St. Martinville is a small city in and the parish seat of St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies on Bayou Teche, sixteen miles south of Breaux Bridge, eighteen miles southeast of Lafayette, and nine miles north of New Iberia. The population was 6,989 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area.
In the 16th century, the area between the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico and Trinity River, in Texas, was occupied by numerous Indians tribes or subdivisions of the Attakapan people. The Indian Territory was not closed to outsiders, and several traders roamed through it on business. However, it only began to be settled by Europeans after Louisiana was founded in 1699. The territory between Atchafalaya River and Bayou Nezpique, where Eastern Atakapa lived, was called the Attakapas Territory. The French colonial government gave land away to soldiers and settlers.
Attakapas Post was founded on the banks of the Bayou Teche and settlers started to arrive. Some came separately from France, such as the Frenchman Masse, who came about 1754. Masse came to Louisiana from Grenoble. Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire a Frenchman from Lyon, France and some other Frenchmen, from Mobile arrived in late 1763/early 1764. Fuselier bought land between Vermilion River and Bayou Teche from the Eastern Attakapas Chief Kinemo. It was shortly after that a rival Indian Tribe, the Appalousa (Opelousas) coming from the area through Atchafalaya River and Sabine River, exterminated the Attakapas (Eastern Atakapa). Gabriels son Agricole Fuselier was prominent in the settling of the town New Iberia . Then other European settlers came in groups, such as the first Acadians from Nova Scotia, who were sent there in 1765 by Jean-Jacques Blaise d'Abbadie, the French official who was administering Louisiana for the Spanish. The group was led by Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil. In 1768-1769 fifteen families arrived from Pointe Coupee. Their members came from Santo Domingo (French Saint Domingue, today Haïti) or from Paris via Fort de Chartres, Illinois. Between the arrivals of the two groups, the French captain Etienne de Vaugine came in 1764 and acquired a large domain east of Bayou Teche.
On April 25, 1766, after the arrival of the first Acadians, the census showed a population of 409 inhabitants for the Attakapas region. In 1767 the Attakapas Post alone had 150 inhabitants before the arrival of the 15 families from Pointe Coupee.
Napoleon sold Louisiana in 1803 to the United States through the Louisiana Purchase. The organizing of the Attakapas Territory took place between 1807 and 1868, culminating in the creation of St. Martin Parish. Attakapas Post was named St. Martinville.