Jean Laffite and the Laflin Connection

April 28, 2013 in American History, general history, History

LaffiteScrapSmallAd  Although the “Journal of Jean Laffite” was introduced to the public by John Andrechyne Laflin, a person with a shady past and a reputation as a forger, we cannot entirely discount his claim that there was some connection between the well-established Laflin family and Jean Laffite.

Toward the end of the journal  — actually a memoir and scrapbook — there are several clippings that relate to Matthew Laflin and to the Laflin  family gun powder business. At the very least, if the journal is indeed that of Jean Laffite, the privateer must have had more than a passing acquaintance with the Laflins.

Matthew Laflin was  born  in 1803 in Southwick, Massachusetts and died in 1897 in Chicago,  Illinois. His father was a gunpowder manufacturer, and he continued successfully with the family business. His great grandfather arrived in America in 1740 from Ulster, Ireland. That much, the Wikipedia tells us. But if we are looking for a picture of  the said Matthew Laflin, the Wikipedia does not answer that need. On the other hand, “The Journal of Jean Laffite” supplies a curious likeness.



What does it all mean? Why is Mathew spelled with only a single letter t ?  Who drew the picture and why was it included in the scrapbook? Clearly this picture does refer to the manufacturer of gunpowder, for on an adjoining page we have this full page ad:


 Could Jean Laffite have been a silent partner in the St. Louis branch of the Laflin business? Could he even have pretended to be part of that family, going by the name of Laflin? If we want to find out more about the Laffite/Laflin connection, where should we go to learn more? Would Ulster County, New York be a good place to start?


Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain (This book is about Jean Laffite in Galveston, Cartagena and St. Louis)

Copyright 2013 Aya Katz

Theodosia and the Pirates The Battle Against Britain (This book is really about Jean Laffite and the Battle of New Orleans)

2 responses to Jean Laffite and the Laflin Connection

  1. So far, I can find no connection between Laffite and Ulster, New York, or, for that matter, Matthew Laflin to Ulster, N.Y., a town founded by Irish residents of Ulster. The Laflin gunpowder business eventually became one of the largest such in the world. The Laffites were earlier involved with the Duponts in the gunpowder business in the early 1800s.

    • Thanks, Pam, maybe there is none, but in that case this poses a problem for the authenticity of the scrapbook. However, it would be very intriguing to find such a connection, no matter how seemingly tenuous.

      The reason I thought there might be a connection between the Laflins and Ulster, New York is that the great grandfather of Matthew Laflin, Charles Laflin, came to America from Ulster, Ireland. Although he settled in Massachusetts, there might have been some connection to the County in New York, as he could have known people from the old country who settled there.

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