Monday, December 23, 2013

The Virgin Islands at War

Painting of the Bombardment of Copenhagen
As regular readers probably know, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately going through the latest St Croix collection (St Croix Death Records).  There a dozens of collections of records, comprising hundreds of documents.  One of these is a 32-image collection entitled “Free Male Inhabitants 1807”.  This sounds useful (who can’t use a list of Inhabitants from any particular year), but while it isn’t exactly what it seems, the document is actually much more interesting than that.

While Ancestry’s name of the collection certainly appears to be an accurate description (the people listed are free, male, live on St Croix, and it was for the year 1807), this isn’t a document of a census or a complete listing of free people.  The list is only adult males, children aren’t recorded.  Also it doesn’t appear to be comprehensive.  It appears that there are names missing from this document.  As a quick check, I looked at some burgherbriefs issued in 1806 and early 1807, figuring that those people would likely still be on island.  A Charles Ferdinand Wass, born in London, received his brief in December 1806 yet does not appear in the “List of Inhabitants” a year later.  Neither does an Alexander Instant, born in Scotland.  I also couldn't find Stephen Wheeler, born in North America, yet he received his brief in July 1807.

How useful is a “List of Inhabitants” that doesn’t show all the “Inhabitants”?   Well, not very, until you notice what the list really is.  To do that, I need to digress and discuss a bit of Virgin Island history that isn’t as well known as it should be.  It is a time when world events reached across the Atlantic to the little Danish islands and brought significant changes, affecting our families and their lives forever.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

St Croix Death Records on

imageWhen I began searching for my family there were very few records available online for St Croix. 

The best online collection was the St Croix census.  There were indexes at the Danish Demographic Database ( and VISHA ( and images on 

There were a few church records on FamilySearch ( and the copy of NARA’s Colored People records M-1883 on Fold3 (which has since been posted to 

That was about it.