Donaldsonville's history is filled with stories of
Indians, explorers, pirates, Acadians, plantations, Civil War
Battles and much more. The town's rich heritage melds the cultures
of the French, Italian, African, German, Canary Islanders and other
ethnic ancestors who found haven on the shores of the west bank of
the Mississippi River.
In 1683, Sieur de La Salle explored the Mississippi River valley and claimed it for France and King Louis XIV. At the junction of the river and a bayou, he found the Chetimatches Indians. La Fourche des Chetimatches became hs name for the stream. La Fourche means "the fork". Later, the name was changed to Bayou Lafourche. France established the Louisiana Territory and brought the first settlers, but it was truly colonized under Spanish rule.
In 1755 the British deported French settlers from the maritime provinces of Canada - Acadia. They were hereded onto ships with only the possessions they could carry in their arms. Louisiana, where they could live under French rule, speak their native language and practice their Catholic faith, became their promised land. La Fourche des Chetimatches became the second Acadian settlement.
On October 4, 1804, William Donaldson, a young merchant from New Orleans, was appointed a member of the Louisiana Legislative Council. This service led him to dream of building a town to be the parish seat and the state capital. Pierre Landry received a Spanish land grant for the property bordered by the Mississippi River and La Fourche des Chetimatches in 1775. William Donaldson selected the Landry farm as the site for his town. On February 10, 1806, Donaldson commissioned Bartholemew Lafon to draw a plan for La Ville de Donaldson. The plan included a crescent-shaped park to welcome river traffic. All of the streets were named for the counties in old Louisiana. In 1808, the American government established Donaldson Town which changed to La Fourche in 1809 and in 1822, to Donaldsonville.
For more information and history, please visit the City of Donaldsonville.