The Germans in Trinidad


Material Information

The Germans in Trinidad
Physical Description:
x, 231 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm.
De Verteuil, Anthony
A. de Verteuil
Place of Publication:
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Germans -- History -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )
Germans -- Biography -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )
Biography -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


"Work is not a comprehensive treatment of Germans in Trinidad. Rather, after treating in general terms the entire German community and its origins, book concentrates on five families - Stollmeyer, Siegert, Urich, Boos, and Graff - that emigrated to Trinidad before 1875 and later became involved in various aspects of life on the island"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 58.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 223-229) and indexes.
Statement of Responsibility:
Anthony de Verteuil.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 31927306
lccn - 95151255
isbn - 9768136391
lcc - F2119 .D433 1994
ddc - 972.983/00431
System ID:

Full Text



H2119 ciXs^~i^fc

/ )


l'hc lcrmans in 'rinibab

Whc Icrmans in Wriniiao

Anthony ae oerfkuil, -. .p.


@ Anthony de Verteuil, C.S.Sp.
St Mary's College,
Port of Spain,

ISBN 976-8136-39-1

All rights reserved. Except for use in review,
no part of this publication may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopy,
recording or any information storage or retrieval
system, without permission in writing from the
copyright owner.

First published in 1994,
by Anthony de Verteuil, C.S.Sp.,
and printed by Litho Press.


Map of the German Confederation, 1815. 3
Map of the German Empire, 1870 1918. 35
Concert Programme, 1898. 47
Urich Family Tree. 71
Urich Family Tree (cont.) 81
Stollmeyer Family Tree. 117
Stollmeyer Family Tree Charles Conrad. 129
Stollmeyer Family Tree Albert Victor. 133
Siegert Family Tree. 141
Siegert Family Tree (cont.) 147
Advertisement for Angostura Bitters, 1892. 149
Boos Family Tree. 173
The Trial of Carl Boos. 175
Boos Family Tree (cont.) 191


The Cover illustration has been executedby Maurice
Chang. It shows the arms of three German States
from which the chief characters in this book origi-

Hesse: Lion rampant Urich & Boos.
Wurttemberg: 3 Panthers Stollmeyer.
Rhineland: Horse & symbols Leonard Graf.

The eagle is the symbol of the Federal Republic of


De Boehmler Family Sword
Wuppermann property at Barmen
Rudy Wuppermann & Trinidadians at University
The Zurcher home, "Blarney"
Sampadrura Estate, Eugene Wehekind
Easter Card, Ludolph Wehekind after page 20

Emilio Borgerg. Sebasian Webber O.S.B.
Ludwig Schoener
Auguste Schoener
The Germania Club
Wharf at Ciudad Bolivar
Railway Accident, Champs Fleurs after page 40

The "Zebra"
Residence of Auguste Holler
Musical trio. Six little sailor boys
Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer
William Meyer
Trinidad Fencing Club

after page 54

South Quay from the sea, Michel Cazabon
Whaling in the Second Boca, Michel Cazabon
after page 72

Paul Urich at Point Radix
Schweizer House, home of Irene Urich
Double wedding de Verteuil & Urich
'Jangoons' and Otto Urich
Otto Urich's daughters
Doctor's house at Chacachacare after page 90

Illustrations vii

Conrad F. Stollmeyer, Michel Cazabon
Anna Stollmeyer, nee Snyder, Michel Cazabon
Charles Fourier Stollmeyer
Stollmeyer House, Port of Spain, 1857
after page 104

Charles Conrad Stollmeyer
"La Regalada", Upper Santa Cruz
"Mon Valmontf, Lower Santa Cruz
"Killarney", Stollmeyer's Castle
Stained-glass Window, Unlm Cathedral, 1892
"Buen Retiro", 9 Queen's Park East
Albert Victor Stollmeyer, at work
Golden Wedding Anniversary afterpage 134

Bitters' Booth at 19th century exposition
Bitters Factory, George Street, 1910
Bottling Bitters in the Factory
The sailing ship "Doctor Siegert"
"The Hall", Chancery Lane after page 150

Christmas Tree in "the Hall"
Carlos Damaso Siegert, 1830-1903
Ana Apolonia Siegert, nee Grillet
Alfredo Cornelio Siegert, 1847-1919
Luis Benjamin Siegert, 1853-1905
The Siegert Ladies at the Savannah
The Siegert Children in the Gardens
The Home of Alfredo Siegert afterpage 156

Alfredo Galo and his dog
Marielva, Monos
Swimming and Music at Marielva
Outing to the Gasparee Caves

viii Illustrations

Businessmen at Copperhole
Two caricatures: Mrs.Prinz, Luis Siegert.
after page 160

Karl Georg Boos
Carl Boos & his wife Vicenta, n6e Rostant
Olga Mavrogordato, n6e Boos
Boos home at Cipriani Boulevard after page 176

Presentation of Medal of Merit to Robert Boos
A penny-sized island, Huevos
Mountain, beach and sea
J.N. Harriman & Co., 61 Marine Square, 1896
J.N.Harriman & Co., 61 Marine Square, 1922
Sir Werner and Lady Boos afterpage 182

Father Leimann C.S.Sp.
Leonard Graf and his sister
Holy Ghost Community Outing to Diego Martin
Father Graf and Family, at his Ordination
after page 204

A Rest on the Crest, Maracas Bay
"As You Like It", Fr. Grafs first production
Drama Group outing to Bellevue Bay, Gasparee
'The Lion", in his later years after page 216


This book was originally intended as an
introduction to the URICH DIARY, an extensive
document of about 200 pages written by Friedrich
Urich between 1830 and 1832, and which is per-
haps the most important non-official document for
Trinidad's history at that time. However, as the
'introduction' expanded, it became necessary to
separate it off as a complete book in its own right,
and this is what is presented here. It is hoped to
publish the diary next year.
From the point of view of social history, the
German element was fully integrated into Trin-
idadian society by the start of the Second World
War, and so with a few exceptions, family histo-
ries are carried up to 1939 only. This book, how-
ever, is NOT meant to provide a comprehensive
list of Germans who lived or settled in Trinidad. I
apologize in advance to those who are disappointed
at not finding the name of their family included
here. In general, a fuller treatment is given to
those families which emigrated to the island be-
fore 1875 or which were not involved in business,
since businessmen, however admirable and
hardworking, are not frightfully interesting to the
average reader.
I wish to thank very sincerely the many
families who entrusted their precious records to
me, and for all the help and encouragement they
gave. I am grateful to those at the Public Library
and National Archives, the Archbishop's Archives,

x Introduction

the Archives of the Anglican Church and Trinity
Cathedral, who rendered assistance. Detailed
acknowledgements are made in the notes at the
end of the book. I thank particularly Mr Rene
Bermudez who allowed me to reproduce photo-
graphs of the Siegert Family in his possession.
Special thanks are also due to Aquarela Galleries
and Mr Gerald G. Watterson for permission to re-
produce paintings and sketches.
Messrs. Ian Jardine and Adrian Camps
Campins have contributed in no small measure to
the making of this book into a well-rounded pro-
duction, by their sourcing of material, many valu-
able suggestions, and their reading of the manu-
script. I am deeply appreciative of their kindness.
The book was typed by the author, and
composite by Fr. Ronald Mendes C.S.Sp. who
also designed the layout. The cover design was
chosen by the author to indicate that this book is
a companion volume to "Sylvester Devenish and
the Irish in 19th Century Trinidad" and perhaps
to other books yet to come. The art work was
done by Maurice Chang. The negatives for the
photographs were provided by Scrip-J and print-
ing was carried out by the Litho Press. Many
thanks to all those involved in the technical pro-
I trust that the reader will enjoy the pe-
rusal of this book as much as I have enjoyed the
preparation of it.


1. The German Community 1

2. The Urich Family 65

3. The Stollmeyer Family 92

4. The House of Siegert 136

5. The Boos Family 164

6. Leonard Joseph Graf 194

Notes and References 223

Index of Proper Names 230

Illustrations 232

Chapter 1

Whc Okrman Fommunifi

It is a matter ofperfect indifference where a man
originated, the only question is: 'Ts he true, in
and for himself"
George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

An attempt was once made to turn Trinidad
into a German colony. The Great Elector of
Brandenburg (Prussia), Friedrich Wilhelm, was
determined to make his principality into a great
power within the Holy Roman Empire (the fore-
runner of the Confederation of German States) and
he began by seeking to establish naval superior-
ity over the neighboring states, based initially
on a strong commercial fleet. In 1680 he sent a
squadron of five ships to the Caribbean in search
of prizes. They had little luck in capturing any
merchant vessels and had to dispose of their few
captures at Jamaica or at the French West Indies.
Then, about the same time, a fort was built on the
Gold Coast for the Brandenburg-African Company
to begin slave trading with the West Indies.
Friedrich Wilhelm entered into alliance with King
Louis XIV of France and with his permission
sought to establish a trading post in Tobago, but
the States General of France successfully protested
that the island was their property. Friedrich then
tried to persuade Spain to cede Trinidad to him in


payment of an outstanding debt to Prussia, but
his offer was haughtily refused by the Spanish,
and so Trinidad did not then come under German
Yet a little more than a century later, in
1797, the Germans came to Trinidad as conquer-
ors. On February 18th when the British General,
Sir Ralph Abercromby, landed in Trinidad with
eight thousand men and took the country from the
Spanish Governor Chacon with the loss of only one
man, it was the Germans who led the attack on
the Laventille hills, and of the nine Regiments or
Detachments in Abercromby's force, the German
contingent was by far the largest. Hompesch's
Regiment was composed of 25 officers, 7 staff, 40
Non Commissioned Officers, 16 drummers and 773
men in other ranks. Lowenstein's Regiment had
13 officers, 6 staff, thirteen N.C.O's, 6 drummers
and 276 from other ranks, and like Hompesch's
regiment had been privately recruited, the mer-
cenaries coming in the case of Brigadier-General
Hompesch's regiment probably from Hanover. (In
1714 the Elector of Hanover, George Louis,
through his mother had ascended to the throne of
England as George I, and subsequent kings of
England were also rulers of Hanover, until in 1837
with the death of King William, Victoria, his niece,
succeeded to the throne of England, while in
Hanover, because a woman could not by law sit
on the throne, William's nephew Ernest became
ruler there). Some of the Hompesch Fusiliers, we
can take it, were recruited also from the princi-
palities of Nassau and Brunswick or Hesse, not

0 5O 100 o50 200o 250
Prussia IE f-Nabsburg
M Prussa MT ,npill
German Confederation
(D Iecklenburg-S'trelitz -.
Brunswick f
@ .nhalt
@ Nassau
N S -esse-

farits LUXEMeU 4


The German Confederation in 1815


too distant from Hanover and where there was a
strong military tradition. A number of
Lowenstein's men were French Royalists.
General Picton, who was left in command
in Trinidad by Abercromby, had soon to restrict
the sale of liquor and to confine the Germans of
the Hompesch Fusiliers to the barracks in Port of
Spain, because there was such a lively spirit of
insubordination in that regiment. But the soldiers
were not prepared to die in the Port of Spain bar-
racks of "slow fevers, agues and fluxes" which af-
fected nearly half of the garrison, and not a few
Germans deserted, some apparently finding their
way to neighboring Venezuela. Picton offered re-
wards for the apprehension of missing men, alive
or dead, and this seems to have had some effect.
The General however could not have been
too dissatisfied with his German soldiers, for he
suggested to the British Government that German
soldiers who had finished their term of service be
given land in Trinidad and encouraged to settle
there. The British Parliament were keen on de-
veloping a European peasantry in Trinidad in or-
der to cut down on the slave trade, and so approved
of Picton's plan. In 1802 there were in Trinidad
over one hundred Germans from the 5th Battal-
ion of the 60th Regiment (Hompesch and
Lowenstein's regiments) who had applied for land.
How many actually settled and survived in
Trinidad is anybody's guess probably very few -
and they seem to have left no recognizable descen-
dants behind them.
There was one officer, presumably from

