by Alana A. Carmon
in the heart of Louisianas Plantation Country is East Feliciana
Parish, established in 1824 when the old parish of Feliciana was divided
in half. East Feliciana, which is Spanish for "Happy land,"
encompasses 454 square miles in the state's hill section.
The region that became East
Feliciana was settled primarily by the British, although settlers from
the Atlantic states were mainly of Irish and Scottish descent. Possessing
a high level of intelligence, culture, and aristocratic tradition, these
immigrants transformed the area into a major legal, educational, and
commercial center during the antebellum period. East
Feliciana also excelled in architecture, particularly the Greek revival
style. Many of the wealthy residents constructed lavish mansions with
the finest furniture from America and Europe.The residents ability
to build palatial homes was a result of the thriving cotton industry.
With the completion of the Clinton and Port Hudson Railroad in 1840,
it became easier to ship cotton and other products, and the parishs
seat of Clinton began to export approximately twenty-five thousand bales
of cotton annually. Also exporting sugar and molasses, a magazine of
the time noted that Clinton had more business transactions than any
other town of its size in the south.With the decline of cotton
production after the boll weevil epidemic and government limitations
on cotton acreage, the economy of East Feliciana dwindled rapidly. It
was not until diversified farming was introduced in the late 1930s that
the economy of the parish thrived again. In addition to cotton, present-day
East Feliciana, with a population of 19,200, also receives revenues
from soybean crops.
East Feliciana Parish is
noted for its scenic beauty and historical landmarks. The Jackson Historic
District includes a well-preserved commercial corridor and many examples
of architecture from the antebellum period. Other places of interest
include the Centenary State Commemorative Area, Jackson Regional Museum,
Feliciana Cellars Winery, and the National Landmarks of Port Hudson
State Commemorative Area and the Parish Courthouse and Lawyers Row.
Annual events include the Battle of Jackson Crossroads Reenactment,
The Jackson Assembly Antiques Festival, The Feliciana Spring Sampler,
and The Pecan Ridge Bluegrass Festival.