52 Ancestors #43 Oops George fell!

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write about “An ancestor who made an ‘oops,’ or one that you made while researching.



Week 43– OOPS!   George A. Bough (1806 – 1856)

George A Bough

Artist J.Dawkins rendering of George A. Bough private in the Jager Corp  1846 St. Croix danish west indies.

Although, there have been many oops over the years of my genealogical research that required pruning and other measures,  I decided to look at what appears to be an oops when looking at the cause of death for George Anthony  Bough, the patriarch of the Bough family.  From embarrassment to tragic.  George’s cause of death was a fall.  Oops there it is.

George Anthony Bough died on April 3 1856 on St. Croix,  Danish West Indies now the US Virgin Islands.




Burials 1856, Christiansted Gravedigger Journal 1856/04/03 RA/VILA/VR/#3.81.635

Christiansted Burials 1856
RA/VLA/VR/# 3.61.209
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52 Ancestors #42 Proud Nancy

The optional weekly theme for Week 42 was “Proud” Many of us have an ancestor that we are proud – or that we’re proud of our efforts to find them!


As I look at my pedigree chart, there are so many ancestors that I am certainly proud of; but I am most proud of the efforts done to find my African Ancestor on the Christiansted Town Register of 1855.

I had been researching the genealogy of my maternal family, the Boughs of the Danish West Indies for at least one decade.    Researching my ancestors’ lives has been very fascinating and at times, discouraging.  However, finding my African ancestor, while in the midst of searching for the mother of my great-grandfather August Bough, I came across the 1855 Christiansted Town Register which showed 4 generations.  On the first line, of the 2nd household was the name Nancy, born in Africa.  She is the great-grandmother of August Bough.  Although I never thought I would find such ancestor, nor was I actively seeking one.   I experienced an Alex Haley moment when he found Kunta  Kinte.  Earl Jones, who played Alex Haley, shouts out with every bone in his body:  “ye ole African, I found you, I found you!

1855 Town Register

1855 Town Register

It is through the VISHA database that I can retrieve some of the Danish records.  Although, there are gaps I was able to piece together a time-line which gives me a clear picture of my Africa Ancestor and what became of her.   I don’t know where she came from or what her name might have been, but on the census and church records, she is known as Nancy.

Looking at the Danish involvement with the slave-trade from the 1650’s helped to establish when Nancy arrived in the Danish West Indies from her long journey from Africa.  It appears that she may have arrived during what is called the “winding down” time between the years of 1792-1803 of the prohibition of slave trade.   Danish Captain Thomas Petersen purchased Nancy and another African girl together for 400-800 rd.   She lived in the household of Thomas Petersen at Hospital Street in Christiansted.   The Town Register showed Nancy was baptized in the Lutheran Church, July 4, 1798.

In May of 1800, Captain Petersen prepared a Deed of Gift.   He gifted Nancy along with a house on 46 Hill Street, to his two sons, Peter Andreas and Hans Wilhelm Petersen, by a free colored woman named, Anna Lucia Assenius.    By 1818, Nancy, house servant, was living at the house on Hill Street, the property of the Petersen Brothers.    Living in the home were the Brothers,  their mother Anna, as well as what appears to be Nancy’s  five (5) children; Anna, Toney, James, William and Henry, noted in a later census.

Hill Street Home of Peter and Hans Petersen where Nancy resided over 50 years.  Photo accessed from St. Croix Historic Photos/Rezende-Walbom/Danish West Indian Society

Hill Street Home of Peter and Hans Petersen where Nancy resided over 50 years. Photo accessed from St. Croix Historic Photos/Rezende-Walbom/Danish West Indian Society

From the records we observe that Nancy stayed with the same Petersen family throughout her life.  She was considered morally good and was never punished.   Nancy received her freedom on July 3, 1848, when Gov. Gen Peter von Scholten proclaimed the freedom of all slaves in the Danish West Indies.    I perceive that since Nancy and her family were no longer slaves, it was the hope of a new day.   After the emancipation, she continued to live at the Petersen home on  Hill Street with her family to include my 2GG Emelia Petersen  She was no longer a servant, but then supported by her children.

By 1860 Nancy was a 70 year old invalid.  No surname was given on the census.  Despite the limited information, I am proud of the efforts and the assistance from my friends and family in finding Nancy, the African.


