Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from 200 Years

SCAN0118 (Medium)I wish a very Merry Christmas for all of you from 200 Years in Paradise.  Christmas is a time for family and no one understands that better than those of us who spend the whole year thinking about family, genealogists and Family Historians.

For Christmas this year, I wanted to post a picture of Christmas in St Croix, but I have very few of them.  I assume that there are very few pictures that look like Christmas since decorations were typically indoors and I don’t think my grandfather had a flash in the early days.  Nearly all of my photos are outside.  I did run across this picture, a nativity scene in a church.  While there is no indication on the photo of where or when the picture was taken, I think it’s probably Holy Cross Catholic Church.

While I was looking, I found this picture.  From the railing, it may be the same church.  I’m not sure it is a Christmas picture, but it could be.  Does anyone recognize the church?  Is it a Christmas picture?  I’d love any information at all.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pictures from Paradise

One of my readers who is suffering with the Hurricane Sandy aftermath asked for some pictures from my recent trip to St Croix. While I had planned to post some of them, as they applied to genealogy, it’s taking me too long to work through them so here’s a start.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top 10 Sources for your Virgin Island Roots

Back when I began my search for my Virgin Island roots I found it hard to figure out where to start looking for information.  There are many books and blogs about record types and sources for US and European genealogy, but nothing that really talks to the wealth of documentation on the Danish West Indies.  In my work I have found and consulted a large variety of resources.  I have by no means exhausted them.  Below I list the Top 10 that should be on the "must read" list for anyone researching their Virgin Island family, and where these resources are.  Many of these records are available at the St Croix Landmarks Library at Whim and the Caribbean Genealogical Library in Charlotte Amalie, but as I am off-island, I have indicated where they can be found from the mainland.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ancestral Homes–11 A Company St

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11 A Company Street, Christiansted St Croix
One of the main projects I had planned for my visit to St Croix was to walk around Christiansted and locate my ancestors homes.  I figured that the structures themselves were probably gone, but at least I could find where they were located, to get a sense of the place. 

Since the records of St Croix are sufficiently voluminous and detailed, I have collected over 170 house numbers of relatives in town.  To keep the project small, I reduced this to just the addresses of my direct line and still was left with 28, scattered all over town.  During my trip, we walked until our feet gave out, but were able to document many of them.  I still have some left for a future trip.  It is interesting to look at the history of the house, and see how much we can glean from our genealogical records.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Return from Paradise

IMG_7622 (Small)
Customs House and Fort in Christiansted
Last week I visited the beautiful island of St Croix.  It wasn’t the first time I’ve been there, but after all the research I’ve done on my family, I saw it with new eyes.   I managed to get at least some of my wish list accomplished on the trip, although to tell the truth, I frequently got distracted.  I had to spend time at the beach, diving, and the mandatory boat trip to Buck Island.  So, while I’m getting back into the groove of real life, I wanted to do just a quick post and hint at what I’ll be writing about soon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Benefits of Unindexed Records

While I was preparing for my interview (, I thought about the difficulties faced when working in an area that doesn’t have many indexed records.  I raised the point on the show that as a Virgin Islands researcher, we are typically required to look through large record sets, every line on every page.  While this is indeed daunting, it brings its own reward.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

BlogTalk Radio–After Action Report

medium_1412225I just finished my interview with Bernice Bennett on Research at the National Archives and Beyond.  It was really a lot of fun.  I just hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.  For those of you from the islands, I hope I portrayed our homeland well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blogtalk Radio - Searching for Your Island Roots with David Lynch

Flyer-Radio_Talk_ShowAs I mentioned before, I will be interviewed on Thursday, Oct 25, at 9pm ET by Bernice Bennett, the host of Research at the National Archives and Beyond.  This is an internet radio program, broadcast live and recorded for later retrieval via web or podcast.  Here is the official announcement.
Searching for Your Island Roots with David Lynch
Bernice Bennett welcomes David Lynch who brings a new approach to searching his Caribbean roots, specifically in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the former Danish West Indies. David used his 20 years of experience in scientific research to guide his work in uncovering his family’s 300 year history in the islands. Very few records are available online, so David explored the rarely used NARA RG 55 in College Park and other sources. These records hold a wealth of information including tax lists and a nearly complete set of newspapers from St Croix dating from the early 1800’s. In the process he learned a lot about the islands, the people, and a family history that was very different then he expected.
He chronicles his discoveries in his blog – 200 Year’s in Paradise – selected as one of Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 for 2012
To listen, just click on the link here. If you want to participate, you can call in with comments or questions at (646) 200-0491.  There is also a live text chat line that should be opened at about 8:45 ET, about 15 minutes before the show.

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.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Half-Cousins: Are they Really Just Cousins?

Recently, I participated in a LinkedIn discussion about a perennial genealogy problem:  How do you calculate degrees of cousins and “removes”?  Most people are, understandably, lost when you refer to a 3rd cousin twice removed.  I offered my two cents on how the system worked.  Then a new topic came up.  What do you call the relationship between children of half-siblings, children with only one common parent?  “Half-cousins”? Can you have “Half 3rd cousins twice removed”?  Is this even a real term?  Many people commented on this and apparently this discussion has been around a while.  So, I figured I’d chime in.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Timeline Pedigree

Some time ago I ran across a novel approach for displaying ancestor timelines on the ProGenealogists blog.  In their November 10, 2011 post Timeline Pedigree Charts, they describe a way to build a timeline in Excel that gives a visual representation of the pedigree chart with a little timeline thrown in.  While it takes a little planning it’s well worth it and really helps put your ancestors in context.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Anniversary to 200 Years in Paradise

It was one year ago today that I began 200 Years in Paradise.  Through this blog I have been introduced to a passionate and knowledgeable community of Virgin Islands history enthusiasts and professionals.  I have been able to share my research, what I have learned about genealogy, and the continual unfolding of my family’s Virgin Island history.

I started this blog with modest goals.  I wanted to share my research with family and friends, without the eye-glazing that often accompanies my energetic discussions of “interesting family facts”.  In addition, I was frustrated at the almost complete lack of on-line references and research aids to Virgin Islands genealogy.  I wanted to begin to fill that void.  I wanted to bring the Virgin Islands into the world stage of genealogy as a full member, not simply as a curiosity.  I wanted to bring the history alive with people, places, society, pictures, and poetry, connecting these little islands with their Danish roots and their century of American ties.  I hope that I achieved at least some of that with my posts.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Radio Show Announcement–October 25, 2012

BTR FlyerWell, it’s official.  I received the October Line-Up for Blog Talk Radio’s Research at the National Archives and Beyond. I will be appearing on the show on Thursday, October 25, 2012 to discuss my Island Research. 

