Saturday, May 26, 2012

Captain Christian Andreas Conrad (1802-1875)

A couple of weeks ago my great great grandfather, C. A. Conrad, was a complete mystery to me.  I had been looking for who he was and where he came from since I began my family research.  He appeared in no census and owned no property.  Occasionally I would find a tempting piece of information, but nothing to tell me where to look next. Then I found a document with the missing piece of information: He was from Flensburg (A Burgherbrief Brings Down a Brick Wall). Once I knew where to look I found him in a census.  Then a friend in Copenhagen suggested that I contact Cay-Erik Geipel in Flensburg, who graciously found quite a bit of information in his resources and the Flensburg archives.  Over the last couple of weeks we pieced together a rather full account of him, and discovered some rather unexpected details of his “other” family, in Flensburg.

flensburg map
Map showing Shleswig-Holstein. Flensburg is near the top

Just south of the Danish-German border lies the former Danish harbor town of Flensburg, in the former Duchy of Schleswig, today part of Schleswig-Holstein Germany. Flensburg is an important town for the history of the Danish West Indies and for my family in particular. According to Wikipedia (where all things are true) between 1460 and 1864, Flensburg was the second biggest port in Denmark, after Copenhagen. In the 18th century, Flensburg had an economic boom resulting from the rum trade with the islands. Ships from the Danish West Indies carried sugar cane (or more likely either cane juice or molasses) to Flensburg where it was distilled into rum. Today, you can visit the Flensburg Rum Museum (website in German) dedicated to this time. The Duchy belonged to the Danish crown, but in many ways it was more like a territory than a state. Many people were more strongly associated with the German states and the Duchy was only loosely controlled by Denmark. Even the language of the official records from the 18th and 19th centuries in Schleswig is different. Most of the records are German, not Danish.

 Andreas’ Early Life in Flensburg and the “First” Family

On June 6, 1802, Christian Andreasen Conrad, often simply “Andreas”, was born in Adelby [1], a suburb of Flensburg, to Johann Michel Conrad and Maria Christiansen (daughter of Nels and Karen Christiansen) [2]. He was baptized three days later. In 1801, the Danish Government required a census of all Danish citizens. Schleswig complied, after two years. This delay was fortunate for the genealogy of Christian Andreas Conrad as he was alive and counted in the census held in 1803 at the age of 1. Had the census been held when it was ordered, he would not have been born and I may not have ever found him.

In the 1803 census, Christian Andreasen Conrad, age 1, was living in a region called Süderhohlweg in Adelby in Schleswig. He lived with his father, Johann Michel (age 56), his mother Maria Christiansen (age 46), his brother Christian Hinrich Conrad (age 6) and a half brother from Maria’s first marriage, Jens Nielsen (age 20). In 1803, Johann was identified as a stone mason and Jens was listed as “often away at sea” [3]. Little is known about Christian Hinrich or Jens, but it is likely that they both worked supporting the sea trade in Flensburg.

Marriage Christian - Copy
Page from Adelby Parish Book showing the Marriage of Andreas and Anna Nielsen
Andreas’ father, Michel, died in 1806, when Andreas was only 4 years old. Presumably, like a great many in Flensburg, Andreas took to sea as a young man. He probably served time on many ships supporting the rum trade. By 1830, Andreas was working as a seaman. On 2 Jul 1830, Andreas became engaged to Anna Maria Nielsen, daughter of Niels Nielsen and Elisabeth nee Höck who also lived in Süderhohlweg, Adelby [4]. They married on 25 Jul and had three children:
  • Johann Andreas (b. 18 Apr 1830) [5]
  • Heinrich Peter Nicolai (c. 1838)[6]
  • Catharina Maria (c. 1842) [6]
This was Christian Andreas Conrad’s family in Flensburg.

Captain Christian Andreas Conrad

1836-Arrivals-A Conrad-DVD3-00006
1838 Christiansted Passenger List showing Arrival of Capt A. Conrad
He would have advanced through his career as a seaman, them perhaps as a mate, until he could become captain of his own ship. On 15 Aug 1838 he was made a Burgher of Flensburg and granted a Burgherbrief as a Ship Captain. According to the Flensburg Burgherbuch [7], Andreas was the captain of the frigate Tidselholt, a ship owned by Andreas Christiansen Jr. Andreas Conrad must have set sail for the West Indies shortly thereafter because the Christiansted arrivals lists show a ship under Capt. A. Conrad arriving from Flensburg on 10 Nov 1838 [8].

In the years that follow, Andreas appears to have made many trips to the islands. The St Croix passenger lists show arrivals on 14 Dec 1839, 15 Nov 1840, and 11 Nov 1842. Unfortunately, the records stop there and I have not located any records of arrivals in St Croix after that time. Andreas did not own property on St Croix and left few other records on the island.

