I am moving to New Orleans after having been a life-long Californian. My ancestors, however, were said to have come to Louisiana in 1721 and settled on the "German Coast." Can you tell me if this is true?
Your ancestors were among Louisiana's first families. Adam Trischl -- the progenitor of all the Triche families -- came to Louisiana in 1721 with his wife and three children. They sailed from Lorient aboard La Garonne. He listed his home as Augsburg, but this may only have been where the settlers from different regions gathered.
The area called the "German Coast" was a region of settlement above New Orleans on the Mississippi river -- specifically in St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes. When Louisiana was divided into counties, one of them was the County of the German Coast.
Within four years after the founding of New Orleans in 1718, people from both sides of the Rhine, from Switzerland to Holland, left their homeland for a life free from poverty, famine, pestilence, and often religious persecution. It has been estimated that as many as 10,000 Germans immigrated to Louisiana, eager to believe the promises of John Law, the notorious financier and promoter.
In 1720, propaganda pamphlets were printed in several languages, giving glowing descriptions of the delights that awaited the brave and the hardy. "The soil is extremely pleasant. Four crops a year can be raised. There is also game, which every person is permitted to kill. ... The land is filled with gold, silver, copper, and lead mines. If one wishes to hunt for mines, he need only go into the country of the Natchitoches. ... After these mines we will hunt for herbs and plants for the apothecaries. The savages will make them known to us. Soon we shall find healing remedies for the most dangerous wounds, yes, also, so they say, infallible ones for the fruits of love."
So they left their homes, but only a lucky few actually arrived in Louisiana. Many never even made it to the French ports of embarkation -- Lorient, La Rochelle or Brest. There were others who grew tired of waiting to leave and simply stayed in France. However, those who actually left for the New World were subjected to terrible hardships. The voyage lasted several months, and they died from sickness and starvation or exposure to tropical diseases when the ships made long stops in Santo Domingo. So many died on the journey that the boats were called "Pest Ships." In addition, some ships were attacked by the buccaneers and were never heard of again.
In spite of all impossible odds, the surviving Germans finally disembarked in Biloxi and Dauphin Island. Of course, not all of these survived to settle in the "German coast" area, also known as La Cote des Allemands.
As you might imagine, the immigrants were in for a shock. Here they encountered hurricanes and flooding and terrific heat and humidity. (Are you sure YOU want to live in Louisiana?) But the German pioneers were determined and industrious, and soon made farmland appear where a wilderness had been. Their success at farming allowed them to provide not only for themselves, but for the growing settlement of New Orleans as well.
One man wrote to his wife in Europe:
"I betook myself to where they are beginning now to build the capital, New Orleans. ... The houses are poor and low, as at home with us in the country. They are covered with large pieces of bark and strong reeds. Everybody dresses as he pleases, but all very poorly. ... Tapestry and fine beds are entirely unknown. The people sleep the whole night in the open air. I am as safe in the most distant part of the town as in a citadel. Although I live among savages and Frenchmen, I am in no danger. People trust one another so much that they leave gates and doors open."
Immediately upstream was the Acadian Coast, and over time, many of the German Coast families intermarried with the Acadian families. Over the years, the spelling of the German name changed from Trischl to Tris, Trisch, and now Triche.