The Seat of Justice

In 1823, a commission selected the Pinhook Bridge site as the seat of the Lafayette Parish government. John and William Reeves donated four arpents (an arpent is about four-fifths of an acre) of land for the public buildings. The parish built a jail and rented a room near the bridge as a courthouse. In the meantime, Jean Mouton, who owned land in what is now downtown Lafayette, formed a local faction to rival the Reeves. Mouton had donated land for a Catholic church. The land is approximately three miles from the river. Mouton proposed and proceeded to lay out a town around the church. He offered to donate land for public buildings and lobbied the legislature to move the seat of justice to his land. In 1824, voters chose the Mouton site — making downtown Vermilionville (eventually Lafayette) to become one of the few towns or cities along a river not to build the city around the river. 

The Pinhook Bridge of the day was a low wooden structure with a draw that could be opened to allow boats to pass. Jim Higginbotham built his home and businesses near the bridge (on the side of the river of present day Bendel Gardens). He had a large warehouse with storage space, used by steamboats and shippers. He had a wheelwright shop, where he made hickory chairs with rawhide seats, spinning wheels and other household items. He also operated a lumberyard adjoining the warehouse. Higginbotham's neighbor, John Baumgartner, also was a woodworker, assembled cypress cisterns, hogsheads (for sugar cane) and molasses barrels in a shop next to his home. 

Travelers who crossed the Pinhook Bridge found the Higginbotham’s businesses on the left side William Butcher's saloon and billiard parlor on the right side. In the years before the Civil War, Butcher’s establishment was a popular place of leisure and tonic. Louis Grange had a restaurant nearby which served popular chicken pies.

The Steamboat Era
Plantation Life Along the Vermilion
Civil War
Antebellum and Post-Bellum Vermilion
Effect of the Railroad and Congressional help
Hidden Treasure?
Ecological threats of 1911
Connecting with the Intercoastal Canal
No good deed goes unpunished: The consequences of the 1927 flood