Carrying shiploads of sugar was much more difficult in the 1840s than it is today. Ship captains often spent considerable time, often months, at each end of the trip. Some had to wait at anchor until the cane could be harvested and converted into sugar juice, sugar, or molasses and transported across the island to the ship. Andreas certainly spent long weeks in Christiansted, nearly each per year, while he loaded the Tidselholt with cargo. One may assume that he spent most of his days coordinating the loading and preparing for the trip, but he undoubtedly had quite a bit of time for social matters. He may have spent time with other Danish-born members of society, sharing the same language and occupying similar positions in the social hierarchy of Danish society. It is possible that Andreas was engaged in a business or social relationship with Frederich Andersen, a trader who was born in Copenhagen and a burgher of St Croix. Their association would not have lasted long as Frederich appears to have died by 1841 [9].

Andreas was back home in Flensburg in time to be counted in the census in 1845. He was listed with his wife and three children living in the St Johannis parish of Flensburg [10]. He was a member of the “Schiffergelag”, a brotherhood of ship captains and seamen. The Schiffergelag was formed in 1602 as both a social club and a guild house, seeing to the welfare of seamen and their families. The Schiffergelad maintained funds for widows and orphans and assisted with burial costs of seamen. The organization still exists today.  Andreas was a member from 1845-1874 [11]

Andreas in St. Croix and The “Second” Family

In 1846 Andreas received his burgherbrief as a ship captain in St Croix [12]. The brief noted that he had previously been a burgher in Flensburg.  He must have been spending considerable time there because he is on the list of burghers entitled to vote and hold council office in 1851 [13] and 1854 [14]. The 1851 list, published in the St Croix Avis, cited him as “Absent”.
1845-Burgher Brief-Johannes van Beverhoud-AC Conradt
St Croix Burgherbrief for Christian Andreas Conrad
Sometime around 1853, Andreas began a long time intimate relationship with Frederich Andersen’s daughter Sophia Amalia Frederica Andersen. Sophia was about 28, having been born on 25 Apr 1825 [15]. The St Croix census of 1841, Sophia was living with her mother Elizabeth Scott, her brothers Frederick Christian and Henry Augustus, and her sister Maria Magdalena in their home at 52A Company St in Christiansted.  By 1850 they had moved to 18 Kings St where they remained. Sophia became owner of the property in 1861.
Andreas and Sophia had at least four children, all with the surname Conrad. These were:
  • Anna Sophia Conrad (b. 5 Nov 1854) [17]
  • Elizabeth Conrad (b. 18 Nov 1856) [18]
  • Christian Andreas Conrad (b. 18 Nov 1858) [19]
  • Mary Elizabeth Conrad (b. 1 Feb 1861) [20]
The first three children were all born in November, showing that by that time Andreas’ annual visits were occurring in about February. Whether he came annually or possibly every two years is unknown. He still spent considerable time and maintained his burgher status; he was listed in the voter list for Christiansted in 1859 [21].

Two of these children’s family lines still exist. Christian Andreas became Comptroller of Customs for St Croix and married Hester van Beverhoudt. He was my great grandfather. Mary Conrad married Harald Simonsen and moved to New Jersey. (At least one of her descendants is a regular reader of this blog!)

Andreas’ Last Days in Flensburg

Throughout this time, Andreas maintained his home and family in Flensburg. He is listed in the address book of 1868/9 [22] in Flensburg.

It isn’t clear how long he maintained travel between St Croix and Flensburg, I have found no concrete reference to him apart from and entry in Anna Sophia Conrad’s confirmation record. From that, he may have been present or he may have simply been recorded as her father. [23]
C. A. Conrad
A. C. Conrad c. 1870
Christian Andreas Conrad died in Adelby on 11 Jul 1875 and was buried on 15 Jul 1875. [24] The parish book reads like a miniature obituary. It cites the names of his wife and children from Flensburg together with their whereabouts in 1875:
Captain Christian Andreas Conrad, a son of laborer (Arbeiter) Johann Andreas Conrad and Maria nee Michelsen [25] in the Süderhohlweg, leaves behind from the marriage with Anna Maria nee Nielsen 3 children, 1) Johann Andreasen in Hamburg, 2) Heinrich Peter Nicolai in America, 3) Catharina Maria in the St. Marien parish
The death record misstates his parentage. Both census records and Andreas' marriage records record Johann Michel Conrad and Maria Christiansen.  Since these records were earlier, and Andreas was alive, they are more reliable.

Of course, no reference is made at all to the Second Family, the family in the islands - my family.

Back in October, I wrote about this picture (Treasures from Mom’s House) that I had located.  It had written on the back “A. C. Conrad.  I had no way of dating the picture at the time, but since Andreas died in 1875, this must necessarily predate that.  There are no other identifying marks on the picture but it may possibly have been taken in Flensburg and brought to St Croix. 

In 1864 following the Second Schleswig War, Denmark ceded the territory of Schleswig to Prussia. From that time on, Flensburg was a German city. Since the city was always more German than Danish, it wasn’t a difficult change for the average citizen, but it certainly changes the way we now look for genealogical information. I am beginning to look to see if there are any living descendants from my great-great grandfather’s First family. I have only located Johann Andreasen, who emigrated to the US in 1848 and took the name “Andrew”. His passport application of 1893 cites his birthplace as “Schleswig-Holstein”. Although he married, I have not located any children as of yet.