The German Community

Lowenstein's Regiment, who remained on in
Trinidad and acquired land in the Maracas dis-
trict, namely Baron de Boehmler. De Boehmler
was from Alsace, (a province near the river Rhine
and which at various times shifted from French
to German control) and probably a Catholic. Like
many a French member of the noblesse d'epee, he
had been forced to flee for his life from the Revo-
lutionaries. His sword was passed down to the
eldest son, from generation unto generation. In
1832, Urich, one of his fellow Germans, referred
to him as "a German a poor man, though rich in
pride". The de Boehmlers married into the French
creoles but showed an unusual aptitude for tech-
nical work and an exceptionally early willingness
(for a French creole) to work in the British civil
service, beginning in the 1820's, one was a road
construction engineer, in 1914 Frank de Boehmler
held the post of District Officer, Public Works for
Princes Town, and his father before him occupied
a similar post at Couva.
In 1802 Trinidad was ceded officially by
Spain to England, and apparently at this stage
German traders began to settle in the island. In
1808 a German apothecary of Frederick Street,
Dr. Schaw, became notorious. He is reputed to
have entered an outhouse with a lighted candle
and accidentally set fire to some wood shavings
and straw. The flames spread rapidly to a
neigbouring store of nitrates and essential oils and
in the resulting conflagration 9 blocks of the town
of Port of Spain and all the public buildings were
burnt. (It was too a policeman of German extract,


Goring, whose carelessness led to the burning
down of Police Headquarters in the 1880's!) Ac-
cording to the population census of 1810, out of a
white adult population of 1,890,25 were German-
born, presumably some being merchants. A hum-
ber of them, like Schuler, Dieffenthaller and
Faltini had perforce to marry Catholics if they
wished to marry a white person, for the few Prot-
estant Englishwomen favoured their own country-
men, since the Germans (justifiably or not) had a
reputation for beating their wives.
If Leveingstein was his real name, and if
he was a German, he was certainly no credit to
his country. He appeared in Trinidad in early 1822
and visited the Temple of the Lodge United Broth-
ers (Les Fr~res Unis) at Piccadily Street, with let-
ters of recommendation from Masons and Lodges
in the north Caribbean islands. He claimed he
was a lancer from Napoleon's "Old Guard" and had
fought in Russia in the snows of that terrible win-
ter and against the British in the Emperor's last
stand at Waterloo. He had then fled to Cuba,
where he fell into the toils of the Spanish Inquisi-
tion and suffered greatly. With incredible inge-
nuity he managed to escape, and had been helped
by the masons in Barbados, St Vincent and
Martinique. He had, however, embroidered his
story too much, for a few of the Roman Catholics
in Lodge United Brothers knew that there had
been no tribunal of the Inquisition in Cuba for
more than forty years. Further investigation re-
vealed that Leveingstein had swindled the Ma-
sons in the other islands. He was immediately

The German Community

expelled from the Trinidad Lodge (and the home
of the mason with whom he had been staying) and
letters were sent to all the Lodges in the Carib-
bean warning them about this confidence trick-
By the mid- 1820's there was an increase in
the number of German merchants operating in the
island, out of the capital, Port of Spain, the
Gerolds (who soon brought out their relatives
Urich, Wuppermann and later Feez and Zurcher),
the Bocks, the Mullers. Meyer, Schack,
Schumann, Schulz, Fraenzl, and Schuler the cem-
etery keeper, also formed part of a small German
group in the town but almost all have left no de-
scendants bearing their name in Trinidad. There
were, moreover, a number of technicians from
Germany who were brought out by these mer-
chants, a shoemaker, a gunner, a fac totum, as well
as young clerks or overseers, who in those days of
rigidly stratified society had a much lower social
status, and their names have not come down to
us, for most probably returned to Germany (as
indeed many of the merchants seem to have done.)
There were at one time or another a few Germans
in the employ of or associated with, the Govern-
ment, namely Von Weiler, Faltini (from Wurzburg,
and in Trinidad from 1803, as a road engineer),
Eckstein (born in England of a German father, a
graduate of Rostock University and official trans-
lator in the Trinidad Courts) and possibly others.
According to the Port of Spain Gazette of the 28th
February 1827, there were at that time 34 Ger-
man persons in Trinidad, 25 men, five women and


4 children. Interestingly enough, in the following
year when the island's population was 48,994, the
white population was 4,326, so that roughly ev-
ery one person in twelve was white and every hun-
dredth white was German, but their financial im-
portance was far more than their numbers indi-
Speaking German among themselves but
also French (since this was the most widely spo-
ken language in early nineteenth century
Trinidad) and some English, for many years the
Germans remained as a loose community in the
island, middle class, well educated, Protestant,
mainly city merchants and generally apolitical.
For the first generation it was usual to return to
Germany to get married, but after that the sec-
ond generation married English creoles (who like
them were Protestants) or wed Catholics, the Irish
or Corsican creoles rather than the French creoles.
It was only towards the end of the nine-
teenth century that the German creoles became
fully integrated into the French creole society.
Indeed, the first (and by far the earliest, 1863) to
marry into one of the prominent French creole
families was Adolpho Wuppermann, who was
Catholic (his mother being Zoyla Gomez from An-
gostura). And even he complained that: "Our good
and beloved brother-in-law, Phillipe O'Connor died
on the 28th November 1872... At his funeral I was
refused 'crepe'(the black arm-band worn by close
members of the deceased family) by his brothers."
In a few cases, one member of the family might
marry a German or German creole and another a

The German Community

French creole, resulting in great cultural differ-
ences between the cousins, as aptly described by
a liberal Lutheran cousin from Germany visiting
his relatives, shortly after the First World War.

I liked my Catholic cousins a lot better than the
Protestant ones, they were like sisters to me and
affectionate ones, none of that stiff calvinistic
style, which took a kiss to be a mortal sin. Maybe
if they enjoyed a kiss too much they just confessed
it, did penance and that was it; while the protes-
tant ones had to fret about such like matters for
endless times, poor dears.

For the Germans, business was business.
The French creoles, on the other hand, consid-
ered it was a mortal sin for one French creole to
foreclose a mortgage on another though of course
there were sinners! As the Germans married into
the French creole society there was an interaction
of attitudes but eventually the German viewpoint
won out. Here is a business letter written in reply
to Joseph Gioannetti, (the legal agent for Mrs.
Adolpho Wuppermann, nee Ganteaume), who was
dunning for a debt.

Arima 25th March 1907.
Dear Mr Gioannetti,
I got your letter and think that I shall
be able to pay back to Mrs Wuppermann the four
hundred dollars due her.
I have not been able to pay any interest as I
was very hard up. I have not made forty bags of
cocoa this year I expect to do better in April-


May & June. Anyhow I will pay you the interest
due early in April as soon as I shall have sold
my first lot of cocoa.
We are fairly well. Presseni still continues
to suffer from her old complaint. Kind regards.
Yours Sincerely,
Louis Seheult.

Sir Ralph Woodford, who was Governor of
Trinidad from 1813 till 1828, was very favourable
to the so-called "Aliens", the Spanish, French and
German settlers. When he was laying out Marine
Square (Independence Square) and Brunswick
Square (Woodford Square) he had them planted
with flowering trees specially selected by the emi-
nent German Botanist, Baron Schack, who hap-
pened to be resident in the island at the time. But
with Woodford's death in 1828 official attitudes
changed. The question arose of introducing Brit-
ish law, and a new Constitution, promulgated in
December 1831, led to the exclusion of all"Alien's"
(foreign born citizens) from the Council of Govern-
ment. The Aliens were deeply disturbed and sent
a Petition to the King of England pointing out that:

As your Majesty's petitioners have spent the best
part of their lives so they are desirous to con-
tinue for the remainder of their days under the
Flag which has protected them so long.... (they)
respectfully pray ... to have such measures rec-
ommended as will permanently secure the ad-
mission of Your Petitioners into the great Fam-
ily of Your Majesty's British born subjects.

Because of this political uncertainty, and

The German Community

much more because of the severe economic down-
turn consequent on the coming emancipation of
the slaves, the year 1832 probably saw the Ger-
man commercial presence in Trinidad at its height,
and it declined for many years thereafter.
Some German names which appeared on
the petition above, were as follows: Juan Descovich
(an Austrian), Charles Schulz, Phillip Wehekind,
A. Gerold, AWupperman. The list of Assessors
for Criminal Prosecutions for Port of Spain in 1832,
(reputable citizens of a certain standing) yields
other names: John Fanovich (Henry Street),
Antoin Dieffenthall(er) (Queen Street), Peter Witz
(Duke Street). It is perhaps a useful and interest-
ing exercise to examine the history of some of these
early German settlers, and especially those who
have descendants in present-day Trinidad.
The Gerolds who first came to Trinidad,
Christian and Anselm, were the most unroman-
tic, skinflint businessmen one could meet and yet
their coming to Trinidad had about it an air of
magical coincidence. Things fell out in this fash-
ion. The winter of 1812, was one of the coldest of
winters and on one particularly bleak Sunday af-
ternoon, as a coach with one passenger was trav-
elling through the village of Eschau in the district
of Hesse in Germany, it capsized and the passen-
gerwas thrown out and broke her collar-bone. This
unfortunate Madame Hugon was at first taken to
an inn and then through the kindness of the Al-
derman of the town, Christian Gottfried Gerold,
was brought to his own home to be cared for.
Madame Hugon spent three months in the warm,


hospitable bosom of the Gerold family, sharing
their joys and sorrows and fascinating them by
stories of life in Trinidad, where she ran a general
store with her husband. Europe was then in the
grip of the Napoleonic wars and the Gerolds had
just lost their eldest son fighting in Russia. Soon,
the other Gerold boys might be conscripted and
sucked into the conflict. When the time came to
leave, Madame Hugon in an emotional burst of
gratitude begged the Gerold couple, "Let me take
your sons Christian and Anselm to the West Indies
with me and save them from the chaos reigning in
Europe at present. We have no children as you
know. Let them be like sons to us and when we
retire in the not too distant future, they can take
over the flourishing business." Shortly after her
departure, Christian Gerold, followed a few years
later by his brother, Anselm, sailed for Trinidad.
After Christian had worked eight years in
the business, he demanded to be made a partner
in the firm. Eventually, in 1828 Hugon sold out
completely to the Gerolds and returned to France.
The business that the Gerolds controlled in 1829
was considerable. They lived in the large general
store situated at the western corner of South Quay
and Chacon Street. In fact, the front of the store
did at that time actually open out on a quay and
the sea, and a small rowboat was kept in the yard.
The Gerolds also owned three sugar estates in the
Naparimas Reform, Mon Chagrin and Matilda
(to the north and east of San Fernando) all ac-
quired through the failure of their debtors. For a
similar reason they had an interest in a small
estate in Carenage. They also owned Copperhole

The German Community

at Monos and were involved in the trade in whale
oil. They brought out their close relatives to help
in the business (see family tree on page 71). Both
brothers returned to Germany to get married and
then came back to their adopted home, Trinidad.
In spite of various vicissitudes (notably bank-
ruptcy in 1918) the Gerolds continued in business
in Port of Spain. Edward Heinrich Gerold, grand-
son of Anselm, died in 1960, and his descendants
are still alive in Trinidad today.
In 1830 the Gerolds invited their two neph-
ews, Friedrich and Wilhelm Urich, to come out to
Trinidad. The history of the Urich family in
Trinidad is given in a later chapter.
Adolf Christian Wuppermann was the son
of Christian Gerold's sister, Wilhelmina, and
George Friedrich Wuppermann. As early as 1450,
the Wuppermanns lived in Barmen, on the banks
of the Wupper, (hence their family name) an east
bank tributary of the Rhine. In 1503 Johann
Wuppermann owned the 'Wupperhofes' (mansion
or court at the Wupper). By 1700 the
Wuppermanns were merchants in Barmen and
among the first in the manufacture of silk cloth,
which began about 1750. They lived some 80 miles
from the Gerolds' home town and presumably had
business associations with them. Adolf came out
to Trinidad to work with the Gerolds in 1832. In
1834 he opened a business in Venezuela and mar-
ried Zoyla Gomez at Angostura, where eight of his
ten children were born all to be brought up as
Catholics. The three boys who survived to adult-
hood were George (who married Josephine Hancox
and settled in New York, his son Francis becom-


ing a famous film star under the name Frank Mor-
gan); Eduard who wed Anna Sturm and lived with
his three daughters in Germany; and Adolpho.
In 1850 Adolpho, then age ten, sailed from
Angostura to Bremen. For the next six years he
lived with his uncle Anselm in Frankfurt and at-
tended classes at the Institute of Scheib and
Geisor. He was then apprenticed to the House of
Kettenheimer and finally spent 1860 with Rabone
Bros. and Co. in Birmingham, England. In 1855
his paternal grandmother had given him a book
embossed in gold, "Tagebuch von A Wuppermann"
for him to keep a diary. She wrote (in German):

Dear Adolpho,
Even though you are still at the happy age when
events of life don't crowd and jostle each other
and don't seem so serious and important, it would
be nice and useful to write down on these pages
what happens to you, and ponder about it. It is
not the numerous and extraordinary events of
life that shape our character and give meaning
to and enrich our impressions and knowledge but
how we experience them... On this journey of
life take with you my blessing and be assured of
my fondest love.
Your Grandmother.

