Monday, February 4, 2013

Ancestral Homes: 45 Fisher St

Map Of C'sted Town old limits - CopyIf there’s one home that I can consider the “Ancestral Home”, it has to be the home of Johannes van Beverhoudt and Amey McNobney.  According to the St Croix Matricals, my family held that home from 1803 until 1924.  That is a total of 121 years.

During my trip to St Croix, one of the things I wanted to do was to see if I could locate the houses (or house sites) of as many ancestral homes as I could.  I believe I located not only the site, but also remnants of what may be the actual house my ancestors occupied for so long.

Using an old Public Works map, I located the approximate area of the homestead. Of course, there are very few house numbers listed in Christiansted, so the map is the best tool for finding addresses. The map is very old and the numbers are hard to read, so I had to estimate the locations.

When I walked to the location on the map, I didn’t see a 200-year old house.  I saw a brand new building. With a sign out front.  The site is the new location of the Women’s Coalition of St Croix. This was actually a stroke of luck, because looking at their page on LinkedIn, I found the address for the Coalition listed as 45 Fisher St.  They moved to this location in late 2011. It seems I found the correct location.  Only the house was gone. 

1803-R48S01 Matricul-IMG_6833 (Large)
1803 St Croix Matrical showing 45 Fisher St
When the house at 45 Fisher St was purchased, Amey Mc Nobney was 32 (b. abt 1771), according to later census records. Johannes van Beverhoudt was probably a few years older. 

I  can only estimate Johannes’ age since no birth record has been found.  Johannes was probably born between 1760 and 1770 on St Thomas and baptized in the Dutch Reformed faith.  These records have all been lost and he was dead by the date of the first St Croix census.  He moved to St Croix with his parents around 1774.

The 1803 matrical, which lists property taxes, slave taxes, and owners, shows that both Johannes and Amey Mac Nobney are listed at the property.  The matricals list both Johannes and Amey until 1831, at which point they only list Amey, variously as Amey McNobney and Amey van Beverhoudt (and a host of spelling variations) as the owner.  From this, I conclude that Johannes must have died about 1830, 11 years before the first available St Croix census.  I should note, that the house was listed as "Amey McNobney's Huus" for about 60 years after she died.

1803-R48S01 Matricul-IMG_6833 - Copy (Medium)
Detail of 1803 Matrical showing Johannes van Beverhoudt and Amey Mac Nobney at 45 Fisher St

Although it was somewhat disappointing to find that the home at 45 Fisher St no longer exists, it is possible that a remnant still remains.  Here is a photo of the house showing a wall and entryway of an old stone house, with the new Coalition building behind it.

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November 2012 Photo of 45 Fisher St
There are no identifying marks that I could find on the building at all to tell me how old it is, but it may be that this is the remains of the old family home.   The home passed from Amey to her daughter, Johanna Amy van Beverhoudt when Amey died in 1860. By 1890 the house was rented out, but held in Amey’s name.
By 1901 the house was vacant, and stayed listed in the matricals as vacant until the matricals end in 1924.  It’s possible that the house became abandoned.

While I don’t know yet if the remains are indeed the family home, I am pretty confident that the location is correct.  Walking around the area helped me put the family location in perspective, making the long uphill walk from the harbor and the easy downhill walk on Queen Cross St.  Much of the view today is the same as it has always been, particularly the topography.

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Inside and front Porch

So, now I have another project, and a much more difficult one.  I would like to know the history of the house at 45 Fisher St, particularly up to and after 1924.  If you know anything about the house, I would love to hear about it.  Also, if you have any pictures of the house, I would dearly love to see them!  Pictures may exist, as nearly directly opposite the house, across Fisher St, is the childhood home of Melvin Evans.  It may be that old pictures of his house show mine in the background.

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View of ruins at 45 Fisher St showing Front Steps

7 comments:

  1. Dave,

    Nice story. I've always enjoyed traipsing through old ancestral properties and home.

    My bet is that this is your old ancestral home's foundations. This foundation is from Danish days, in fact that is likely that why they chose not to tear it down and build directly on the site, putting the new building on a different site on the same property. It looks like there are yellow brick in the foundation- the Danes would bring the bricks from Flensburg(?) as ballast in the ships.

    You may be able to get more information about the property from the Government- I'm not sure of the exact department names, but they can give info as to the changes of ownership and as to the historic status of certain buildings..

    Dante

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  2. BTW, The foundation was brick and stone, but the upper floor of this house was likely wood with a hipped roof. The wood didn't stand up as well to the ravages of weather, hurricanes, and termites.

    Dante

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  3. Arnold van Beverhoudt Jr.February 4, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Great find, David. Thanks for sharing this piece of our family history.

    Arnold

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  4. About 5 years ago, a Danish Engineer by the name of Arne Rosenkvist came to St. Croix to conduct a comprehensive study of the old Danish roads and bridges. There may still be a free PDF copy of his study available somewhere on the internet. I think the study was called, "Old Roads and Bridges in the Danish West Indies". He might be able to analyze a sample of concrete taken from the foundation to give you an approximation of when it was built. I think his email is Arne.rosenkvist@mail.tele.dk but it might be old. If not, George Tyson knows how to reach him. Rosenkvist would also be a good source to get hold those old town drawings that you want. I'm sure he has carte blanche access to the Royal Danish Archives in Cophenhagen, the most likely source for this info up to 1917. Good luck!

    --Rachel

    http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2007/11/21/historic-bridges-could-be-tourist-attractions-danish-lecturer-say

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  5. It is really great to know that you have located the place your ancestors lived. And you are really fortunate in that respect. I left my family in Germany and I never found them. It is my great regret. Thank you again for sharing. We enjoyed a lot.

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  6. I just found your blog post today - I'm researching my Larsen ancestors who lived at 44 & 43 Fisher St - at least until the 1940's - I appreciate your pictures and maps. I hope to St Croix one day.

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    1. Hi geri, please send me an email at paradise200blog@verizon.net. I'd love to chat.
      According to the Matriculs, Jorgen Larsen owned the house at 44 Fisher St from 1871 until 1908 when it passed to his widow, Amalia Larsen. She appears to have sold it to Hubert Ebbesen in 1909.
      The property at 43 was registered to Amalia's daughter, Gertrude Larson from 1899 until the tax records finish up in 1924. According to the 1930 and 1940 census, she was still living there.

      Do you have any old photos of the house? Sadly, I don't. The last record I have of my family living at the house was around 1871, so I don't know if they were actually neighbors. I'll have to research further.

      Anyway, welcome and I hope you like the blog!

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