I’m always fascinated by Louisiana’s history, and how it has shaped the state we know and love today. It’s hard to imagine some of these towns being called anything other than what we know them as, but some of them underwent a drastic name change. Let’s take a look at some well known cities and smaller towns that started out under a different name. Some of them might surprise you!
Originally called "Cokie" (from Coquille) because of the abundance of shells in the area. It was renamed in 1817 after President James Madison.
Lafayette was founded as Vermilionville in 1821 by Jean Mouton. Then, in 1884, it was renamed for "America’s favorite fighting frenchman" (any "Hamilton" fans out there?) General Marquis de Lafayette.
Originally named Thibodauxville, in honor of local planter Henry Schuyler Thibodaux. That name lasted for 8 years until it was changed to Thibodeaux in 1838, and the current spelling, Thibodaux, was officially adopted in 1918.
Formerly known as Fort Miro, the city changed it’s name in the later half of the 19th-century to honor the steam-powered paddle-wheeler, James Monroe. Both the ship and the town were named to honor the President.
5. Morgan City
Morgan City was called Tigre Island because a group of U.S. surveyors had spotted an unknown cat in the area. Kentucky planter and surgeon Walter Brashear began a successful sugar cane plantation, which was the beginning of the first permanent settlement known as the town of Brashear. Following the war between the states, a steamship and railroad entrepreneur, Charles Morgan, successfully dredged the Atchafalaya Bay and made Brashear the base of his operations. As a result, the town became a thriving trade center for seafood, timber, and animal furs. To honor him, the town was renamed Morgan City.
6. Lake Charles
Thought Lake Charles was always named so? Think again. The area we know as Lake Charles was officially incorporated in 1861 as the town of Charleston. Six years later, it was decided that no one liked the name so it was renamed Lake Charles in 1867.
The area we know today as Abbeville was formerly called La Chapelle, and was purchased in 1843. Sometime between then and 1846, the town was renamed "Abbville", and then later transitioned to "Abbeville" but no one knows exactly when that switch took place.
Shreveport was founded in 1836 by the Shreve Town Company, who were tasked with developing a town at the juncture of the Red River and Texas Trail. The Red River had been cleared of the massive, 180-mile long raft of debris that had made the river impassable. To honor Captain Henry Miller Shreve, the village was named Shreve Town. By 1839, the town was incorporated as Shreveport.
Covington was founded in 1813 as the Town of Wharton, named after its founder, John Wharton Collins. The city was formally incorporated in 1816 and renamed Covington, though there are conflicting stories as to how the city got its new name. One theory is that it was named after General Leonard Covington, a hero of the War of 1812. Another theory suggests that the city was named to honor Blue Grass whiskey, which is made in Covington, Kentucky, and was the drink of choice for town officials.
Boyce was called Cotile Landing until 1880, when it was renamed to honor Judge Henry Boyce, who owned the land the town was located on.