Did You Know?

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Did You Know?

Most people do not give much thought to names but that is one of the most important things about a person. His parents gave a lot of thought before naming him as a baby. The same thing is true about a place or town. So where did DeSoto Parish get its name? Down through the years many thought the name was in honor of Hernando DeSoto the explorer, however, he never came near DeSoto Parish. The closest was probably Fulton, Arkansas where he died and was thrown in the Mississippi for burial. A better candidate is Marcelo (Marcel) DeSoto who brought the first thirty families to what is now our parish. He received a grant of land along the bayou that later became known as Bayou Pierre. He was half French and half Spanish and the grandson of St. Denis who established Natchitoches. His mother was the dynamic Mariede St. Denis DeSoto. Marcelo’s sister married Paul Lafitte and Marcelo’s son, Simon, was appointed to the first DeSoto Parish Police Jury when the parish was organized in Screamerville, La. in 1843. Present day McArthur Drive here in Mansfield, La. was originally called Marcel Road, later changed to early aviation hero Lindbergh Drive and after W.W. II to McArthur Drive in honor of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. DeSoto Parish was named for Marcel DeSoto.

A dispute for the location of the seat of government arose between the Europeans in the northern part of the parish and the Spanish/French along Bayou Pierre. Act 88 of the Louisiana Legislature settled the issue by placing the seat in the geographic center of the parish, however, they did not name the town. There were three names suggested – Jackson, Ferdinand and Mansfield. Thomas Abington from the Grand Cane Territory gave such a compelling reason for Lord Mansfield, the only British Lord to support the original thirteen colonies in their tax dispute with Britain, that the name of Mansfield was unanimously selected.


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