In 1861 Adolpho came out from Germany
to Trinidad to join the firm of Urich and Feez.
Then, as he wrote in his diary: "on the 1 1th Sep-
tember 1862 I engaged myself to Miss Marie
Ganteaume de Monteau," and "was married to
Marie, 8th August 1863". Only five of their chil-
dren survived to adulthood. Jerome, the elder son,

The German Community

emigrated to Cuba. Georgiana, born in 1881, never
married and was for long years the President of
the Catholic Organization "Les Amantes de Jesus".
When Adolpho, a merchant all his life, died aged
47, his younger son Rudolph was only four years
old. He entered St Mary's College at age eleven
and with considerable guidance from his friend
Canon Doorly (of Queen's Royal College!) won an
island scholarship in 1902. He studied medicine
at Edinburgh University (with financial help from
his uncle George in New York). Of his University
days, he wrote: "We worked hard during lessons
but had some wonderful holidays cycling (on push
bikes) in the Scottish Highlands, the English Lake
District, Holland, Belgium and the Rhine district
of Germany." He spent time with his uncle Eduard
in Germany but did not like the country. He
claimed that the only two German words he
learned were Verboten (forbidden) and the word
for 'a trip on a ship', Dampfschiffahrt. Having
qualified, he returned to the Government service
in Trinidad in 1909. He married Anne Marie
Pantin, their children being Peter (who married
Gemma Maingot and settled with their family in
Florida), Marie Anne (Mrs Harold Mahon), Jean
(Mrs Sydney Knox), Angela, and Rosemary (Mrs
Joseph Herrera).
Of the Wuppermann's relatives (by mar-
riage), Edward Feez, who had become a partner
in the firm of Gerold and Urich, married a Massy,
and spent money lavishly in various investments
and in travelling to Europe. When the firm failed
on the 21st May 1872, Feez found employment as


chef de bureau at Messrs Agostini, Smythe & Co.
But by 1881 he was at death's door in his little
home in St Anns, and his wife ran a book shop to
try to earn some money. He died without male
issue. Fritz Prahl of Lubeck had married Antonia
Wuppermann, Adolpho's sister, in 1874 and set
up business in Ciudad Bolivar. In 1880 he went
into partnership with Adolpho Wuppermann in
Trinidad, but this was dissolved a few years later
and apparently the Prahls returned to Germany.
The Zurcher family originated in Switzer-
land, the name originally being Zuricher signify-
ing a person from Zurich. They left Switzerland
and settled in Illzach, a village near Mulhouse,
which was at the time a free town allied to Swit-
zerland. At the beginning of the nineteenth cen-
tury, the family owned a factory for the printing
of cotton goods at Cernay, a town near Mulhouse.
One of the sisters of Anselmn Gerold married Ed-
ward Feez whose sister had married Emile
Zurcher of Mulhouse and it was their two sons,
Emile and Fritz Zurcher, who came out to Trinidad
in the 1850's to join Gerold and Company. Soon
the Zurchers founded their own Company trading
with Venezuela and Fritz Zurcher became part
owner of the coconut plantation at Manzanilla
known as the Cocal. Emile married a Dick (in
1858) and Fritz a Cumming (in 1860), both mar-
riages being celebrated at the Anglican Trinity
Church (now Cathedral), in Port of Spain. Emile
had nine children but all died without male issue,
except his son Emmanuel, whose son Emile was
the last male member of the family in Trinidad.

The German Community

Emile was one of the pioneers of petroleum pro-
duction in Trinidad. He founded a company with
a small refinery and produced his own gasoline
under the name of "Silver Ray", but after a bitter
price war, the multinational companies forced him
out of business. Meanwhile Emile's first cousins
(the children of Fritz) had emigrated to England,
so with the death of Emile in 1958, the name of
Zurcher vanished from the island and is only
known to today's generation of Trinidadians be-
cause of a street in the town of San Fernando
named in honour of his father Emmanuel Zurcher,
who had been the Town Clerk of the southern me-
tropolis. The following account in which Emile
Zurcher is mentioned is self-explanatory.

Criminal Sessions Tuesday 10th June 1856.
The Queen Vs J.P.Richardson, F.Kirk and Pancho
Cuteris, charged with having on the 8th day of
March last, stolen one heifer the property of Sal-
vador Riza. Paul Latour he is the keeper of the
Queen's Park (Savannah), and as such, had in
his custody, in the month of March last, a heifer
marked with a brand J. He missed the heifer
during that month and made enquiries about it.
He went to the slaughtering establishment of
Messrs Gerold and Urich in Corbeaux Town
(Woodbrook) and saw Mr Zurcher there. Some
hides were shown to him and he identified one of
them as being the hide of the missing heifer.
John Richardson and John Kirk, guilty, 2 years
imprisonment with hard labour.

The Von Weilers originated from the bor-
ders of Switzerland and Germany, (the prefix Von


indicating noble descent). They held Government
posts throughout the nineteenth century, for ex-
ample, inspector of schools. The only Von Weiler
alive in Trinidad today is Eugenie Marie (mother
Maude Scott, paternal grandmother Ana Girod).
But though the Von Weiler name is forgotten in
Trinidad, the German genes remain in Mrs
Eugenie Marie McCarthy's 23 grandchildren and
40 great-grandchildren.
The Wehekinds were from Alsace. From
1667-1825 they were centered on the town of
Reguisheim. They were Catholics and when faced
with the 'aristocratic' French creoles in Trinidad,
apparently resurrected the legend (which they
themselves only half-believed) that they were de-
scended from the famous 8th century Saxon Chief,
Wittekind. Phillipe, the first in Trinidad, (judg-
ing from the contents of letters he received from
Europe at that time), seems to have come out on a
visit concerned with legal or financial matters; but
he was enchanted by the island and remained on
as a music teacher. He was very much part of the
German group but unlike most of them, held that
there was no "German nation" but only a "Ger-
man people". He married Adele Leotaud in 1829,
and became a businessman. Five of their daugh-
ters and three sons survived to adulthood. Eugene
married an English lady with a French name, Dora
Mathieu, had one son Edouard, who remained
single, and four daughters who married into the
Ache and de Labastide families. Johnny, a con-
firmed bachelor and expert fisherman, held a lease
on Huevos island. The youngest son, Vincent Leon

The German Community

Wehekind, born in 1856 in Port of Spain and edu-
cated at the newly founded St. Mary's College,
became a solicitor and vice-president of the
Trinidad Law Society. He married Matilde
O'Connor but died at the early age of fifty-one,
leaving three daughters, who married into the
Leotaud and Agostini families, and one son
Ludolph (1895-1964). Ludolph worked for the
asphalt Company in Venezuela and for more than
20 years as hydrologist with the Trinidad Govern-
ment. He had no formal training as a naturalist
but was a born scientist. He was commissioned to
make a collection offish for the Academy of Natu-
ral Science in Philadelphia and in the process dis-
covered a new species of fish, named after him
Thalassophrynae wehekindi. He assisted
Friedrich Urich with his work on vampire bats and
was an expert in herpetology (the study of snakes).
He joined the Field Naturalist's Club in 1931 and
was later its President over a period of ten years.
Like his father, he was quite a talented artist. The
Wehekinds, unlike most of the other German fami-
lies, were Catholics and immediately integrated
with French creole society. They preferred not to
be known as Germans.
Fanovich, (or Fanovitch) as we have seen,
was an assessor in 1832, and probably like
Descovich, of Slavic descent from the Austrian
Empire, and possibly associated with him in busi-
ness. They were Catholics. Around 1870 Andriette
Fanovich married Albert Ganteaume. Her brother
Luis was the Station Master at St. Joseph. On
the 28th January 1885, on the Trinidad Govern-


meant Railway, there was an unfortunate railway
accident near Champs Fleurs, a passenger and
luggage train colliding. Two people were killed
and several hurt. An attempt was made to make
a scapegoat of Fanovich. He was prosecuted for
manslaughter but the case was dismissed. His
descendants still live in Trinidad.
Shortly after the emancipation of the slaves
in 1834, the British Government made a grant of
25,000 to the Church of England for building
school houses in the West Indies. The Church
Missionary Society (CMS) shared in this grant.
Under CMS auspices and on land given by the
Government, the Reverend Mulhauser (and the
Rev. Eckel) set up schools in San Fernando and
Savanna Grande. By 1842 there were three Ger-
man clergy working in Trinidad, one at Savanna
Grande, one in the outskirts of San Fernando, near
Oropouche and one as assistant curate in Port of
Spain. The Germans were reportedly men of in-
defatigable zeal, preaching assiduously, but un-
fortunately in the case of one of them even the most
attentive congregation had extreme difficulty in
understanding what he said, because of his thick
German accent. It was largely through the efforts
of the Rev. John G.Mulhauser that the first An-
glican Church was erected in San Fernando and
named St Paul's.
Mulhauser was energetic but had his full
share of German inflexibility and was willing to
fight not only against the Roman Catholics but
also against the Baptists and the Government. In
1836 he wrote to his superiors in London: "I would

De Boehmler Sword. Handle and upper blade.
The sword, (27.5 inches in length) is a light military sword of the type used by a subordinate
commissioned officer, for fighting and signalling the troops. It is of a continental design with
a stag-horn handle and typical of the late eighteenth century. The rose emblem is probably
purely decorative.

. .\I .. .
~ -

The Wuppermann property at Barmen. 1826.

Rudy Wuppermann sent this old family sketch to his mother
from the S.S.Maraval on 28th July 1903. On the back of it he

When Time that steals our years away
Shall steal our pleasures too
The memory of the past will stay
And half our joys review.

Then talk no more of future gloom
Our joys shall always last
For Hope shall brighten days to come
And memory gild the past

! :' ." '*' .

Rudy Wuppermann and friends at Edinburgh University (1904)
Rudy back row, right; others in picture are Armand Pampellone,
Venancio Maralejo, Henry Fratz, Frank Greaves, Gordon Deane,
Andrew Krogh, Paul Guiseppi.

Being at University together helped to break down social barriers
on return to Trinidad.

v I ". 1 11

The Zurcher home, "Blarney", just outside Port of Spain.
A substantial, well-designed home, situated on 20 acres of land in the present Ellerslie Park,
it was later acquired by the Rapseys and renamed "Ellerslie".

View ofMt. Tucuche from Sampadrura Estate. Maracas. (1900)
The family estate, painted by L6on Wehekind, a pupil of Cazabon.

Easter Card from Venezuela by Ludolf Wehekind

The German Community

have no objection whatever to omit our Catechism
(from school) but if they (the Government) will
forbid to teach it by a must .... I do oppose such
an intrusion and insolence". Fortunately, he be-
came less intolerant as time passed. The newspa-
pers recorded that, on the 16th of February 1840,
he gave "a discourse in German at Holy Trinity
Church for the benefit of the fifty odd Germans in
the Congregation" for indeed there had been a
sudden influx of Germans into Trinidad.
With the end of the apprenticeship system
in 1838, there resulted a great shortage of estate
labour in Trinidad. Various plans were suggested
for bringing in immigrants, including immigrants
from Germany. The unrest in Germany conse-
quent on the revolts in some states of the German
Confederation in 1830 and the following years, and
the great increase in population, as well as the
consolidation of the great estates in Prussia which
made many peasants landless, created a lower
class susceptible to belief in promises of a new and
rosy future open to them in the West Indies.
Speculators willing to trade in human life found
ready cooperators in estate owners desperate for
cheap labour.
According to Carlton Ottley, "the immi-
grants were crowded into the holds of the sailing
ships under conditions not entirely dissimilar to
those experienced by the slaves in the Middle Pas-
sage," less than two score years before. The cap-
tains were concerned only with getting their hu-
man cargoes to Trinidad alive, so that they might
receive in return the passage money for those who


could find employment. Advertisements were
placed in the press:

Port of Spain Gazette, 3rd June 1839.
262 immigrants from Havre, France, in "la Jeune
France" Captain La Porte in forty-two days.
They are wishful of gaining employment as do-
mestics, mechanics, or otherwise, either on the
estates or in town. For further particulars apply
to Captain la Porte at the Counting House of
McAllister & Co. of King Street.

