Jennings, Louisiana

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Jennings is a small city in and the parish seat of Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, United States,[1] near Lake Charles. The population was 10,986 at the 2000 census.

Jennings is the principal city of the Jennings Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Jefferson Davis Parish. It is also part of the larger Lake Charles-Jennings Combined Statistical Area.



Jennings McComb, for whom the town was named, was a contractor of the Southern Pacific Railroad. He built the Jennings depot on a divide peculiar to southwest Louisiana.

The first settler was A. D. McFarlain, who came from St. Mary Parish, in 1881. This energetic young man was the community’s first rice grower, first merchant, first postmaster, first brick maker, and first builder. McFarlain prospered with Jennings’ growth and later became one of the town’s most prominent business men and civic leaders. He opened a store in Jennings in 1881.

The Jennings area was settled by Anglo wheat farmers of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and other Midwestern states. The new settlers of southwest Louisiana were referred to as "Yankees" by the natives. The Cajuns proved to be good and helpful neighbors and gave appreciable aid to the settlers in homesteading and homemaking. The people grew rice, cotton, sweet potatoes and corn.[2]

Sylvester L. Cary, who arrived on February 7, 1883 from Iowa and known as the town's "father", stated he was "seeking a home where there was neither winter or mortgages." So impressed was "Father" Cary by the attractiveness of the country around Jennings that he felt impelled to share his findings with others. The conviction resulted in his entering upon the second phase of his great adventure, that of bringing fellow Midwesterners to southwest Louisiana. He began to write letters to his friends in Iowa, extolling the advantages of the countryside surrounding Jennings. When he returned to Iowa to remove his family to their newly acquired home, he successfully persuaded several neighbors, preparing to migrate west, to take advantage of the opportunities he had discovered in Jennings and southwest Louisiana.[2]

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