S O U R C E S:

(Slave List 1798 – Head Tax CD 6 (1795-1799)

St. Croix Mission Church book 1805 – 1814

Christiansted, Lutheran Church Mission 1818 – 1846

St. Croix Slave Plantation and Head Tax Lists, 1772-1821. Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA),

Rigsarkivet (Danish National Archives, Copenhagen)

Vestindiske lokalarkiver (West Indian Local Archives)

Christiansted Byfoged (Bailiff)

Pantebog 1800-1801, folio page 38

St. Croix Register Unfree 1841, 1846,

St Croix Register, Christiansted , 1850,1855, 1860


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52 Ancestors #16 Ena Dorothy Bough – Lived to 97

Long Life:  Ena D. Bough, My Great Aunt and direct ancestor:


Ena Dorothy Bough, (1907- 2005) was born on St. Croix in the Danish West Indies. Ena was the daughter of Crucian Parents; Haddasha Summersille died at the age of 93; studied pediatrics and performed duties as a Mid-Wife.   August C. Bough died at the age of 74; the sucessful Merchant who turned Reverend and co-founder of AME Church in Christiansted St. Croix.

Ena was born at a time when Havanna Cigars were being sold, Cotton and Cane were flourishing and a Leper Asylum was established on St. Croix.   On the mainland, Mary Phelps Jacob invented the bra.   A decade after her birth, the Americans purchased the Danish West Indies in 1917.

In 1920, Ena was living with her parents, at the family home in the town of Christiansted.  She was a middle child between brothers, James, Oscar, and Kaj Bough. She attended school in Christiansted and was a known talented Seamstress.  By the mid-1920’s, Ena and brothers migrated to New York.  The 1930 census, showed her living in New York with her younger brother Oscar, and working as a Finisher in a Dress Factory.

On-line Photo https://www.google.com/urfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com

On-line Photo: the Ship Silivia that sailed Ena to new york

Ena answered the call to return to the Virgin Islands, to care for the family where sickness was eminent. Despite the excitement of living and working in New York City, she returned home.  Ena worked the most of her life as a famly care giver to include nephews and nieces.  Ena was very proud of her brothers’ successes in the fields of Law, Education, Agriculture, and Business Administration.

I met my great Aunt Ena for the first time at her home in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands when my mother and I took the seaplane from St Croix to visit the family.  It was hard to keep back my excitement of meeting the last living child of my great-grandfather, August Curtis Bough.  I walked with a list of questions and a small tape recorder, prepared to capture oral history.  When we arrived at the house, we were greeted by an over friendly dog and my cousin Ellie.  We glimpsed Aunt Ena sitting in the corner, looking puzzled as to the Crucian relatives who descended upon her.  My mother and I realized Auntie wasn’t up to talking about the past, nor was she going to be interviewed.  She just smiled gently, while offering the usual traditional greetings.

Our visit lasted about 2 hours, as we had to catch the plane back to St. Croix.  Although I was a little disappointed by her lack of engagement I understood her suspicion.   I was determined to make another trip to get better acquainted.  Being hopeful, we planned to return to celebrate her 100th birthday, with “lights, camera, action” for the interview of a lifetime.  Unfortunately, it never materialized.

Ena D. Bough Birthday Celebration.  Photo Courtesy by Ellie Bough

Ena D. Bough Birthday Celebration. Photo Courtesy by Ellie Bough

Aunt Ena  outlived her siblings. With her death on April 17, 2005, it signified an end to the August Bough generation of those who were born during the Danish period.  She lived on the island as a citizen of the Danish West Indies and was present in 1917 as the Danneborg lowered, and the U.S. flag was raised.

Coincidentally, as I reflect on my ancestor Ena Bough.  She was among the first Virgin Islands people to become American citizens; I will be honored to be among the rest of our citizens, as we celebrate Transfer Day in the year 2017. The US Virgin Islands will reach a milestone in our history.  Marking 100 years since the United States purchased the Danish West Indies (St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John) from Denmark for $25 million, and I look forward to the celebration.

