Researching in the St Landry Courthouse at Opelousas

Saint Landry Parish Courthouse at Opelousas


In 1720 le Poste de Opelousas was established and was the perfect stopping off point for those traveling and doing business between New Orleans and Natchitoches. Opelousas was the focal point of the Imperial Saint Landry Parish which was much larger in that time than it is now, encompassing the current parishes of Calcasieu, Acadia, Evangeline, Jeff Davis, Beauregard and Allen.

Because of its strategic location Opelousas became a repository for many, many colonial and later documents.

St Landry Parish in the heart of Creole Louisiana

Keith Fontenot, former Archivist for the Saint Landry Clerk of Court, worked in the Opelousas courthouse for many years and indexed the earlier documents held by the Clerk of Court.

Keith Fontenot, former St Landry Parish Archivist

In 2015 an intrepid family historian, Marie Marcel, took it upon herself to film Keith Fontenot to capture his knowledge of history and the gems housed in the Clerk of Court archive. There are so many different types of documents housed with the St Landry Clerk of Court which is a treasure trove for those researching in the area. Ms. Marcel produced a series of 12 videos (to be found on capturing Mr. Fontenot discussing all aspects of the holdings of the archive such as:

1) Keith The Archivist 1–provides an introduction to the archive

(Keith Fontenot 2 is some other video not related to this series)

2) Keith Fontenot The Archivist 3–Keith discussed how you have to know your history to do your research; he details women’s property rights

3) Keith Fontenot The Archivist 4–discusses successions/probates, marriages, conveyances, miscellaneous books, minute books, physician’s handbook, legal formation, police jury, parish formations, etc.

4) Keith Fontenot The Archivist 5–discusses African American and free people of color research, some emancipation documents, slavery and waterways travel

5) Keith Fontenot The Archivist 6–Keith talks about slavery, the Alabama French (Guillory, La Fleur, Brignac, Fontenot)

Because he is not talking from prepared scripts some of what he says from video to video is repetitive but stick with it since, as a researcher, you might discover some types of documents that might interest you. Additionally, each video has the same 2 – 3 minute introduction that you can skip after you have seen it once or twice.

With the vast resources available at the Saint Landry Clerk of Court archive you could spend days at the courthouse and not realize you never stepped outside to eat your sandwich!

Source: Marie A. Marcel, Archive Keith Fontenot the Archivist,

Lenora Gobert

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