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The Darensbourg Records
Captain Karl Fredrick Darensbourg, a German-speaking Swedish soldier, left France on the Portefaix on March 7, 1721, bringing with him three hundred German-speaking Swiss and Alsatian colonists bound for Louisiana from the Alsace- Lorraine area. When they arrived in Old Biloxi on June 4, 1721, Bienville appointed Darensbourg commandant. On December 15, Governor Bienville issued an order decreeing all owners of longboats and flatboats to surrender their vessels to the colonial administration. In January 1722, these vessels would transport the colonists to the settlement on the coast, west of New Orleans, where they joined colonists already in the villages of Hoffen, Marienthal, and Augsburg.
These engagés became concessionaires and were provided small land grants with no ownership rights. Darensbourg’s concession was named Karlstein in his honor. This area became known as Côté des Allemands or the German Coast. Darensbourg brought the news to the colony that Law’s plan had failed. This news was of great interest to residents of the colony. Historians have noted how ironic it is that the same settlers who brought the news of Law’s company’s collapse are the ones who were successful in settling the colony. They have also noted that the Swiss played an important role in the colonization of Louisiana in particular on the German Coast.
The new company had no accommodations for the arrival of the immigrants. They were without food, shelter, or any means of transportation. They had no horses or plows. These German pioneers faced unbelievable hardships in their new country. The land was a tropical to semi-tropical forest covered with thick underbrush. Using the indigenous trees and brush as lumber brought on the problem of stumps and their removal. Not until ten years after their arrival did they even have a horse in the settlement to lend assistance. Consequently, many succumbed to these early hardships. Professor J. Hanno Deiler believes many more would have perished had they not come from such hardy German stock.
Karl Fredrick Darensbourg, the first commandant of the German Coast, served for over 48 years. He was beloved by the people of the German Coast. Darensbourg was born on January 25, 1694, in Stettin, Pomerania (presently Poland, but was a Swedish possession at the time). According to historian Reinhart Kondert, Darensbourg’s baptismal certificate from the Lutheran Castle Church in Stettin shows his name written as Carol Frideric Arensburg.
He was a Swedish officer on the Portefaix and later became one of the leaders of the 1768 revolution against the Spanish takeover of the French colony. He married German-born Marguerite Metzer, had two sons and four daughters, and all of his children married into prominent French families. Darensbourg earned the respect of all of Louisiana’s governors and was appointed Chevalier St. Louis in 1765 by the king of France. He died in 1777 at the age of eighty-four. Many of his descendants still reside on the German Coast where it is believed Darensbourg is buried.
1777: “Father of the German Coast” Dies
This text is © copyright material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.