Danish, Virgin Islands and USA Flags.  photo taken in St. Thomas by sdewese

Danish, Virgin Islands and USA Flags. photo taken in St. Thomas by sdewese

Ena Dorothy Bough died on St. Thomas, USVI April 17, 2005.  She was 97.8 years old.


http://stx.visharoots.org/ St. Croix Population Database

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Year: 1929; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4555; Line: 1; Page Number: 249

Newspaper: The Virgin Islands Daily News; Publication Date: 23 4 2005; Publication Place: St.Thomas, Virgin Islands,, Carrbbean



Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011.

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52 Ancestors #15 Isabella Barzey of the Danish West Indies

As you may know, I am participating in Amy Crow’s 52 week ancestors with the 52 week Challenge. http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/ Although this is the 18th Week; I am posting #15  and hope to catch up with the rest of the bloggers before the month is over.  52ancestors-2015

I was recently given a letter that was written by Isabella Barzey (1820-1890) that had me puzzled as to the conditions of life of the population since  July 3, 1848 when the Danish Governor General Scholten proclaimed freedom for all slaves in the Danish West Indies.    Why were people bound to the plantations that enslaved them and why were they still being physically assaulted by the managers?    I discovered that the author of the letter is my ancestor through marriage, and  I needed to research in detail the facts of this ancestor.

By using Ancestry.com and stx.visharoots.org, I gathered information on birth, death and marriage dates.  But I needed to look further at the past history to obtain a real sense of time in which Isabella Barzey lived, when she wrote a letter in April of 1849 to the Danish King, pleading to be transferred from Estate Cane Garden Plantation on St. Croix after being flogged in order to join her husband in St. Thomas.

Estate Cane Garden

Estate Cane Garden photo by sdewese

My findings from the VI History books led to the Labor Act of 1849 in which I will point out two portions of the Act that shaped the early years following emancipation:

  1. The great majority of the newly-freed Blacks were to remain unfree on the estates with no recourse open to them but to submit to the bondage imposed by the 1849 Labor Act.
  2. The amended 1849 Labor Act.- The Act created a new institutionalized system of serfdom base on contract labor, in place of slavery.  The law fixed the contract year from October to October, renewable each August.  Engagement’s made by heads of families were to include their children.  Laborers were divided into three classes with meager wages.  No laborer could refuse the work he might be ordered to do.  To assure that a laborer remain bondage to his former owner, the law placed him in a no-win predicament by providing:

The laborer shall have given, or received, legal notice of removal from the estate where he serves, before anyone can engage his service; otherwise the new contract to be void, and the party engaging in tampering with a laborer employed by others, will be dealt with according to law.  The contract was inviolable except by mutual agreement between the master and laborer, or by order of a magistrate.

The Letter I have transcribed is from Mrs. Isabella Barzey, describing the bad treatment she received from Manager Maloy of Estate Cane Garden, and her request to be sent to St. Thomas to meet her husband.    Isabella letter is as follows:


Transcribed verbatim:

May it be pleasing to your Excellency

I humbly state that I have attended Mr. Maloy the manager of Estate Cane Garden three years as Cook, House Attendant and Seller.  Always faithful obedient and attention to my business. On Monday the 16th of April last I was constrained from bad feelings reasoned by a Cold and hoarseness, to beg Mr. Maloy for a dose of oil which he refused to give when I was obliged to seek for it elsewhere and remained my house until Thursday, the 19th.  When Mr. Maloy called me before Dr. Johnson who said I was not sick when my feelings were really sick as did not allow me to work the following day.  I was sent to Kings Hill and their flogged in a shameful manner, the first time since I arrived at the age of maturity which is painful to my feelings.  July next will be 10 years since I was married indorsed medals with accompanied certificates will prove my character it was from life and exemplary life and laudable conduct which was pleasing to Priest O Kennely

Courtesy of Camilla Jensen

Courtesy of Camilla Jensen

who honored me with this mark of distinction from other married women.  I was always respected from the managers who preceded Mr. Maloy, it is bad feelings in him to treat me in this manner, to expose me, to cut my flesh and humble my becoming pride which was always govern with markings of obedience to my superiors, and friendship to my equals.  Mr. Maloy has without cause inflicted a wound which he cannot remedy.  My husband is now in St. Thomas a Mason of trade.  I humbly beg that your Excellency will after mature deliberations be graciously pleased to grant myself and children to follow my husband according to the 2nd paragraph of your excellency Regulation of the 26th January last as I cannot remain to be further exposed under the powerful control of Mr. Maloy; my first child is 13 years old and my last 9 years old, your excellency’s compliance to the above will be ever gratefully remembered by your most humble servant.

