Iberia Parish (French: Paroisse de l'Ibérie) is a parish located in the state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 73,240. The parish seat is New Iberia. The parish was formed in 1868 from St. Martin and St. Mary parishs. It was named for the Iberian Peninsula, which consists of Spain, Portugal and Andorra. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 1,031 square miles (2,670 km2), of which 574 square miles (1,490 km2) is land and 456 square miles (1,180 km2) (44%) is water.
The early settlements in the parish of Iberia date back as far as in St. Landry or St. Martin. The first settlers were Spaniards. Next came the Acadians, descendants of the French, who had long before settled in the peninsula of Nova Scotia. They were exiled to different sections on the Atlantic border and sought the wilds of Louisiana under the guidance of Father Marquette. A large number of them drifted down the Atlantic coast and then made their way across the country to Louisiana. Many settled in what is now the parish of Iberia, a great spot of attraction for French emigrants. Of the first Acadians we have the Moutons, Dupres, Guidrys, Broussards, Dugas, Breaux, Bernards and Decuirs. During the French occupancy of Louisiana, Chevalier DeBlanc, from Iberia Parish was the commandant of Western Louisiana.
The first American settlers came here soon after the battle of New Orleans. The most prominent of these were John G. Wilkins, Governor Baker, and the Smiths and Youngs. Wilkins was from Virginia. He was very wealthy, and brought a number of slaves here with him, and became an extensive sugar planter.
It is hard to determine who the first pioneers were in Iberia Parish. It is the writer's belief that the pioneer settlers of this section were originally from France. That they accompanied the grantees to lands, made under the regime of Bienville, is confirmed by names transmitted to the present generation.
When the first settlements were made in what is now Iberia, and for long years afterward, it was a part of St. Martin parish. Another reason of its abridged pioneer history is its small dimensions. Though small, it is very rich, on the principle, perhaps, that "fine goods are put up in small packages." All these together contribute to curtail the pioneer history of Iberia parish.
Extracted from Mike Miller's transcription of "The History of Iberia Parish" from "Southwest Louisiana Biographical and Historical", Biographical Section, pp. 91-118. Edited by William Henry Perrin. Published in 1891, by The Gulf Publishing Company.