ST. CHARLES PARISH…PARISH OF PLENTY
“We are the descendents of those…who turned the wilderness into a paradise such as Louisiana never possessed before”
In 1721, the first group of German farmers arrived in the French Louisiana Colony from the Rhineland as engages for John Law’s Company of the West. They settled about 25 miles upriver from New Orleans in the area which would become known as the German Coast, and later St. Charles Parish. Against all odds, they survived, prepared the land for cultivation and in a few years were bringing their surplus produce and fowl to the New Orleans markets. This settlement became Louisiana’s only dependable source of fresh food and by 1730 had earned the reputation of being the Colony’s breadbasket. On several occasions, they saved New Orleans from starvation!
ST. CHARLES PARISH: Third oldest settlement in Louisiana after Natchitoches and New Orleans, older than the nation itself. Nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River, it is one of Louisiana’s most prosperous parishes. Intricately linked for centuries to its religious namesake, the Ecclesiastical Parish of St. Charles Borromeo, it traces its heritage to both John Law’s Company of the West and the original colonists who settled the “German Coast” from 1719 to 1722, leaving many descendants who continue to live here today carrying on for generations the traditions of their ancestry. Those descendants and many others are the beneficiaries of a very unique culture evolving over nearly three centuries. St. Charles Parish…and over 300 years of St. Charles Parish history, as depicted in the Hans Geist mural above, is an intriguing journey.
The story of our settlement moved from the original settlers of the German Coast to the story of the Gold Coast in the 19th Century, that majestic and fleeting era which saw the rise of plantations with all of their grandeur… to the tragedy of the Civil War and Reconstruction. And, as St. Charles Parish moved into the 20th Century, it moved from an agricultural to an industrial society and how the culture changed!
BUT…the breadbasket continued. And now in the 21st Century, in 2016, in St. Charles Parish, we continue to make history.
When morning arrives in southeast Louisiana and as the sun rises, our quiet community begins doing the work that serves our entire nation.
The grain that is loaded today in St. Charles Parish will soon make its way to the breakfast tables of families around the world—60 percent of America’s grain is exported through our Port of South Louisiana.
Before Midwest farmers can irrigate and harvest their crops, the tractors will be filled with the fuel that was produced right here in St. Charles Parish. We produce 3 percent of America’s daily crude oil—500,000 barrels per day.
When doctors and nurses reach for vital surgical supplies, we know that the largest Port in the country, located in part in St. Charles Parish, helped put those supplies in the proper hands. We have the largest tonnage Port in the Western Hemisphere—50,000 barge movements and 4,000 vessels logged annually.
For generations, we have proudly nurtured our fading wetlands to share fish, shrimp, crab, alligator, and crawfish with the finest restaurants in the world.
In St. Charles Parish, we enjoy a lifestyle and a livelihood that serves our entire country and extends around the world. We are the providers of food, fuel, and energy that keeps America growing.
So, the breadbasket continues… and, Three hundred years later, St. Charles Parish continues to be a breadbasket—but now for America!
(Information for this article extracted from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History)
By Amanda Orr