Isabella Barzey

Christiansted 5th May 1849

It is not yet known whether Isabella’s request to follow her husband to St Thomas was granted.  The 1855 Census revealed that she was no longer living at Estate Cane Garden. She was then living in the town of Christiansted with her two daughters.

St. Croix Census 1855

St. Croix Census 1855

By 1860, the St. Croix Census showed that Isabella Barzey was then divorced from Henry Barzey, and living in the town of Christiansted with her daughter Virginia and grand-daughter Theresa Chabert.

St. Croix Census, 1860

St. Croix Census, 1860

Isabella’s grand-daughter Theresa Chabert married my 3rd generation Uncle Esram Bough,  on February 26, 1884 at Holy Cross Catholic Church on St. Croix.  Together they had four children.  (see my post on Esram Bough the  Cigar Maker)

Holy Cross Marriage Book 1884

Holy Cross Marriage Book 1884

Isabella Barzey died on April 11, 1890 she was 70 years old.

After the 1878 revolt on St. Croix, the Labor Act came to an end after thirty (30) years on October 1, 1879.


Letter:  National Archives of Denmark -Courtesy of Camilla Jensen

Willocks, The Umbilical Cord, page 192

Boyer, America’s Virgin Islands, page 58-59

St. Croix Census 1855, Available from Ancestry.com Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA), comp. U.S. Virgin Islands Census, 1835-1911 (Danish Period) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

St. Croix Census, 1860, Available from Ancestry.com Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA), comp. U.S. Virgin Islands Census, 1835-1911 (Danish Period) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

http://stx.visharoots.org/ St. Croix Population Database

Holy Cross Catholics Church, Christiansted Marriage records 1855-1898

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52 Ancestors #14 Favorite Photo Charlie Matthews

Charlie Matthews (1896-1941)  my grand-father on my paternal side portrait style photo is my favorite picture.  He’s well dressed and looks little prosperous.  Date of photo is unknown.

Charlie Matthews

He was the son of John Matthews and Amanda Allen-Matthews both of Barnwell, South Carolina.  Charlie Matthews was the youngest of six (6) Children.  He was born August 29, 1894 in Savannah Chatham, Georgia.

His US World War I Draft Registration Card revealed that he was living at the family home in Savannah Georgia.   The 1920 Census showed that he was 23 years old.  Charlie  married Anna Harris;  his occupation was a Tinner (roofer).  This same census also showed that his home was mortgage free.

Great Migration Image by Jacob Lawrence

Great Migration Image by Jacob Lawrence

Between 1920-1922 Charlie Matthews, alongside his wife and mother joins what is known as The Great Migration.  This migration is when a substantial number of  African Americans moved from the Rural South to the Urban North.

In 1922, Charlie and Anna Matthews first child is born in Harlem, New York.   I don’t know whether they left Savannah via Train, Boat or Bus; what I do know is that they were among the many migrants that anticipated a better future for their family. In 1941, Charlie Matthews died a Widower at 45 years old.



1920; Census Place: Savannah, Chatham, Georgia; Roll: T625_240; Page: 41B; Enumeration District: 58; Image: 1151

New York State Census, 1925

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52 Ancestors Week 13 – Different

Week 13 (March 26 – April 1) – Different. What ancestor seems to be your polar opposite? What ancestor did something that seems completely different than what they “should” have done or what you would have done?


Thought I’d take a look at my ancestors’ slave owner, the Progenitor of the Beaudhuy family in the Danish West Indies White Planter Anthony Beaudhuy.   With no family lore, my genealogical journey has been mostly through an abundance of public records.  Thanks to the Danes, who documented and wrote down just about everything. Their meticulous record keeping survived throughout the centuries. The Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA) transcribed records of genealogical significance from the US and Danish National Archives, Virgin Islands Archives, and Private Collections into a searchable database.  These documents are a rich source of evidence describing the population, historical events, tax and legal records during the Danish Period for Genealogists and Historians alike.

