Saturday, October 29, 2011

Children of Amy McNobney

This week I have been spending considerable time with the Lutheran Church records on the FHC microfilm roll 38861. This is a time consuming process, but I really found a lot of good information.  In particular, I mostly settled a nagging issue I had concerning siblings of two of my ancestors.
Amy McNobney's Slave Tax Document from 1800
The oldest family I found in the censuses (taken in 1841) was the Amy McNobney family.  Amy appears to have been born around 1771 in St. Croix. In all the censuses, she lived at 45 Fisher St. (which I started referring to as “the old family home”) until her death between 1861-1870.  She appears in censuses in 1841, 1846, 1850, 1855, 1857, and 1860 with a rather large and constantly changing family.  I made the assumption that these people were her children, although I had no proof. Her “children” appeared to have all been born from about 1800-1817.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photos: Cartes-de-visite (CDVs)

1890-Louisa v Beverhoudt (Medium) (2)
Louisa van Beverhoudt, 1890
This weekend I spent a big chunk of time going through the old pictures from St. Croix.  The pictures seem to run from about the 1880's to the 1980's in a variety of formats, including 4x6 cabinet cards and little cartes-de-visite.  I discussed the Cabinet cards in by post Profile: Mary Conrad Simonsen.  Most of the oldest pictures are of that format.  The "carte-de-visite", or CDV, was another popular format, approximately 2.5" x 4" and, like the cabinet cards, mounted on thick cardboard.  Sizes weren't variable since they were made by cutting down standard film sheets to pre-defined sizes. The process was developed around 1854 and became popular because it was easier and cheaper than older photographic processes.  It was common for people to get many of these printed up and hand them around, as the name suggests, as visiting cards.
When dealling with 19th century photography, it is important to understand a little of the history of photography.  The earliest photos were daguerrotypes (c. 1839) which were imaged on silver.  Ambrotypes (c. 1854) were on glass, and tintypes (c. 1856) were on cheaper iron (not tin).  This brought photography in reach to the masses.  Portraits of common

Friday, October 21, 2011

Profile: Mary Conrad Simonsen

One of the reasons I wanted to start a family history blog was to share my research on my family.  This week, as a result of my post “I Found My Great-Great Grandfather” I made contact with a cousin who gave me critical information to track one of my relatives, Mary Conrad,  and pointed me to another cousin, who was a descendent of Mary’s. As luck would have it, when I went through the boxes I described in “Treasures from Mom’s House”, I found pictures of Mary Conrad.  I figured this would be a wonderful opportunity to share the information I have on her and where it came from.  I thought my new found relatives would appreciate seeing it too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Treasures from Mom’s House

My grandmother Olga was something of a packrat.  When I was little we visited her in her house on Strand St. in Christiansted.  She had all kinds of stuff around, papers, knickknacks, odds, ends, everything a little boy could want.  She used to tell me she had a “Curiosity Shoppe”.  When she died, it took two trips to the island to sort things into what to ship, what to give away, and what to donate.  Fortunately, my mother kept the photos.  Boxes of them. That was 25 years ago.  Last night, we opened the boxesC. A. Conrad2 (Medium)


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dealing with Bad Images

As you know if you’re following this blog, I’m working with microfilm images.  After I collect them I usually have to do some image manipulation.  Sometimes I just have to attach facing pages that have been scanned as separate frames and sometimes microfilms can be difficult to read due to darkening or lightening of the original document.  Here’s where scanning can be a real help.  This is a marriage record from 1820 of a Gertruyd van Beverhoudt (don’t know if she’s family yet).  As you can see, it’s very dark.

1820-Beverhoudt Andrea (pg 74)-detail

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Lutheran Family

Phew! I just finished going through a roll of microfilm at my local Family History Center (FHC).  The roll was FHL INTL 38861, Den Danske Folkekirke, Skt. Croix sogn (Danish Peoples Church, St. Croix parish).  It covers the Lutheran church records from 1797-1865.  It took about 10 hours to go through the roll, looking at just about every line searching for ancestors.  In Danish.  Well, the process was tedious but well worth it...
Book 8 Title-c (Medium)
Title Page from Baptismal Record from 1828-1860

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blogging for Cousins

Genealogy is a fascinating hobby.  Sometimes it is a scene from Indiana Jones (the dusty library scenes, not the grabbing artifacts from tombs and running from Nazis scenes), sometimes it is solving a mystery like on CSI.  It satisfies my inner nerd, collecting and analyzing data, citing sources, and compiling detailed histories of my family.  It helps me figure out “Who Do I Think I Am?”  But the greatest part is finding out that you have a whole lot more family somewhere in the world. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Found My Great-Great Grandfather

