torpedo man

Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Donaldsonville is a city in and the parish seat of Ascension Parish, Louisiana, United States, along the west bank of the Mississippi River. The population was 7,605 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Acadians began to settle in the area in 1758 and Spanish Isleños also settled here. In 1772 when the territory was under Spanish rule, the militia constructed La Iglesia de la Ascension de Nostro Senor Jesu Cristo da Lafourche de los Chetimaches (the Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church of Lafourche of the Chitimaches) to serve the area. The region returned later to French control and then was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 by the United States.

Donaldsonville is named after landowner William Donaldson. In 1806 Donaldson commissioned architect and planner Barthélemy Lafon to plan a new town. This served briefly as the Louisiana capital (1830 - 1831) after New Orleans was deemed "too noisy".

Although Donaldsonville is a small town, it has many historic sites. Its museum, the River Road African American Museum, has been included on the state's African American Heritage Trail. It also has parks, shopping centers, and Civil War grounds.

The official newspaper of the city is the Donaldsonville Chief, which has been published since 1871..

Specific historical facts about Donaldsonville can be learned through the books of Sidney Marchand (historian, mayor, legislator, attorney). Mr. Marchand as a state Senator was a contemporary of Huey Long. It was during the mayoral administrations of Sidney Marchand, Sr. and Sidney Marchand, Jr. that significant infrastructure was constructed in Donaldsonville (including about 12 miles of paving, and the still-extant sewerage system).


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.6 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 7,605 people, 2,656 households, and 1,946 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,986.9 people per square mile (1,151.5/km²). There were 2,948 housing units at an average density of 1,157.8/sq mi (446.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 29.82% White, 69.13% African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.37% from other races, and 0.45% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.10% of the population.

There were 2,656 households out of which 39.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.4% were married couples living together, 30.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.7% were non-families. 24.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.35.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.1% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 81.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,084, and the median income for a family was $29,408. Males had a median income of $31,849 versus $17,528 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,009. About 32.8% of families and 34.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 49.0% of those under age 18 and 22.2% of those age 65 or over.

Notable natives and residents

  • James Carville - presidential advisor to Bill Clinton, CNN TV personality, graduate of Ascension Catholic High School
  • Admiral Farragut - the 'damn the torpedo' man, destroyed old Donaldsonville, including the courthouse and its old records
  • Allen Thomas (US Ambassador to Venezuela), Prevost (2nd recorded Caesarian section) resided here.
  • Claiborne Williams, bandleader.
  • Dave Bartholomew, musician.
  • Brett Schexnayder - drummer
  • Duncan Kenner - built Ashland, Confederate Ambassador to France and England, horse racer, founder of Kenner
  • Edward Douglass White, Sr. - Governor of Louisiana (1834-1838), father of the US Chief Justice
  • Father St. Cosme - first recorded person at site of city of St. Louis; founder of oldest extant Catholic church in the US at Cahokia, IL; killed by Chitimachi south of "La Fourche" (Donaldsonville)
  • Francis T. Nicholls - governor of Louisiana (1877-1880, 1888-1892), Conf. General
  • Harrison Verrett, musician.
  • Jarvis Green - star defensive end for Donaldsonville High, LSU, and the New England Patriots
  • Brennan Mienville - Game designer
  • Henry Johnson - governor of Louisiana (1824-1828)
  • "King" Joe Oliver, jazz musician.
  • Manny Sayles, musician.
  • Nicholas Trist - negotiator of Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, whereby most of the American west was acquired from Mexico
  • "Papa" John Joseph, musician.
  • Pierre Caliste Landry, elected as first African-American mayor in the US, 1868, Donaldsonville
  • "Pops" Foster musician.
  • Plas Johnson, saxophonist.
  • Ron Capone, Grammy Award winner.
  • Richard Jones, musician.
  • Sarah Vance, Judge, United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana
  • Stephen Hopkins - Brig. General, War of 1812/Battle of New Orleans, La. House Speaker 1812
  • Victor Maurin - commander of the Donaldsonville Cannoneers, core of the "Louisiana Tigers"
  • Walter Lewis, musician.
  • Yvette Pregeant Kane, Judge, United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

See also


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