The parish was created out of lands formerly belonging to St. Landry Parish in 1910. The area was originally settled by French,Metis, Choctaw, African slaves and free people of color, German, Spanish, Irish and English people. The majority were French, and former colonial Canadian marines (coureurs de bois) previously from Fort Toulouse, Alabama to Fort Kaskaskia in the Illinois country and including later Napoleonic and 19th-century French and European French-speaking soldier and immigrant families. See Early Pioneer Families of Evangeline Parish, by Evangeline Genealogical & Historical Society under the direction of Winston DeVille) Even former Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), French Creole refugees of surname, Morein, Brunet, and many others settled here. The early generations born in colonial French colonies, which included the enormous Louisiana Territory ('Upper and Lower' Louisiana) was known as "la Nouvelle France" and included this region, then under Spanish rule, and whose citizens were originally called Creoles. This term never denoted 'race' as evidenced in Louisiana courthouse records from both the French and Spanish colonial periods. It was simply a generic term referring to those 'native-born' descendants of primarily French & Spanish descent and was equally applied to any ethnicity born in French & Spanish Colonial Louisiana. (See Wikipedia, "Louisiana Creoles"). Some of the major families included Fontenot, Brignac, Ardoin, Bordelon, Vidrine, LeBas, Coreil, Guillory, LaFleur, Saucier, Catoire, Dupre, Sylvan, Ortego, Rozas, Manuel, Fuselier and Gobert, along with many others. (See Louisiana's French Creole Culinary & Linguistic Traditions: Facts vs. Fiction Before & Since Cajunization, 2013 by John laFleur II, Brian Costello with Dr. Ina Fandrich). The French Creoles had early on developed a metis-culture (French and Indian)that ultimately, involved all of the ethnic groups living in the area long before our historical American period, after 1803. This is very evident in the beautiful patois of Louisiana Creole French still spoken across this region. A few Acadians such as Francois Pitre and his wife had settled the area between Evangeline and St. Landry parishes, preferring the rich pre-American and pre-Civil War era Creole planter's lifestyle over that of the humble and isolated existence of their Acadian Coast cousins. (See The Founding of New Acadia: The Beginnings of Acadian Life in Louisiana, 1765-1803, 1987 by Dr. Carl A. Brasseaux; Building the Devil's Empire: French Colonial New Orleans, 2008 by Dr. Shannon Lee Dawdy along with Dr. Carl Ekberg's studies on Missouri & Illinois metis and French Creole cultures.)
But, Anglo-American outsiders mistakenly labeled all the white French people as Cajuns in 19th century American Louisiana. The parish was named Evangeline in honor of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's narrative poem, Evangeline. Evangeline Parish was immortalized in the Randy Newman song "Louisiana 1927", in which he described the Great Mississippi Flood which covered it with six feet of water. It was from this poem that founding father, Paulin Fontenot was to propose the namesake of "Evangeline" for this parish, allegedly foreseeing an emerging American tourism centered upon the Acadian saga.(See Ville Platte Gazette, Sept. 2010) In 19th-century American literature, she would gain popularity through Hollywood's interest, and thus began the embryonic 'Acadian-based' tourism which sprang up in St. Martinville, but eventually, in the latter part of the 20th century grew to epic proportions out of Lafayette and obfuscated the original historical country French Creole cultural history and identity of this historically French Creole & metis region which had always been an extension of "la Nouvelle France".
Ville Platte, Louisiana, the capitol seat of Evangeline Parish, was itself so named by one of Napoleon Bonaparte's former soldiers, Adjutant Major, Marcellin Garand (1781-1852), of Savoy, France. (See Napoleon's Soldiers In America, by Simone de la Souchere-Delery, 1999).