History of Abbeville
Someplace Special on the Bayou
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.
History of the City Flag
The Official Flag for the City of Abbeville
Designed by Dr. S.J. LaBorde.
Officially adopted July 21, 1958.
Explanation of details and the symbolic meaning of the official flag for the city of Abbeville, Louisiana.
BROWN CROSS– Abbeville was founded by Rev. Antoine desire Megret, a Roman Catholic priest, and was then called “La Chapelle” (the chapel). The cross is symbolic of our founder and the purpose for which our town was founded.
YELLOW FLEUR-DE-LIS– This is a reminder of our Acadian heritage and ancestry who were the first settlers of Abbeville and of this area of southwest Louisiana. During the persecutions of the Acadians in Nova Scotia y the British, they remained loyal to the flag of France which was that of the House of bourbon (the ruling family of France at that time). This flag was all white in color with three yellow fleur-de-lis and is therefore, represented on the shield of our city flag denoting our heritage.
BLUE DIAGONAL STRIP ON SHIELD– Is symbolic of the courage of our founder Fr. Megret and of our ancestors the Acadians. It took much courage for our founder to purchase a town site and to pledge payment for it, which he succeeded in doing, in opposition to the nearby town and parish seat of Perry. The Acadians demonstrated their deep devotion to God and their country during their persecutions and especially when they were bodily expelled from their homes and families separated. They again demonstrated courage in coming to a new land and against difficult odds settled, and in memory of such devoted courage, that the blue stripe was added to our town and city flag.
WHITE SHIELD– Represents the purity of our founder and for what he represented as a servant to god; also the background for the flag of France to which our ancestors were loyal was white and this once again reminds us of our heritage. The shape of the shield represents and stands for fortitude.
WHITE STREAMER-(below shield) “POUR DIEU ET LA PATRIE” (For God and Country)- this statement represents the true reason for the founding of our city. It was founded by Fr. Megret to establish a church as indicated by its early name of La Chapelle (the chapel) and later name of Abbeville (Abbe Ville) (Priest town). It was settled by the French speaking Acadians who created a “Little France” in a new country. To verify this, Abbeville was laid-out and planned to resemble a typical French town, therefore, the reason for the two town squares. The writing on this streamer is in French as our town was settled y French speaking Acadians and even as of this date, French is the prevalent language in Abbeville.
1850– This date represents the year that Abbeville was chartered as a town and functioned as such. It was actually founded in 1843 by Fr. Megret, but was not organized and sufficiently settled to become recognized as a town until 1850.
VERMILION (RED) FLAG BACKGROUND– Represents the parish in which our city is located and of which it is the parish seat. Vermilion means a ‘bright red pigment’ according to Webster’s Dictionary. The parish was created in 1844, only one year after the founding of Abbeville, and its significant with the growth of our city, therefore, the reason for the red background of the flag. This city of Abbeville flag was designed by Dr. S.J. LaBorde, local Optometrist, and officially adopted by the city council of Abbeville July 21, 1958. It was officially presented by Mayor Roy R. Theriot to the color guard of the Mount Carmel High School “Eaglettes”, Louisiana’s first and only all girl drum and bugle corps. Miniature city of Abbeville Flags were presented to all official dignitaries and guests attending the 10th Annual Dairy Festival and Fair held in Abbeville on October 24-25, 1958.