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Although several thousand German and Swiss engages or indentured workers arrived in France’s North American colony, La Louisiane, at Ship Island and present day Biloxi, Mississippi between 1718 and 1722, when John Law, a Scotsman, was the concessionaire and proprietor of the Company of the Indies, it would be nearly a century later that people from the feudal Germanic Confederation would settle on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The first Germans in the Louisiana Colony of France were sent to inhabit areas of present day Arkansas. Later they came down the Mississippi River to colonize what became known as The German Coast, the present day parishes of St. Charles and St. John The Baptist, which are situated up river from New Orleans. (Blume, 1990, pp. 7-12)
With the coming of the railroad to Ocean Springs in November 1870, and the erection of a freight and passenger depot, businesses began to thrive along Washington Avenue. It was also a period in which German immigrants, chiefly from Alsace-Lorraine, Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg, and Schleswig-Holstein made there way here primarily via New Orleans or Mobile. They found employment as house carpenters, merchants, blacksmiths, shoemakers, saddle makers, and horticulturists. Among these people who settled at Ocean Springs between 1860 and 1890 of Teutonic origin were Heinrich H. Gottsche (ca 1850-1878), Rudolph Pfefferle (1837-1904), Gregoire Wieder (1849-1899), Albert Eglin (1852-1891), William Lorenzen (1844-1910+), Ferdinand W. Illing (1838-1884), Michael Endt (1823-1880), August von Rosambeau (1849-1912), Charles E. Pabst (1851-1920), Adolph J. Schrieber (1835-1875), Joseph Letzler (1832-1908), George E. Arndt (1858-1942), John Seidenstriker (1824-1878), and Emile Domning (1850-1918).
This series of articles will investigate some of the history and genealogy of these German families, as well as others. They will be reported alphabetically rather than the chronological order of the family appearance on the local scene. If anyone is of German ancestry and would like to contribute to this informative database, please contact me at (228) 424-6041 or visit the contact form on this site.