Gueydan, Louisiana

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{school, student, university}
{village, small, smallsup}

Gueydan is a town in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 1,598 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Abbeville Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Contents

History

For thousands of years, indigenous peoples lived along the waterways of Louisiana. They were able to hunt plentiful game and harvest fish from the rivers. In historic times, this area was inhabited by the Attakapa and Chitimacha.

In the early 1860s, Jean Pierre Gueydan, the founder of the European-American town, lived in Abbeville, Louisiana, about 30 miles east of present-day Gueydan. As had the Attapaka and earlier American Indian tribes, he often came to the future town site to hunt deer, ducks, geese, pheasant, cache-cache (Jack Snipe), papabottes, and other game. The area was a hunter's paradise. Game and fish were boundless.

In 1884 the brothers Jean Pierre and Francois Gueydan purchased forty thousand acres (160 kmĀ²) of land described by surveyors as "sea marsh, unfit for cultivation", for twelve and one-half cents per acre. By 1896 a small portion of their purchase became known as the "Gueydan Pasture". It was chartered as a village when the population reached 250. Jean Pierre was the official founder of Gueydan, as by then he had purchased his brother's landholdings. In 1902, the settlement became the town of Gueydan.

Realizing the importance of a railroad to the rice farmers, Gueydan donated a section of land and extensive right-of-way to induce the Southern Pacific Railroad to build a branch line from Midland, Louisiana. Shortly after, he offered the first property lots for sale. Settlers began to arrive from other parts of the state and the rest of the country.

The first irrigation pump in the state of Louisiana was built nearby at Primeaux Landing. This enabled water to be pumped to irrigate thousands of acres of rice. With the pump, the area grew as a producer of rice. In the late 19th century, farmers recruited Italian immigrants as laborers, but they quickly left the role of farm workers. Some established local businesses, such as groceries, barber shops and tailors, in small towns across Louisiana.

The founder Jean Pierre Gueydan lived at his plantation, St. Bennette, about two miles south of the community. In 1894 the plantation house was used to house the town's first school, which opened with 10 students.

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