The origins of what is now Catoni can be traced back nearly 200 years to France and Corsica. A refugee named Belfante arrived in Iskenderun about 1820 where later his daughter met and married Augustine Joseph Catoni. Belfante was a refugee from Napoleonic France because of his Royalist sympathies who, with an army background, took service with Mohammed Ali, the Governor of Egypt under the Turkish Sultans. Forming Mohammed Ali’s artillery brigade, he led it until retiring in Aleppo and settling in Iskenderun.
The Catoni family were also refugees, being on the loosing side of one of the many wars between the Italian states. Seeking refuge in Corsica then Cyprus they settled and prospered as traders. Augustine Catoni was born there in 1823 and in due course arrived in Iskenderun to open an office from where he provided valuable services in the form of trading and supply to the Ottoman Empire. Meeting and marrying Belfante’s daughter he commenced business during 1840 as Belfante and Catoni.
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