Wednesday, June 5, 2013

VI Passenger Lists - And a Tempting Clue

imageSome of the most useful records for US genealogy are the Passenger Lists that show when the first immigrants came to Ellis Island, Castle Garden, or some other US port city.  These same records show VI researchers when their ancestors left the islands and came to the US (probably New York).  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were similar records showing movement to and from the Virgin Islands?

Turns out, there are.  Many people don’t realize that the Danish Archives in Copenhagen hold some very similar records.  These records were microfilmed and eventually imaged to DVD on to a set of 34 discs and several copies were given in 2011 as a gift to libraries on the Virgin islands, Puerto Rico, and Tortola. 
Copies of the collection are available at:
The collection includes arrivals, departures, and passport information.
  • DVD 01-03 Christiansted Police Station – Registers of Persons arriving and Leaving 1794-1847
  • DVD 04-17 St Thomas Police Station – Persons arriving 1805-1899
  • DVD 18-33 Registers of Passports 1810-1895
  • DVD 34 – Registers for Visaing for Foreign Passports 1856-1873
As I wrote in a 2011 post, An Early Christmas from the CGL, I received a copy of the Christiansted records and pored over them.  They were helpful in identifying my g-g-grandfather, Christian Conrad from Flensburg. 

Recently, I went through the discs again and found many travels from family members.  In fact, I may have gotten a lead on the father of my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Aletta Quickly.

Mary Aletta Quickly’s Father

Mary Quickly was born in 1808 and her baptismal record only names her mother, Grace Welcome.  Searches of census and other registers have never produced anyone with the surname Quickly who could have been Mary Aletta’s father.  While perusing the arrivals and departures I noted an entry for 1798 of someone listed only as Quickly arriving in St Croix from St Thomas.

Detail from December 1798 St Croix Arrivals showing someone named "Quickly"
Later lists show a CS Quigley traveling from St Croix to St Thomas on 8 July 1807.  Even more interesting, I located a pair of records that show that Mary Aletta’s mother, Grace, traveled from St Croix to St Thomas on 11 Aug 1807 and returned on 26 Aug 1807. 

Mary Aletta Quickly was baptized on 11 Sep 1808 with no recorded birth date nor father listed.  Could the CS Quigley have been her father and her name misremembered by Grace as “Quickley”? Could she have been conceived on St Thomas during this trip? 

August 1807 Christiansted Departure record of Grace Welcome to St Thomas
While this is only speculation, it is interesting.  The dates certainly line up. If true, then Mary Aletta would have been born around May1808 and was 3 months old at her baptism.  This would have been entirely within the normal practice for the Lutheran church in St Croix.  Children were often baptized weeks or months (occasionally even years) after their birth.

Unfortunately, I don’t have copies of the St Thomas lists to compare, so finding the matching arrivals will have to wait.  Perhaps there is a notation of where Grace Welcome stayed when she came to St Thomas for two weeks.  Perhaps I can find out more about this mysterious CS Quigley/Quickley on St Thomas.  That will have to wait. Meanwhile, I found about 100 references to my family in the Christiansted set, so I have a lot of work to do.


  1. Hi Dave,
    I love when you find new lists to pour over! How did you get the cd's and are you getting the one for St. Thomas? My St. Thomas research is at a hard wall for my O'Mahoney Great grandfather and I'd love to find when his father came to the island. This could give me new clues. Anyway, hope all is well and I'll be in touch.

    1. Hi Donnamarie, yes, I love new lists too. "Like a box of chocolates" if you know what I mean. Contact the CGL about the St Thomas records. I have found them to be very helpful and wonderful people. I have to contact them to ask about my matching records. Fortunately it is easier if you have dates.

  2. Nice Blog Dave with some very timely information. Elizabeth Banas (Elizabeth's Genealogy Gems)

    1. Thank you for your comment Elizabeth. I hope you continue reading!

  3. Perhaps Grace was illiterate therefore the surname of her daughter was recorded by another scribe in the way that he understood it. If Grace was illiterate she would not have known to correct him.

    1. Especially when you consider that "Quigley" is an English name and the Christiansted police were Danish. It isn't nearly as dramatic as what you see in US censuses! Grace likely never saw the written record, the records were kept by the church and probably written up each night. What's more, the baptismal record of Mary Aletta doesn't list a surname nor the name of a father. It is actually a fairly lengthy argument to show that Grace Welcome was Mary Aletta Quickly's mother.