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Stephen F. Austin State University

Sabine Parish

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Sabine parish, carved out of Natchitoches Parish, was created by an act of legislature in 1843. The name comes from the Sabine River which forms this parish's western boundary. The river was originally called the Rio Adays by the Spaniards referring to the Indian tribe living on the banks. The Sabine name can be attributed to local folklore. It is believed that a party of Frenchmen invited the local natives onto their boat. Inebriated, the Frenchmen sent the men off the boat and made off with the best looking women of the tribe. The striking resemblance of this story to the Roman History tale of the "Rape (meaning abduction) of the Sabine Women" resulted in the area and river gaining the name Sabine.

Sabine Parish has a phenomenal history of different cultures; native Americans, Spanish, English and French. In the early 1800s both Spain and the U.S. claimed ownership of Sabine Parish area after the French sold the area to the U.S. in 1803. Neither side wanted to go to war so an 'agreement' was struck by both sides (though not recognized by either government) resulting in a "Neutral Ground". Thus, from 1806-1821 this area was known as the "Sabine Free State." The area attracted many outlaws and criminals due to its lawless status until Spain eventually recognized the U.S. claim to the area.

The parish seat, Many, was created at the same time as the parish in 1843. The act declared the parish seat to be located within three miles of the physical center of the parish. The parish seat was located around a popular store, Baldwin, and 40 acres were donated by local landowners to create a public square and eight streets. The parish seat was named after Colonel James B. Many, one of the most popular officers stationed at Fort Jessup, located nearby. By 1880, the town's population had reached 147.

Sabine Parish is roughly 1,000 square miles in area. A large portion of the parish is Pine Hills and Oak Uplands, with a third of the area being Central Prairie and Long Leaf Pine. Another portion of the parish is bottomlands which have been converted into farms due to the fertile soil. There are also several large bayous that flow into the Sabine River and many medicinal springs visited by the sick or injured.

Sabine Parish had a prominent role in the Civil War. Sabine Parish was a poor area and did not heavily rely on slaves. However, as soon as shots were fired at Fort Sumter, support for units in the form of both men and money poured in. Many famous groups hailed from Sabine Parish, such as the Sabine Rifles, Sabine Rebels, Sabine Volunteers, and Jordan's Company. The last major skirmish in Louisiana occurred in Sabine Parish at Pleasant Hill in 1864. Many historic sites and forts have been preserved in and around Many and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.