The show is on Internet Radio.  It will be broadcast live and archived for later listening, either from the web or by podcast through iTunes.  Research at the National Archives and Beyond is structured as an interview program, with the host, Bernice Bennett, asking questions and opening lines of discussion.  For those who listen live, there will be a chat facility that allows listeners to ask questions or make comments live.  Bernice usually makes time in the show to read and respond to the listeners’ questions.

If you haven’t listened to this program before, you’re missing out.  Go to and listen to some episodes.  And be sure to mark your calendar for October 25, at 9pm Eastern Time for the entry of the Virgin Islands into the consciousness of mainstream genealogy.  It’s about time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who’s In the House–Agnes Carrington

Most of my research has been on my maternal grandfather’s line.  I have not done much work at all on my grandmother’s line, mostly since I have a couple of cousins who have been working it for a long time.  My grandmother, Olga Lagonterie (1899-1986), was from St. Lucia, another small island.  Of course, she eventually came to St Croix, or she wouldn’t have met my grandfather.  In fact she came to St Croix in 1927, with her mother, Blanche Lagonterie (b. 1867) and sister Blanche Lagonterie (b. 1901).  In the 1930 census, all three were living in Christiansted, renting a house belonging to my grandfather’s family.
Section of 1940 Census showing household of Blanche Lagonterie
By 1940, the younger Blanche had moved to New York and Olga had married my grandfather, Ludvig. The elder Blanche, age 74, was living in Christiansted but had moved to 47 Company St. My cousin pulled the 1940 Census page and noticed something very strange.  In Blanche Lagonterie’s household there was listed another person, Agnes Carrington, age 16.  She is listed as an Adopted Daughter.  Since I had never heard of an adopted daughter, I asked my family.  No one had ever heard the name.  So we wondered: 

Who’s Agnes Carrington, and what is she doing in my great-grandmother’s house in 1940?

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New St Croix Family History Blog

I’d like to welcome a new member to the blogging community and the only other Virgin Islands genealogy blog I know of.  My Genealogical Journey traces blogger Shelley Dewese’s experience researching her family.  Like this blog, she shares her personal discoveries as well as bits and pieces of Danish West Indies history as she uncovers them.  Her family, the Bough and Beaudhuy families, have lived in St Croix for over 200 years, in paradise!

Although I don’t know of a connection between our families, there is one person whom I ran across with a very interesting name:  In Oct 1874 a child of one Ernst McNobney Beaudhuy and Mary Duncan was baptized in the Lutheran Church.  The middle name suggests that there may be a maternal relationship with my ancestor, Amey McNobney.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Anyway, please welcome Shelly to the community!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

So, What’s Interesting to You?

I’ve just returned from a short vacation to the sand and sun of southern Florida.  While I was away, I got an email from Bernice Bennett, the host of a genealogy oriented Internet Radio Show, Research at the National Archives & Beyond.  Ms. Bennett asked me if I would be a guest on her show on October 25, 2012 to discuss my research and the interesting topic of Virgin Islands genealogy.  Of course, I can’t refuse such an opportunity.

The show is a live broadcast web-feed show, with listeners commenting and asking questions through on-line chat.  It airs every Thursday at 8pm Central Time. The shows are available as podcast on iTunes for those, like me, who listen to the show later.  The show covers virtually all aspects of genealogy and family history.  I listen regularly.

Ms. Bennett asked me to send her an outline, or at least talking points, for what I want to discuss.  That’s where you can help.  What topics are interesting to you?  Was there a post you would like me to talk more about?  A topic I’ve not addressed you’ve been interested in?  Records I should discuss?  Island history?  Let me know and I’ll see if I can talk about it on the air.  What should we tell the rest of the community about our heritage? All ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Leave me a comment or send me an email at and let me know the kind of things you want to hear about, or things you think the other listeners would be interested in.  After I firm up the outline, I’ll post links to the show and information on how to get the podcast.  I hope you’ll tune in.

It’s not often the Virgin Islands get mentioned in mainstream genealogy circles, much less get a whole broadcast episode devoted to them.  Let’s make the most of it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Genealogy in the Virgin Islands-A Curse … and a Blessing

I have been taking a time-out from my VI research and spreading my wings a little researching my wife’s family (I figure she’ll be a lot more cooperative with my obsession if I get her family involved). Her family comes from southwestern Virginia, a little town in Russell County called Swords Creek. With the experience I gained doing my own family research, I knew I would be able to make decent headway fairly quickly, I had no idea how easy, and hard, it would be researching an all-American family. In the process, I’ve had occasion to think contrast the challenges we face as Virgin Island researchers. So in this post I thought I’d contrast the two.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tracing Your Sources

Trace your Sources?  I’ve heard about tracing your ancestors, but how do you trace “sources”? 

While researching my family I worked with many sources of information.  Sometimes, the sources are freely available, other times they can be quite tough to find.  In addition to primary original sources, such as certificates and registers, there are loads of secondary sources as well as derivatives and transcriptions.  A good researcher makes use of all of them in their research, giving each source the credibility it deserves.  It also allows careful researchers to verify your research for themselves.  Sometimes, derivative sources point to primary sources but other times they simply point to more derivatives.  Then you need to trace them back, step by step.  I had to do this recently myself.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The First van Beverhoudts in the Danish West Indies

The van Beverhoudts were among the earliest families in the Danish West Indies.  They were Dutch planters that settled the island and made it their home.  This post discusses the earliest known Beverhoudts to live there and some of my oldest ancestors from the islands.

