This town dates from 1779, when a group of 300 immigrants from the Spanish province of Málaga came up Bayou Teche and settled here. It was incorporated in 1813, and its history changed drastically after the arrival of the steamboat Plowboy in 1836. New Iberia then became the terminal for steamboats traveling up the bayou from New Orleans, and it promptly developed the rambunctious character of a frontier town. In 1839, however, yellow fever traveled up the bayou with the steamboats and killed more than a quarter of the population. Many residents were saved, though, through the heroic nursing of a black woman called Tante Félicité, who had come here from Santo Domingo; she went tirelessly from family to family, carrying food and medicine. (She had had the fever many years before and was immune.)
During the Civil War, New Iberia was a Confederate training center and was attacked again and again. Some say that Confederate and Union soldiers alike plundered the land to such an extent that local Acadians threatened to declare war on both sides if any more of their chickens, cattle, and produce were appropriated. The steamboats continued coming up the bayou until 1947. (We bet you didn't know the steamboat era lasted that long anywhere in the United States.) Today New Iberia, known as the Queen City of the Teche, continues to grow.