This correspondence is translated from old German script and reveals life of a German Coast resident. Although rumors were rampant, it appears from this letter that settlers did not realize they were again a French colony.

"Aux Allemans
March 1, 1802

Beloved Brother, And Remaining Relatives and Friends:

One thing I must let you know: that I am still alive, where I live and that (Thank God!) my present circumstances are very bearable. I live on the Mississippi, 13 hours over New Orleans, (Lat: 30 N, Long: 2:16 E Lod. (?)) Northside of the river, Cote des Allemans, paroisse St. Jean Baptist.

February 28, 1800 I was married to Catharina Vicknair, Widow Marchand, with two children: Johann Baptist, age 7 and Catharina, age 4 and a wealth of 15000, and what’s more, we live in unity and happiness together. November 28 my daughter Magdalene Celeste was born.

My wife’s father, Adam Vicknair, her mother Margareta Traeger, both are of two of the first and most numerous families here.

As I write this, we are subject to Spain, free from all taxes and tributes, and are bothered by nothing. All are a member in the militia. There is degradation of the human soul here: Slavery……We have only five slaves who till the fields, and four little ones. Some have hundreds.

The fields yield rice, Indian corn, Indigo, sugar, cotton. Fruit, as you know it in Germany, there is none. Only oranges, peaches and figs. Garden produce is available year-round. Caterpillars and other damaging insects are great inconveniences. The great heat in summer, the quick change of the weather, are dangerous to health and live, especially to foreigners.

All tradesmen are free; everybody does what he can.

What is called rightfully pressing poverty does not exist, thank God! Everyone can make enough to get by. Slavery is barbarical enough, but not as tyrannical as the unfortunate serfdom in the civilized Holstein by far. For the nights and the Sundays are for them, and necessary clothing and board have to be given them. Yet happy is the land that knows no slavery, for it is a pest for morals, insolence, stealing, and all shame and vice are rampant among the people. They are slaves and make their masters into slaves too, or relentless, unmerciful barbarians and avengers.

The main language is French, English, Spanish, German, Cathalone is spoken too.

I never did write, and I suppose I have been forgotten long ago, but I still mean to take a trip to Germany, but I am and will never be well at sea – so I fear my illness more than the sea, and my wife shows much reluctance. The other world will reunite us.

I have asked the Captain to write down your address for himself, too. His name is Johann Otterstaedt. The ship’s name is Anna Magtilda, both from Altona. Herr Otterstaedt will make the return journey immediately. If there is any feeling of friendship left for me, one would let me have an answer. Let me know how it is with the friendship. Find me worthy of reply as to who is alive, who died and what else has changed. The Captain is my friend. He will not fail to do his utmost. He was with us last Christmas and knows my wife’s relatives as well.

The strongest sensations of friendship, goods and blood connect me with the most heartfelt wishes for the true well-being of all of you without exception, and recommend myself to all of you for the renewal of your memory of me and the assurance of my true friendship.

     Johann Hoalhim Lagemann"

Courtesy of: Hanna Edelglass, Gansevort, New York
  German-Acadian Coast Historical and Genealogical Society
  From Les Voyageurs, Vol. II, No. 3, September 1981 112

Return to "Early 1800’s Letter from the Coast"