The Danish West India company established their first post on St. Thomas, in what was to become the Danish West Indies, in 1657.  The Danish West India and Guinea Company, chartered in 1671 by King Christian V of Denmark, established control over St Thomas by 1672 and controlled the island until 1754.  This period was described in the landmark book, “The Danish West Indies under Company Rule (1671-1754)” by Waldemar Westergaard in 1917.  The book is public domain and can be found online and is very interesting reading.  It is the standard reference for the earliest days of the Danish West Indies.  On page 38, Westergaard describes the earliest colonists on St Thomas [emphasis mine]:
The new masters had scarcely begun settlement, before  colonists of various sorts began to seep in. The greater number  of them belonged to the Dutch nation, and were seeking the  protection of a state that they supposed to be on friendly terms  with the English, who were harrying the Dutch wherever they  dared. Some of these, as John von Beverhoudt, became planters of distinction and even founded influential families; others, like Carl Baggaert, an absconder from Middelburg, became trouble makers who soured the life of the governor and those in authority with him. Although French, Germans, English, and Jews were among these early settlers, Dutch became the prevailing language from the beginning.
Who, exactly Westergaard was referring to as "John von Beverhoudt" is unknown (there were several Johannes van Beverhoudts), but it is known that the Beverhoudts were among the earliest families on St Thomas.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Understanding Virgin Islands Records at Rigsarkivet

In a previous post, New VI Records-First Impressions, I discussed some new records  posted to from several sources.  In that post, I described how to recognize and source records from NARA RG 55.  I had begun a follow-on article on how to understand the records from Rigsarkivet (RA), the Danish Archives.  Sadly, the collection only lasted a week before it was withdrawn (Virgin Islands Records Vanished from, and so I never completed the post.  As I'm watching Gabby Douglas struggle on the Balance Beam in London, I figured I'd complete that post.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Guest Blog: Halvor Jochimsen-Expulsion from Paradise

In Sophie Shiller’s article, Guest Blog: Sophie Schiller on the History Behind “Transfer Day”-Part Two, she describes how she developed her “villain” character, based on the real German Consul and director of the Hamburg-America office in St. Thomas, Julius Jochimsen. Sophie graciously put me in contact with Julius’ grandson, Halvor Jochimsen, who agreed to write up a history of his family connections to St Thomas and the events surrounding Transfer Day.  This, the third of the Guest Blogs, was written by Halvor Jochimsen of Flintbek, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guest Blog: Sophie Schiller on the History Behind “Transfer Day”-Part Two

This is the second part of a two-part series by author Sophie Schiller.  You can read part one here.


By Sophie Schiller
Typical WWI U-boat
The idea intrigued me greatly. No doubt, creating a believable German U-boat character posed a tempting intellectual challenge for me. But there were still many barriers to cross. For one thing, could I actually create a believable German soldier character? And even if I did, how on earth would I get him to St. Thomas in the middle of a war? And finally, were World War I era U-boats even capable of reaching the West Indies?
To tackle these questions, I dove into the study of U-boats.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Blog: Sophie Schiller on the History Behind “Transfer Day”-Part One

In this post and the next, Sophie Schiller, the author of the novel “Transfer Day” (New Historical Novel Set in St. Thomas–“Transfer Day” by Sophie Shiller) shares her story of how she researched and wrote her book.  In it she discusses some lesser known aspects of Virgin Islands history.  Thanks to Sophie for sharing this with all of us at 200 Years in Paradise.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

US Virgin Islands Passenger Arrivals on just added a database of interest to VI researchers. On July 16 they added the "US Virgin Islands, Passenger Arrivals Index, 1906-1947".  The listing is a searchable index to the passenger lists, consisting of digitized cards for each individual and a reference to the manifest of the ship.  These are only indexes, but contain some useful information as well as a pointer to the actual manifest.  Ancestry's description is below:

About US Virgin Islands, Passenger Arrivals Index, 1906-1947

This database is an index to the passenger lists of ships arriving from foreign ports at the port of St Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands from 1906-1948.
In addition, the names found in the index are linked to actual images of the passenger lists, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm lists.
Information contained in the index includes:
  • Given name
  • Surname
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Arrival date
  • Port of arrival
  • Port of departure
  • Ship name

Source Information US Virgin Islands, Passenger Arrivals Index, 1906-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Index to Passenger Arrivals in the U.S. Virgin Islands, compiled ca. 1906 - ca.1947; (National Archives Microfilm Publication A3404, 7 rolls); Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004, Record Group 85; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Making my 2012 Family-a-Month Calendar

12 Month Calendar_Page_01 - CopyThis week one of my old posts has gotten a resurgence of interest due to a discussion on LinkedIn entitled “Thinking Out of the Box - Creating Things with Genealogy"  by Bernice Bennett.  Bernice hosts a weekly internet Radio show entitled  “Research at the National Archives and Beyond”.   Bernice asked for ideas for creative uses of genealogical research to share on her show.  I posted a link to A Genealogical Christmas Present from January 11, where I showed a calendar I created for my family as a Christmas gift this past year.  Well, I got a lot of comments and emails on the calendar asking what I did, so I figured I’d share the construction techniques I used.  I mentioned some of the ideas in my January post, but I wanted to expand on it.  The whole project, from conception to shipping was about  two weeks.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

New Historical Novel Set in St. Thomas–“Transfer Day” by Sophie Shiller

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from one of my regular readers telling me that she had just published her first novel, set in 1917 St. Thomas.  The book is called “Transfer Day”, by Sophie Shiller.  It is available as a digital download on Amazon Kindle for 99¢.  I believe it is soon to be published in paperback.  If you’ve got a spare buck, give it a read.  I bought a copy right away and found it quite enjoyable.

Here’s the description from

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Essay: Wrong Information on the Internet Doesn’t Bother Me

If you read genealogy blogs for very long, you will encounter many discussions on what is perhaps the most common complaint in all of genealogy: Many people are putting up incorrect family tree information.  Blog posts suggest ways of dealing with this pariah, such as 3 Ways to Contend With Incorrect Family Tree Data Online, and, and the spread of misinformation.  A Google search of “Incorrect Family Trees” returned 1,840 that use this expression.  Many have complained that sites like and encourage posting poorly done research and should remove inaccurate information from their sites.  I’ve even heard some say that they have “been forced” to make their information private to discourage people from using it incorrectly.  This week, there was an active discussion on the Genealogical & Historical Research group of LinkedIn entitled Incorrect information on the Internet--how do you stop that story? that caused me to reflect on why, exactly, it doesn’t bother me at all.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Obituary: Joan Marilyn van Beverhoudt Thorne

One of my regular readers, Rachel, sent me this obituary from the Virgin Islands Daily News.  It is the obituary of Joan Marilyn van Beverhoudt Thorne, who is my 4th cousin once removed.
Joan Marilyn van Beverhoudt Thorne

Former North Carolina resident Joan Marilyn van Beverhoudt Thorne, 74, died June 11, 2012.

Per her wishes, there will be no service held.

"Joanie" was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, on June 24, 1937. Joan lived, worked and raised her family in Farmville, N.C., before deciding to move back to Montrose, Colo., in 2005. She was residing in Colorado at the time of her passing.

Like her father before her, Joan's love of plants and flowers showed in every plot of land that she touched. She also loved spending time with family, especially her grandchildren.

