Sunday, March 3, 2013

Where My People Went–The 1880 St Thomas Census

A couple of weeks ago I posted that the 1880 census of St Thomas and St John was available online from the Danish Archives (  I mentioned that the census was not indexed so it requires a page-by-page read.  Quite an undertaking. This weekend I finally got around to going through the set.  While I had a particular family I was looking for, I also managed to answer a number of genealogical questions regarding families that disappeared from St Croix.  It seems many of them moved to St Thomas and were enumerated there.
The 1880 census on is posted as links to files accessible from a java applet.  It is divided up into several sections.  The first, Charlotte Amalie is organized by street, some with many pages, some with only a few.  Other sections cover St Croix (the same set that is available at, St John, and rural St Thomas.  I have been working on the Charlotte Amalie set so far.

I was particularly interested in seeing if I could find the family of Aline Hull in St Thomas.  I wrote about her in Pulling a Thread to Unravel Genealogical Tangles.  Aline was the daughter of Ingeborg Østergaard and Rasmus Hull; she was born in 1868.  Her appearance in St Croix in 1890 suggested to me that her parents had died and she moved in with her cousins, the van Beverhoudts.  If this was true, then she should have been still in St Thomas in 1880 and at least one of her parents should have been alive.  After looking long and hard, I found this entry:

1880-STT-Princess St 30 B-Hull - Copy

This is the entry for a “Hingeborg Hull”, listed as a widow, with her daughter Alina and an apparently unrelated child.  Interestingly, Ingeborg lists her age as 60, putting her birthdate at about 1820.  Her baptism record states that she was born 1822.  Close enough.  The difference in age between “Hingeborg” and Alina is striking.  It suggests that Ingeborg was 47 when Alina was born.  What’s interesting is that when she married, she listed a much younger age, placing her birth about 1834.  This supports the earlier claim that Ingeborg lied about her age when she married Rasmus Hull.  She stated she was 34, but she was actually 45.  He was only 26.  Twelve years later, she says she’s 60!


I was quite pleased to find what I was looking for in the census, but I found other things as well.  Several family members disappeared from the St Croix census at various times in the 1800s, and I had no idea what happened to them.  Often, I assumed they died.  While going through the St Thomas records, several of them came back to life.  It was wonderful to add this information to the family.
One item caught my attention though.  The family of James Esli van Beverhoudt, an ancestor of Arnold van Beverhoudt (whom I met in November in St Thomas), had a couple of interesting aspects to his entry.  Here is the page from the 1880 census, showing his large family living at 13 King St in Charlotte Amalie.

1880-STT-King St 13-James Esli Beverhoudt - Copy

The first thing I see is a child I didn’t know about, Octave, a boy.  I had found all of the other children, except James Esli  through baptismal records at the Lutheran church.  I didn’t see Octave because he, like James Jr, was Roman Catholic.  In addition, the Lutheran records show that James Esli had a daughter, Emma Eudora, in 1878.  She would have been 2 at the time the census was taken.  She doesn’t appear in the 1880 census.  Usually this means that the child died in infancy, but I happen to know that this isn’t true.  First of all, one of my mother’s old friends from St Croix is Emma Eudora’s granddaughter.  Secondly, I have records of her Confirmation in 1893, her appearance in the 1940 US census, her death record in 1974, and her social security number from the SSDI.  She’s pretty well-attested.  So why isn’t she in the household in 1880?  Honestly I don’t know.  I haven’t found her anywhere.  Perhaps the family forgot about her because she was small!  Most likely, the information wasn’t provided by a family member.

In fact, there is some evidence that at least some of the people enumerated in the census weren’t there at all.  The 1880 census was taken on 9 October, 1880.  On the same day, on St Croix, the census was being taken.  Here is a section from the page of the Frederiksted census for Queen St 57 on 9 Oct 1880:


This lists James Esli van Beverhoudt, his daughter Marie Elida, age 14 and his son James Esli (Jr), age 5.  All three of these people are listed in the St Thomas census for the same day.  Marie Elida is listed as simply Elida, age 14 and James Esli is 37 in St Croix and 38 in St Thomas.  Clearly, he wasn’t at one of these places yet appears on the census.  I think it’s likely that he was in St Croix with his two children and whomever spoke with the enumerator didn’t know he was away.  They probably didn’t remember little Emma either.

It’s been quite illuminating going through the St Thomas census.  I have been able to tie up several loose ends and add a few more people to my tree that I didn’t know about.  It’s also interesting to see the prominent families of St Thomas, like Monsanto, Riise, Duurloo, and Baa.  Many of these are relatively small families on St Croix.  (I also saw an awful lot of the families from Sophie Schiller’s  book, Transfer Day, namely the Maduros and DeCastros.)

If you don’t mind spending a while online, it’s well worth the effort to go through this set.  It is the only digitized set of St Thomas and St John censuses I know of.  It will help put the St Thomas families on the map.

Now, when will they digitize the others?


  1. Arnold van Beverhoudt Jr.March 4, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Great find, David!

    When you first posted about the 1880 census in the Danish records, I went to the site and started to look through the pages. But, with our slow internet connection, I got frustrated and stopped. I'll have to give it another try.

    If you come across the Charles Henric Perkins family in your research, please let me know. That's my wife's family. They lived near Commandant Gade in Charlotte Amalie.


  2. Arnold,

    I remember visiting with Erik Perkins (a barber) as a youth growing up on St. Thomas. He would tell stories of his father Charles Henry Perkins who was a barber and surgeon in Danish days. His mother was a Fabio, I believe Italian, and our families associated in the old days on St. Thomas. How is your wife related?


  3. Arnold van Beverhoudt Jr.March 5, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Hi Dante,

    My wife, Helena, is Charles Perkins' granddaughter. Her father was Viggo O. Perkins, Erik's younger brother. Charles' wife was Helena Fabio, born in St. Eustatius. My wife was named after her.

    Are you related to Dante de Lagarde? He was a good friend of my father, Arnold Sr. aka "Chief."

    Arnold Jr.

  4. Hi Arnold,

    Yes, I remember Viggo, but I remember Erik better as I worked next door to him for a few years.

    Not related to Dante de Lagarde, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was named after my grand uncle Dante Beretta as I was.

    I've found some records of Perkins in my search- probably you've seen all, but contact me by email and I'll let you know what I've come across.

    dberetta at