Natchitoches is the oldest town in Louisiana and was first established in 1714, when it was called Fort St. Jean Baptiste. It was soon renamed Natchitoches after an Indian tribe of the Caddo family.
The Natchitoches region was first explored in 1687 by LaSalle. The first settlers here were from the Canary Islands. In 1700 Bienville and St. Denis made an extensive exploration of the region. In 1713 St. Denis was sent by Governor Cadillac to establish a post on Red River, to keep a friendly eye on the Spaniards of Texas and Mexico. After leaving a group of his men at an Indian village at the site of the present Natchitoches, he went on to create the trail to Mexico City known as El Camino Real.In 1715 a small fort was built here by St. Denis and his men, near the Indian village. About two years later the Spanish established a post and mission about 14 miles to the southwest at Los Adais. For the twenty years following 1721 the small French settlement suffered strained relationships with both the Natchez Indians and Spaniards in the region. The Indians actually attacked the village on several occasions and in 1732 they laid siege for 22 days. In an attempt to overcome the stubborn resistance of the small garrison they are said to have burnt alive a captured French woman within sight of the fort. This act so enraged St. Denis that he rode out with 40 French soldiers and 100 friendly Indians and slaughtered the Natchez.
Natchitoches continued to thrive under Spanish rule, mainly because officials wisely chose to retain Athanase de Mezieres, the French commandant of Natchitoches.
Industry in Natchitoches
The industrial life of Natchitoches relies on the production, processing and transportation of cotton and its by-products. The town also has a brick manufacturing plant of some importance.