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 delynch@verizon.net 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 Ancestry.com vanished (Virgin Islands Records Vanished from Ancestry.com).  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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com

    Well, it’s a sad day on Ancestry.com.  If you follow this blog you will know that last week Ancestry.com posted a new collection of Virgin Islands, specifically St Croix, records. I posted two blog entries, New Virgin Islands Records on Ancestry.com, and New Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com VI Records-First Impressions

    After seeing the large data set posted to Ancestry.com 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:
    Ancestry.com. St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Slave and Free People Records, 1733-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com

    One of my fellow VI researchers and blog readers, Gene Miller, sent me an email today letting me know of Ancestry.com’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.