Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The History Timeline of the Amite River

By Donald J. Sharp and Anita R. Campeau

The Amite River starts as two forks, about 100 miles (160.9 km) long, with its source in Amite County, Mississippi. It courses down through the parishes of East Feliciana, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge, Livingston and Ascension, forming boundary lines between the same. The lower 37 miles (59.5 km) of the river is navigable. On February 10, 1832, the Louisiana Legislature created Livingston Parish out of the southern portion of St. Helena Parish.

Chronology or a few milestones in the history of the Amite River

1699: The Canadian Pierre Lemoyne, Sieur d’Iberville, a soldier of New France, made the first recorded use of the Bayou Manchac and Amite River route to the Gulf after learning it from the Bayogoula Indians. Exploring the Mississippi for French colonization, Iberville and his men returned from the Red River to the French base via the Iberville River, the Amite River and lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain, all of which he named. The route took him through the lower reaches of present day Livingston Parish.

1718: Founding of New Orleans by Jean Baptiste Lemoyne, Sieur d’Iberville.

1731: Map of Baron de Crenay showing the Amite River in a rare map of Louisiana.

1743: Arrival of Marquis Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil as governor of Louisiana.

1760: After 7 years of war, France loses its vast empire on the American continent.

1763: Proclamation of King George III creating the provinces of East and West Florida. British Lt. Philip Pittman published a fairly accurate map of Bayou Manchac (Iberville River), the Amite River and Pass Manchac. The Florida Parishes were disputed territory for the Spanish who had claimed the entire gulf coast many years before. From 1763 to 1779, British and Spanish occupation will lead to conflict.

1768: George Gauld surveys and maps lakes and rivers.

1772: Large land grants are issued on the Amite and Comite rivers. Settlement begins in the area now known as French Settlement and Port Vincent. Plantations develop such as "Chesterfield", "Johnston Hall" and that of Secretary Phillip "Livingston Estate."

1778: The Revolutionary War is brought to Louisiana. Raids by Captain James Willing and his marauders destroyed plantations on the Amite River. Phillip Livingston is warned and escapes down the Amite River.

Phillip Livingston

The Americans then proceed to destroy most of the settlements between Manchac and the Amite forcing many to flee into Spanish territory. Adam Chrystie and Captain Richard Pearis attack a rebel band at Manchac where several are either killed or captured. Fort Galveztown was established at the confluence of the Amite River and Bayou Manchac to protect Spanish interests in the area.

1779: The Spanish Governor of the Isle of Orleans, Don Bernardo de Galvez, realized the importance of Galveztown and began bringing in Spanish settlers from the Canary Islands in early 1779. Spain declared war against the British in 1779 and blocked the Amite River at Galveztown. Remaining British settlers on the Amite leave.

1780: Capture of Mobile and Pensacola in 1781.

1783: End of War. Treaty of Peace and the Spanish take control of the area. Land is abandoned on Amite River since hostile Indians will not permit settlers to return.

1792: William Dunbar was surveying the lower Amite River for Anglo-Americans such as John Frazer from Galveztown.

1800: Spain retroceded Louisiana including the Isle of Orleans to Napoleonic France. Bayou Manchac becomes an International Boundary between French and Spanish Territories.

1803: Louisiana, West of the Mississippi and the Isle of Orleans were sold by France to the United States. Bayou Manchac continues to be an important trade route.

1805: When the territory of Orleans was divided into Parishes, the present-day Livingston Parish became part of Spanish West Florida.

1806: The American Navy arrived on the Lakes and explored the mouths of the Amite and Tchefuncte rivers and Bayou St. John. Finding them suitable, made them a stopping point to repair vessels and get water.

1810: The West Florida Rebellion will influence the settlements on the Amite. The annexed territory of West Florida was joined to the state by an act of Congress under the name of the Territory of Feliciana.

1812: Louisiana is formally admitted to the Union as the eighteenth state.

1819: Greensburg Land Office created. U.S. Congressional Land Law passed entitles qualified settlers to 640 acres. Settlers had to confirm their land titles.

1832: Livingston Parish was created out of the southern portion of St. Helena Parish by the Louisiana Legislature on February 10, 1832.

For more information, see the book "The Amite River: The Cradle of Livingston Parish."
CLICK HERE to order.