Abbeville, the seat of Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, was founded in 1843 by the French Capuchin missionary Antoine Désiré Mégret. The town’s population was initially of predominantly French extraction, with a small component of Italian and German Catholics. In the 1880s, Midwestern farmers were attracted to the region by its developing rice and cattle industries and other agricultural opportunities.
Eugene Isidore Guégnon (1819-1877), a native of France, founded the Meridional in 1856. The four-page weekly later claimed to be the oldest newspaper in southwest Louisiana. Guégnon was assisted by Eugene Isidore Addison (1837-1900), son of his late business partner, George W. Addison. After Guégnon’s death, Addison managed the Meridional intermittently until his own death in 1900. Another editor connected with the paper was Dr. Clarence J. Edwards (1858-1920), briefly a state senator in the mid 1890s. Edwards became sole proprietor of the Meridional in 1900.
Initially published in English and French (with different content for each language), the number of French articles dwindled after about 1880 and had completely disappeared by the turn of the century. Recurring article topics included state and local politics, immigration to southwest Louisiana, real estate, rail versus water transport, road improvements, the development of the region’s rice, cattle, and oil industries, and baseball. The paper was one of many that opposed the Louisiana Lottery, a revenue-raising scheme widely regarded as a corrupting influence on state politics. As the official journal of Vermilion Parish, the Meridional published the proceedings of the Abbeville town council and school board and the minutes of the parish police jury (similar to county councils in other states). Judicial notices, announcements of public sales, and charters of local corporations were also published. Describing itself as “A Wide-Awake Home Newspaper,” the Meridional included by the early 1900s fiction, fashion, and farm and garden sections.”
The Meridional was renamed the Abbeville Meridional [LCCN: sn88064004] in 1907. It is still in publication as of 2012.