During the last three months of 1839, three
French ships arrived from Le Havre with 676
French and German immigrants, in response to
glowing advertisements about Trinidad posted up
in that port. The passengers would sign a con-
tract to work for an employer for three years, on
condition that he would refund the cost of passage
to the shipper e.g $55 and then reimburse him-
self by withholding from the labourer his wages
for two months each year. Most of the Germans
(some of whom were sidetracked from New York
and Philadelphia) were placed on the estates.
They were considered to be "without distinction
or education" and lived in the old slave huts. The
newspapers reported of these European immi-
grants (mainly French and German): "The mor-
tality among them occasioned by the fever and
other tropical diseases to which they are afflicted
is very high". From June 1839-June 1840, the
Public Hospital, newly founded by the Town Coun-
cil of Port of Spain, had been occupied by 615 pa-
tients of whom 427 were Europeans. Many of the

The German Community

immigrants took to drink or became vagrants.
Still the ships kept coming, because the
captains felt they could make large sums of money
by the planters paying for the passage, and this
indeed some of the cocoa planters were willing to
do. In the 1840's there were in Trinidad 681 co-
coa estates producing 3 million pounds of cocoa
annually, but they paid lower wages than on the
sugar estates. The estate owners hoped that Eu-
ropean labourers might survive in cocoa cultiva-
tion, if not on the sugar estates. But the Gover-
nor was against the Europeans working on the
cane estates. He wrote to the Secretary of State
for the Colonies in 1839: "It is upsetting (whether
to him personally or to the general population is
not stated) to have Europeans and Negroes work-
ing in the cane fields together".
On the 21st March 1840 the sloop Eliza-
beth arrived in Port of Spain with one hundred
and forty Swiss and Germans. On the 15th May
another ship arrived from Le Havre with 190
French and Germans. The Governor, Sir Henry
MacLeod, panicked. On the 29th May 1840 he
wrote urgently to the Secretary of State for the

My Lord,
It is my duty to request You Lordship's attention
to the condition of the European immigrants who
have arrived in this island in considerable num-
bers during the last six months...
I regret extremely to acquaint Your Lordship that
nearly the worst apprehensions that could have
been entertained for these people have


I have ascertained that in the short space of four
months there has been a mortality of upwards of
10% very many more cases have occurred which
we have not means at hand of ascertaining.., lead
me to fear still greater mortality. But it is not
loss of life alone which has made this immigra-
tion peculiarly distressing.
The principal demand for their labour lies in the
field. The employment is new to them, and their
constitutions are unsuited to exposure to a tropi-
cal sun sickness ensues the estates of this Is-
land are yet without those conveniences and com-
forts which a European looks for when in bad
health.... many of these people, the Germans and
the Prussians, being unable to speak the language
of the country, are, when overtaken with illness,
in a very forlorn and helpless condition.
Instances have occurred, but I am glad to say
they have been rare, in which the master has not
only declined to maintain his servant when over-
taken with sickness and unable to work, but has
cast him loose on society in a state of suffering
and perfect helplessness. On the other hand, as
would be expected, these immigrants are not al-
ways of good description... This latter portion of
these people has afforded some instances of va-
grancy, and many people have become a serious
burden to the community in town, either in the
shape of beggars or as suffering from disease.
Your Lordship may judge how shocked I was by
the arrival here on the 15th inst, of another ship,
the Louise from Havre, having on board 190 Ger-
man and French people...
I have directed that none of them should be al-
lowed to establish themselves here until they
should first find surety, that for twelve months
to come, they should not become destitute, or be-

The German Community

come chargeable to the Public...
But to put a stop to this traffic in human life, I
request Your Lordship's assistance. In the case
of the Louise, I have protested against the exac-
tion of the passage of each immigrant of more than
twelve dollars ... this may go some way towards
checking further speculation of the kind...
I entreat Your Lordship will be good enough to
take the necessary measures for calling on the
French Government not to permit any vessels to
clear from their ports with emigrants to Trinidad
at least in ignorance of the disadvantages and
other evils with which they will have to contend
I would respectfully suggest that a like commu-
nication be made to H.M.Minister to the Germanic

Because of the Governor's action and be-
cause the planters quickly realized that the Euro-
peans could not make suitable field labourers,
whether on sugar or cocoa estates, this unfortu-
nate immigration soon stopped but not before it
had led to enormous human suffering. To give but
one instance, the case of Adam Ston, a German
fifty-eight years old, who disembarked in Port of
Spain in 1840, accompanied by his wife Phillipina
51, his daughters, Phillipina 25 and Elizabeth 24,
his son Adam and his two grandchildren Nonne 2
and Madeleine 6 months. Because of his age, Ston
could find no employment. He was unable to pay
for the passages. Accordingly he was taken to court
and convicted, and lodged in the debtor's prison in
the Royal Gaol despite his fervent plea to be al-
lowed to pay the passage money in installments.


For want of some place to reside, his wife and fam-
ily were forced to live on the sidewalks ofthe town,
and during the day had to solicit alms for their
sustenance. Nothing further is known of the Ger-
mans who immigrated at this time. Most of them
probably died within a short while or emigrated
elsewhere, though as late as the Christmas sea-
son of 1842 there was an appeal for money to help
a starving and sick German family.
After this tragic but short-lived episode in
Trinidad's history, for some score of years there
were few German immigrants to Trinidad, though
one notable individual did arrive in 1845, Conrad
Stollmeyer, and to him is devoted a later chapter.
The only other immigrant family before
1860 and the improvement in the Trinidad
economy seems to have been the Borbergs. From
at least 1350 the Borbergs had dwelt in
Westphalia. Dr. Karl Borberg was a University
professor and author of some 30 books, the most
famous being Das Leben Jesu (the Life of Jesus),
in which he denied the divinity of Christ. He com-
mitted suicide in 1850, and his wife died shortly
afterwards. Three of his sons, Adolph (b. 1837),
Otto (b. 1839) and Emile (b.1843) were sent to
Trinidad to join their uncle Reithard who had
settled there some time earlier. Emile married
Carolina Siegert; Otto never married, while
Adolph wed Angela Hernandez and they had four
children. The daughter Enriquetta married Jo-
seph Llanos, and her brother Martin, by his first
wife, had two children Emilio and Martin Adolph
(whose family later emigrated to Barbados).

The German Community

Emilio was expelled from St Mary's College at age
14. He later wrote: "In 1932 the population of
Trinidad considered expelled boys and ex-convicts
as dorgs with the same spots." After doing odd
jobs for five years, including a stint on the Huggins'
estates, he emigrated to Venezuela where he had
a successful career and happy family life.
In the 1860's a new type of German immi-
gration began, a number of German Roman Catho-
lic priests coming out to Trinidad. By far the most
numerous group belonged to the Holy Ghost Fa-
thers and these will be dealt with under the chap-
ter on Leonard Graf. Among the others a number
were diocesan priests. The first, Fr.H.Flintoff,
worked at Erin and La Brea from 1864 to 1867. A
Fr.Francis Kums at Blanchisseuse in 1870 may
also have been German. Albert Muller was Alsa-
tian born and was parish priest of Cedros from
1879 till 1888. Conditions in Cedros were primi-
tive, malaria was rampant, and what made it
worse was that Muller had only to see the sea and
he got sick. Hardly did he put his foot on the
(weekly) steamer to Port of Spain, than he kept
vomiting until he left it. He preferred to ride on
horseback the score of miles from Cedros to San
Fernando and then take the steamer from there.
On one occasion he was in a small boat rowed by
two men when the boat capsized off Erin and the
priest barely made it to the shore. He then walked
barefoot for miles along the rocky coast. At last,
seeing a woman far off he hailed her, but looking
at him and the hat of leaves he had made and with
a palm branch over his head instead of an um-


brella, she took him for a zombie and hid. Even-
tually he reached Erin. But Muller was strong as
a bull; a fellow priest wrote of him: "The good
priest has no doubts about himself. He has abso-
lute confidence in his strength, calls the torren-
tial rains beautiful weather, and fears the sea far
more than the burning sun." But not caring for
his health, after ten years, he was a broken man,
and returning to Germany with his brother, he
disappeared off the boat in mid-ocean.
Hubert Putz was born in Cologne, Ger-
many. He became a Holy Ghost Father and taught
for ten years at St Mary's College. But he hated
teaching and was delighted to replace the parish
priest of St Joseph for a year. He then returned to
Europe and was told by the Superior General of
the Holy Ghost Congregation that he was to stay
in Europe. This he refused to do, left the Congre-
gation and returned to Trinidad where he spent a
year as parish priest of Princes Town. In 1899
the Archbishop sent him to St Vincent and he was
a devoted pastor for over a dozen years. The one
complaint about him was that he held a moon-
light concert to raise funds for the church! Nearly
aged sixty, he suddenly left St Vincent and got
married before a magistrate in Barbados to a
Vincentian girl. The marriage lasted only a few
weeks and the priest realizing his folly abandoned
his unfortunate wife. He did extensive penance
and then wrote despairingly to the Archbishop:

Do, dear Archbishop, beg for me in Rome to be
reinstated ... I should be outcast forever ... but
the Saviour has promised forgiveness no matter

The German Community

how deeply fallen, and he would have saved even
Judas if he had repented. Well I think I have
repented and sincerely.

He was reinstated officially by Rome, but
could not find a Bishop to accept him. Eventually
when he had begun ministering in Puerto Rico,
his wife threatened to pursue him there; the
Bishop asked him to leave at once and he fled post
haste to New York. Once again, he could not ob-
tain a position any where, and the last we know of
him (from one of his letters) is that he was work-
ing "as a common labourer, moving goods of 300
pounds weight with lacerated hands."
Augustine Neff was from Alsace. He
worked in St Lucia and then came to Trinidad,
spending most of the 1880fs as parish priest of
Santa Cruz. During the years he spent there he
was well known for his strict accounting of funds
collected and for paying off all debts on a yearly
basis. Leonard Meister, born in Bavaria, belonged
to the Order of St Augustine. He was ordained in
1898 and came to Trinidad from Dominica. He
worked in Couva, Erin, La Brea, Mayaro and
Maraval, from 1911 to 1915. Fr. Koos, a priest of
the Dominican Order, was born of a German fa-
ther and an English mother, and served in the
parishes of Oropouche and Siparia from 1919 to
1924, ministering particularly to the East Indi-
ans. Born in Duren, Germany, in 1869, Fr.
Herman Schnitzler transferred to Trinidad from
Panama in 1928. He had a doctorate in Philoso-
phy, the most painful rheumatism and (possibly
as the result of this) a terrible temper. He died


during his fourth year as pastor of the church in
Maracas valley and is buried in Lapeyrouse Cem-
Eugene Tritscher is the last German to
have served as a parish priest in Trinidad. He
was born in Lochwiller, Alsace, in 1886 and died
in 1962 in Port of Spain. He had been previously
a missionary in Martinique, then in Margarita and
finally came to Trinidad. He was pastor in a num-
ber of parishes in Trinidad: in Chaguanas, Diego
Martin and sixteen years in La Brea, from 1926-
1941. Unlike some of the other German priests in
Trinidad, he never mastered English completely.
At his death he willed all his possessions to the
St Vincent de Paul society and the St Vincent de
Paul House in Santa Cruz is named Tritscher
House in his memory.
Dutch Benedictines are usually associated
with the Abbey of Mount St. Benedict, Tunapuna,
but in fact a number of the priests and brothers
were Germans, namely, Fathers Paul Dobbert,
Sebastian Weber, Ludger Nauer and Brothers Jo-
seph Kleinmann and Anthony Feldner, as so
listed by Archbishop Flood in his report of the year
Paul Dobbert was a monk in the monas-
tery in Bahia, Brasil, and was one of the three
foundation members of the Monastery of Our Lady
of Exile in Trinidad, sent from Brazil in 1912. He
served for a short while in the parish of Arouca,
along with Brother Anthony Feldner.
Sebastian Weber, born in 1880 and or-
dained priest on the 7th April 1907, came to