On this fabulous genealogical journey, I discovered the 1767 Inventory of Queen Street No. 20 Christiansted. The inventory included a listing of 26 slaves by first names, working as live-in servants, in the household of Anthony Beaudhuy and wife Anna Elisabeth Jurgen-Beaudhuy as Estate and Slave Owners.  Sixteen of the private slaves enumerated had a value price ranging from 50 to 550 rigsdaler.

The 1796 St. Croix Slave Plantation and Head Tax list recorded that Anthony Beaudhuy, Planter owned 26 slaves who lived at Queen Street, No. 20 in Christiansted Town. Anthony Beaudhuy was now a widower and co-owner with Jacob Boffron of 150 acres of land at Estate Betsey Jewels, No. 12 where sugar cane and other crops cultivated. These slaves most likely worked on the sugar plantation and in Town as laborers/house servants.  By 1797, Anthony Beaudhuy owned the estate alone. He hired William Carty as manager of the enslaved.

The St. John Anglican Church record states that November 28, 1779, Adam, Peter and Sarah, three mulatto children, the property of Anthony Beaudhuy were baptized in St. Johns Anglican Church.  Elizabeth Rezende expresses in her dissertation “The Free Colored in Christiansted Danish West Indies”, that all three children shared the Beaudhuy surname and subsequently were set free by Anthony Beaudhuy that same year.

Although my 4th generation grandmother was given her freedom as a child, it wouldn’t be until Sarah Beaudhuy is 20 years old before she received her freedom certificate in hand from the courts making her freedom legal. Fortunately, her former owner and presumed father Anthony Beaudhuy recorded the document in the courts before he passed away.  With that legal action finally closed,  I can only imagine her being comfortable with her “free given” status.

In trying to find out all that I could about my ancestors’ slave owner, and presumed father Anthony Beaudhuy, I obtained a copy of his Last Will.  I plan to dive in and learn more about analyzing the Will, comparing the information with other record sets, to reveal relationships and hopefully draw some conclusions as to who is my 5th generation grandmother.   However, from the information available I was able to build and publish a Beaudhuy Family Tree on ancestry.com.

The Register of Free Colored Children/Women and Men reveals that Peter, Adam, and Sarah among other former Beaudhuy slaves lived in the Town of Christiansted. They earned wages as Tailors, Shoemakers, Seamstresses, Washers, and Peddlers.   Although they had an advantage over the unfree population living as a free person, their experience of freedom as people of Color came with limitations. Insofar, as social behaviors in terms of employment, wages, landowners, education, and curfew laws. However, their children and grandchildren benefited from their status. The descendants of the Beaudhuy have played a part in the struggle for freedom and equality.

Retrieved from United-States-Virgin-Islands-Centennial-2017 danishtimes photo

Retrieved from United-States-Virgin-Islands-Centennial-2017 danishtimes photo

Anthony Beaudhuy the Progenitor of the Beaudhuys of the US Virgin Islands from-whence he came to the Danish West Indies is still unfounded. Nevertheless, he died in 1802 on St. Croix.  The wheel bend but the story don’t end.


SCLS -1767 Inventory Christiansted R/A VL 1761-68

St. Croix Slave Plantation and Head Tax Lists, 1772-1821. Retrieved from ancestry.com

SCLS Colby Collection (list of owners and plantations St .Croix DWI)

St. John’s Anglican Church Records. Baptisms 1779

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Free Colored Censuses, 1815-1832 retrieved from ancestry.com

“Cultural Identity of the Free Colored in Christiansted Free Gut 1800-1848” publication 1998 Rezende, Elizabeth

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52 Ancestors Week No. 12- Same

The last couple of weeks have been truly occupied in a pleasant manner. Spending time with my mom’s niece on the island was very refreshing. Her visit gave me the opportunity to re-discover St. Croix and enjoy our one-of-a-kind culture.  Albeit, I am looking forward to getting up to speed with the 52 week Ancestor challenge. I thought I would begin week 12 with the theme – Same – What ancestor is a lot like you? What ancestor do you have a lot in common? Same name? Same home town?


Week 12 (March 19-25) –Same. While I was developing my maternal Bough family tree, I was surprised at how the middle name Curtis repeated itself in five generations. It is common tradition that names are repeated in honor of an ancestor.  Yet. I couldn’t find an ancestor who had Curtis as a given or middle name before 1841.   My research of the name did not reveal any historical timelines.  I turned to Wikipedia for name significance. “Origin: The name was Anglo-Norman. Meaning: Courteous, Polite, Well-Bred.”  Considering their lives through either family history, oral history, individual experiences; I was starting to understand the name Curtis and why it was picked as a middle name. also, all the more importantly how it matched the life they lived.

