St. Joseph, Louisiana

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St. Joseph is a town in and the parish seat of Tensas Parish in northeastern Louisiana, United States.[1] The population was 1,340 at the 2000 census. The town is 69 percent African American. St. Joseph is the entry community to Lake Bruin State Park located on Lake Bruin, a relatively clear oxbow lake of the nearby Mississippi River.

Unique for the Deep South, St. Joseph was planned and constructed along New England-style village green. The downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]

Near the conclusion of the American Civil War, when Louisiana became part of the Department of Mississippi, St. Joseph served as the chief route across the Mississippi River. According to the historian John D. Winters in his The Civil War in Louisiana, "Such a strong force of Confederate cavalry occupied the Mississippi side opposite St. Joseph that all Federal attempts to close the transit in January [1865] ended in failure."[3]

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Political matters

Edward L. Brown, the African American mayor of St. Joseph, unseated the long-term incumbent, Whitfield "Whit" Jones, who is white, in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 7, 2000. Brown polled 447 votes (64.9 percent) to Jones' 242 (35.1 percent).[4]

Prior to 1968, each parish regardless of population had at least one member in the Louisiana House of Representatives. The last member to represent only Tensas Parish was Democrat S. S. DeWitt (1914-1998) of Newellton and later St. Joseph. DeWitt represented Tensas Parish from 1964-1968, and then from 1968-1972, he and Lantz Womack of Winnsboro, the seat of Franklin Parish, together represented Franklin, Tensas, and Madison parishes. Womack defeated DeWitt in the 1971 primary; DeWitt later switched to Republican affiliation.

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