The German Community

Trinidad from Bahia in 1913. He served ina num-
ber of parishes in Trinidad: Chaguanas (1923),
Cedros (1924-25) and San Fernando (1930-1950).
A most zealous parish priest, he immediately rec-
ognized the need for a Catholic Secondary school
in San Fernando and with the help of Edgar
Mitchell and Vernon Ferrer (two past pupils of St.
Mary's College) he set up classes for thirty boys in
the basement of the presbytery, the beginning of
St. Benedict's College (now Presentation College,
San Fernando). The school's motto, eminently
suited to the site, was: Per ardua ad astra,
(Through hardship to the stars). He persuaded
the Archbishop to buy "Colony House", the south-
ern residence of the Governor in his visits to San
Fernando, for 5,000, just in time to forestall its
purchase by "a ring of High Street moguls." Fr.
Weber was one of the official exorcists of the dio-
cese and people came to him from all over Trinidad
to cast out devils from those they considered pos-
sessed. After 20 years as Parish Priest, Sebastian
Weber returned to the monastery of Mount St
Benedict where he was elected sub-Prior and
where he died on the 12th July 1954.
Ludger Nauer, the third Principal of St.
Benedict's San Fernando, came from the town of
Crefeld in the diocese of Cologne. He was born in
1894 and ordained priest on the 27th June, 1922.
Having taught for a number of years at St.
Benedict's College, during his tenure as Principal
(1934-1939), the school was affiliated to Queen's
Royal College, thereby receiving Government rec-
ognition. He started numerous extra-curricula


activities ranging from debating to boxing and
opened "St. Benedict's Home" which housed 18
boarders under the care of a matron. The school
population was then a little under 150.
Brother Joseph Kleinmann was professed
as a brother on the 12th December, 1897 and came
to Trinidad from Bahia in 1912. He laboured
manfully and faithfully at the Monastery until his
death on the 20th May 1942. He built the fine
altar in the present Chapel of Mount St. Benedict.
Like the other Germans who were Benedictines,
his essential witness was community life and
prayer rather than the works which he accom-
By 1900 most of the German creoles in
Trinidad were Catholic and a number of Religious
were the sons or daughters of German creoles. In
the Holy Ghost Congregation: Fr. Kevin Devenish,
Fr. Anthony de Verteuil; in the White Fathers, Fr.
John Boos; in the Congregation of St. Joseph of
Cluny: Sr. Marie Dieffenthaller, Sr. Ignace
Dieffenthaller, Sr. Mary Fanovich, Sr. Elizabeth
Gomez, Sr. Francis Xavier Urich; in the Domini-
can Sisters: Sr. Catherine Emmanuel Von Weiler,
(who worked for years nursing the lepers at
Finally, on the 15th July 1966 German
Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother estab-
lished the St. Elizabeth Clinic in Henry Street,
Port of Spain, and operated it until, most regret-
tably, some dozen years later their unionized staff
made such exorbitant financial demands on them
that it became impossible for them to continue the

The German Community

clinic and they decided to leave Trinidad. Cer-
tainly, from the point of view of religion, the Ger-
mans in Trinidad have made an inestimable con-
tribution which it is well to remember with grati-
As the economy of Trinidad picked up in
the 1860's, the already existing German commer-
cial Houses brought out other Germans to assist
them, notably Schoener and Boos. Ludwig
Schoener Von Stroben Hardt, from Erbach in
Hesse, went as a junior to Urich and Co. Ltd.'s
agency in Paris and then came out to Trinidad.
He wrote home to his younger brother Auguste
telling him of the life in Trinidad, outings to Blue
Basin, the need to become a good brewer and to
learn French and above all to beware of women -
"here in Trinidad there are devilishly beautiful
ones; but you must preserve your manhood". But
neither Ludwig nor his brother, who followed him
to Trinidad, were immune to the feminine spells!
In 1869 Ludwig married Julia Scott, an English
(Anglican) creole, their children being Marie,
Miriam, Julia and Ludwig Henry (born in 1874).
Of Ludwig Henry's five children only one, Eric,
married a French creole Helene Lange.
Ludwig's brother Auguste, married an
Arundel. Shortly after the birth of their son Au-
gust, on the 16th December 1885 Auguste was
chatting in his store with a fellow merchant
Schaeffer, when he was shot at point blank range
and killed by a lunatic, Benjamin Britton. Britton
was courageously brought under control by a
labourer, Isaac Wilson, but not before he had


wounded two other people. Schoener's son August
was educated in England and in the first World
War was a Captain and Company Commander of
the 8th Battalion B.W.I. Regiment. In 1914 for
political reasons, the name of their firm, Schoener
& Co." was changed to "Trinidad Import and Ex-
port Co. Ltd" and still exists today on its original
site, managed by the descendants of its original
The Franco-Prussian war of 1870 with the
complete defeat and humiliation of France, the
German acquisition of Alsace-Lorraine and the
creation of the German Empire, caused a tempo-
rary rift between the French and German creoles
in Trinidad and prevented the earlier integration
of the latter. Sylvester Devenish, the French cre-
ole poet, wrote a number of poems, set to music,
about the war, calling on France to "Trample un-
derfoot the German avalanche", "Never submit to
the Prussian Eagles"; and after the surrender of
France, demanding "Vengeance and carnage".
This ill-feeling continued on for at least a decade,
if we are to judge from the following incident (re-
corded by Abbe Masse) which occurred at the Ho-
tel de France in Port of Spain in October 1879. A
German clerk said to his neighbour at table in a
very loud voice so that the whole room could hear
"I detest the French". Immediately the reply came:
"You are an insolent man, and when you detest
the French you don't go to a Hotel called the Hotel
de France and run by French ladies. It is because
I am French that I speak this way to you." The
proprietress of the Hotel, who was in fact from


* qiamwurg

*0 CeTifn



The German Empire 1870 1918


Alsace and hated the Germans doubly because of
that, gave him an earful "which must have pierced
his Prussian breast," and ordered him to pay at
once and get out. Indeed, for many years after
1870 the Alsatians in Trinidad, like the
Wehekinds, sang a little ditty:

Vous avez pris l'Alsace et la Lorraine,
Mais notre coeur vous ne 'aurez jamais.
Vous avez pu Germaniser la plaine,
Mais malgr6 vous, nous resterons FranCais.

(You have taken Alsace and Lorraine but our
hearts you will never have. You have been able
to Germanize the plain but in spite of you we
will remain French).

The military success of Germany was
parallelled by an economic expansion under the
Chancellor Bismarck and an increasing interest
in overseas territories and trade. Kaiser William
II favoured Kolonialpolitik, the creation of colo-
nies and the expansion of trade outside Europe,
German emigration being fostered by an incred-
ible birthrate of 40 per 1000 per annum. In 1884-
1885 Germany acquired South-West Africa,
Togoland, the Cameroons, German East Africa
and some Pacific islands.
Chartered companies were formed and a
number of German concerns obtained agencies in
Trinidad. The long-established firms like Urich
and Gerold began to expand and new German mer-
chants arrived. This German commercial commu-
nity became quite a wealthy group. In the new

The German Community

housing development in the area of present-day
Tranquillity square, amidst 'streets of bright, well-
built villas', they set up the Germania Club, (which
reputedly had first occupied a rented house at
Cotton Hill) where the German merchants could
socialize and establish business contacts. A num-
ber of them availed of the new tennis courts at
Tranquillity Square or sat amid the ornamental
shrubbery there on a Friday evening to listen to
the Police Band playing from 5 to 6 p.m. When
early in 1883, H.R.H. Prince Henry of Prussia vis-
ited Trinidad as a naval cadet on the German
cruiser Olga, he was entertained by the members
of the Germania Club.
This German commercial presence contin-
ued to increase until the outbreak of World War I,
in 1914. In 1911, there were 82 German-born per-
sons in Trinidad and probably about 120 German
creoles out of a total white population of around
It was in the early 1900's too, that German
and British warships in conjunction with one an-
other frequented the West Indies in order to put
pressure on Venezuela to settle its debts with their
respective countries. Germany moreover, had de-
signs on a naval station in the West Indies or even
on a future canal through the Central American
isthmus. Almost every month or two German
cruisers or frigates called in at Trinidad or Tobago.
Sometimes the officers were feted; on other occa-
sions the ship's crew helped out in various ways;
as for instance on the 5th August 1904 the band
from the German cruiser Vineta gave a concert at


the Princes Building, Port of Spain, in aid of local
charitable institutions. As they marched or wan-
dered through Port of Spain, the discipline and
appearance of the sailors all helped to make
Trinidadians of the time conscious of German ef-
ficiency and worldwide presence.
'The West Indies' by Macmillan, published
in 1909, as also the Trinidad Reviewer of 1899, by
T.Fitz-Evan Eversley, give some details ofthe Ger-
man-owned firms then existing in Port of Spain.
Louis Scherer joined E.G.Gerold in found-
ing a hardware store on South Quay in 1880. Paul
H.Scheerer, agent forthe Hamburg-American Line
and cocoa merchant, was established in Charlotte
Street in 1897. In fact, in 1909, one sixth of the
60 licensed cocoa dealers in Trinidad were Ger-
man firms, the cocoa trade being then at the height
of its prosperity: "Across the railway lines a huge
shed with thousands of bags of cocoa with tracks
alongside unloading; cocoa bags hustled down the
shoots and wheel barrows roaring to and fro;
cartmen of the lowest type cussing in the stron-
gest language".
Matthaeus Leonard Goellnicht was born in
Furth (near Nurnberg) Bavaria, from a family of
mastercraftsmen and came out to Trinidad in the
1870's to the firm of Gerold. He married Catherine
Mary Fahey (daughter of John Fahey and Mary
Gruber) in 1880 and had two sons and a daugh-
ter. He died in 1893, aged 38. His older son, John
Adam, born in Trinidad in 1881, was educated at
Queen's Royal College and joined Gerold and Co.
He married Lillian Arbuckle and had two boys and

The German Community

four girls.
Max Reimer, a commission merchant,
shipped in cattle from Ciudad Bolivar. After trek-
king for considerable distances across the Llanos,
they were put on board the stern-wheel steamers
at Ciudad Bolivar, and packed so close that they
could not lie down but spent the two days on board
trying to gore one another to death. They were
landed near Woodbrook and prepared by the firm
for the Trinidad table. Reputedly the meat from
them was as hard 'as though they had walked all
the way from Venezuela'. Skeoch & Company were
drapers, owners of the Klondyke. Wilhelm Holler
(Consul for Denmark) and his brother August
Holler, born in Hamburg, were merchants.
Bernstein and Meyer (owner of the East End
Foundry) were of German extract. Other Germans
such as Speir and Mittelstaedt were employed in
the commercial ventures in Port of Spain. Mari-
time and Fire insurance companies from
Mannheim and Magdeburg had their agents in
Port of Spain. Thor Schjolseth was one of them.
He married Jessie Tucker, of La Cuesa, at St
Chad's Chapel of Ease in 1879, and after her
death, Bonifacia Siegert, who bore him three chil-
dren, Carlos, Maria and Thor who was to become
one of Trinidad's best known soccer players.
Schaeffer owned and operated the Trinidad Choco-
late Company.
F.Wippenbeck was a merchant in San
Fernando in 1875. He seems to have married a
German, had one daughter Juilliet and returning
to Trinidad with his wife and daughter (presum-


ably from a holiday) his son Konrad was born on
the ship in 1901. Another son, Fred, died as a
teenager in Trinidad. The Wippenbeck descen-
dants in Trinidad include the Byce, Main,
Fernandes and Hackshaw families. Konrad mar-
ried a Foster and for long years he lovingly main-
tained 'the Castle', the old steam water-pumping
station in upper Diego Martin, where a marble
plaque was erected in his memory. He lived in a
little house, near the wells, beneath the shady
trees. Periodically (till he was stopped by the po-
lice, in the late 1940's) he used to ride his horse
into Port of Spain a short, bald-headed man, in a
black suit, with blue eyes and a huge, red handle-
bar moustache, seated jauntily (and perforce un-
steadily) on old Rose, who sometimes, politely and
almost apologetically, dropped her calling card.
Indeed, it is difficult to overestimate the
importance of the German community in
Trinidad's business towards the end of the nine-
teenth century. Many of the major businesses
like Harriman and Gerold and Schoener were
German. Stollmeyer had begun to invest huge
sums in ventures like the telephone and Tram
Companies and paper making. A.S.Eckstein
headed one of the Free Mason lodges. The Cheva-
lier Hugo Hoffman, Consul for the German Em-
pire, was in 1898, Vice-President of the Trinidad
Chamber of Commerce. Non-German merchants
like Miller, Archer and Agostini pursued courses
in business and technology in Germany and in a
few cases married Germans or German creoles.
From 1860, to the outbreak of the First

Emilio Borberg (centre) at Macqueripe Bay
with Percy & Dickie Huggins.

