Grant Parish, Louisiana

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Grant Parish (French: Paroisse de Grant) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Colfax (pronounced CALL-facks). It is part of the Alexandria, Louisiana, Metropolitan Statistical Area and Red River valley. From 1940-1960, the parish had a dramatic population loss, as many African Americans left in the Great Migration, to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Such migration continued until about 1970. As of 2000, the population was 18,698. Since then, the parish has had the highest growth rate in central Louisiana, as the economy has shifted.

Contents

History

Grant Parish was originally a part of the more populous Rapides Parish to the south. Prior to the American Civil War, the center of activity focused upon "Calhoun's Landing," named for the cotton and sugar planter Meredith Calhoun, a native of South Carolina. Calhoun also published the former National Democrat newspaper in what became Colfax, the seat of government of the new parish.[1]

Grant was one of several new parishes created by the Reconstruction legislature in an attempt to build the Republican Party. Founded in 1869, it had a slight majority of freedmen. It was named for U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. The parish seat of Colfax was named for Grant's first vice president, Schuyler M. Colfax (pronounced COAL-facks) of Indiana. However, the town of Colfax is prounounced CALL-facks. The parish encompassed both cotton plantations and pinewoods. It was one of several areas along the Red River that had considerable violence during Reconstruction, as whites tried to maintain social control. The gubernatorial election of 1872 was disputed, leading to both parties' certifying their slates of local officers. As social tensions rose, Republican officers coalesced at the courthouse in Colfax. They were defended by the freedmen and state militia (mostly made up of freedmen), who feared a Democratic Party takeover of the parish. Amid rumors and fears, whites organized a militia and advanced on the courthouse on Easter Sunday, 1873. In the ensuing violence, three whites and 120-150 blacks were killed, leading historians to rename the Colfax Riot, the original designation, as the Colfax Massacre. The total number of freedmen deaths were never established because some of the bodies were thrown into the river and woods.

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