Real name was Klaus Hinrich Klahn
Born in Holstein in 1776
Henry Shultz was a spectacularly public figure, but he carried secrets to his grave. One of them was who he really was. 165 years after his death the secret has been revealed, with grateful thanks to Jürgen Möller.
Up to now, every known account of Shultz began in Augusta, Georgia in 1806. Everyone has heard that he was born in Germany, in ‘Hamburg on the Elbe’. Chapman related that he carried arms against the French and was captured – twice, and that Napoleon ‘gave him liberty to emigrate to America’. Johan Wagener wrote that he took ship and left Hamburg after antagonizing the French, arriving in the U.S. as an ordinary seaman.
Introducing: Klaus Hinrich Klahn, born in the village of Dahme on the Baltic coast of Holstein – at the time a duchy in personal union with the kingdom of Denmark. His birth on October 10, 1776 is registered on the books of the parish church in nearby Grube. He left Dahme for the port city of Lübeck at age 16, in time becoming a wealthy trader there and in nearby Wismar. Economic dislocation during the Napoleonic Wars pushed Klahn’s business into failure. He escaped his debtors to Altona, near Hamburg, and ended up stowing away on a ship bound for America.
His European career is the subject of an article in a German local history journal: Irene Voigt-Lassen, Ein Dahmer wurde Städtebauer an der Savannah, Jahrbuch für Heimatkunde im Kreis Oldenburg/Holstein, 9. Jahrgang, 1965, S. 245-249*. Jürgen Möller commented on this blog about the 1965 Voigt-Lassen article, provided a translation, and tracked down the birth record at the Grube church.
So there you have it. You can imagine what a waste of time it would have been to search through Hamburg, a great and war-torn city, for evidence of a man who was hardly there if at all.
Please post your compliments to Jurgen’s page!
*Translated, that is Irene Voigt-Lassen, A Citizen of Dahme was a City Builder on the Savannah, Yearbook for Local History in the Oldenburg/Holstein area, Volume 9, 1965, pages 245-249.