GALVESTON — The Laffite Society’s second annual seminar will be April 26 at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Six of the eight speakers are residents of Galveston County.

Galveston native Andrew “Andy” Hall will tell the story of Commodore David Porter and how a newly empowered U.S. Navy began its mission to end piracy and privateering in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Hall, during the past 20 years, has served as a volunteer with the Texas Historical Commission investigating shipwrecks. In 2001, he was part of the first group of state marine archaeological stewards appointed in the United States.

Among the numerous marine archaeology projects he has worked on was the Denbigh Project, an extensive excavation of a Civil War blockage runner sunk near the Bolivar Peninsula.

“The Crew Left Behind” is the subject of Lou Graves MacBeth’s discussion. MacBeth will tell about her research concerning Jean Laffite crew members who remained in the area when their captain sailed away.

MacBeth is a native Galvestonian whose roots run deep in the history of the island. She is a descendant of Sheldon Graves, who settled on the island in 1838. His son, Macbeth’s great-grandfather, was an engineer on the cotton clad Neptune in the Battle of Galveston in 1863.

Jeff Modzelewski will give a brief overview of the lives of Jean and Pierre Laffite. During 19 years as a Laffite Society member, Modzelewski has served two terms as president.

Among his many contributions to the study of the Laffite era has been the first translation from Spanish of “The Pirates Laffite” by the late Mexican historian Jorge Mane.

Three other Galveston presenters will conclude the seminar by relating actual correspondence between the main players in a scheme to sell the “Journal of Jean Laffite.” Claiming to be a descendant of Laffite, the con man in the hoax traveled to Galveston and New Orleans searching for a buyer.

Portraying the three principles in the scheme are Betty Conner, Larry Porter and Helen Mooty. 

Conner, a Ball High School graduate and University of Houston music major, had planned to be a music teacher but found her interest to be in government and civic activities.

Mooty is director of the Galveston County Museum and serves on the Galveston County Historical Commission.

Porter retired to Galveston seven years ago and is the current president of the Laffite Society. He was honored recently as Distinguished Graduate, Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University.

Besides local speakers, Andrew Target will speak on Jim Bowie, Laffite and slavery. Betje Klier will speak on an ill-fated French colony on the Trinity River.

The Laffite Seminar activity will begin April 25 with a welcome reception at the Trolley Station, 2021 Strand.

The seminar will begin the next day on the Texas A&M University at Galveston Pelican Island Campus, Ocean and Costal Sciences Building. Breakfast and lunch will be served the day of the seminar.

Seminar registration should be no later than Tuesday. Visit or email

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