Thursday, July 30, 2009


Welcome to my new blog about the history and genealogy of the families of Vinton, Louisiana. I grew up in Vinton, and although my family did not settle there until the 1940s, I decided it would be interesting to study the family histories of the earlier settlers. I have been studying my own family history, which you can read about at Jennifer's Genealogy Blog, for ten plus years.

Vinton is located in Calcasieu Parish in southwest Louisiana on Interstate 10, just across the Sabine River from Orange, Texas. It had a population of around 3,300 at the time of the 2000 census. Jean Baptiste Granger was one of the first settlers of Vinton. He arrived in 1827 and settled between what is now Vinton and the unincorporated area just north of Vinton called Big Woods. Due to western Louisiana border disputes between the French and the Spanish, Vinton remained relatively unsettled, even after Louisiana was purchased by the U.S.

The Louisiana & Texas Railroad Company decided to build a railroad between New Orleans and Beaumont, Texas, due to the logging industry that was sprouting up in Calcasieu Parish. The railroad is what put Vinton on the map (and what later brought my great-grandparents to the area in the 1940s). At this time, Vinton was a whistle-stop called Blair.

A land developer named Jabez B. Watkins arrived in nearby Lake Charles, Louisiana, from Lawrence, Kansas in 1883. He bought 500,000 acres of land in southwest Louisiana. To attract settlers, he advertised in newspapers across the country. It is believed that Dr. Seaman Knapp was one of those attracted by his advertisements. Dr. Knapp, an Iowa native and former president of Iowa Agricultural College, arrived in Lake Charles in 1884. He ran an agricultural business for Watkins until 1887, when he opened his own land development company.

Knapp purchased 160 acres that would form the basis of Vinton, and another 640 acres was purchased by Robert F. Evans in 1887. By 1889, Knapp's land development company owned all these tracts and sold them for $10 to $25 per lot. Several other Iowa families that settled in Vinton were the Horridge, Stevenson, Eddie, Ferguson, Stockwell, Morgan, Nelson, Fairchild, Banker, Hall, and Haskill families. Vinton is presumed to be named after Knapp's hometown of Vinton, Iowa.

The settlement of Vinton increased with the oil boom in nearby Ged, an unincorporated community just south of Vinton. Vinton was incorporated on October 10, 1910, and Alexander Perry was appointed the first mayor.

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