Today I made a great find at the Family History Center.  I located my 2nd great grandfather. This was a brick wall that I have been struggling with virtually from Day 1 of my genealogical journey.  I got started on this hobby (obsession) by chancing across an on-line database, the Danish Demographic Database (Dansk Demografisk Database).  This is a free searchable database of Danish censuses and church records.   They have a link to the St. Croix Census records on their site.  By querying this I found my grandfather (Ludvig Conrad), great grandfather (Christian Andreas Conrad), and his mother (Sophia Andersen).   No father.  No Conrad. I searched the VISHA database and Try as I might, I couldn’t locate a Conrad to be the source of that family name.  No Conrad appeared in any census that would fit.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Great Find

I got a nice email today.  I had sent a request for information to the St. Croix Landmarks Society a short time ago asking for information regarding house addresses in Christiansted.  I wanted to be able to see where family members lived and who their neighbors were.  Unfortunately, knowing the addresses just wasn’t sufficient.  Just like tracking family migrations in the US from state to state, mine migrated from street to street. For example, Johannes van Beverhoudt (b. c. 1760) lived at 11 Queen Cross St and moved to 45 Fisher St.  How far was that?  Since these streets run perpendicular, this could have been next door or clear across town. 
The problem is that addresses tend to be unimportant in Christiansted.  Even current residents don’t know the house numbers.  Even Google Maps didn’t know.  It finds the street, but not the number.  I had tried every way I could think of, even posting a question to the St. Croix Message board at
All this got resolved with my email.  The St. Croix Landmarks Society just sent me a scan of a US Government Public Works map entitled “Old Limits of Christiansted Town” with each unit marked and numbered.  The map is undated, but since it is a US Government map, it must have been after 1917.
Map Of C'sted Town old limits - Copy
Section of Christiansted map showing the location of 45 Fisher St. in Red.
By looking at the map, I am finally able to answer the question about the residences.  11 Queen Cross and 45 Fisher St are contiguous properties.  They moved just around the corner.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Microfilm’s In–An Offer for Readers

I just found out that the microfilm roll I ordered from the FHL is in.  It is the Lutheran church records for St Croix (FHL INTL Film 38861) covering:

  • Baptisms 1797-1865
  • Confirmations 1788-1860
  • Marriages 1788-1864
  • Burials 1788-1822
  • Communicants 1805-1818

Given the number of Lutherans in my van Beverhoudt family, this may be a gold mine, and it may be a dud.  I’m hopeful for the latter.  I figure it will take me a while to get through the roll, given the time it took to go through the Anglican records posted by, so if I’m doing the time perhaps I can help someone else too.

If you think your ancestor might be on this roll, please let me know what to look for so I can keep an eye out for it.  I’ll need to know the names and approximate dates, and which section (baptism, marriage, etc.) I should look in.  If I can, I’ll try to get a scan of the relevant pages.

I’ll start at the beginning and go to the end either way, and after I finish this roll, I’ll order another (unless I find that my family didn’t go to that church).  The collection is 4 rolls.

I’m hoping to get started Monday Oct 10, so let me know if you want me to look for something.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Case Study: Adelaide’s Maiden Name

Sometimes it’s nice to have a family entirely contained within a single island the size of St. Croix.  From 1835-1911, 87% of the census respondents listed St. Croix as their birthplace. In the mid 1800s, most people didn’t travel from the island and lived their whole lives there.  This makes it possible to do things that are difficult in other places.  One key technique for research that doesn’t work as well elsewhere is “process of elimination”.  I used this process to find my 2nd great grandmother’s maiden name. In this post, I will show the process I followed and the value one can get by looking beyond the ancestors to other people in the document. Virtually all evidence I found was indirect evidence, but indirect evidence can be as compelling as direct sometimes.

The Problem

My 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.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Anglican Church Records at

A visitor to my blog suggested that I talk about the sources I'm looking at in my own research to share what's out there and perhaps give some commentary on the sources. That sounded like a good idea, so I'll start with the most recent collection I've been viewing. is the on-line presence of the Family History Library (FHL) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Among other things, the new FamilySearch site hosts browsable images of VI church records. On September 7, 2011 they added a collection of Anglican church records from St Croix for both St John's Episcopal Anglican in Christiansted and St Paul's in Frederiksted. These records are organized into groups of Baptism, Marriage, Confirmation, and Burials spanning 1765-2009. This is quite a large collection of images of the church registers. Most of them appear to be originals, even showing editorial comments (such as payments for baptisms). Since, as I showed in my earlier post, Anglican was the largest denomination on the island, these are quite valuable resources for genealogy...