Joan was preceded in death by her parents, Arnold Edward van Beverhoudt (aka Chief) and Henrietta Olga Creque van Beverhoudt; ex-husband, Leonard F. Thorne; and granddaughter Brandy Nichole Smith.

Joan is survived by her children, Pamela Stewart, Leonard A. Thorne, Elaine Stewart and Emily Andrews; sisters, Marion Miller and Jacquelyn Templin; brothers, Arnold van Beverhoudt Jr. and Steven van Beverhoudt; grandchildren, Adam Stewart, Tiffany Stewart, Corey Stewart, Natalee Stewart, Allen Smith, Arthur Jacob Thorne and Ashley Nicole Andrews; and four great-grandchildren.

You are at peace and free of all that kept you here.

- Obituary written by the family.
Joan’s half-brother Arnold Jr. is a regular reader of this blog. Please accept the heartfelt condolences from “200 Years” and our whole community.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Christiansted Cemetery-Like the Good Old Days

131My grandparents, Ludvig Conrad (1894-1972) and Olga Conrad nee Lagonterie (1899-1986), are buried in the Cemetery in Christiansted.  Their grave is in the Danish Consulate’s Historic Danish Cemeteries list for the Danish Cemetery in Christiansted.  They are located in Grave #131. The consulate has a photo of the tombstone on their website. In 2000, I visited St Croix with my wife and my son.  Although this was long before I developed any interest in genealogy, I nevertheless visited the cemetery to pay my respects to my grandparents. 

The cemetery was clearly unkept, with grass growing untrimmed and weeds unchecked.  In fact, it took considerable searching to locate the grave.  My wife was astounded at the sad state of the cemetery.  We lamented the obvious decay that the cemetery had suffered over the last few decades.

Monday, June 18, 2012

St Croix Census Responses–Creative Occupations

USVirginIslandsCensus18351911DanishPeriod_169716807 (Large)It’s always interesting to read old census forms because they often have amusing entries.  Occupations, in particular, are interesting.  In the St. Croix census, the Occupation field held either a person’s job or other information on what they did or how they were supported.  Sometimes they provided extra information or even commentary that gives a modern reader, who is used to the “just the facts” responses, a chuckle.

Here is a set of responses I collected that struck me as unusual, either in the way the occupation was put (quill driving or bookkeeping), the extra information provided (principal stock keeper, an excellent man), or by the many ways a person can be described as unemployed (sitting down, nothing) and (lives by what he can obtain).  Some of these people are having a hard time finding work (House servant; has given up and will leave this place) or are in some way poor (no support and very destitute). 

It is also interesting that the problems with cheap imports are hardly new.  William Betts is listed in 1841 as a “shoemaker, but at present can scarcely make a living by it in consequence of the great importation of foreign shoes”.  I’m also wondering about Mr. de Silva who is listed as a “Schoolmaster, Lutheran clerk, gravedigger and inviter”.  I don’t think I want to accept one of his invitations.

If anyone has a clue what Carl P Dick did in 1841, let me know.  Kind of looks like candidate philosopher.  Not much call for that still.

These come from the St Croix censuses on the VISHA Database (

Year Name Age Sex Occupation
1835 Peggy 60 F small gang, minding sucking children
1841 Alexander 2 M house servant, infant incapable of working
1841 Carl 50 M keeps the yard & street clean and brings wood
1841 Carl P. Dick 24 M candid. philos., looking for employment in the island
1841 Isabella Hodge 39 F mother of a sick woman and in poor circumstances, lives by needlework
1841 Jacob 35 M Cleans candle sticks, knives & forks etc. etc..
1841 Lucy Ruan 59 F Ensane, and can give no explanation whatever either with regard to herself and her two leprous children, who are supported by the Land Treasury. They all belong to the English Church
1841 Sophia Abraham 62 F employed to take charge of the house, which is unoccupied and out of repair
1841 William Betts 28 M shoemaker, but at present can scarcely make a living by it in consequence of the great importation of foreign shoes
1846 Francis Armstrong 35 M no employment, living upon what he has worked for
1846 Henry Malleville Francis de Silva 29 M Schoolmaster, Lutheran clerk, gravedigger and inviter
1846 I. N. Meinche 20 F not specified; presumably Prison warden, as he signs the form
1846 Isabella Charles 62 F Celebrated fruit seller
1846 J.C. Krause 50 M lives by what he can obtain
1846 Jim Keating 22 M No situation, being an Idiot
1846 John G. Krause 58 M on good cheer, no title, no office
1846 Peter Teal 62 M no support and very destitute
1846 W. von Bretton 60 M quill driving or book keeping
1850 Ann Norager 36 F constantly in the hospital occasioned from an incurable sickness
1850 Betzy Andrew 34 F Said to be doing nothing
1850 Caroline 52 F takes care of her family which is very large
1850 Eliza Mitchell, Miss 56 F living by economy & industry
1850 Elizabeth Hansen 59 F charity, by Gods help
1850 Isabella Gowan 24 F don't know what she does
1850 J L Wittrog 47 M burgher, support his family as he best can
1850 Johannes 64 M fisher on his own hook
1850 John Slate 40 M stopping without permission
1850 Madlane 41 F does nothing since the revolt
1850 Mary Lucas 57 F trafficking fruit, assists her husband in making a living
1850 Rachel Gordon 18 F little or nothing, supported by me
1850 Rosanna 60 F renter of a house but cannot say how she lives
1855 Albert 15 M caring stock and to do what he is told
1855 Andreas 32 M principal stock keeper, an excellent man
1855 Barsheba James 55 F sitting down, nothing
1855 Elisabeth Elskau 58 F minding her husband
1855 Leah Nickson 49 F not employed but minding her mother
1855 Martha Ruan 51 F attending to her husband by permission
1855 Rosina 16 F washer apprentice to Sophia Dyer by order of the judge
1855 Sarah 32 F allowed to live with her husband being delicate and not fit to work
1855 William Alexander 16 M going to America I believe
1857 James J. Grant 10 M employed in various ways when he returns from school
1857 Paulina Edwards 11 F apprentice, attends the Anglican church & school by the request of her mother
1860 Caroline Daniel 60 F does what is in her power
1860 Sue 42 F skulking
1880 Alexander Sanders 30 M former cartman; given up and will leave this place this week
1880 Mary Peterson 27 F House servant; has given up and will leave this place

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Family Tree Magazine: 40 Best Genealogy Blogs for 2012

Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs 2012Earlier this week I posted the news that 200 Years in Paradise was selected as one of the Family Tree Magazine’s 40 Best Genealogy Blogs for 2012 in the article “Around the World in 40 Blogs” (“200 Years” Gets Mentioned in Print).

