The first quarter of the nineteenth century was, assuredly, the most turbulent era in the history of Natchitoches. Within the first three years of that century, the Louisiana colony passed from Spanish to French to American control; but the frontier that Natchitoches embraced was doomed to suffer from political instability for decades to come as the new American regime fought a diplomatic battle with neighboring Spanish Texas over the boundary that should lie between them. Natchitoches, for the most part, lay within the disputed territory; and more than once, along this frontier, the cold war threatened to erupt into open military action. Many problems occurred within the parish due to these many changes. In 1823 the church was destroyed in a terrible fire. Register Five graphically symbolizes the maladies that Catholicism suffered in this quarter century at Natchitoches. In 1977, the editor had the opportunity to perform restoration work that will hopefully salvage the extant portions of Register Five and delay further ravages of time. Through the auxiliary use of other church and civil records, it has also been possible for the editor to reconstitute many of the damaged or destroyed entries. The population was mainly Spanish and French, with significant "Anglo" migration from the older American states as well as the British Isles. Many Negro slaves are also listed in these records. These entries include baptisms (of infants and adults), burials and marriages; and provide names, dates, ethnicity, and when possible, grandparents, godparents, parents, spouse, age, witnesses, cause of death, and priest.
Elizabeth Shown Mills
(1980), 2007, 6x9, paper, index, 498 pp.