Saturday, October 20, 2012

Birthday Trip to Paradise

IMG_5388 (Medium)Are you obsessed with researching your family and visiting the places your ancestors lived?  Do you have difficulty convincing your spouse that an ancestral home town would be an exciting spot to spend that hard-earned vacation budget or precious annual leave? Here’s a great suggestion for how to get your spouse to not only support the idea, but to actually suggest it: 
Have ancestors from a beautiful tropical island.
This year, for my birthday, my wife suggested we take a trip to St. Croix so that I could visit all of the places I have found in my research and meet up with the people I’ve contacted.  Of course, if we spend some time at the beach, that would be fine too.  So we agreed and we’re going next month, from November 8th - 15th.
Although I’ve been there many times (this picture is from my 2006 visit), I never knew that my family had such a long history on the island.  I knew about my grandmother’s house on Strand St in Christiansted, but I never knew about the other family homes.  I definitely want to take a walking tour and get pictures of the locations I’ve found.  I want to visit 45 Fisher St, where the van Beverhoudts lived for 100 years.  I want to put some context into the records I‘ve collected. I also plan to visit Whim to look at their resources and we’ll hop over to St Thomas for a day. But, what else is there?  I don’t really know much about what’s available on-island that I can’t do from home.  This is where I need help.
I’m reaching out to any readers who are familiar with the resources on the islands.  What else should I do while I’m there?  What records/resources are available there that I can’t reasonably get from home?  How could I maximize the genealogical value of the trip?  What would you do if you only had a week (while leaving time for the beach)?  Who should I look up while I’m there?
Please leave me a comment or send me an email with suggestions.  With your help, I’m hoping this can be as productive as it will be fun.

3 comments:

  1. If you're only going to spend 1 day on St. Thomas, you should definitely do the Charlotte Amalie walking tour that starts at Blackbeard's castle and works it's way down to the Haagenson House (a 19th century Danish house), the 99 steps, Government House, and be sure to include the beautiful 17th century Danish Lutheran Church, Fort Christian (if it's open from renovations), Emancipation Garden, the Camille Pissaro House, and Market Square.

    I don't recommend wasting a gorgeous day in the Enid Baa Library because it takes forever to get anything from the research staff. If you want historical books about the DWI, instead go to the Dockside Bookshop where they carry a whole section on VI literature/history with stuff you can't get anywhere else.

    A nice place to have lunch would be the Hotel 1829 because of its historic feel. There is also a nice cafe associated with A.H. Riise that is situated in a cool palm tree-shaded alleyway and is close to great shopping.

    You can also take a taxi up to Mountain Top for the unforgettable view, a frozen daiquiri and a chocolate-covered frozen banana, then head down to Magens Bay for great swimming.

    The Danish Cemetery is also nice to visit, with its historic feel.

    Enjoy your trip!!!
    --Rachel

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  2. Arnold van Beverhoudt Jr.October 21, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    David,

    In addition to Rachel's excellent suggestions, I'm sure you'd want to stop by the VI Genealogy Center to at least say "hi" to the staff there (if you happen to visit on a day when they're open). It would also be nice if we could meet up somewhere for lunch, maybe at Petite Pump Room on the Waterfront for a local meal with a nice view of the harbor. Thursday and Friday are often non-cruise ship days and, therefore, should have much less car and people traffic.

    Arnold

    PS: On Rachel's list ... the area around the Market Square is undergoing major renovation work and is full of barricades, culverts, construction equipment, etc. So, you might want to leave that stop off your list for this trip.

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  3. David,

    I'm sure you'll visit Whim Plantation Museum near Frederiksted during your stay. You'll want to tour the Great House and the out buildings. The Museum is home to a fabulous Research Library and Archives, where you will find the VISHA African Roots Project/St. Croix Population Database, and a host of microfilm, microfiche, and paper copies of records pertaining to the Danish West Indies. It's a one-stop shop for finding DWI documents of genealogical significance that you might otherwise have to travel to US National Archives - NARA (College Park, MD), the Danish National Archives - Rigsarkiv (Copenhagen, DK), or other repositories to find. At Whim you are also bound to run into several of your "fans" who regularly peruse your blog, and I'm sure they'd enjoy meeting you. The library at Whim Museum is open Wednesday - Friday 1pm - 4pm, and Saturday 10am - 4pm.

    Ricki

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