An Encyclopedia of Union Parish History
1839 – 1994
Eugene F. Love & Dbale Malone Love
Early settlers, between 1700 – 1800, in the area that became Union Parish found a dense forest covering the area. Some areas had bee burned over by lightening setting fires, and these had grown up in brush, vines and weeds, and was the habitat for many animals: bears, panthers, deer, wild horses, as well as many small animals.
Indians still presented a problem to the new settlers. The Indians resented the whites taking over their land and killing off the wild animals that had always been their chief source of food.
The Ouachita Valley area in 1780 ranged from the Red River in the West to Ouachita on the east, south to near Avoyelles and north to Camden, Arkansas. The governor of the territory, Esteban Miro, selected a young Frenchman by the name of Jean Baptiste Filhial, 39 years old and holding the rank of captain in the military, to go to the Ouachita Valley area and establish a fort and take command. Filhial and a very close friend worked their way up streams during the flood season, with much difficulty. They went as far north as Camden, but returned to the area on the Ouachita River that had a high bluff and would be a good place to build a fort. He named the new fort Fort Miro after the governor. (Now Monroe.)
Filhial was not impressed with the few whites he found in the area. He doubted if there were any Christians among them. They had little pride and the men often left their wives and children for long periods of time when they went hunting. He said the men were lazy and were satisfied to wear animal skins for clothing. He set out to bring a better class of white people into the area; who would help develop the rich farm land and become a productive part of the new area.
Several tribes of Indians living in the area created problems for the new fort commander. Within the valley, four tribes occupied hunting areas and some infringed on others. The white mean created problems by infringing on all of them. The Caddo and Ouachita tribes seemed more peaceful, but the Choctaws were constantly stealing horses and properties that belonged to the white men. The Osage Indians, living north of Fort Miro, presented a constant threat of attack. They wanted to drive the white man out of the area.
At the turn of the century in 1800, the Ouachita Valley was still a large undeveloped and uncivilized area. The Indians were still a threat. Fort Miro had 150 citizens living in the area with a military attachment assigned to protect the area.
With the transfer of the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803 and the takeover of a new government, it was believed that the area would soon prosper and grow in numbers. Most of the early growth centered in the southern part of the state.
Louisiana became a state in 1812, but north Louisiana was still considered a wilderness. The area was considered a hunter’s paradise.
Fires burned large areas of the Ouachita Valley in 1800 – 1820. By 1830 farmers from the Carolinas and Georgia heard of the open land, good grazing and hunting. they began to select home sites and applied for land grants.