In 1717, a Scotsman named John Law was granted a charter to create a “Company of the West” which would bring settlers to the French colony of Louisiana. The company later merged with some other settlement companies to become the Company of the Indies. In 1719, the company brought over the first group of 21 German families, who founded a village on the Mississippi in an area that came to be known as the German Coast. Eventually, several thousand Germans and a few Swiss settled on the German Coast. Although they maintained some aspects of German culture and language for several generations, French customs officials at New Orleans changed most German names, using more Gallic spellings or changing the names completely. The German settlements were near New Orleans, though the German immigrants later spread through the state and became an important part of Louisiana’s heritage.
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german americans missouri