Wednesday, March 30, 2016



East Carroll Delta News, Aug. 5, 1965

"According to some evidence, when DeSoto discovered and crossed the Mississippi River in 1541 he was somewhere near what is now East Carroll Parish. LaSalle in 1682, when he successfully explored the Miss. River to its mouth, very likely spent the night on the banks of what is now Lake Providence. East Carroll remained a part of New France until 1763, when most of the western Mississippi Valley passed to Spain. The Spanish government sought to bring settles to northeast Louisiana. Settlements, however, clung to the hill areas. The Delta low-lands flooded every year and swampy, were regarded as too unhealthy and otherwise unsuitable for colonization.

East Carroll Parish returned briefly to French rule on March 26, 1803, when public announcement was made of the recession of Louisiana to France from Spain. This was soon followed on April 30, 1803, by the United States’ acquisition of the vast area from France for $15 million by virtue of the Louisiana Purchase.

After the war of 1812, development of the Delta region continued in earnest. Providence, as a name of a community, first appears in press accounts about 1835. War, reconstruction and yellow fever slowed progress but by the return of the century expansion resumed.

During reconstruction and lasting until about 1928 lands in the present sixth and seventh wards, about one-fourth of the parish land area, reverted to a forest primeval similar to a hundred years earlier. By 1930 reclamation of this productive area resumed when over 150 families moved in and established their homes. Now one can not tell the difference in this reclaimed area and the land along the Mississippi River cultivated since 1830."

After a harsh winter, the Spanish expedition decamped and moved on more and more erratically. By then, the last Spaniard who was remotely familiar with the area, Juan Ortiz, had died. Eventually, the Spaniards returned to the Mississippi.

On the banks of this river, de Soto died on May 21, 1542 after contracting a fever. Since he had propagated among the natives the myth that Christians were immortal, his men had to conceal his death. They hid his corpse in blankets weighted with sand and sank it in the river. (However, both Lake Providence, Louisiana and Lake Chicot in Arkansas claim that DeSoto is buried in their respective lakes.) While Spain and Portugal could have been crossed by a trained wanderer in less than one month, de Soto's expedition roamed through La Florida for three years without finding the expected treasures or a place to begin with their colonisation. His men aborted the expedition.

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