Jean Laffite and the Laflin Connection
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?
Copyright 2013 Aya Katz