After the Louisiana Purchase by the United States in 1803, the region stretching from the Sabine River in the west to the Arroyo Hondo in the east was claimed by both Spain and the United States, leading to little law enforcement by either country. In order to avoid a war over the border, the two countries agreed that the land in contention would remain neutral and free of armed forces from either side. The area became known as the Neutral Ground or Sabine Free State. During this period, the armies in the area—those of the United States and Spain—allowed the running of a ferry, enabling places such as Burr's Ferry in Vernon Parish, to prosper. The rest of the area was lawless, except for the occasional joint military venture to rid the area of "undesirables". However, even with the border dispute, several pioneers did settle the land during this period and were eventually given 3rd class homestead claims. The Adams-Onís Treaty, signed in 1819 and ratified in 1821, recognized the U. S. claim, setting the final Louisiana western border at the Sabine River.
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