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26.04.2020501 views

Following Swiss footsteps in New Orleans

Thanks to a shipwreck, this man was born in Louisiana rather than Switzerland.

As a child, John Geiser III was surrounded by Swiss people in his grandfather’s adopted city of New Orleans. After the Second World War had ended, John was a young adult when his father took him to Switzerland for the first time. We met John in June 2019, when he gave us a tour of New Orleans. Over the course of a hot and humid morning – mainly on foot – he energetically showed us the traces of Swissness dotted throughout this city famous for its music and mardi gras. John has served as the Honorary Swiss Consul in the US state of Louisiana, and he is still an active member of the Swiss American Society of New Orleans. In fact, nobody in the club has been a member for as long as he has. Swiss in New Orleans Even as far back as 1718, there were Swiss citizens living in New Orleans, Louisiana. Many were workers and mercenary soldiers, such as the 210 lumberjacks sent to clear forest land to make way for the new city. According to the historical records of the Swiss American Society of New Orleans, Swiss soldiers were so well respected that France’s Governor Kerelec wrote, “The Swiss behave exceedingly well… I would prefer reducing the French troops and augmenting the Swiss, such is the superiority of the latter over the former”. In 1829, Switzerland opened its third US consulate in New Orleans.

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