If you don’t have a subscription and want to see the full list of international blogs, or if you just want to use a clickable list, you can view it on the Family Tree Magazine website at

The van Beverhoudts Take Manhattan

Bloomingdale, to be specific.

Regular readers may know that the van Beverhoudt line is my longest family line in the Virgin Islands.  While no one is sure when exactly they arrived, my 7th great grandfather, Claudius (Claudi) van Beverhoudt is recorded in the St Thomas landlister as residing on St. Thomas in 1693.  Descendants of Claudi are still living there today (and one of them is a regular blog reader!).  This is an unbroken string of van Beverhoudts in the Virgin Islands for 318 years!  So imagine my surprise when I discovered that Claudius’ son, my 6th great grandfather, Johannes van Beverhoudt, Claudizoon, and his entire family, shows up in the records of the Colony of New York around 1750.  In fact Johannes and his sons (including my 5th great grandfather, Claudius) were naturalized citizens of the Colony of New York.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

“200 Years” Gets Mentioned in Print

For my birthday last year, my sister Jill bought me a subscription to Family Tree Magazine.  Today the July/August issue arrived and I quickly snatched it up and started reading it.  Advertised on the cover was: “Top 40 Genealogy Blogs Worldwide”. As a geneablogger (definition-n. one who can bore the entire internet with his family history research at the same time) this caught my eye immediately.  The article, titled “Around the World in 40 Blogs”, by Sunny Jane Morton, discusses what genealogy blogs are and what they are used for, highlighting geneablogs far and wide in a sort of Question & Answer format.
I started reading through the article looking for interesting blogs I may be missing when I ran across this entry on page 29:
Q. Will I find relatives mentioned on a Blog?
A. It’s not common, but it’s not impossible, especially if the blogger writes about the same small town your ancestors are from.  Within about two months from Dave Lynch’s first post on 200 Years in Paradise <>, a long-lost relative said hello in a comment.
Sunny Jane must have seen my post Blogging for Cousins, back in October where I mentioned this very thing!

Following the Q&A, Sunny Jane details her "40 Blogs" by location.  200 Years is highlighted as the representative for the US Virgin Islands:
200 YEARS IN PARADISE <> introduces readers to historical and genealogical sources for Virgin Islands research, particularly those that have informed the blogger's family research on St. Croix. (Did you know the 1920 US census data for the Virgin Islands was actually taken in 1917?)
Getting mentioned in print in the world’s largest genealogy magazine is a real treat.  I’m also proud to have 200 Years in Paradise chosen to represent “small town” geneablogs as well as getting the US Virgin Islands represented in a national genealogy magazine (when have you seen that?).  While technically not a “town”, the Virgin Islands is certainly a little place. Although there’s an awful lot of history there for such a little place.

Thank you Sunny Jane Morton and thanks to all my readers for all your support.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Captain Conrad–More from Flensburg

Tidselholt 1844-IMG_3885 (Large)
Drawing of the Tidselholt, 1844
Today I received some wonderful documents from the Flensburg archive.  As I wrote in Captain Christian Andreas Conrad (1802-1875), I have been in contact with a kind soul in Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany who has done some research for me in the Flensburg archives.  Earlier we located the records of my great-great grandfather, Christian Andreas Conrad and are seeing what other information about him, or his family, we can find.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Call for Help: Virgin Islands Departure Lists

I began this blog because I couldn’t find any online resources to help guide my research and I thought that others may be having the same issues.  I wanted to share what I had found and maybe create a small community to share our knowledge and excitement of this particularly interesting region.  Over the past few months I have received many comments and emails from readers, letting me know that we are a community and that there was such a need.

Occasionally, I get requests for assistance from readers working on their own research.  I welcome these, as it gives me a chance to take a break from my own family for an evening and chase down something new. It’s hugely gratifying to find someone's family and help them push their research forward. 

Sometimes, though, I get requests that I don’t know how to fill.  I usually try to give suggestions as where someone might look, but I don’t always have a good answer.  So, I thought that maybe I’d throw these questions to you, my readers.  Many of you, to judge from your thoughtful and insightful comments and emails, are quite expert in the resources and records of the islands and may have access to things I don’t yet know about.  From time to time, I will post a “Call for Help”.  I’m hoping that all of us can learn from all of you.

I have received a couple of requests for information about people leaving the islands.  I know of no source of emigration records, and only limited immigration records.  Here is an example I got tonight:

Keturah Eliza Krause was born in 1882 on St. Croix and her son, Ira Vilhelm Sanberg was born on St. John's in 1903. From Keturah's application for a passport in 1917 she stated you left the VI in 1907 to go to Germany. From there she went to Holland. In 1921 she went to Belgium and was expelled in 1924 and went to Denmark. From the Danish records we know that Ira was in Copenhagen in 1919 and died in Denmark in 1943.

My question is, are their any records of people leaving the Danish West Indies during that period. We do not know if Ira went with Keturah or went at a different time.

If anyone knows of emigration records from the islands in the early 1900’s (or any other time, for that matter), please post a comment or send me an e-mail at and I will pass it along to the requester.  I’m sure many of us would like to know if these records exist!

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.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Church Records: Where are They?

I’ve gotten some emails asking about where church records could be found, so I thought I’d give a quick overview of what I have discovered and used in my research.  I welcome additions or corrections.

In the Danish West Indies, there were five major churches, all of whom kept registers as directed by Danish law. The records were typically of five types:

  • Baptisms
  • Confirmations
  • Marriages
  • Burials
  • Registrations/Lists of Communicants
  • Saturday, May 12, 2012

    A Burgherbrief Brings Down a Brick Wall

    imageSometimes all it takes is a single document, a single word, to provide the key to breaking down a brick wall that has stood firm to all assaults.  This week I made progress on one of my very first brick walls that has haunted me since I started researching my family history.  This wall was my 2nd great grandfather, the Conrad from Denmark.

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    The Continuing Saga of the VI Records

    Last night I posted that the new record set from vanished (Virgin Islands Records Vanished from  Through e-mail, spoke with George Tyson of the Virgin Islands Social History Association (VISHA), the provider of those records, and he told me that the collection will be back, at least most of it.  Apparently there was a lack of communication and some records were posted accidentally.

    While some records belong to the public (National Archives, etc.), some, particularly church records, do not.  In order to obtain the vast collection, VISHA worked with each record provider to gain access.  Not all of those agreements allow posting to the internet.  Until the owners agree, their records cannot be made available.  VISHA asked to pull the records until they can be parsed out and/or permissions are granted.

