Winn Parish and Winnfield have a fascinating history. Indians of the Pascagoulsa and Choctaw tribes, as well as bands of the Tunicas found that rivers and forests of this parish were very pleasant and profitable hunting and fishing grounds.

French settlers founded colonies on Red River and Saline Bayou. St. Maurice, a small town in the southwest corner of the parish, became an important boat landing on the Red River. Winn Parish was officially formed by the state legislature in 1852. Winnfield was established as the parish seat. There is an ongoing debate regarding the naming of Winn Parish; some say it was named after Walter O. Winn, the representative who sponsored the legislation to establish the parish, some say it was named after Winfield Scott, a hero of the War of Mexico.

The debate continues…

During the Civil War, the parish was the site of some minor skirmishes. Confederate forces defeated a Union detachment sent to destroy the salt works in the area. After the Civil War, the West & Kimbill Clans,made their homes in the area and terrorized settlers moving west. At times it was thought that Frank & Jesse James rode with them.

The year 1900 was a new beginning for the agricultural interests in Winn Parish. Railroad development began when the great north Louisiana forest was discovered. Louisiana & Arkansas Southern Railroad were brought to Winnfield, linking the parish to larger towns like Ruston & Minden. William Edencorn, barbed wire inventor and rail tycoon, brought Louisiana Railway & Navigation Co. to Winnfield, and in 1907, William T. Joyce extended Tremont & Gulf Railroad to Winnfield.

Winnfield boasts being the home of three Louisiana governors: Huey “Kingfish” Long, Oscar K. Allen, and Earl K. Long. Huey became Governor, and a U.S. Senator, before he was assassinated in 1935. O.K.Allen was elected Governor in 1932. Earl “Uncle Earl” was elected Governor in 1939, 1948, and 1956. He held more state jobs then any other Louisianian. He was elected to Congress in 1960 but died while the votes were being counted. Hollywood filmed the movie “Blaze” with Paul Newman right here in downtown Winnfield based on the affair of Earl Long and the famous New Orleans stripper, Blaze Starr.

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