Where Local Towns Got Their Names
It's sometimes confusing, but often interesting to find out just how towns came to be named. Some of the towns in the area are pretty easy to figure out, but a few might make you scratch your head and wonder, "How did they come up with that?"
I guess it's pretty easy to guess Where Lake Charles got it's name, even though it was, at one time, called "Charlie's Lake." Westlake is west of Charlie's Lake and Sulphur got it's name from all the sulfur mines that were in the area.
Here are a few local towns and how they got their names:
5. Iowa - Despite the fact that it's pronounced different than the name of the state, the name of the town does come directly from the state. The area was settled by Seaman A. Knapp and he had been president of the Iowa State College. After discovering the fact that the area was suitable for rice production, Knapp enticed several people from Iowa state to settle in the region. Why the town is pronounced with a long A sound is anybody's guess.
4. Jennings - Pretty simple story here. Jennings McComb was a contractor for the Southern Pacific Railroad and he built the first train depot in that area. Back then, of course, access to a railroad was vital for a town to survive. The Jennings area was settled by wheat farmers from Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Those settlers were called "Yankees" by the locals, but were given a lot of help in settling by the Cajuns in the area.
3. Deridder - I've always wondered about DeRidder since part of my families history concerns DeRidder. I've always thought that it had something to do with the meaning of the name, but I've been wrong about that. The town was named for Ella DeRidder who was the sister-in-law of a Dutch railroad financier by the name of Jan De Goeijen. Good thing he was generous about naming the place after his sister-in-law. I'm sure we'd all have trouble saying, "DeGoeijen." By the way, before becoming known as DeRidder, the area was called Schovall and DeRidder. Sounds more like a law firm.
2. Opelousas _ Very simple logical story here. The town was named after the Native American tribe called the Appalousa who had occupied the area prior to European contact around 1690.
1. Kinder - James A. Kinder, a Union soldier, went south during the Civil War and after the war, he returned to the state, settling first in Rapides Parish in 1870, then moving south to Kinder. He homesteaded a Soldier's Land Grant of 138.77 acres (56.16 ha) and built a home and store where Highway 165 and Highway 190 now intersect. His customers called the store Kinder's Store.
I'll keep doing some research on the area and try to come up with some more towns and their early histories.