LIVINGSTON PARISH HISTORY

Livingston Parish was originally part of the Florida Parishes. The parish was created on February 10, 1832, when the state Legislature split St. Helena Parish in two. Historians differ as to which one, but the parish was definitely named after either Robert or Edward Livingston. In 1869, the parish lost territory when Tangipahoa Parish was created. Itlater gained additional land when Maurepas Island was made part of the parish.

Livingston Parish consists of 642 square miles on 410,880 acres and is 32 miles long by 30 miles wide. The geographical landscape of the parish varies from rolling terrain covered by slash pine and hardwood forests in the northern part to rich cypress forests and marshes that border on Lake Maurepas and the Amite River in the southern end.

Livingston Parish has eight municipalities, with Denham Springs being the largest. Other municipalities are Albany, French Settlement, Killian, Livingston (the parish seat), Port Vincent, Springfield and Walker.


OLD PARISH COURTHOUSE IN SPRINGFIELD

Livingston became the parish seat in 1941 when the courthouse was moved there from Centerville (Springville). The town is situated approximately in the north central part of the parish, about 25 miles east of Baton Rouge on U.S. Highway 190.

Livingston is located in the heart of the heavily forested area of the parish. Although numerous other trees are common in and around Livingston, particularly hardwoods in the low area, it was the pine, then as now, that attracted the lumber companies to Livingston. In fact, a lumber company , the Lyon Lumber Company of Chicago, Illinois, brought the town into existence.

The Lyon Lumber Co. was incorporated in Louisiana on January 3, 1903, as the Lyon Cypress Lumber Company, with John William Gary as president and John Kellogg Lyon as secretary. The company established a sawmill at Garyville in St. John the Baptist Parish, directly south of Livingston, to cut cypress logs into lumber. The company extended a logging railroad into the cypress swamp north of Garyville to carry logs to the mill. As the cypress was cut, the railroad was extended northword.

By 1915, the company had reached the Amite River and the end of the cypress. The mill was remodeled to cut pine and hardwood. The name of the company was also changed at this time to Lyon Lumber Co. It was also in 1915, on June 4, that the Garyville Northern Railroad Company was incorporated under the general law of Louisiana.

Their first objective in Livingston Parish was to acquire an appropriate crossing location with the Baton Rouge to Hammond railroad, which was then known as the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad, now the Illinois Central Gulf. Since most of the Lyon Lumber Co.’s land holding’s in Livingston Parish was generally centered on the old town of Doyle (now a part of Livingston); the company wanted to purchase land in Doyle.

However, the company was unable to acquire enough land for their facilities in the existing town of Doyle, which was laid out in lots soon after the Baton Rouge, Hammond & Eastern Railroad was completed in 1908. They therefore selected the vacant land just west of Doyle as the site for their new facilities, which included, among other things, a railroad station, a coal chute, and repair sheds.

The present north-south road from Livingston through Frost to Verdun, LA Hwy 63, occupies the old Garyville Northern roadbed. By train, the town of Garyville was 35 miles south of Livingston.

The new town of Livingston was entirely company-owned by an affiliate of the Lyon Lumber Co., the Garyville Land Co., Inc. It was surveyed into lots in april of 1917. A provision was made for a park when the town was laid out. Today, the courthouse complex occupies the park site.

The extent to which Livingston was a company town can be seen from records that reveal that “when all the timber was cut (about 1931), the company closed and everyone moved away except about twelve families. The company sold everything – even the church.”

The town was, without a doubt, named for the parish, which was named fro Edward Livingston. However, it is not known when the name Livingston was given to the town or who chose the name. The post office was established on August 7, 1917, with Edwin A. Leland as the first postmaster. The town was incorporated on November 4, 1955, with the following officials: Winson Hoover, Mayor; Victor Smart; Fuqua Sibley and Willie Lee Duffy, Aldermen; and Johnnie Sartwell, Marshall.

As in the past, the harvesting of forest products and being the parish seat still plays a major role in the economic life of the town.


TOPOGRAPHY

The parish consists of 642 square miles in 410,880 acres and is 32 miles long by 30 miles wide. The northern part of the parish consists of rolling terrain covered by pine and hardwood forests approximately 50 feet above sea level. In the southern end of the parish, the land submerges into rich cypress forests and marshes that border on Lake Maurepas and the Amite River.


LOCATION

Livingston Parish is known as one of the Florida Parishes of Louisiana, as it was a part of West Florida until 1810. Livingston Parish is in the central part of the eastward projecting southern half of Louisiana. The extreme western boundary of Livingston Parish is located 13 miles east of the state capital of Baton Rouge and the southeastern corner is about 35 miles northwest of New Orleans.


INDUSTRIAL BASE

At this time, Livingston Parish’s industrial base consists largely of companies in wood products businesses, with several metal products companies and a fairly large operation, Adell Compounding, in the plastics industry.

With over 60 percent of the land area still designated as forest land, it still provides a variety of economic opportunity: for paper processing and other wood products, and for furniture manufacturing as well. Cavenham Forest Industries, located in Holden, is the parish’s largest lumber company.

There are several businesses in the parish that involve metals, which indicates the local suitability of the industry. East Jordan Iron Works (Vulcan Foundry), in Denham Springs, builds iron casings, while in Walker, Shaw/Sunland Fabricators, Inc., the parish’s largest private employer, works at pipe fabrication.

A small aluminum manufacturing facility, Aqua Marine, currently operates in Denham Springs, indicating the potential suitability of Livingston Parish for this industry.

Livingston’s long growing seasons and well-drained farmland make it possible to produce nearly all of the crops found in the western hemisphere. The parish has many truck farms and small fruit orchards, which provide the potential for processing, packaging and canning facilities within the parish. The livestock industries include cattle, swine, and poultry, providing the opportunity for related industries for feed mixing, grinding and distribution.


EDUCATION

The tremendous population growth and increase in property values in Livingston Parish is largely attributed to our excellent school system.

The parish school system serves more than 19,900 students ranging from pre-kindergarten through grade twelve. Adult education serves an additional 700 cumulative enrollees. Approximately 13,915 of those students are enrolled in grades K-8 in 30 of its 36 schools with approximately 685 regular education teachers resulting in a 21-to-1 student/teacher ratio.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Livingston Parish Industrial Park has two hundred acres zoned for industrial/commercial development. This economic development zone is located 2 miles north of I-12 east of Walker, along US-190 and the Illinois Central Railroad.