Many – The Parish Seat
The town of Many is the parish seat and the principle town of Sabine Parish. Dubbed the “land of Green Gold” the town was named for a commandant of Fort Jesup. A group of Belgians first settled the present site of Many in 1837. Six years later the town actually was founded. In 1843 Sabine Parish (we have Parishes instead of Counties in Louisiana, and our law is based upon the old Code of Napoleon instead of the Common Law of England) was created out of Natchitoches Parish, which was settled in 1717 by the French. John Baldwin has been called the “Father of Many”. He operated a tavern on El Camino Real (the Spanish King’s Highway, built by the early Spanish settlers and which ran to Mexico) at a junction with some minor roads where the parish seat was located. At Baldwin’s Store, Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett stopped to water their horses and “have a drink” before going to Fort Jesup and on to the Alamo and Texas. Baldwin was also a commissioner over the sale of town lots; was the first postmaster; and served also as the parish treasurer. In those days mail arrived weekly, brought from Natchitoches by stagecoach or horseback rider, weekly dispatches carried the mail and news further west into Texas .The town was named for Col. Many who was then commander of nearby Fort Jesup. Colonel John B. Many commanded the strongest garrison in Louisiana. In November, 1823, that was four companies of the 7th Infantry, but by 1825 the strength of Fort Jesup was cut down to three companies, but this was surpassed in strength only by the garrison at New Orleans.
One of the most colorful pictures of our land is the naming of Sabine Parish. Long before Louisiana was settled and while France was its careless owner – soon after DeSoto, Iberville, Bienville, and other early explorers came – a boat of French explorers sailed up the Sabine River (then having no name). They stopped at an Indian village and one night invited the Indian braves and their beautiful Indian maidens aboard to feast. They served the braves wine, and after much wine had been served and the Indian braves were “quite full”, the French explorers threw them overboard and sailed away with the beautiful Indian maidens. This story was so similar in history to the Roman story of the “Rape of the Sabines” that Sabine River (the boundary between Louisiana and Texas), Sabine Lake and Sabine Parish received their names.
We have a French, Spanish, and English heritage. Also, the only battles fought in the Revolutionary War outside the Thirteen Original Colonies were fought in Louisiana. The British wished to strike the Colonies from behind and planned to sail up the Mississippi River into the Ohio and and attack the Colonies from the rear. The shrimp boats, private boats, and gun boats under Galvez de Bernardo (who later became Governor of Louisiana) attacked and defeated the British at Manchac and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and drove the British from the Mississippi River. I like to think of Louisiana as the Fourteenth Original Colony!
Source: (Historic Information) Sabine Parish Library – paper by Virginia Godfrey