The ProblemMy great grandmother’s name was Hester Franklin van Beverhoudt (isn’t that a strange middle name for a girl?). I found her in the 1860 census, age 3, living with her father Claudius and mother, Adelaide. Adelaide and Claudius were listed as married in both the 1855 and 1857 censuses. The question was, how to find Adelaide’s maiden name.
Now, one of the best ways to find this information is to search the church records for a marriage record. Lutheran baptismal records listed mothers’ maiden names (although the Anglican registers didn’t). I didn’t have access to the records at that time so I wanted to see what I could find from the census. Turns out, you can get a lot from the census if you pay attention to all the fields and consider more people than just the parties in question.
In the 1855 census, Adelaide van Beverhoudt listed her place of birth as St. Croix and her age as 24, putting her date of birth at approximately 1831-32. This means that she should have appeared under her maiden name in the censuses for 1841, 1846, and 1851. So, I only needed to find someone named Adelaide who appeared in these years, but not in or after 1855. Also, since Adelaide was listed as Anglican, I only included Anglicans. This would be my list of candidates. Searching found 10 Anglican women named Adelaide born in 1831 or 1832 in the census:
|1835||1831||Adelaide Jeger||Company St. 44 & 45|
|1841||1832||Adelaid McEnnely||Queen St. 07|
|1841||1832||Adelaide Plasket||West End Quarter|
|1846||1832||Sarah Adelaide Johnson||Queens Quarter|
|1846||1832||Adelaide Robson||Queen St. 16|
|1850||1831||Adelaide R Krause||New St. 01 & 02|
|1850||1832||Adelaide Robson||Northside A Quarter|
|1855||1831||Adelaid v. Beverhoudt||Company St. 52 B|
|1855||1831||Adelaid Peterson||Market St. 26|
|1855||1832||Adelaide R. Krause||New St. 01 & 02|
|1855||1831||Adelaide Nathan||Prince Quarter|
|1860||1831||Adelaide v Beverhoudt||Prince St. 19 A B|
|1870||1832||Adelaide Beverhoudt*||Queen St. 11|
|1901||1831||Adelaid Jackson||Queen Quarter|
|1901||1831||Adelaide Edlin||Prince St. 13|
- Adelaide Jeger was only listed in the 1835 census at age 4, living with James and William Jager. In the 1841 and 1846 censuses, James and William still occupied the same address, sans Adelaide. She probably died.
- Adelaid McEnnely was only listed in the 1841 census, living with Maria Mcennely. Neither appears again. Maybe, but let’s move on.
|1841 Census showing Adelaide Robson and family|
|Close-up of 1850 census showing Adelaide Robson and "Esther" Franklin at Estate Fountain|
In his 1838 book, “Letters from the West Indies”, Sylvester Hovey describes what he calls an “iniquitous and disgusting” practice of “taking colored or black women as housekeepers; but who are, to all intents, wives, except in name and respect.” He goes further to say, “This custom is very general among managers and overseers of estates…” My situation, of 1832, looks like a textbook example of this practice. I was pretty convinced that Hester Franklin was the mother of the Robson children.
Hypothesis TestingSo I had a working hypothesis that Adelaide was Adelaide Robson, daughter of Joseph Robson and Hester Franklin, sister to Bridget, Maria, and Joseph F Robson. What I needed was a way to connect this family to Claudius van Beverhoudt. Although Fountain is only a 20 minute drive from Christiansted, I don’t think they had a car.
|Close-up of 1857 census showing Lousa Beverhoudt at Fountain|
I then turned my attention to Marie Robson, Adelaide’s sister. She married a Thomas Moorhead and lived in the Robson family home in Christiansted by 1857. Thomas is listed in the 1857 census as being a member of the “Swedenborgian” church, also called the “New Church”. This caught my eye because I knew that Claudius van Beverhoudt’s family were also members of the same church. Since the church was very small (less than 50 people), Claudius and Thomas certainly knew each other. Another connection.
So, my indirect evidence was:
- Adelaide Robson appeared in each census up through 1850 but not not after.
- Adelaide Robson lived with a woman named Hester Franklin and gave that name to her daughter.
- Adelaide Robson’s father, an English estate manager, listed Hester Franklin as a “housekeeper” yet lived with her until his death. She then lived with the Moorheads in the Robson family home.
- It was common practice to form families with unmarried couples, listing the mother as “housekeeper”, particularly among the English estate managers.
- Adelaide Robson’s father was manager of Estate Fountain, where Claudius’ sister was found about two years after the marriage.
- Adelaide Robson’s sister Maria married Claudius’ co-religionist, Thomas Moorhead .
- Claudius’ daughter, Hester Franklin van Beverhoudt, was born in 1857, so the marriage must have been around 1855 but before the census in October.
ConclusionFrom this evidence, I determined that Adelaide Robson was the daughter of Joseph Robson and Hester Franklin and was my 2nd great grandmother. I estimated that she and Claudius were married in late 1854 or early 1855. I recorded this information in Family Tree Maker and assigned a special source I use for “Estimated Fact”. I wrote up my proof argument in the citation to support my assertion.
VindicationSubsequently, I was going through records at the National Archives (NARA) in College Park, where the Virgin Islands records (RG 55) are kept, and discovered Claudius van Beverhoudt’s marriage record for January 29, 1855. The bride was listed as Adelaide Robson and one of the witnesses was one Thomas Moorhead. I later found that Thomas Moorhead and Maria Robson were married a year later, and Claudius was witness to their wedding.
|1855 Marriage record of Claudius van Beverhoudt and Adelaid Robson from Bassin (Christiansted)|