The basic facts from the Bough Family tree are these:

First Generation: Benjamin Curtis Bough (1841-1875) The son of Susan Crow and George A. Bough

Second Generation: August Curtis Bough (1866-1939) The son of Emelia Petersen and George Bough

Third Generation: Julius Curtis Bough born 1889-1936 The son of August Curtis Bough and Georgianna Agaard

Fourth Generation: Bernadine Curtis Bough (1895- 1974) The son of Ophillia Jackson and August Curtis Bough

Fifth Generation: Ishmael Curtis Bough (1929-2014) The son of Viola White and Bernadine Curtis Bough

Lord God of Saboath Lutheran Church, Christiansted St. Croix where family members attended. Photo  by s.dewese

Lord God of Saboath Lutheran Church, Christiansted St. Croix where family members attended. Photo by s.dewese

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52 Ancestors # 10 Stormy Weather in Tortola BVI

The theme for week #10 of 52 Ancestors (stormy weather)  is so fitting to describe the historical backdrop of a schooner in Tortola called the “Fancy- Me”.  This brief account will show how a Hurricane back in 1926  impacted a Community, Family and a Caribbean Island to a heartbreaking misfortune.

For this story I invited my cousin Janet Smith, as a Guest Blogger.  She has courageously written as well as publicly spoken about the “Fancy-Me” Vessel and its incident.  It is not simply a story, it is a courageous effort on her part to write an account of the final voyage and loss of the “Fancy-Me”.

The Fancy-Me at Anchor in St. Thomas Harbour

The Fancy-Me at Anchor in St. Thomas Harbour (water island in the background)


When Family Must Live with the Maritime Disaster of the Century

“Such are the hours to find peace”….  No more fitting words could describe the deepest feelings of a man who just days earlier, was only one of 59 of the 89 men and women when he returned home.  He had survived the sinking of the Fancy-Me schooner when it succumbed to a hurricane off the coast of Hispaniola on July 25, 1926. The schooner had been built on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for Jacob Wilson Smith, who, with his sons (and still for many of his descendants), had spent much of their lives in the business of boat building and inter-island transport.   “Papa Jake’s” only daughter was Ann Smith.  In the mid 1800’s she and her two young sons had moved from the British island of Tortola and made her home on St. Croix in the U. S. Virgin Islands.   Through marriage, the Smiths of Tortola is linked to some of the members of the Bough family.

Times were hard throughout the english-speaking Caribbean in the early 1900s. Making a living to support one’s family had grown harder and harder at home.  For the men of the island of Tortola and its surrounding British islands, so had employment from the bauxite and alumina industries on the U.S owned island of St. Thomas.  For this reason, the men, and sometimes even the women, ventured for months at a time to the Dominican Republic (also known as Santo Domingo) where they could find work cutting sugarcane or working in factories in order to support their families. While some moved permanently with their families to San Pedro de Macoris, most of them returned home when the season ended, and waited for the next sugarcane harvest.  Their families waited patiently for the financial support they sent home and for the time they would return home – whether to stay, or to return.  It was on one of these trips home – when many were looking forward to celebrating the local emancipation of slavery with the traditional festivities planned for the first Monday in August, that the tragedy that has been marked historically as one that may have affected every family, and in which the loss of life totaled more than that combined for all the hurricanes that have affected the islands to date, occurred.


The brothers, James and Alexander Smith, by then owned their father’s boat – The Fancy-Me.  James himself was at the helm when the boat left the Santo Domingo city of Macoris late that Friday.  Some say they had hurried to leave.  It was hurricane season, and a hurricane was always possible, but those who plied the seas were experts who had come to know what to expect during such weather, and just how to handle their vessels.  Among other things, they knew that they could expect calmer waters in the open ocean. But the speed of the development of any storm was never predictable.  Passengers were anxious to get home to their families, to celebrate the festivities, and to celebrate the marriage of one of their own, some say.  The boat was also loaded with cargo – mostly sugar.…much of which had been placed on top of the boat’s larger of two anchors.  If there was to be rough weather, it is possible that this was intended to stabilize the schooner on the high seas, though we can only surmise.