    While I would love to access those records, I have to support VISHA’s decision.  We, as genealogists, rely on the goodwill of our record holders and must respect their wishes to maintain that goodwill.  If we don’t, we can expect private institutions to close their books to us completely.  That would be very bad.
    George said that the plan is to post the remaining collections soon.  Since I, personally, am most interested in the records from the Danish National Archives (since I can’t go there easily), this is very good news.  Once they go back up I will continue my series on how to use the collection.

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    Virgin Islands Records Vanished from

    Well, it’s a sad day on  If you follow this blog you will know that last week posted a new collection of Virgin Islands, specifically St Croix, records. I posted two blog entries, New Virgin Islands Records on, and New VI Records-First Impressions.  Well, as of this evening the collection is gone from Ancestry.  It doesn’t even appear in the “New Collections” page any more. I don’t know if they are gone for good or just temporarily, but I can tell you I’m going to miss them.  Even though they were images only, without indexes, I found some real goldmines in there for my family research.  Luckily I got some key bits before the collection was taken down.

    I had planned to continue writing articles on how to interpret sourcing of the collection.  I even nearly finished one on interpreting call numbers from the Danish Archives (Rigsarkivet) West Indian Local Archive (VILA).  I guess I’ll have to hold it for when (and if) the collection ever returns.

    If you found the collection useful, or had planned to use it, and would like it back, leave a comment.  You never know who’s reading my little blog and we should let everyone know that we value these resources.

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    New VI Records-First Impressions

    After seeing the large data set posted to I was very excited to see what I could find.  Turns out there’s a lot there, but it takes a bit of getting used to to understand what’s there.  From my early browsing it appears that the collection is from several sources.  Ancestry doesn’t help much in their source citation: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Slave and Free People Records, 1733-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
    Original data: U.S. Virgin Islands St. Croix Records. Frederiksted, U.S. Virgin Islands: Virgin Islands History Associates (VISHA).
    That may be where the data came from, but it doesn’t help in understanding the provenance of the records.

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    New Virgin Islands Records on

    One of my fellow VI researchers and blog readers, Gene Miller, sent me an email today letting me know of’s latest additions.  It seems that they have updated their Virgin Islands record collections.

    According to the references on Ancestry, these were provided by VISHA.

    Monday, April 30, 2012

    St Croix Census–The Missing Images

    image_thumb[2]Regular readers will know that I have been spending much of my free time at NARA Archives II in College Park, MD, going through microfilms of their Virgin Islands records, the Selected Records of the Danish West Indies 1672-1917.  Since Fold3 has the 11 roll set of M-1883,Essential Records Concerning Slavery and Emancipation online, I have been devoting my time to photographing M-1884, Records with Genealogical Value.  These records have been keeping me busy as a proverbial bee.  Since I haven’t really spent much time discussing what I found, I thought I’d start by showing you where the missing images are.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    Dutch West Indies Anthroponomastics: Who’s Your (Grand) Daddy?

    1777-Head Tax-Claudius BeverhoudtNow there’s a word you don’t see every day.  The Online Dictionary of Language Terminology (ODLT) says:


    Definition - The branch of onomastics that studies anthroponyms, i.e, the personal names of human beings.

    Etymology - The word derives from the Greek anthropos, human being + Greek onomastikos, of or belonging to naming (from onoma, name).

    It is a special branch of onomastics, the study of names.  So what does this have to do with Genealogy?  Well, in my tree: lots. In fact, I have found several distinct naming patterns and structures in my tree, resulting from the real melting-pot that was the West Indies.

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

    Claudina’s Poem: “On the Loss of the Titanic”

    As this is the centenary of the loss of the RMS Titanic, I thought it fitting to post a contemporaneous poem on the tragedy by my great aunt, Claudina Marie Conrad (b. 1887).  Claudina was born, lived, and died in Christiansted, St Croix.  I never met her, as she died before I was born, but by all accounts she was a fairly prolific poet.
    Claudina collected some of her works into a volume entitled “Carnations for Mother’s Day”, although it was never published.  Among the poems is one that she wrote within days of hearing of the Titanic disaster in 1912. 

    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    Should it be 300 Years in Paradise??

    Last week I posted the story of my oldest known family group, Claudius and Guertrude van Beverhoudt.  I was pretty thrilled to have found evidence that took them back to 1754 in St Thomas.  Unlike many families in the United States or Europe, there isn’t a compiled genealogy of my family that I have ever found.  In fact, I haven’t located many compiled genealogies for VI families.  The closest I have found is the work of Svend Holsoe, which I have commented on before. I have been assembling the puzzle of the van Beverhoudts (and my other lines) piece by piece and making slow progress.  This week, I busted through the brick wall big time, and got linked to a rich set of published genealogical information that instantly doubled the size of my family tree and stepped me back two more generations on St Thomas, possibly to the 1600’s.

    While searching the internet, I came across Claudius van Beverhoudt and Guertruy Magens on Robert Gordon Clarke’s website  Early New Netherland Settlers. This site is devoted to compiling genealogies of the families who settled the New Netherlands between 1623 and 1664. Many of these families appear in the West Indies as well as the New Netherlands, including many Dutch settlers in St Eustatius, Saba, and St Thomas. 

    According to the data on this site, Claudius van Beverhoudt’s father was Johannes van Beverhoudt Claudizoon (1711-1751) and his grandparents were Claude (or Glaudi) van Beverhoudt (c. 1670-1713) and Elizabeth de Windt (d. bef 1720).  Elizabeth connects me with a rich source of genealogical information.

    Unlike many sites, Clarke includes source data.  Most of the data for my family comes from a single basic source, a series of journals. In the 1980’s Henry B. Hoff and R. Kenneth Barta wrote a series of articles for a New York genealogical journal called “The Genealogist”  tracing the de Windt families of the West indies and their connections to the Dutch colonies in the New Netherlands.  The de Windts were a prominent family on both St Croix and St Thomas for a long time, producing many offspring in the Caribbean and in New York.

    Since I am one to check sources, I contacted the National Association of Genealogists and ordered reprints of The Genealogist, Vols 1-10 (The set is available right now for $40 post-paid).  Once they arrive, I will go through them to confirm the data and see what additional sources are cited.  As I understand it, Hoff and Barta are highly respected genealogists, so their work should be of highest quality.

    I have already found other surprises in the data that will have to wait for confirmation before I go “on the record”, but it has been very exciting to finally get tied to a family with significant research already done.  It is also extremely helpful in sorting out all the van Beverhoudts I have run across in my research.

