A Little Louisiana History
along the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico, led by Alonso Alverez de Pineda in 1519,
discovered the mouth of a big river which is thought to have been the Mississippi River.
A Spanish adventurer, Hernando de Soto, died in 1542 on the shore of the Mississippi River near what in known today as Memphis, while exploring the southeastern United States. Mississippi is an Ojibwa Indian word meaning "big river". The Mississippi River caries around 400,000,000 tons of sediment to the Gulf of Mexico. This is more than all the European rivers combined.
In 1682, Sieur de La Salle, a French explorer, descended down the Mississippi River to its mouth. He then took possession "of the country known as Louisiana". He named it after the reigning monarchy of France, Louis XIV.
The present day Natchitoches, was founded by Louis Jucherean de St. Denis in 1714. It was called Fort St. Jean Baptiste at this time and was the first permanent settlement in Louisiana.
Between 1717-1731, Louisiana had a surge of growth and developed as a colony of the Company of the West, and after 1719 its successor the Company of the Indies. Endorsed by the French government, the Company of the West was an elaborate colonization scheme of the Scotsman John Law. This was a disaster for the entire economy of France.
In 1718, the building of New Orleans as a town for the Company of the West, was begun by Sieur de Bienville. New Orleans had a population of 370 by 1721. This included 147 male colonist, 65 female colonist, 38 children, 28 servants, 73 slaves, and 21 Indians.