It was usually a trip that lasted four days.  On the second day, as the weather worsened, it was necessary to take shelter near Saona, a small island south of Hispaniola. The captain dropped the available, but smaller anchor, which soon gave way with the tossing of the boat in the high, windy waves.  Despite his efforts to rid the boat of cargo, and to instruct passengers to help with shifting from their weight in order to balance the boat as it was tossed from side to side, there was much fear and panic as the boat capsized as it was flung against a rock – a rock called El Caballo Blanco (The White Horse). The single lifeboat was soon full and the remaining passengers were therefore left to fend for themselves.  It was night-time.  They grabbed whatever floating trunks and bits of wood they could, sometimes fighting each other to gain possession in order to stay afloat; and sometimes uniting in the midst of the tragedy, in the hope of saving each other. Many hung on to whatever they could and prayed for a passing vessel that might see, and rescue them.  This did happen, and some were taken to the small town of La Romana in Santo Domingo.  A few also made it to shore, but more than half of the passengers, including the captain and first mate, both of them members of our Smith family, were lost at sea that night.

It was a tragedy, none the likes of which had ever, or has since been experienced by the small and closely-knit people of the British Virgin Islands.  Though the family had always been, and continue to be well respected, everyone had lost someone, or knew someone that was aboard when the Fancy Me went down.  Most of us knew of the incident, as we often heard of the loss of the Fancy-Me, but sooner or later would come to realize how little we also knew about it. Feelings ran as deep as the pain that remained, so little was ever said by family members or others within the families that had experienced the tragedy; and blame was hardly spared.  Many of us sensed a measure of respect and admiration that was tinged with some distrust as we grew up.

Fancy Me Schooner Anchor

Fancy Me Schooner Anchor

In 1998, one member of the family, with the help of her father who interviewed perhaps the last two survivors,  obtained verbatim but almost identical accounts of the incident some fifty years later – as though it had happened yesterday.  “ Such Are the Hours to Find Peace: Intimate Accounts of the Loss of the Fancy-Me” recounts those two accounts, together with other accounts as they had been passed on through the years. Dr. Smith’s earlier writing as part of the story of the family, had been released.  She described it then as a personal item that closes a loop, but also one from which she hoped that others would come to learn a great deal concerning the history, people and culture of those times.

Janet D. Smith, Ph.D. is a native of the Virgin Islands.  She grew up on Tortola with her parents, Wilfred W.  Mrs. Cheddena (Nibbs) Smiht.  Dr. Smith, a higher education administrator, now lives in Jacksonville, Florida.   She has worked at the University of the Virgin Islands as well as at Universities in Ohio, New York and California.  Dr. Smith’s earlier writing on the “Fancy Me” is part of a 1992 description of the descendants of Jacob Wilson Smith a family known throughout the Virgin Islands for their citizenship, varied professional and boat building skills.

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Sarah Beaudhuy Close to Home (#9 of 52 ancestors)

Week 9 (Feb 26-Mar 4) – Close to Home. Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits “close to home”?

When I look at the family tree and look at residences, my 4th great-grandmother Sarah Beaudhuy is the closest to where I live, six blocks over on 15 Market Street, Christiansted St. Croix. Albeit there aren’t any stories to pass down about Sarah. Through the evaluation of Wills, Census and Church records, I was able to get a view of her life and her way of life.

Market Street  St. Croix

Market Street St. Croix

Sarah was born in St. Croix, Danish West Indies, and was baptized in the Dutch Reform Church. From the 1779 Christiansted Anglican Church Records: Three mulatto slaves: Peter, Adam and Sarah property of Mr Beaudhuy together were re-baptized in St. Johns Anglican Church and took on the Beaudhuy name.

Sarah Beaudhuy,and her brothers grew up between being on the Betsey Jewel Plantation and a Town apartment on Market Street owned by White Planter Anthony Beaudhuy. Regularly, Sarah was leased to Danish families to work nearby as a house servant.

Anthony Beaudhuy liberated Sarah on April 22, 1797, and it was recorded in the Christiansted City Court on April 24, 1797. She received her Freedom Certificate on July 27, 1797 from Governor Malleville.

