Early in 1779 Governor Bernardo de Galvez sent Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Bouligny, with nearly five hundred Spanish and Canary Island colonists, to the Attakapas country to establish a settlement on the lower Bayou Teche. These Spanish colonists named their settlement "Nueva Iberia" for their own Iberian Peninsula. Their French neighbors along the Teche referred to the town as "Nouvelle Iberia," while the American settlers called it "New Town" after the Louisiana Purchase.
In 1814, the federal government opened a post office, and it was officially known as "New Iberia," but postmarks shortly thereafter reveal that the town was being called "Nova Iberia" ( Latin for "new"). The town was incorporated as "Iberia" in 1839, but the state legislature resolved the situation in 1847, naming the town New Iberia.
In 1868, Iberia Parish was established, and New Iberia became the seat of parish government. Cities, towns and communities within the parish include Avery Island, Jefferson Island, Jeanerette, Loreauville, Delcambre and New Iberia.Geography
The city has a total area of 10.6 square miles. New Iberia enjoys a sub-tropical climate with above average rainfall. It is bordered by St. Martin Parish (north, south), Iberville Parish (northeast), Assumption Parish (east), St. Mary Parish (west), the Gulf of Mexico (south), Vermilion Parish (west), and Lafayette Parish (northwest). Among the lakes is Lake Peigneur, which was formerly a 10-foot deep freshwater lake until a 1980 disaster involving oil drilling and a salt mine. The lake is now a 1,300-foot deep salt water lake, having been refilled by the Gulf of Mexico via the Delcambre Canal. There is also Lake Tasse, better known as Spanish Lake.
Iberia Parish is home to many famous attractions, including the fictional detective Dave Robicheaux and his creator, author James Lee Burke. The following are just a few of the many attractions that call Iberia Parish home:
- Avery Island, famous for its Tabasco sauce factory and deposits of rock salt
- Jungle Gardens, botanical garden and bird sanctuary
- Shadows-on-the Teche, historic residence, owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
- New Iberia hosts the Louisiana Sugarcane Festival in September. This festival celebrates the commencement of the sugarcane harvest, locally referred to as grinding. Sugarcane is a principal crop grown by Iberia Parish farmers
- Gumbo Cook-Off in October
- Cajun Hot Sauce Festival
- Annual Bunk Johnson/New Iberia Jazz, Arts and Heritage Festival, also known as BunkFest
The residents of Iberia Parish are well known for their "joie de vivre" and commitment to preserving the past and improving the future.
For additional information and attractions visit www.iberiatravel.com.