper portions of the Mississippi. In 1782, he sent Don Juan (Jean) Filhiol to establish a post along the Ouachita River, which was called Ft. Miro. Ft. Miro stood in downtown Monroe where the parish courthouse is located today. By 1790, the trading post had evolved into a community with forty-nine families.
In May, 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France and for the first time, Ft. Miro was under U.S. authority. Ouachita Parish was estab¬lished March 31, 1807 with Ft. Miro as the parish seat. It is one of the 19 parishes, which were created by dividing the Territory of New Orleans. The original Ouachita Parish was sub¬sequently 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. There is disagreement as to the exact meaning of the word "Ouachita”. It is frequently translated as "sil¬ver water" referring to the Ouachita River.
In 1819, the town’s name was changed from Ft. Miro to Monroe after the steamboat Monroe, the first to make its way up the Ouachita River. Much of present day Monroe was created from the subdivision of several plantations, including the Filhiol plantation, the Joseph de la Baume and the Henry Bry plantation.
By the close of the Twentieth century, the city of Monroe and Ouachita Parish continue to prosper. Under the leadership of Mayor Jamie Mayo, the city has recently constructed a new terminal for the Monroe Regional Airport, complete renovations of the sewer and water system is underway, new roads have been built and new industry is moving to and expanding in Monroe. The future looks promising for Monroe and Ouachita Parish.
For More Information on Monroe:
Monroe City Hall
400 Lea Joyner Expressway
Monroe, LA 71201
Town of Richwood
Richwood is located 4 miles Southeast of Monroe on U. S. Highway 165. It is an incorporated community with a population of 3,392. Mayor Steve Hunter and the Board of Alderman have begun a Richwood Pride campaign to improve the community and attract new economic investment. The community has a new Richwood Middle School and a new community multi purpose facility.
For More Information:
Richwood Town Hall
2710 Martin Luther King Dr
Monroe, LA 71202-7013
Phone: (318) 325-4328
Sterlington is located miles 15 north of Monroe on Highway 2, just off U.S. Highway 165. Sterlington was incorporated on August 15, 1961, and held the first town hall meeting Sept. 11, 1961. Sterlington is named for John T. Sterling, who died on Jan. 6, 1859. The natural gas field in Sterlington was discovered in 1918 and proved to be the largest natural gas field in the world at the time. The discovery of the gas fields resulted in an economic boom for Ouachita Parish as new industry moved to the area.
Mayor Vern Breland, the 10th mayor of Sterlington, is also the first fulltime mayor in the town’s history. Sterlington has experienced exceptional growth over the last four years. New building permits issued for 2006 were valued at $4.2 million. The current population is at 1,594 and growing. The town has its own public works department, with three fulltime employees plus one full time Sewer Superintendent. There are five fulltime police officers.
For More Information:
Sterlington Town Hall
503 Highway 2
Sterlington, LA 71280
Phone: (318) 665-2712
West Monroe is located on Interstate 20 across the Ouachita River from Monroe. As early as 1780, settlers began to locate on the west bank of the Ouachita River. In 1815, a ferry was established, linking Fort Miro on the east bank to the west bank and opening the area to entrepreneurs and tradesmen.
By 1860, two communities had developed on the west bank. The first, Cotton Port, took its name from the J.P. Crosley plantation. The second, Trenton, was established by William Trent, an entrepreneur from Georgia. By 1870, the thriving community of Trenton had numerous merchants, two hotels and a local newspaper.
With the growth of the cotton industry, the town of Cottonport prospered and became the most important cotton shipping center in Northeast Louisiana. The town, located just south of Trenton was nearest to the new V, S & P rail line. With the completion of the railroad bridge over the Ouachita River in 1882, the town prospered. In 1883, the town applied for full town status, but discovered that the name Cotton Port had been registered to a small community in Avoyelles Parish. In November of 1883, the town was named West Monroe and would later include the community of Trenton.
Today, under the leadership of Mayor Dave Norris, the City of West Monroe is home to numerous industries, manufacturers and a rapidly expanding retail development.
For More Information:
City of West Monroe
2305 N. 7th Street
West Monroe, LA 71291
Phone: (318) 396-2600