Fr. Sebastian Weber O.S.B.
Parish Priest of SanFernando

Ludwig Schoener Von Stroben Hardt 1843-1882.

P :

li| o

z .0i ".
. .' "-~ .;:^ : ." ~:. .*

Auguste Schoener Von Stroben Hardt 1853-1885.

The Germania Club, built around 1885.
Now, No. 12 Victoria Avenue.

': -^^
..*' ;;^f
'. '... ;


1, R.O. ,|.t'd^.

The Wharf, Ciudad Bolivar, (1900) at the start of the Dry Season.
Germans, often linked to Trinidad, controlled most of the trade.


4,. -
I..- -!-Vt.
".-*r it *^ "

I .

10..*._ .



Railway Accident at Champs Fleurs, 1885.
As a result of this, Luis Fanovich, the Stationmaster of St. Joseph,
was prosecuted for manslaughter.

The German Community

World War, in 1914, a general feeling of optimism
and success had carried science in Germany to a
height never since attained, especially in chemis-
try, physics and technological sciences. This fact
was recognized in Trinidad and Germans were em-
ployed by preference in these fields. Germans were
to be found in technical trades (in the broad sense),
for example, C.O.Bock in pharmaceuticals, Ernst
Vahl a watchmaker, Sauermann as an engineer,
George Sieffert, an electrical engineer and man-
ager of the London Electric Theatre, William
Kramer, born in 1864, at Rottwell, manager of the
Queen's Park Hotel, P.Strasser, Trinidad's first
modern funeral undertaker, Felix Baccarcich (Aus-
trian) in the police, and Selman, a recipient of the
Iron Cross, (presumably in the Franco Prussian
war of 1870) who married a Hart and had numer-
ous children, including two boys, Franz and Elliot
and two girls who married Andrew and Arthur
The Hahn family originated from the island
of Sylt, on the western coast of Denmark, which
passed a number of times from Danish to German
rule. The name Hahn, in German means rooster.
In 1836 Dirk Meinertz Hahn was the captain of a
fine vessel out of Altona, the Zebra, in which he
once took a cargo of Huguenots from Europe to
Australia. In subsequent years he plied between
Trinidad and Carupano in Venezuela. The
captain's son Dirk Dirksen (married to Henrietta
Korngiebel) settled in Trinidad, continuing the
trade with Venezuela, his only surviving son
Daniel Meinertz being born in Carupano in 1867.


The young man was educated at Hamburg and at
the Polytechnic school ofengineering in Berlin, and
after two years in England returned to Trinidad
to take up a post in the public works department.
On the 25th March 1904, in presenting the keys
of the newly built Queen's Royal College to His
Excellency, the Governor, the Director of Public
Works stated: "the credit for the building belongs
to D.M. Hahn, chief draughtsman, who prepared
the plans and with unwearied energy superin-
tended the construction."
Hahn also designed and built our present
Parliament buildings, the Red House. This was a
colossal undertaking. A contemporary account of
April 4th, 1906 describes it.

Every day that one passes the Red House, one is
struck more and more, with the great strides that
the building is making towards completion vast
stores of wood work, cement, plaster of Paris
friezes, cedar and mahogany panelling, sand,
gravel and cement scattered here and there about
scaffolding everywhere a little army of work-
men. The Public Works Department is firm in
its endeavour of finishing the work at the time

The work was completed in time, by the end of the
year. The entablature and dais at the eastern end
of the Legislative Council Chamber, with its col-
umns of purple heart, as well as the Dragon (Sea
serpent), the wind vane, on the top of the building
(now defaced by a defecating dove or as some su-
perstitious people put it, "by a Battoo sign we

The German Community

boun' to dead!") were also designed by Hahn. He
was responsible too, for the enlarging of the
Victoria Institute in 1897, and for the building of
the Mental Hospital in St Anns. He owned one of
the first cars in the country and drove all over the
island to inspect and build a number of bridges.
For many years he lived in an extraordinarily or-
nate ginger-bread house at the corner of Queen
and St Vincent Streets. In 1930 it was bought by
Dr McShine and reassembled at 103C St Vincent
Daniel married twice. By his first wife,
Caroline Rose Baptista, he had five sons. One died
young, whilst Fred (who won an island scholar-
ship from Queen's Royal College), Henry and
Bobby all studied engineering in England and
settled there after graduating. Karl completed his
medical degree in London in 1946, married and
returned to Trinidad, but had no children. After
the death of his first wife in 1903, Daniel married
Olive Van Buren. The Van Burens, from the vil-
lage of Bueren in Holland, emigrated to the United
States in 1678, and after four generations of medi-
cal doctors, Washington Van Buren emigrated to
Trinidad, where he married a Lake, Olive being
their daughter. Olive had two sons, John, who
died without issue and David Stuart, who was only
eight years of age at the time of his father's death
in 1933. Dave married Mary Lees of Nevis, daugh-
ter of SirArthur Lees, Baronet. Their son, Stuart,
is one of Trinidad's better-known artists, paint-
ing in a semi-surrealistic style.
An unusual immigrant was Herr Christian


Wilhelm Nothnagel, born in 1867, at Altona, a
small town near Hamburg in north Germany in
the province of Schleswig-Holstein, just a year af-
ter the territory had been wrested from the Danes
by the Germans. His father, Henrick George, was
twice married. Caroline, his eldest daughter by
the first marriage (born 1849) married James
Miller of Trinidad; and in the 1880's, her younger
sisters Johanna and Elizabeth came out to the
West Indies to establish the newfangled Kinder-
garten schools, (a system invented in Germany in
1837, to educate children age 4-6 by means of
play.) They established schools in Barbados,
Grenada and Trinidad. Christian Wilhelm, the
youngest of Henrick Nothnagels' nine children, did
a three year course at Segeberg Seminary in the
province of Schleswig-Holstein, qualifying him for
teaching, with special emphasis on music, choral
training and conducting and studies in the organ,
piano, violin and cello. After qualifying in 1887,
he taught for a few years at a Hamburg High
school and then paid a visit to his sisters in
Trinidad. He fell in love with the island and re-
turned in two or three years time to settle there,
helping at first in his sister's school, teaching music
at Tranquillity school and (even though a
Lutheran) filling the post of organist at Greyfriar's
Presbyterian Church, Port of Spain, for very many
He married Dora Fahey (the daughter of
John Fahey and Mary Gruber from Alsace) who
had studied music at Frankfurt, and set up his
own school of music at his residence, 18 Gray
Street -

The German Community

The St Clair School of Music: subjects: Piano,
Organ, Violin, Cello, Singing, Theory of music;
fees, $5 for 8 half-hour lessons; students' evenings
for playing before small audiences are held
monthly; students are prepared for Trinity Col-
lege of music or London exams.

The school, founded in 1899, continued till
his death in 1932. He was appointed local secre-
tary of the Trinity College of Music, and also be-
came an agent for German and English piano
manufacturers, to help him support his family of
seven boys and one girl. He was the originator of
the choral and instrumental (Amateurs' Orches-
tra) section of the Victoria Institute, and a very
popular entertainer.
He lived for his children and for his music.
He wrote in 1927, when the new-type gramophone
finally reached Trinidad, expressing the beauty
and wonder of recorded music (which we now take
so much for granted):

"Nobody can quite know what this gramophone
means to me. The Music which it can reproduce,
used to be part of my life, and for 37 years I had
to miss it. I tried to fill up this gap by the Insti-
tute Orchestra, but it is so imperfect, and so is
the Police Band, compared with the effects I get
from the gramophone and the beautiful
orthophonic records in the comfort of my own
home. I am very grateful to you Otto (his son)
for having offered this as a gift to me".

At Christian Wilhelm's death, the papers


Prominent officials of the Colony, leading mem-
bers of the mercantile world, and a representa-
tive gathering of all walks of life in a mile long
procession of motor cars, preceded by the hearse
and three motor cars laden with magnificent
wreaths, marked the respect paid to one of
Trinidad's greatest musicians yesterday... With
the exception of Archdeacon Doorly, no man has
done more for the advancement of music in this
island than he did. One can hardly remember
any grand concert held here within the past quar-
ter of a century in which Mr Nothnagel did not
figure in some way.

Music was then, as it is now, a great unify-
ing and exhilarating experience.
Of Christian Wilhelm's children, Oscar
married Sheila McLean and had one daughter,
Frank wed her sister Jessie and had one son (not
married) and a daughter; Kurt decided to spend
his life as proprietor of the Robinson Crusoe Ho-
tel in Tobago. He did this so well (with the help of
his sister Wanda) that he soon became known in-
ternationally. He was the epitome of elegance and
kindness, as welcoming to the schoolgirl who came
in for a glass of orange juice, as to the Bank Man-
ager who dropped by for a scotch. The Hotel was
a sort of cultural centre, and in the quiet times,
was graced by Kurt playing the piano. His brother
Desmond, for years a talented concert singer in
Trinidad, wed Mary Cornelliac and they were
blessed with one daughter. Otto, married to
Roslyn Salazar had a son and two daughters. In
1948, Neils married Marie Antoinette de Gannes
and had a family of two daughters, Voinceille

The German Community 47

.i H..... Y.

p 1 iia .';r.':vr *"~/'
Jh/?---~ 3V EZ -41. li-A
5 ,P'fi-ice:^ Y-S~iifmcL |
g>- OR F

-.. .S "
WE-I z i;
.-r 1 ,) O Lc. O & l-ri"str ,:ii ct,.. [ioucc l w

U5.itder the Dist Dirvn d ,i o Ae" I"' II.a/. ll d '
SOLICITOR '7.\E L.l ii. fSI!'.WUV
.WILL IPW BI y *111K lifE

TlVednes~ay' 27/// M-ay, i40.

Rz e5ssisted by fje. Lead'in. --Artists of 1rc Cily
Unde -~f Dicti^ o T^4<* fj\ I', -1, lit ta.l.., 'a,

ADMISSION .... ... .,.

