St. James Parish in Louisiana was founded on March 31, 1807, by the Orleans Territorial Legislature. The parish, one of the original 19 in the state, bordered Ascension Parish to the north, Lafourche Parish to the south, St. John the Baptist Parish to the east and Assumption Parish on the west and southwest.
Prior to its formation as an official parish, St. James was an area located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and divided in two by the Mississippi River. Acadians settled the area between 1755 and 1764. This area formed part of the country of Acadia, along with the First and Second Acadian Coasts. The original seat of the parish's government sat in St. James on the west bank of the Mississippi River. In 1869, the seat moved to the other side of the river, close to the town of Convent.
The parish became known for its Perique tobacco, a special tobacco cultivated originally by Pierre Chenet that continued to be produced 200 years later. The parish also began a tradition called the Bonfires on the Levee, which occurs every Christmas Eve. During the tradition, the large bonfires are lit along the river levee in hopes that Santa Claus sees them.