Ancient Indian mounds, birth of modern archaeology, bloody feuds, death of an Indian nation, bubbling springs, waterfalls, wildlife management areas and a sportsman’s paradise for hunting and fishing are a few of the things you’ll find in Catahoula Parish. View the listed towns and communities for more details.
Jim Bowie was six years old in 1802 when his family moved to an area soon to be named Catahoula. Courthouse records reveal many of the Bowie’s transactions; witnesses, buyers & sellers of slaves, land transactions and schemes and etc.
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1804 Congress established the Territorial Legislature and instructed it to draw the Counties of Orleans Territory (present day Louisiana). Catahoula was recognized as one of the settlements within the County of Rapides
The first report of the five Louisiana Purchase explorations that President Thomas Jefferson received described massive and unique Indian mounds where four rivers meet, which the president crowed to Congress about.
In 1808 Catahoula Parish was established from a part of Rapides Parish and a seat of government was established and a courthouse constructed at a place (then spelled Catahula) where the Pine Hills are first seen on the west bank ascending the Ouachita River.
The geographic boundary of Catahoula changed many times as other parishes were carved from it. In 1914 its last division occurred when LaSalle Parish was carved from the western portion of Catahoula.
The Parish has noted celebrities that have resided here. World War II organizer of the Flying Tigers, Charles Chenault’s first wife is buried near Jonesville and World Champion Bull Rider, Chris Shivers, teaches Bull Riding to interested students.
In your travels to East Central Louisiana, make it a point to stop and ask about other hidden treasures of Catahoula Parish, the folks are friendly and we’ll treat you so many ways you will have to like one.
Harrisonburg, the seat of justice of the parish, is situated on the west bank of the Ouachita River at the point where the Pine Hills is first seen in ascending the river. For some years this place was known as “Pine Point”. Across the river (east side) was “Villemont’s Prairie” named for the Frenchman who had settled there who had applied to the French Government for a land grant covering this prairie.
The French made the earliest attempts at colonization along the Ouachita River. The details of this colonization are obscure, but it seems probable that as early as 1720, there were French settlers in vicinity of present day Harrisonburg. A French manuscript map in the National Archives at Paris dated 1720-1725 show a “habitation de M. de Villemont” on the east side of the river, seemingly about 2 miles south of Harrisonburg. (Manuscript republished by Green, 1936, plat II)
About 1800 and for many years thereto, a river crossing was maintained at this place for the many wagons traveling over the road leading from Rodney and Natchez, which were on the Mississippi River, to Natchitoches, Louisiana, Nacogdoches, Texas and on into Mexico. We know this old route at “The Texas Road”.
In 1812 Josiah Stoddard Johnson acquired the lands where the hamlet called Catahula was located and in the same year he sold the land to John Harrison, who had resided on the lands for several years and operated a ferry on the Ouachita River. The landing was soon called Harrisonburg.
Harrisonburg is also the home of the Sargent House, one location of the famous Jones Liddell feud – Fort Beauregard, the Civil War fort that repelled Union gunboats – Harrisonburg Landing Recreation Area, located across the Ouachita River Bridge from the Town of Harrisonburg, LA on hwy 922 north. This is a great area to bring the family for a day of fishing, grilling and plenty of fun for the kids on our playground equipment.
Downtown Jonesville lies on top of the ancient Indian site known as Troyville, which was one of prehistoric America’s biggest mound complexes.
Troyville was comprised of seven Indian mounds and was surrounded by rivers on two sides and an earthen embankment on two sides. One of the mounds is called the Great Mound because it was the second tallest mound in North America. Unfortunately the Great Mound was destroyed in 1931 so its dirt could be used to build a bridge approach.
A new bridge has been built and the Great Mound is being rebuilt to fifty percent of its original size by using the dirt from the original mound.
Jonesville is located where four rivers come together, which Indians used as their highways. These water-highways probably influenced their choice of settling here.
Jonesville derives its name from Charles Jones, one of the principals of the Jones Liddell Feud.
Sicily Island is where the Natchez Indian Nation ceased to exist. After the Natchez massacre at Fort Rosalie the Natchez Indians fled their ancestral homeland and made their last-stand against the French in Sicily Island.
Unknown to many in the region, a series of nature trails just inside the 7,500-acre Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area lead explorers to Louisiana’s largest waterfall, which is about 17 feet high. Beside the tallest of the St. Mary's waterfalls are two slightly smaller but more scenic falls that are on another trail just minutes away by car.