Do.- s Ope at 7 m., Conert at 8. .

riiages ma:. be ordered at 10.30 p.m.
-.B.-RefrPshment Bar at Entrance. Ices for the
"^'- W e fid y 2..:i .., i (.)

gCf Aote AdirS.S-- '. .ck ..3o


('Fritzie' who continued in her grandfather's
musical tradition) and Veilchen Julia, and three
sons, Nicholas, Hans and Christian Wilhelm. The
Benjamin of the musician's family was Harold (or
Fuchie as he was known). An enthusiastic tennis
player, he was four times singles champion of
Trinidad and won the national doubles 14 times
in combination with Cuthbert Thavenot. He mar-
ried Helen Hunter and had four children, Eliza-
beth, Donald, Brian and Johanna.
There had been some German emigration
to the West Indies other than Trinidad, in the nine-
teenth century and also to Ciudad Bolivar in Ven-
ezuela. The trade of this Venezuelan port, 240
miles up the Orinoco River was dominated by Ger-
man families with commercial connections to
Trinidad far greater than exist nowadays. To-
wards the close of the nineteenth century, a few
coloured or white families of German descent came
to settle in Trinidad. Perhaps one of the most no-
table were the Gocking family.
Gocking was a German resident in St
Vincent in the 1850's, possibly a merchant and
supposedly the editor of the local newspaper. In
1858 British sailors from the "Jasper" were in-
volved in an incident one night in Kingstown and,
typical of the time, returned the next night to take
revenge. Gocking was one of the parties they in-
jured, and he wrote complaining of the matter to
the British Government. He was married to the
illegitimate progeny of Sir Charles Brisbane, ex-
Governor of the island, and was not to be taken
lightly. He brought, like many another German

The German Community

immigrant, physical stature and immense energy
to the West Indian population, reputedly having
swum from St Vincent to the Grenadine island of
Bequia, some five miles distant. His children, born
in the 1860's Charlie, Richard, Phil and Alice,
emigrated to Trinidad in the 189(Y0's. Charlie, who
spent some years in the United States and was in
touch with Marconi, worked for years in the cable
office in Trinidad. In 1912 he was the Radio Op-
erator on the little hill of Trois Amis outside of
San Fernando, from which could be seen the sugar
trains going to the refinery at Reform estate. He
would sometimes go on horseback to the cable hut
at Moruga when repairs were needed to the cable
where it came ashore there. Of his two sons, Wil-
liam was the Chief Librarian of the University of
the West Indies, and Dr. Vernon Gocking became
eventually Educational Adviser to the Prime Min-
ister and is the one mainly responsible for the in-
stitution of fifty scholarships based on the Ad-
vanced Level Cambridge Examinations and the
maintenance of the different subject groupings.
George Grudden Dieffenthaller, born in
Austria, migrated to Holland and thence to
Surinam where he worked with the firm of
Algemeen Nederlandsch Verbond. He came to
Trinidad in the 1870's (being domiciled in San
Fernando) and had three sons, Sydney, George,
and Arthur who in the 1890's worked in Port of
Spain as sales representative for George Poison,
a druggist. He married Eva Guiseppi, who was
the Headteacher at Mucurapo R.C. School. They
had five children, the best known being Ray


Edwin. He went to school at St. Mary's College,
and with the death of his mother entered the busi-
ness world at the age of sixteen. In 1941, when he
was 40 years old, he founded Hardware and
Oilfield Equipment Company Limited, of which
he was Managing Director for 49 years.
When he had to borrow money from the
Bank as capital for the new company, Ray ex-
plained to RB.McKenzie, the manager of Barclays,
that he had no collateral. The latter replied:
"Christ man, you will only fail if you die, and I
have your life policy to cover that". Ray was "the
great motivator', rewarding employees according
to the efforts they made in the interest of the firm
and not using the same scale for everyone. He
took a personal interest in the welfare of his em-
ployees whom he regarded as part of the family
business. He was a pillar of the Roman Catholic
Church and of the business establishment of the
country, working every day at hardware business
for 72 years. But he was "first of all a gentleman".
He received the National Award of a Chaconia
medal in 1978. He was very proud of his large
family; some time before his death, he had 21
grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Otto Hans Delzin emigrated to Trinidad
from Venezuela in the 1890's. Wenzelmann was
another German-Venezuelan as also the Siegerts.
Carlos Schock, born in Venezuela of German par-
ents from Hamburg and educated in Germany,
eventually settled in Trinidad. After the death of
her parents in Ciudad Bolivar, Zoylita Brumer
(who had been educated in Germany) lived with

The German Community

her aunt, Sophia Wulff, in Port of Spain. She was
to marry J.D.Lenagan and he describes how they
first fell in love. The setting was the magnificent
mansion of White Hall, built by LUon Agostini in
1903 and called "Rosenweg"' (Path of the Roses) -
the light streaming from the windows, the car-
riages and one or two shiny new motor-cars draw-
ing up, the ladies in their long flowing dresses,
with their escorts happily assisting them up the
steps, the garden in front bathed in quiet light
away from the music and dancing and laughter.

The 3rd May, 1913 was a most important day for
me. The Robert Hendersons of White Hall were
celebrating their Silver Wedding anniversary. I
was invited to the party and was at a loss to se-
lect a present for those wealthy people. My
mother gave me some old silver and I had a pa-
per weight made in the shape of a lover's knot. I
little dreamt that I would be tied in such a knot
that night. Soon after my arrival at the party I
caught sight of a young lady whom I had met at
this house two years before. When I saw her she
was surrounded by a number of men all bent on
booking dances with her, and no wonder, for she
was by far the most beautiful girl at the party of
about 600 guests. By the time my turn came to
claim a dance, there was only one left. In due
course, my turn came to dance with her. After
our dance we sat in the garden. There was a
long interval. By the time the next dance struck
up I was madly in love with her. I could not let
her go over to her next partner. From our niche
in the garden we could see him pacing all the
verandahs, madly searching for her. I entreated
her to stay with me. She yielded, and is still with


me at my side, as I write this 40 years after. She
was undoubtedly the belle of the ball and still is
the apple of my eye. The guests that night had
been supplied with fans. In my coat-tail pocket I
found one that my love had used during the
evening and wrote this little verse on it. Zoylita
still has the fan.

When this fan was stolen
The hours were golden
And happiness reigned in White Hall.
While in me a feeling
Was quietly stealing
The heart which till then was my all.
Now that I've tasted of heaven
And the fan has been given
To the angel who taught me to steal
But I am yet to begin
To repent for the sin
That gave birth to the joys that we feel.

She left the party at about 2 a.m. with her aunt
Sofia Wulff, her chaperon. I saw them off. I
danced no more. From then until 5 a.m. I drank
and smoked cigars. I had forgotten to ask my
Zoylita where she lived! I left the party at 5 a.m.
walked through the Grand Savanna to my home
in Dundonald Street and tumbled into bed think-
ing of nothing else but the beauty I had met and
how I was to manage to meet her again.

In the 1870's there were amazingly rich
finds of gold at El Callao (east of Ciudad Bolivar)
where at the height of its success original shares
of 1,000 pesos produced dividends of 72,000 pesos
annually. Other gold companies were formed by
speculators, one of whom claimed later that "the

The German Community

richest of all mines, the best paying of all lodes is
the credulity of the human race". Gold fever
spread as far as Germany and among the adven-
turous young men who sailed to Venezuela, was
Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer, born in Bremen around
1850, the son of Dr. Theodore Meyer. For months
the young German camped in Guasipati on the
border between Venezuela and British Guiana,
panning and digging for gold in vain. He settled
in British Guiana for a while, married and then
returned to Venezuela, Ciudad Bolivar, this time
- and set up a drug store in that city, where by
hard work he made the fortune he had failed to
find in the forest. He came to Trinidad about 1890
and purchased an acre of land at the corner of
Jerningham Avenue and Belmont Circular road,
where he built his home. All but one of his 5
daughters and 4 sons were educated abroad, ei-
ther in England or Germany.
Charles, the eldest son, wished to be a
planter, and his father bought for him a coffee and
cocoa plantation, Spring Hill Estate near Arima,
(now the Asa Wright Nature Centre). He mar-
ried Julie Pouchet, so that all nine of their chil-
dren were brought up as Catholics. William, the
second son, won an island scholarship from
Queen's Royal College in 1895, and graduated
from Edinburgh University in 1902 with an M.D.
Ch.B. For years he was medical officer for Paria
and Blanchisseuse. Patients slung in hammocks
were brought to him by land and sea at all hours
of the day and night. Later he undertook private
practice in Arima. A visit to the doctor cost 24


cents and Dr. Meyer allowed the patients to take
drugs on his account at the drug store opposite
and pay him back later when they were well and
could work again. Most got well but never well
enough to refund the doctor! William married
Frieda Opitz in Germany in 1912. They had 5
children. He died in 1935.
Robert, William's brother went to Glasgow
Scotland in 1910, qualified as a druggist and mar-
ried Jessie Brown of Glasgow. His father bought
for him Laing's Pharmacy at the corner of
Frederick and Prince Streets, Port of Spain. It
was reputedly the first pharmacy in Trinidad to
produce and sell aerated beverages. At the start
of World War I, the Government confiscated the
pharmacy. Frederick, the fourth son went to En-
gland in 1912 to study engineering. He married
Elfriede Rosin of Germany and their son Peter
became a pathologist. Of Friedrich William's de-
scendants in Trinidad among the better known are
Tom Meyer, (squadron leader in the R.A.F. in
World War II and the late Head of the Fire Ser-
vices in Trinidad), Carl A. Meyer (architect and
insurance agent) and Lady Erna Reece.
Almost without exception, the Germans
who emigrated to Trinidad in the 19th century
worked extraordinarily hard, but many when the
day's work was over drank hard, and not a few
were unsuccessful in making the transition from
German beer in their homeland, to gin, whisky,
and rum in Trinidad; or perhaps they suffered from
a hereditary pre-disposition to alcoholism. More-
over, they (or at least their young children) seem
to have been particularly susceptible to the rav-


"The Zebra" (1842) captained by Dirk Meinertz Hahn.
A painting by Stuart Hahn, after an old lithograph.


; I

The home of Auguste Holler at Queen Street, (1890)
just east of Abercromy Street. His business place was situated
at South Quay. By this date, it was no longer customary
to live above one's store.

Above: Musical Trio Cello, Piano & Violin.
Christian Nothnagel, his wife Dora and Captain Schlimbak.
Below: Six little German Sailor Boys all Nothnagels.
Oscar, Frank, Kurt, Desmond, Otto, Neils.

Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer 1850-1916.


fr A

William Meyer, graduate from Edinburgh University (1902).

Trinidad Fencing Club (1896) including a number of Germans. (L to r.)
Back: E.Montenegro, I.Bodu, R.Torres, R.Bermudez, A.Pollonais, F.Camps-Campins, Rodriguez, Milk.
Sitting-. G.H.Mason, J.M.Bermudez, Schierholz, Quesnel. On Floor: Schock, Von Albrecht.

The German Community

ages of malaria, dysentery and diphtheria. For
instance in the case of Adolpho Wuppermann,
born in 1840, in Angostura, and who married
Marie Adele Ganteaume in 1863, (apart alto-
gether from a number of miscarriages), of four-
teen children born between 1864 and 1885, only
5 survived, the rest dying of various diseases
between the ages of 18 months and ten years.
The poor father wrote in his diary:

This terrible blow after all the losses of our other
children cannot be written down God's mercy
is great and we pray to Him that He may spare
us the other dear children. His intentions and
His objects are impenetrable and as good Chris-
tians we have to bend to His Almighty Will and
convince ourselves that it must be for our good
that He demands all these sacrifices from us....
Our dear and beloved daughter May (Marie
Sofia) died of pernicious malignant fever. God
wanted her! What a grief to lose our eighth
child! She was just 9 years old! To describe my
grief is impossible; she died perfectly conscious.
She confessed and Father Schmitz who attended
her to the last moment said he never saw a child
of her age die with such Christian resignation
and with such profound religious sentiments.
She is in heaven and has joined her 7 other sis-
ters and brothers who went before her. May
she invoke God's mercy for us!

Not surprisingly with such a high child
mortality rate, in the 19th century there was
little expansion of the German community in
Trinidad, through natural increase.
On the 28th June 1914 Archduke Francis


Ferdinand, the Crown Prince of Austria, was as-
sassinated by a Serb near the bridge crossing the
river at Sarajevo, Bosnia. Within six weeks of the
incident, war had been declared between England,
France and Russia on one side and Germany and
Austria on the other. The war was to completely
destroy the expatriate German community in
Trinidad. On August 5th an Order in Council
placed restrictions on all Aliens. Anyone who was
a German citizen (even though born in Trinidad)
had to register with the police. On the 18th Au-
gust they were required to reside in Port of Spain
and not go beyond the city limits. "In the event of
six guns being fired in Port of Spain and red flags
flown at Public Buildings" they were to proceed
with all haste to Police Headquarters, where they
would be "safely accommodated". On the 3rd Sep-
tember the limits of their freedom were further
circumscribed and some (with a Trinidadian wife
and children!) were ordered to "leave this Colony
forthwith". When this order was not followed, the
delinquents were interned in the police barracks
at St James. This internship was applied quite
unevenly to the German creoles, some members
of a family being interned, others merely having
to report on a daily basis in Port of Spain. On
October 31st a Proclamation was made prohibit-
ing any business to be carried on in the Colony by
or on behalf of any alien enemy.
A spirit of patriotism swept Trinidad. Hun-
dreds volunteered to join the West Indian Regi-
ments. Those at home showed their love of En-
gland by anti-German expressions. For instance,
Nothnagel when teaching the children at Tran-

