Vidalia, Louisiana derived its name from Don Jose' Vidal who was the colorful Spanish grandee who held many official titles during Spanish rule of this area. One of the titles he held was secretary to Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, the Spanish Governor of the Natchez District, 1792-1797. While Bienville established Natchez across the MS River from Vidalia, 1716, it wasn't until 1798 that the area that was to become known as Vidalia saw successful settlement. At that time, the United States was in the process of taking over Natchez and the Mississippi Territory from Spain. Jose' Vidal, wishing to remain on Spanish territory, petitioned the Spanish Governor-General de Lemos for a land grant across the MS River from Natchez. The petition was granted with the stipulation that Vidal erect a "strong house" (fort) on the property, which Vidal did. Don Jose' moved his family from Natchez across the river and became the Spanish Commandant of the new Post of Concord.
By Act of the Louisiana Legislature, the Town of Vidalia was officially established on March 6, 1811. "That the Town laid off by Joseph (Don Jose) Vidal, in the Parish of Concordia, on the Mississippi River, and opposite the City of Natchez, the plan of which is filed in the public archives, be and the same is hereby established a Town, to be called and known by the name of Vidalia, and the Police Jury of the Parish of Concordia shall have the power, and it is hereby made their duty to provide regulations for the internal police of said Town, provided that his act shall not impair or affect the rights or titles of individuals to land on which this Town is situated." Vidal lived in Vidalia until his death in 1828 and he is buried in the Natchez City Cemetary. His headstone is made of Vermont marble which gives it a green hue. The prominent monument proclaims: "Commandant of the Post of Concordia"
The rains continued and breaks in the vast levee system north of here allowed the mighty Mississippi River to spill over its banks into Vidalia, severely testing the strength, endurance and spirit of its citizens. As streets became waterways, many resident evacuated by ferry to Natchez. Others lived in tents atop the levee from late May until the waters receded weeks later. The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, which inundated more than 26,000 square miles of land in seven states focused national attention on the desperate need for flood control and led Congress to pass the Flood Control Act of 1928. This gave the U S Army Corps of Engineers the ultimate responsibility of Mississippi River flood control.
Two U S Corps of Engineers projects, the Giles Point Cut-off in 1935 just north of Vidalia, followed by the need to widen the river between Natchez and Vidalia, then known as the Natchez Gorge, and construct a set-back levee, served as catalysts for moving homes, offices and government buildings from "Old Vidalia" to "New Vidalia." More than 100 buildings were either relocated or demolished and rebuilt in the new town. Once again the strength and spirit of Vidalia's citizens were tested and again they overcame adversity, moving forward with grace, courage, and determination.