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Discovery & Settlement
At approximately 295 square miles, St. Charles Parish is one of Louisiana's smaller communities. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in a vast, rich history. Created on March 31, 1807, St. Charles Parish was one of the original 19 civil parishes of the Orleans territory. The community was named in honor of Saint Charles Borromeo, who died in 1584.

Although the lower Mississippi River was discovered by the French and explored by the Spanish, it was German settlers who chose to call the parish home. Pierre Baptiste Le Moyne and Sieur d'Iberville explored Bayou Manchac and lakes Maurepas and Ponchartrain in 1699. In fact, the river shores and Lake Ponchartrain were well known to the French. However, as late as 1715, there were no records of permanent French settlements within the territory.

It was about this time that events in Europe were unfolding - events that would eventually shape the future of St. Charles Parish. Antoine Crozat, a merchant, was given exclusive trading rights in Louisiana in 1712. The move was an attempt by the French government to exploit the area. Crozat would transfer his trading rights to John Law, a Scottish economist and promoter who was living in Paris.

Before long, Law launched an unscrupulous plan to colonize Louisiana through a corporation titled the Mississippi Company. Two years later, the company suffered financial disaster. Although Law's scheme fell short of the grandeur he envisioned, it did attract thousands of settlers to Louisiana. A group of pioneering Germans formed the first permanent settlement in St. Charles Parish.

The Parish's First Lawman Arrives on the Scene
Karl Freiderick D'Arensbourg arrived in the new world in 1719 after he learned of the collapse of John Law's company. He settled in St. Charles Parish at the urging of Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville.

For the first 40 years of his residence, D'Arensbourg served as commandant and judge for the German Coast. In effect, he was the parish's first law enforcement officer. British troops would add to the parish's population around 1760, driving thousands of Acadians from their homes in Nova Scotia to Louisiana. Some found their way to St. Charles Parish, making their home among the Germans.

The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 officially declared Louisiana a part of the United States. Finally, St. Charles Parish could fly the American flag. Since the German Coast's discovery by the Spanish in 1542, it had thrived under three national flags.

Scope of the Top Lawman's Job Defined
In 1807, when St. Charles Parish officially took shape, Gov. William C.C. Claiborne outlined the officers of the community. Among the lead roles was that of parish judge.

The judge held all the powers granted to the clerk, sheriff, coroner, and treasurer. The judge, parish justices of the peace, and jury (12 property owners from the community) formed the governing body of the parish. Together, they were the policy-makers and administrative body of the parish in matters of police, taxation, and internal improvements.

The Louisiana legislature added the office of sheriff in 1810. Appointed to serve a three-year term, the sheriff was also to serve as ex-officio tax collector for the parish. A constitutional provision approved by the legislature in 1845 changed the sheriff's job to an elected post.

Unlike sheriffs in other states, Louisiana sheriffs are responsible for enforcing all laws, providing patrol and investigations, operating the parish's correctional center, and collecting all taxes - property and inheritance.

Past Sheriffs of St. Charles Parish:
     Noel St. Martin                       1854 - 1862
     Louis Ranson                         5-21-1866  to  6-7-1866
     Victor Laurent                        6-8-1866     to  7-13-1868
     M. Morgans                            7-14-1868  to  8-15-1871
     J.G. Badenhouser                 8-16-1871  to  8-24-1871
     M. Morgans                            8-25-1871  to  12-17-1872
     George Essex                        12-18-1872 to  9-30-1878
     Owen McLeran                       10-1-1878  to   11-4-1878
     Clement Colly                         11-5-1878  to   4-20-1880
     B. Similion LaBranicke          4-21-1880  to  4-22-1883
     Ernest Lafitte                           4-23-1883  to  9-7-1883
     T.T. Baudoin                            9-8-1883    to  4-21-1884
   * Lewis Ory                                4-22-1884  to  1-27-1903 *
     Anthony Madere                     1-28-1903  to   4-15-1912
     J.S. Paterson                          4-26-1912  to   4-17-1916
     Leon C. Vial                            4-18-1916  to   3-28-1939
     Marie Keller Vial                     3-28-1939  to   4-17-1940
     Ralph Dubroca                        4-18-1940  to   4-17-1944
     Leon C. Vial Jr.                       4-18-1944   to   3-2-1964
     John O. St. Amant                   3-3-1964      to   6-30-1972
     Julius B. Sellers, Jr.                7-1-1972      to   6-8-1976
     John O. St. Amant                  6-9-1976      to    11-29-1979
     Herbert LeRay                        11-30-1979  to     6-30-1980
     Charles C. Wilson                   7-1-1980      to     6-30-1984
     Johnny Marino                         7-1-1984      to     6-30-1996
     Greg Champagne                   7-1-1996      to     present

* Killed in the line of duty  

For more recent historical and demographic information, visit our About St. Charles Parish page.                

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St.Charles Parish Sheriff's Office • P.O. Box 426 • Hahnville, LA 70057 • Ph: (985) 783-6237 • Fx: (985) 783-6497