Sarah was among the alleged Free Colored populace. The Ordinance of March 16, 1776 secured that the offspring of free-colored women were born free. Hence, her two children took after their moms status. In any case, the free-colored populace was managed by serious limitations which were gradually relaxed after a while. She supported herself by sewing. Sarah had a relationship with a man named Bough/Bauch with whom she had two children. David, who died in adolescence and George Anthony Bough, who lived all through adulthood.

Market Street Christiansted St. Croix 2015

Market Street Christiansted St. Croix

Now and again, when I drive in the town of Christiansted I envisioned how Market street was very noteworthy financially,for my ancestor who alongside many other woman peddling their wares. I generally consider my 4th Great-grandmother’s hardship and at the same time, assembling significant family bonds. As she matured, these same family bonds were displayed in the census where you see that her son, George was living with his wife and his large family which also included his mother, Sarah. Sarah outlived her son, George.

Sarah died at a ripe old age about 96 and was buried as a Moravian in Christiansted. Sarah Beaudhuy is the Great Matriarch of the Bough Lineage.

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52 ancestors #8 August C. Bough born 1866: Holder of deeds & Did great deeds.

I’m participating in “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 Edition” by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small. Week No. 8 of this challenge I used the optional weekly theme (Deeds)


August C. Bough, my extraordinary great-grandfather was born in St. Croix, one of the largest islands in the Virgin Islands of the United States. He was the eldest child of his parents. His female ancestor, arrived into the Danish West Indies on a Slave Ship from Africa in the mid-18th Century. August Bough, was born six years after his Great-Grandmother Nancy of Africa died. I’m sure listening to stories about her life and the many challenges brought a feeling of pride and compassion towards different persons situation in life.

Before the 1848 emancipation of the Danish West Indies through a slave revolt; his father George Bough was a free-born colored. He worked as a Clerk; while his mother, Emelia Petersen was born enslaved. She worked as a House Servant the majority of her life for private families. August was raised by his mother, with his father’s impact limited to visits at his employment, and seeing him function as a clerk in a dry goods retailing store.

My great-granddad seemed eager for freedom and money related achievements. He took in the calling of being a Realtor, by which he ended up ready to purchase town properties. Yes, he was at long last holding the deeds to a few properties. Amid this period he opened AC Bough stores dealing in dry goods, hardware, and provisions;as well as operating wholesale, retail and commission. August Bough is described as was one of the islands greatest merchants. The height of his business career was in the best days of the island.

A.C. Bough's Store Photographer  C.E. Taylor circa 1899

A.C. Bough’s Store
Photographer C.E. Taylor
circa 1899

Property belonging to A.C. Bough  1901

Property belonging to
A.C. Bough 1901

Property Belonging to August C. Bough 1901

Property Belonging to
August C. Bough

During the last 15 years of his life, my great-grand father was Parson/Rev Bough devoted his life to one of tribute. In fact. it may be said that he was the father of the A.M.E. work in St. Croix. Begun by Rev. Barrow of Barbados 20 years prior. The church received full support, and shelter in Rev A.C. Bough. The lot which stands the AME Church was given by him. Later when Rev Barrow was deported, it was Rev Bough who kept the AME work alive at Christiansted, Grove place and Frederiksted St. Croix.

The 1939 Obituary in the St. Croix Avis Newspaper, declared that Rev A.C. Bough was one of the popular and respected citizens of St. Croix. Five ministers were in attendance at the funeral Rev. E.E. Johnson of Bethel A.M.E. Church, Rev J.A. Agaard of the A.M.E Zion Church. Rev. C.S. Mayhew of the Church of the Nazarene and Rev E.C. Phaire of the Pilgrim Holiness Church were platform guest ministers.

A.M.E. church where Rev A.C. Bough ministered

A.M.E. church where Rev A.C. Bough ministered

When I think about his life in full, I think about the effort it must have taken for him to rise above his own striking character and conscience, to carry on a humble life without contradictions. The Reverend August Curtis Bough passed on March 18, 1939 in St. Croix; he was 73 years of age.

U.S. Virgin Islands Census, 1835-1911 (Danish Period)digital images http://ancestry.com
Newspaper Archive/Government Secretary Office: “A remarkable Character Passes The West End News: 1939
Newspaper Archive/No. 63 “Obituary Rev A.C. Bough” St. Croix Avis.

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