[1] Christian Andreasen’s Baptism-Adelby Parish book 1802
[2] Marriage record of Johann Michel Conrad and Maria Christiansen-Adelby Parish Book 1801 No. 22
[3] 1803 Flensburg census, FT-1803, C1174
[4] Engagement of Christian Andreas and Elizabeth-Adelby Parish Book 1830
[5] , U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925-He obtained US citizenship in 1859 under the name “Andrew Conrad”
[6] 1845 Flensburg census, FT-1845, C5604
[7] Gerhard Kraack, Heinz Kellermann, Bürgerbuch der Stadt Flensburg: Verzeichnis der Neubürger von 1558 bis 1869 (Flensburg: Gesellschaft f. Flensburger Stadtgesch, 1999), Entry 9972 Christian Andreas (Andresen) Conrad.
[8] St. Croix Passenger Lists 1794-1843; Rigsarkiv [National Archives], Copenhagen , Denmark. Arrival of Capt A Conrad,
[9] Friderich Andersen does not appear in the first St Croix census of 1841, yet he had owned property in C’sted
[10] 1845 Flensburg census, FT-1845, C5604
[11] Op. cit. note 7 above
[12] St. Croix Burgher Briefs 1799-1911; West Indies Local Archive (VILA); Rigsarkiv [National Archives], Copenhagen , Denmark.
[13] List of Voters 1854-64, f 222-223, 1851 Voter List; M1884-Selected Records of the Danish West Indies, 1672-1917; Records with Genealogical ValueRecords of the Danish West Indies, Record Group RG-55; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
[14] List of Voters 1854-64, f 224-225, 1854 Voter List; M1884-Selected Records of the Danish West Indies, 1672-1917; Records with Genealogical ValueRecords of the Danish West Indies, Record Group RG-55; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
[15] Lutheran Mission Church (Lord God of Sabaoth) (Christiansted, St Croix), Church Records 1818-1901, Ministerial Acts 1818-1845, Baptism of Sophia Fredericka Amalia; FHL 1520663.
[16] Danish Lutheran Church (Christiansted, St Croix, Virgin Islands), Church Books v07-11 1788-1818, Bk 08, Confirmations 1822-1860, unnumbered (chronological)
Confirmation of Sophia Andersen; FHL INTL 0038861.
[17] Bk 08, Baptisms 1822-1860, unnumbered (chronological)
Baptism of Anna Sophia Conrad
[18] Lutheran Mission Church (Lord God of Sabaoth) (Christiansted, St Croix), Church Records 1818-1901, Ministerial Acts 1845-60, ff. 70, Baptism of Elizabeth Conrad; FHL 1520663.
[19] Lutheran Mission Church (Lord God of Sabaoth) (Christiansted, St Croix), Church Records 1818-1901, Ministerial Acts 1845-60, ff. 144, Baptism of Christian Andreas; FHL 1520663.
[20] Danish Lutheran Church (Christiansted, St Croix, Virgin Islands), Church Books v12-17 1862-1911, Bk 14, Confirmations-1873-1889, 1896-1910, unnumbered (chronological)
Confirmation of Mary Eliza Conrad; FHL INTL 300996.
[21] List of Voters 1854-64, f 226-227, 1859 Voter List; M1884-Selected Records of the Danish West Indies, 1672-1917; Records with Genealogical ValueRecords of the Danish West Indies, Record Group RG-55; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
[22] Op. cit. note 7 above
[23] Danish Lutheran Church (Christiansted, St Croix, Virgin Islands), Church Books v12-17 1862-1911, Bk 13, Confirmations 1864-1872, unnumbered (chronological)
Confirmation of Anna Sophia Conrad; FHL INTL 300996.
[24] 1875 Adelby Parish Book
[25] The writer was wrong concerning the father’s name. Other records are clear on this point.


  1. What wonderful information you have found! You must be doing the genealogy happy dance right now.
    Incidentally my relatives, the Foss family, owned and lived at 17 King Street for many years. They must have known Captain Conrad!

  2. I think that might be right. According to the St Croix matricals, Procurator Ole Foss boght 17 Kings St in 1827. The Andersens moved in to 18 Kings St in 1846. So he probaly knew the Andersens very well at the time Andreas was frequenting the place. Since Ole and Andreas were both Danes, they probably would have socialized. One way or another, we're all connected!

  3. So there are 'skeletons' in our closets? Very interesting, and I truly appreciate your hard work in locating our family!

  4. Hello Webmaster,

    congratulation for this nice article, but

    the Button of "FLENSBURGER SCHIFFERGELAG" can directly link to ""

    Sorry, my English is not very good!

    Detlev Wulff

  5. Thanks Detlev, I've fixed the link. Don't worry, your English is better than my German!