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    My Family Comes to St Croix in 1773

    One of the goals I had in pursuing my St Croix family was to determine when they arrived on the island.  Census documents only take us back to 1841 and other sources are needed to go further.  One key source I found early on was the St Croix Slave and Head Tax registers on  These aren’t indexed, but are browsable.  Of course, there are thousands so it is slow going.  The original documents are located in the Rigsarkivet in Copenhagen, the national archive of Denmark.  Around 1994 the documents were photographed (probably to microfilm) and later digitized.  The digitization is 2-bit black and white (not 16-bit greyscale) so they are often very hard to read.  Many are of usable quality though and they offer a wealth of information to the genealogist.

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Robson Family Genealogy

    One of the most valuable resources to a Virgin Islands researcher is the labor of love by Svend Holsoe: the Virgin Islands Families website (  Dr. Holsoe is compiling genealogies of the families of the islands, from their first appearance until they leave.  I have found great help on several of my island surnames, but one surname, Robson, was missing.  The first Robson, Joseph, is my 3rd great grandfather. 

    The name was missing, that is, until last month.  So far he’s documented the Robson information from the 1846 census of Estate Fountain.  Since the Robsons are my direct ancestors, I’ve done a fair bit of research on them and I figured I’d compile my research, in his format, and contribute my work to his page.  Well, compiling (and footnoting) is even harder than researching! Once I was done, I thought I’d post it here as well.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Solving a Puzzle–Who is M. M. Colbiørnsen?

    Sometimes in genealogy we work long and hard to find someone we’re looking for.  These are often called “brick walls”.  People who we just can’t seem to locate.  Other times we have the inverse problem.  Seeing a person and having no idea who they are.  Well, when you find out who they are (or even if you think you have) it’s just as exhilarating as breaking through a brick wall.  I managed to solve just such a puzzle in my own family that dates back to my very beginnings last summer.  My mystery woman was named Mary Colbiørnsen.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    St Croix Records: Lutheran Church Books

    The official religion of Denmark and the DWI was the Danish Lutheran Church.  According to the Virgin Islands Danish Consulate’s website, the first Lutheran services in St Croix were at Fort Christiansvaern in 1734.  By 1753 they had created a permanent church in the Steeple Building, named the Lutheran Church of the Zebaoth.  The congregation eventually included government officials, prominent citizens, freedmen, and slaves.  When the Dutch Reformed Church left the island around 1831, they gave their building to the Lutheran church. 

    In the mid 1700’s, the van Beverhoudts were Dutch Reformed, but by 1790 they begin showing up in records of the Danish Lutheran Church and continued throughout most of the 19th century.  Since so many of my ancestors were Lutheran, it was only natural that I would want to go through the Lutheran Church books for information.

    Sadly, and much to the surprise of some family historians, not everything is available on the internet.  Most records aren’t even digital.  Only a small number of church record books are digitized, and those were done very recently.  The LDS church, however, has been photographing these books and putting them on microfilm since at least the 1970s.  These films are available at Family History Centers.  I ordered all 4 rolls of the St Croix Danish Lutheran Church records (Der Danske Folkekirke) and hit pay dirt over and over.  For this post, I want to discuss what you can find in these rolls.

    You can find the catalog at  The listing for the church is entitled “Kirkebøger, 1740-1917”, which translates to “Church Books, 1740-1917”.  The collection is divided according to volume photographed and collected into 4 microfilm rolls and about 1,900 frames.  The collection spans over 150 years, and during that time the style of record keeping changed often and considerably.  The earliest records were simply running listings, with baptisms, deaths, and marriages in no particular order.  The latest books contained sections for each type of record.  The earliest images are heavily deteriorated and practically illegible, while the later volumes are carefully laid out in neat columns with considerable information.

    Even for those who don’t speak Danish, the book names don’t present too much of a challenge.  The sections are:

    Fødte og Døbte Births and Baptisms
    Konfirmerede Confirmations
    Copulerede Marriages
    Døde og Begravede Death and Burials
    Communionsbog Communicant Books

    Roll 38860:  Books 1-6 cover the period from 1740 to 1794 for the Christiansted church.  Book 1 (1740-1753) is heavily damaged.  The images are hard to read and many pages are torn with pieces missing.  Book 2 (1740-1753) is much more legible and the pages are in good shape. Book 5 (1780-1794) is fairly dark with a lot of bleed through from the back side of pages and is hard to read.  The others on the roll are somewhat better.  Overall, roll 38860 is tough to get through.

    1807-Baptism-Johannes van Beverhoudt detail-p27b

    Roll 38861: Books 7-11 covers 1797-1865 for the Christiansted church.  This roll is much better.  Book 7 (1797-1822) is still written in a serial fashion, with free-form listings in date order.  The image above is the baptismal record of my 3rd great grandfather, Johannes van Beverhoudt.  The entry, in the upper left reads:

    Entry 863: On 20th Dec. [1807] a boy born [named?] Engel Johannes Claudius to mother Amey Mc Nobony, baptized 24 Nov [1807]

    By Book 8 (1822-1860) they started keeping data in a two-page, columnar format that is the more familiar register system.  An example of this is shown below, the baptismal record of Johannes’ son, Claudius van Beverhoudt.  The rolls are fairly clear with fewer damaged pages.  The dates of the rolls overlap slightly, and it isn’t clear why things are recorded in one book or another.  They also began separating the various types of records into separate sections of the books, making it easier to scan through lists of baptisms (the largest sections), confirmations, etc..

    1829-Baptism-Claudius beverhoudt(Bk08-f024)

    Roll 300996: Books 12-17 spanning 1861-1911 for the Christiansted church are much clearer.  Books 16 (1896-1904) and 17 (1905-1911) are typed, making it extremely easy to read.  They continue the two page approach to most sections and maintain the columnar approach.

    Roll 300997: Books 18-20 (1872-1917) are rolls for the Frederiksted church.  These books look very much like the Christiansted books, neat columns, although all are handwritten.

    The biggest difficulty in using these rolls is the fact that they are written in Danish.  As registers of names, though, it isn’t an insurmountable problem.  This is actually most difficult in the earliest books where they record information in sentence form.  For the tabular data the only difficulties relate to understanding occupations of fathers (for baptisms) or comments written in the fields.  The combination of old Danish handwriting and archaic Danish spellings makes it quite difficult to translate since there is no context available to guess.  Find a good translator because I found using web translation virtually impossible.

