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Blake Pontchartrain: The names behind St. Charles Parish

The people (and a refinery) behind Destrehan, Hahnville, Luling and Norco



Hey Blake,

While on a road trip through St. Charles Parish recently, I wondered about the origin of some place names: Destrehan, Hahnville, Luling and Norco. Were they named for people, places or things?

Dear reader,

  Most of the towns and subdivisions that make up St. Charles Parish were created from lands that were plantations during the 18th and 19th centuries.

  Hahnville, the center of parish government and location of the St. Charles Parish Courthouse, is named for George Michael Decker Hahn, who was governor of Louisiana for one year near the end of the Civil War (1864-65). Born in Germany, he immigrated to New York with his family before settling in New Orleans in 1840. He served as a U.S. congressman, senator, state attorney general and judge. In 1872, Hahn retired to St. Charles Parish, established a sugar plantation and laid out the streets for a village he called Hahnville. He also became active in local politics in St. Charles before his death in 1886.

  Destrehan is named for Jean Noel Destrehan, son of the royal treasurer of French Louisiana, Jean Baptiste Destrehan, who arrived in New Orleans in 1722. According to a history written by L'Observateur and published on the parish website, Jean Noel served in Louisiana's territorial government, was a U.S. senator, vice mayor of New Orleans and state lawmaker. His former home, Destrehan Plantation, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains a popular attraction along River Road.

  Luling is named for Florenz Albrecht Luling, a cotton merchant born in Germany. In 1868, he purchased Ellington Plantation near what now is known as Monsanto Park. Luling sold the plantation in 1882 and died in 1906.

  Norco is an acronym for New Orleans Refining Company. According to L'Observateur, the refinery bought 460 acres of land between the village of Sellers (named for plantation owner Thomas Sellers) and the old Good Hope sugar plantation for $21,000. In 1925, the postmaster and manager of the refinery took the company's acronym and formed the name Norco. The village officially was designated Norco by the U.S. Postal Service in 1934.

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