Abbeville Welcome Sign

Formerly called La Chapelle, the land that was to become Abbeville was purchased by founding father Père Antoine Désiré Mégret, a Capuchin missionary, on July 25, 1843 for $900. Father Megret named the town after his home in France,  Abbéville. There were two people living on the land at that time, Joseph LeBlanc and his wife Isabelle Broussard, whose former home Father Megret converted into the first Church. The original Church (then named in honor of St. Ann) burned in 1854 and St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church now stands at the same location.

Father Megret modeled his original plan for the village after a French Provincial village. In a map he made in 1846, the town was 38 to 40 acres (160,000 m2) in size. It was bounded on the north by St. Victor Boulevard, on the south by Lafayette Boulevard, on the east by “the Sisters of Charity,” and on the west by Bayou Vermilion. At this point in time the town was called “Abbville”. It is not clear exactly when or why the transition to “Abbeville” took place. There were two theories as to why this name was chosen. One is that it was a combination of “Abbe” for Abbé Mégret and “ville” for town – thus Abbé’s town. The other is that it was named for Abbeville in the Picardy Region of France, which some believe to have been the birthplace of Père Mégret. Some support for the second theory could be found in the fact that the town in France is pronounced “Abbville” by its denizens. However, in 1995, Fr. Jean Desobry discovered in the diocesan archives of Amiens the dossier of Fr. Antoine Jacques Désiré Mégret, who was born on May 23, 1797 at Abbeville dans la Somme and was to become founder of Abbeville in Louisiana. He also found that on February 12, 1844, the pastor gave to his Louisiana town the name of the place where he was born. The residents that settled the town were descendants of the Acadians from Nova Scotia that had moved to the area around 1766 to 1775. It was incorporated in 1850.

At the center of downtown is Magdalen Square, which is accented by large oak trees, a fountain, and gazebo. A statue in memory of Father Megret stands in the square.  Opposite of Magdalen Square stands the Vermilion Parish Courthouse.