The German Community 57

quillity school to sing "Rule Britannia" was greeted
with a shout of"Kraut" ("Cabbage" because the
Germans loved sour-kraut). The headmaster of
the Maraval school reported the Rev. Meister to
the Governor for being pro-German; but his pa-
rishioners who hated the schoolmaster because he
had publicly declared: "I never met a place with
so many fools as Maraval", wrote to the Arch-
bishop: "the Headteacher is himself for the Ger-
mans. He advised us when we enlisted not to go
to the front as we were about to be crushed by the
Germans and he is sure the Germans are going to
win the war".
It has been impossible to discover the num-
ber of those interned. The treatment of some was
tolerant, Nothnagel for instance getting regular
passes for permission to be absent from the "Mili-
tary Camp", to teach from 6.15 to 9.00 a.m. and
12.30 to 6 p.m. every week-day. Nevertheless, this
placed a great strain on his wife and children who
at times were practically starving, digging up their
garden to grow vegetables and raising chickens to
supplement their diet. Only one German was
given a full days pass to continue his work in the
Others were treated more harshly and
never given a pass to leave the camp. A number
of escapes were attempted. One or two were suc-
cessful. Warzes who had been arrested as he was
having breakfast with his wife (a Trinidadian) and
his son Charles, at their house opposite Tranquil-
lity Square was taken unceremoniously to the
Barracks. Charles (now a vigorous 96 years of age
and a japanese judo expert) smuggled in a trowel


for his father. He visited him frequently and each
time he brought out with him a large bag of earth
- for the guards did not think it necessary to ex-
amine what was taken out from the Camp. One
day when he went to visit, his father was gone
having tunneled out to the St. James river.
Charles missed some clothes from his home that
night but never saw his father again. Presum-
ably he escaped to Venezuela.
The Trinidad Guardian of May 28th, 1918,
carried the following report:

The interned German prisoner Harry Jeste, who
escaped from the St James Detention Camp on
Saturday afternoon was captured the same night
by Lance Corporal Clunes of the Diego Martin
Police Station at 12 o'clock, in a small hut about
half a mile away from the sea at the Diego Mar-
tin village. When under arrest the prisoner told
Clunes that he made his escape by jumping the
prison wall while everybody's attention was
centred on the military sports which were going
on at the barracks. He offered no resistance and
was taken to the Diego Martin Station until Sun-
day morning, when he was taken to the Royal
Gaol. As is usual, a court martial will be held
shortly when the prisoner will be dealt with.

The threatening clouds of the 1914 war had
forced a decision on some German creoles. In 1912,
one branch of the Schoeners changed their name
to Scott, the other to Arrindell, (after the names
of their spouses); the Von Weilers now originated
from 'the Swiss border, north or south of it not
being indicated! Several Germans fled to Ven-

The German Community

ezuela, in the nick of time. For many years after
the end of the war in 1918 Germans were not wel-
come in Trinidad.
As early as the First World War there were
a number of Sephardic (Spanish speaking) Jews
in Trinidad, the Senior, de Lima, Pereira and
Herrera families. One German Jewish family, the
Strumwassers (and a few other East European
Jews) were established in the island before 1938;
but that year saw an influx into Trinidad. In 1935
in Germany, Adolph Hitler passed a series of anti-
Jewish laws including death for intermarriage
with Aryans. Many Jews fled to Austria, but in
the Anchluss (Annexation) of March 1938, that
country was incorporated into Germany. Because
no visa was required to settle in Trinidad but only
a bond or deposit of 50, some of the hundreds of
Jews fleeing Europe began arriving in the island,
until the Legislative Council in early 1939 blocked
further immigration by the refugees. Then the
Second World War began. By February 1940,
there were some 585 immigrants, including 300
'enemy aliens' (Germans and Austrians with a
very few Italians) in the island and a decision was
taken to intern them.
About 120 men (including non-Jews) were
transported to Nelson island while accommoda-
tion was being built for them near St. James Bar-
racks. The women (fewer in number) were held at
Caledonia, another one of the tiny "Five Islands"
in the Port of Spain harbour, and they remained
there some short time after the men had been
moved to the mainland. They spent their time


stretched out in the sun, cultivating tans to es-
cape boredom; while in the shade of a leafy
Matapal tree on the neighboring islet of Nelson,
Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler, the riotous, Grenadian-
born labour leader, sat sedately in his rocking
chair, stroking his long beard and quietly oscillat-
ing his large fan. Eventually the women were
united with their husbands at the internment
camp. A total of about 340 people were interned,
only about 40 not being Jews.
The camp, surrounded by barbed wire, with
watchtowers and searchlights and guarded day
and night, was situated in the present Federation
Park. In Camp Rented Trinidad, as it was code
named, families could live together in the long
wooden barracks and there was "Home Rule" in
the camp. The inmates organized things them-
selves, rosters for cooking or orderlies or camp
cleaning. Arrangements were made for religious
services and some families started vegetable gar-
dens. There was football, table tennis, camp fires
when personal stories would be swopped. The
children were dropped to school in Port of Spain
each morning by the authorities and picked up in
the evening. According to Hans Stetcher, the
younger people adapted successfully to confine-
ment. Teenagers like himself were able to acquire
numerous skills from the other prisoners, many
ofwhomwere highly educated and talented: higher
mathematics, judo, watch repair or skills in leather
work (with leather smuggled in wrapped round
his body under his shirt which later helped Hans
to set up a successful business in 1943 with an

The German Community

initial grand capital of $5.00 and forced to cut the
leather on the floor for lack of a table!)
But the older people found life very depress-
ing, especially in the early days of the war when
the news from the front was bad. Because of the
awful sense of frustration there were occasional
fist fights. One university professor committed
suicide by hanging himself Every night all lis-
tened intently to the B.B.C. news and when some
Allied victory was announced there were resound-
ing cheers. It is indeed a really terrible thing to
feel that Hitler's first victims, the German Jews
(a few of whom like Schwartz and Karlsbad had
escaped from concentration camps with their num-
bers already tattooed on their forearms) had to
suffer three and a half years of internment in
Trinidad. In May 1941, the Winnipeg, flying the
Vichy flag and taking Jews (who had fled the Na-
zis) to settle in Santo Domingo, was captured by
the allies and escorted to Trinidad. Huge Mar-
quee tents were set up at the internment camp to
accommodate the several hundred new internees,
matters being complicated later by a burst water
main. Good sense prevailed in 1943, and num-
bers of the internees were released.
Many German Jews remained in Trinidad
to take up business. An attempt was made to get
a permanent Synagogue built, either on lands
owned by Averboukh (a Rumanian Jew who de-
veloped New Yalta at the entrance to Diego Mar-
tin) or on City Council lands at Mucurapo; but for
reasons unknown though easily surmised, the City
Council kept postponing consideration of the mat-


ter. The proposed synagogue site is at present oc-
cupied by the Jamaat Al Muslimeen mosque.
There was an exodus of Jews in 1970 to the United
States and Canada and at present only three or
four German Jewish families are still in Trinidad,
- Stetcher, Richter, Faigenbaunm.
In the period between the two world wars,
to all intents and purposes the German creoles
formed a homogenous community with the French
creoles, though they still kept up business, educa-
tional and medical links with Germany rather
than England or France. German creoles more
and more were to be found in other than business
professions. A few, like Von Albrecht (champion
cyclist at the turn of the century before the ad-
vent of Mikey Cipriani) had always been promi-
nent in sport, now they excelled in a wide variety
of sporting fields names like Thor Scholseth in
football, Futchie Nothnagel and Herman Urich in
tennis, Victor and Jeffrey Stollmeyer in cricket
come to mind.
Between the two world wars a handful of
Germans came to Trinidad Rudolph Fritz
Schneider, the grandson of a high-ranking Ger-
man naval officer who was killed in the first world
war, Nils Voss who emigrated to Trinidad from
Stuttgart in 1926 at the age of nineteen, Chaim
Grossberg, Polish from Lodz but of German ex-
tract, Harry Reichmann from Magdeburg who
married Audrey Meyer, and a few others.
Considering the small number of Germans
who settled in Trinidad, they had a considerable
impact on the whole community, since they be-

The German Community

longed to the influential white elite. At certain
periods, one in a hundred (or at very maximum,
in 1913 around one in 30) of the whites in Trinidad
were German or German creole, but they were
based in the capital, controlled considerable fi-
nance and counted among them some very out-
standing individuals, so that the influence they
exerted was out of all proportion to their numbers.
Along with the French Huguenots they formed in
nineteenth century Trinidad an important bridge
between the Protestant English and Catholic
French creoles, preventing perhaps too bitter an
antagonism between them on religious grounds;
and their intermarrying in both groups brought a
welcome new stock of genes into the small white
upper and middle class.
Their attitude to work was quite unlike that
of the French creoles, organized and regular, busi-
nesslike and ready to undertake work of any kind
- even sewage collection! They brought new atti-
tudes which were eventually accepted by the
French creoles it became socially acceptable to
loan money to a brother who was in trouble rather
than to give, to save money was no longer un-
gentlemanly, better to be house-proud than to
spend money lavishly entertaining friends.
The Germans valued education and in
many different ways contributed to cultural and
scientific development in Trinidad. They were
prominent particularly in technical works and
businesses. From the religious viewpoint they
made an important contribution to the island. Had
they any special influence on racial relations in


the island? is a question that may be asked but
is difficult to answer. Their one legacy to the local
cuisine is the continuing popularity of braun
among the French creole class though some
people claim that Trinidad souse has a partly Ger-
man origin. A few streets and houses in Trinidad
still bear German names. The Christmas trees
long traditional in Hesse (from which many Ger-
mans came to Trinidad) became popular also in
the island.
In Trinidad today, there are very few Ger-
mans, but our island continues to profit from Ger-
man interest in the community. The German em-
bassy has been responsible for a considerable in-
put into social works and the German Roman
Catholic Bishops through Adveniat have helped
in the building of numerous churches throughout
the country as well as in the support of the local
seminary. It is well then, that we should be aware
of our German legacy and the importance of its
role in the building up four country, and be grate-
ful for the continuing help that comes to us from
across the ocean.

Chapter 2

1hr Irich PFamili

Much more happiness is to be found in the
world than gloomy eyes discern.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.

According to an old tradition, the Urich
family originated in Switzerland. In 1888, Adolf
Urich christened his new home at St. Anns, just
outside Port of Spain, Schweizer House, that is,
Swiss House. However, the records from Germany
show that as early as 1606, the Urich family were
established in the little principality of Hesse, (see
map on page 35), at first at the village of Umbstadt
and then a century later at the town of Erbach.
This was in "the very heartland of the beautiful
mountain region of the Odenwald and Vogelsberg,
Hessen-Darmstadt and Oberhessen each little
town with its church, castle, framework houses
with pious sentences carved into the beams, flower
cases on the windows".
For some two centuries the Urichs were
tradesmen or technicians shoemakers, survey-
ors, marrying among their own social class; though
in 1728 Johann F. Urich, then a shopkeeper but
no doubt deeply pierced by Cupid's shaft, mar-
ried perhaps just a little bit below his level, a
blacksmith's daughter. After 1750, his son,


Johann Otto Urich, is described as a Burgher; and
Otto's son, Johann Balthazar Urich, born in 1777,
became a land law actuary and married Caroline
Gerold, the daughter of the Mayor of the nearby
town. They were blessed with nine children, five
boys and four girls, and in spite of the very diffi-
cult times consequent on the Napoleonic wars they
were all well educated, one of them, in fact, was to
become a medical doctor. The outlook that was
later to be described as Bildung (Education) was
already in existence it included feeling for schol-
arship and art and for overall intellectual and
moral striving. This admirable, solidly middle-
class, Protestant ethic the Urichs were to bring
with them when they came to Trinidad.
In 1815 the German Confederation had
been formed, made up of 39 mainly German
States, but including Luxembourg and Czechoslo-
vakia and excluding East Prussia (see map on page
3). This gave peace to Germany for halfa century
but it did not bring economic well-being. Bad har-
vests in 1816-1817 were followed by an economic
crisis. In 1819 the Carlsbad decrees imposed rigid
censorship on the newspapers. The rapid growth
of population within the Confederation, (from
1816-1848, it increased from 24 to 36 million) put
pressure on living space, the petty nobles recov-
ered some of their privileges and the middle class
underwent a sort of social demotion. The Urich
family council decided in 1828 that two of the
young men in the family, Friedrich Gottfried born
in 1807, and his brother Wilhelm, just a year
younger, should sail out to the island of Trinidad

Full Text
xml version 1.0 standalone yes
PreviousPageID P956