Charles Griffin | 5/19/2010 6:04:25 PM
DeSoto Parish is located due south of the Shreveport/Bossier City metropolitan area. The parish is divided into farm/dairy land and timber land. There are two major and several minor communities within the parish with Mansfield, Stonewall and Logansport being the largest communities. Mansfield is the seat of government and hosts the annual Toledo Cross Roads Festival, the Semiannual reenactment of the Battle of Mansfield-Sabine Crossroads-1864, is the site of the Mansfield State Commemorative Area and Museum, the Catholic Rock Chapel in Carmel and numerous other attractions. Logansport hosts the River City Fest and other events and celebrations.
The parish has an educated, active work force of people who value an outdoor environment. Hunting, fishing, and sports are a key part of the life-style. The parish is thirty minutes from the Shreveport/ Bossier City area for other needs, such as large shopping center and malls, hospitals and latest in medical technology, Barksdale Air Force Base, civic events such as the Mardi Gras Parade, and serves as a source of jobs and industry for the rural area of DeSoto Parish. DeSoto Parish supports an excellent general hospital and emergency facility for the people of the parish, along with a modern, new consolidated medical practice clinic. The educational system is undergoing a parish wide upgrade with new schools built or modernized in every part of the parish. The population of the parish is 26,388 with a labor force of approximately 11,000. The population of Mansfield is 5,375 and Logansport is 1,390. DeSoto Parish covers 547,840 acres.
Until recently the economy was primarily agricultural. Beef cattle production and the dairy industry are still important and timber production is a significant contributor to the economy, but industrial development is proceeding at a rapid pace. A one-half billion dollar paper mill was completed several years ago and is now the major employer in the parish. A similar investment was made in a lignite fueled power plant completed in 1986. Lignite mining contributes heavily to the economy and now oil and gas activity is the biggest player because of the discovery of the Haynesville shale in Northwest Louisiana. Chesapeake energy said “Based on its geoscientific, petrophysical and engineering research during the past two years and the results of three horizontal and four vertical wells it has drilled, Chesapeake believes the Haynesville Shale play could potentially have a larger impact on the company than any other play in which it has participated to date." Mansfield has had a solid base of heavy industry for the past 50 years and new industry makes the long term economic picture extremely bright.
DeSoto Parish was created by a Legislative Act of 1843 from lands from both the present Caddo Parish and Natchitoches Parish. Spain followed trails in the area. By 1795, Pedro Dolet of Bayou Pierre established a settlement at Bayou Adayes, which was left in Natchitoches Parish according to old maps. On the Sabine River the waterloo community seems to have existed when Louisiana became a state in 1812. The site probably shifted somewhat when a Dr. Logan established a ferry crossing called Logan Port. By 1848, the post office there was named Logansport, which continued to be an important river port, even competing with Shreveport, until the railroad came in 1885. Settlers from Alabama and Mississippi territories began to find the French and Spanish, who had come earlier, and by the 1830's Americans from Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee had begun to outnumber the earliest pioneers.
The density of population warranted the establishment of two post offices on April 10, 1836. Both were listed in Natchitoches Parish, but actually they were in Caddo Parish, created on January 15, 1839. One of those post offices was Grand Cane on U. S. Highway 171. The other was Coates Bluff, located on the Red River near Louisiana Highway 1, as it enters Shreveport. Coates Bluff became the Shreveport post office May 15, 1838 to honor Captain Henry Miller Shreve. Gradually, the name became Shreveport and the population of Northwest Louisiana began a phenomenal growth. Captain Shreve had succeeded in breaking up the steam boat traffic; the whole area benefitted. Shreveport was on the way to becoming the center of Ark-La-Tex trade and the southern part of Caddo and northern section of Natchitoches Parishes were populous enough for the creation of DeSoto Parish. In June 1843, the DeSoto government was organized by the Police Jury meeting at Screamerville, a few miles west of the Grand Cane post office. The Police Jury decided to create a new town for the parish seat, much to Screamerville's disappointment. For $200.48, they bought a quarter section of land from John A. Gamble and Charles A. Edwards and name it Mansfield. Mr. J.D. Wemple was commissioned by the Police Jury to survey the site. His map was ready by January 1844 and the sale of lots began. Sales stepped up after the Red River was opened and the ferry at Vicksburg in the 1830's was added to the Natchez crossing, which served the earliest colonists. The population of Mansfield justified the establishment of the post office in 1844, a few months after the Keatchie post office began serving that area. In 1855, the Mansfield Female College opened and in 1856 Keatchie College began instruction. The earliest settlers had established churches and schools. Nearly every major religious denomination was represented in DeSoto to transplant in this new land the cultural and religious ideal that have been characteristic our nations since Jamestown and Plymouth. In less that fifteen years after DeSoto was organized two colleges were necessary.
DeSoto Citizens are proud of her past and believe in the unlimited potential of her future.
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