|Bossier Parish is located in northwest Louisiana along the east side of Red River, and is bordered on the north by the State of Arkansas. Bossier Parish was created on February 24, 1843, from an area cut out of Claiborne Parish by Act 33 of 1843. Prior to 1828, Claiborne Parish was part of Natchitoches Parish, one of the original nineteen parishes established in 1807.
Bossier Parish was named for General Pierre Evariste John Baptiste Bossier, who was elected to congress from this district the same year Bossier Parish was created. General Bossier, who received his title as a general of the Louisiana Militia, was born in Natchitoches in 1797 of a Creole family which was one of the first to settle in this community.
The first parish seat was Freedonia; however, within a short time it was renamed Society Hill, and finally Bellevue. The first police jury was organized on June 19, 1843. In the early days of Bossier Parish, the police jury exercised powers of government long since taken away from the parishes. In 1850 the first official census was taken and the population of Bossier Parish was listed as 6,952. Benton has been the parish seat of government since 1888, when the courthouse at Bellevue was partly burned. Since Bellevue had no railroad, it became necessary that the parish seat be moved to a place where transportation could be utilized to the best advantage of the public. At that time there arose much rivalry between Haughton, Benton and Cane's Landing (modern-day Bossier City). The necessary steps were taken by the police jury to authorize relocating the parish seat, and eventually election results showed that the majority favored Benton. However, some members of the police jury, being disgruntled at the outcome, refused to meet and promulgate the official returns of the election. While this controversy was being carried on, a wide-awake citizenry from Benton slipped into Bellevue at the crack of dawn and loaded the remains of the records belonging in the courthouse and successfully transported them to Benton. After some time, the police jury met and authorized the construction of a courthouse, and in 1890 moved into the structure. This courthouse, with the addition of a jail and several adjacent structures, served the parish until its age and overcrowding necessitated a change.
The existing Bossier Parish courthouse was constructed in the early 1970's at a cost of approximately $2,500,000. The five-story structure comprises 106,000 square feet, houses all parish offices, and contains a 130-bed maximum-security jail on the fifth floor. A ½ cent sales tax approved in 2000 will fund an addition/renovation project for the courthouse, and the construction of a separate 400-bed maximum-security prison. Completion of these structures is anticipated by 2005.
The population of Bossier Parish has increased from 7,000 in 1840 to approximately 100,000 in the 2000 census. Bossier has long been regarded as the fastest growing parish in the state of Louisiana.