    For my family, this is a key collection, as the van Beverhoudts appear to have been in the Dutch church to about 1788 and left the Lutheran church in the late 1800s. I found over 150 references to my family in this collection.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    VI Records: DWI Slave Records on Fold3

    This month is making their Danish West Indian records, called Slavery and Emancipation, free in honor of Black History Month.  The collection is a digitization of NARA’s 11 roll microfilm publication M-1883 from College Park, MD.  The collection is of interest for DWI historians and genealogists alike.  There are some interesting items in this collection that I have found useful for my research and have helped me understand more of my family.

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Virgin Islands Records: The 1917 US Census

    “Wait a minute,” you’re probably saying.  There is no such thing as a 1917 US Census.  There was a 1910 and a 1920, but no 1917.  Well, you’re right, but there was in the Virgin Islands.  The US took possession of the islands on March 31, 1917 and placed the islands under control of the US Navy.  The Government decided to take an official census of all residents of St Croix, St Thomas, and St John as of November 1, 1917.  When the 1920 census rolled around, they figured that they had just done the Virgin Islands, so they included the 1917 census as part of the official 1920 US census.  If you look on census websites for the 1920 census, you will find that the pages for the islands are actually dated earlier.  Of course, being the islands, the census for November 1 wasn’t actually begun until after Christmas, and wasn’t complete until almost February.  Island Time isn’t new!

    1917-Strand St. 21 (Medium)


    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    St Croix Records: The Census

    1841-Fisher St 45 (Medium)
    1841 Census for 45 Fisher St
    One of the most commonly used records for the genealogist is the census.  In the US, they started keeping a federal census in 1790, but the earliest censuses only recorded heads of households and some statistics for the numbers of people in various age groups in the house.  In 1850 the US census started recording the names of each person.  In this, at least, the Danish West indies is a little bit ahead of the US.  The Danish government took censuses from as early as 1835, listing all members of each household.  Many of these census documents survive.

    The DWI took censuses at somewhat irregular intervals before regularizing them in the late 19th century.  Censuses exist for 1835, 1841, 1846, 1850, 1855, 1857, 1860,1870, 1880, 1890, 1901, and 1911.  That’s quite a collection!  Each of these collections is housed mostly in the Danish Archives in Copenhagen, with some pages at NARA in College Park, MD.  The LDS church has microfilmed the censuses and makes them available for viewing either at their Salt Lake City Family History Library or through their Family History Centers worldwide.  If you are lucky enough to be searching for St Croix records, in particular, the censuses have been indexed by the Virgin Islands Social History Association (VISHA).  The indexes are available at the Dansk Demografisk Database, at the VISHA website, and at (for a fee).  Ancestry allows downloading of images of the pages, which is often very desirable.  In this post, I will be discussing the St Croix census, but the St Thomas and St John census documents are identical.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    A Genealogical Christmas Present

    Through the magic of social networking, like this blog, I discovered several “new” cousins in 2011.  Not only that, but all of them are interested in genealogy. Since I uncovered so much in my research,  I wanted to find a way to share it in an interesting way with all these new, interested, people.  So, I came upon an idea for a Christmas project.  Unfortunately, the lightning bolt struck me about two weeks prior to Christmas and I had to hustle to get it all done.  I barely made it in under the wire, sending out my little gift packets on Christmas Eve (I got a receipt from the Post Office to prove it!). While most of the gifts made it to their destinations, some are still in transit to those family members who live in inconvenient countries. 

    Since I think it turned out rather well, I thought I’d share what I did for other genealogists as an idea of how to make all that family stuff interesting. So, if you are a cousin awaiting the mail, you might want to skip this post for now so you can be surprised, or you can read on and see what’s coming in the mail.

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Who’s That Girl?

    Tintype Beverhoudt (Medium)
    Tintype Phot - Unidentified Girl
    So, I’ve got this big ‘ol box of pictures that I’m trying to sort and identify.  At the bottom are some truly old ones.  Most have no indication who they are of or when they were taken. Some of the pictures are very old, but one is rather unique.  It is a tintype photo.  It is in pretty good shape, considering its age, but I was fairly sure I would never know anything about the girl since there are no markings on it at all.  I thought perhaps it might be my 2nd great grandmother, Adelaide Robson (not for any particular reason, except that I thought it would be great to have a picture of her).

    Amey van Beverhoudt-Small
    Amy van Beverhoudt 1840-1873

    Since I figured I’d never know if this woman was even a member of the family, I scanned it, put the original away, and moved on to continually bugging my mother about writing down all the names of all the people she remembered in the more recent photos. (My mom insists she doesn’t recognize any of the people in any of the photos from the 1800’s, she’s not that old, and that I should quit asking).

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Happy New Year from “200 Years”

    Anne Mackay

    I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year for 2012. 

    2011 was a great year for me in genealogy, since that’s when I began my work.  I’ve had great success in the last 6 months in understanding where I come from and appreciating the world of my St Croix ancestors.  I think I’ve gathered all the “low hanging fruit”, but I know there is much left to find.  2012 will be a busy year.  Of course, the day-job gets in the way, but what are you going to do?

    I’ve got quite a bit in store for 2012 for 200 Years.  This year I plan to devote several articles on discussing Danish West Indies records, discussing the kinds of records available and where they are located. I’ve already been through quite a few, so I’d like to discuss them before I forget.  Hopefully this will be useful for my genealogist cousins as well as any other researchers who are disappointed in the dearth of island information in the genealogical mainstream.

    This Christmas I sent out a little gift for my family and thought it would be nice to share it.  It’s an interesting way to share research that won’t bore your family to tears. That’ll have to wait a bit because I’d like to make sure that everyone has gotten theirs before I ruin the surprise.  Hopefully next week.

    I’d also like to post some of the wonderful photographs I have from Mom’s Treasure Box.  I’ve finished scanning about 1,400 pictures so I have a lot to wade through (and identify).  Most of them were taken by my grandfather and some are really good, both family and island history.

    I’ve got some other surprises in store and I keep finding new things as I pore through the records.

    Thank you for reading 200 Years in Paradise, and thank you for all the nice comments and emails I have received.  Comments are helpful because they help me understand what you are interested in reading and they help me improve the blog.

    Oh, by the way.  In all my pictures there were only a couple Christmas pictures.  In fact, very few pictures were taken indoors.  (Perhaps my grandfather didn’t have a flash.)  The picture at the head of this post is not a family member, but one of my mother’s little friends, Anne McKay.  I just liked the picture so much that I wanted to share.  This was taken in the early 1940’s in Christiansted.