In 1805, two years after the Louisiana Purchase, “Louisiana” only consisted of the current land west of the Mississippi River and the Isle of Orleans (the land on the east bank of the Mississippi River and south of Bayou Manchac). Our state was known as the Territory of Orleans and it’s governing body, the Legislative Council, divided the territory into twelve counties: Acadia, Attakapas, Concordia, German Coast, Iberville, Lafourche, Natchitoches, Opelousas, Orleans, Ouachita, Pointe-Coupée, and Rapides. Acadia County included the Catholic Church parishes of St. James and Ascension of Our Lord, commonly called the first and second Acadian Coasts.
On March 31, 1807 the Legislative Council of the Territory of Orleans redivided the original twelve counties into nineteen parishes, based on the ecclesiastical boundaries of the period of Spanish government.
At this point Acadia county was divided into Ascension Parish and St. James Parish. The east bank of St. James Parish extended to its northern border at the Amite River. So parts of today’s southern Livingston Parish and eastern Ascension where in the 1807 St. James Parish. The courthouse was established on the west bank at St. James, near the current St. James Catholic Church. The Territory of Orleans along with the West Florida Republic became the state of Louisiana in 1812. By 1861 the current boundaries of St. James Parish were in place and in 1869 the courthouse was moved to Convent on the east bank where it is located today.
St. James Parish – Courthouse
St. James Parish Clerk of Court
5800 Highway 44 (River Road)
P.O. Box 63
Convent, Louisiana 70723
(225) 562-7496 Phone
By understanding the history of the Catholic Church in St. James Parish, tracing your genealogy can be rather easy. This section will provide you with the information needed to research your St. James Parish ancestors.
Please note that Genealogical research for Catholic Sacramental Records can be found for 1707-1894 in the Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Church Records books which can be ordered from the Archives Department of the Diocese of Baton Rouge or found in most local libraries. For periods 1894-1920 you must write to the Diocese Archives for information. For more information click here. For records from 1920-current you must write to the individual churches below. Please use P.O. Boxes where given for mailing purposes. Each church establishes it’s own procedures for genealogical research.
In the near future this information will be updated to give specific holdings of each church and the records available for that parish.
St. Philomena Chapel
(originally named St. Vincent de Paul)
Mission of St. Joseph
Mission Established: 1874
Chapel Destroyed: 1965
St. James Parish – Libraries
1879 West Main Street
Lutcher, LA 70071-9704
2593 Highway 20
Vacherie, LA 70090-0190