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.