Sunday, February 13, 2005

Sex and the Single Girl?

I've found more information about the Godeffroy family and their shipping dynasty. It's relevant to me not only because I lived in the South Pacific for nearly a decade, but also because finding the ship on which my ancestors crossed the Atlantic to America may require learning a bit more about international shipping in the middle of the 19th century. I've included a link to a chapter from a book I found online called 'War and the Private Investor', written in 1935 by a University of Chicago political economist named Eugene Staley.

Staley's book seems to have carried a fair amount of clout until quite recently when it was apparently superceded by disciples of one of Staley's distinguished University of Chicago colleagues. Chapter 5 presents Samoa as a case study in the dynamics of investment and diplomacy, but it also provides a nice thumbnail sketch of the J. C. Godeffroy & Sons shipping empire which endured for more than a century from 1755 until 1880. The Godeffroy's were Huguenots who left southern France before the end of the 17th century and eventually resettled in Hamburg. Longfellow fans will recognize 1755 as the year in which the Huguenot colony in Nova Scotia was uprooted and scattered to the winds. Investing in ships then was undoubtedly a practical expedient.

Two weeks ago I mentioned finding what looks to be a Huguenot named Toussaint in the 1910 U.S. Census for upstate Wisconsin, a young woman who seems to have served as a caretaker for a geriatric friend of my great great grandfather. She spoke German, not English. She was born in 1884, the same age as my grandfather. She arrived in Wisconsin in 1909, the same year my grandfather went away to seminary in Illinois. The old man she looked after, Ludwig Meyer, died in 1915, the same year my grandfather was ordained.

The most famous Toussaint in the history books was the Founding Father of the Republic of Haiti, the first former colony in the Americas to follow the trail blazed by the United States in its quest for independence.

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