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?

52ancestors-2015

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.

Sources:

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?

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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)

SUCH ARE THE HOURS TO FIND PEACE

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.

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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
2015

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)

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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
1901

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.

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Sources:
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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52 Ancestors #7 I love to research Peter W. Bough (1854-1922)

52ancestors-2015 The theme for Week 7 was “Love.” One of the wisest decisions I have ever made was to become involve in genealogy research. As my skills increased, I was able to concentrate on my family’s history. Out of the many interesting family members that I love to research was Peter W. Bough, born in 1854 on St. Croix.

Peter is the brother of my 3rd Great-Grandfather and the youngest son for his mother Susan Crow-Bough. As an apprentice at 15 he studied a trade which carried him throughout most of his life. He was the hint, that supported the oral history connection of the Muckle branch to the family tree. Peter Bough was listed as a witness on the marriage record of his niece, Julia Bough and Alfred Muckle in the Anglican Church. I was amazed at his travels, which included a trip to Boston visiting his nephew Dr. Irvin Bough as well as his livelihood as a painter. At first, I thought he was an artist, but further research showed that he was not an artist but was an accomplished self-employed painter who worked for private families. He must have been very successful to be able to live on the Upper East Side of New York in the early part of the 1900’s. As someone who was born in New York, I can tell you that you would not have found many persons of color from the Danish West Indies living in that area; most of us lived in Harlem. I was very impressed to know that my Uncle Peter was a man of prestige and prominence. Peter was married to Adrianna Williams of St. Croix. He died in New York he was 67 years old.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge see the events in Peters life.

Sources:
Marriages, 1867-1901 St. Johns Anglican Church Book Records.
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.
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 08; Assembly District: 20; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 41
The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 122
Source Information

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52 ancestors in 52 Weeks # 6 From Danish West Indies, to The Philippines

The Theme of this week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is “So Far Away”
Week No. 6 challenge: So Far Away. Which ancestor is the farthest from you, either in distance or in time/generations? Which ancestor have you had to go the farthest away to research?

Irvin Gustavus Bough

Irvin Gustavus Bough

Dr. Irving G. Bough, the brother of my 3rd great-grandfather was born on November 18, 1872, on St. Croix, Danish West Indies. In 1892 he left St. Croix to complete his education in Boston, Massachusetts. After earning his medical degree he joined a missionary group bound for The Philippines. He settled in Carigara Leyte, The Philippines where he married and fathered about 9 children. Although he never returned to his native St. Croix, he kept up constant communication with his siblings. In 1944 Dr. Irvin G. Bough died in Leyte, The Philippines at the age of 72.

1900 US Census Dr. Irvin Bough living in Boston MA

1900 US Census Dr. Irvin Bough living in Boston MA

In July 1997 the descendants of Dr. Irvin Bough traveled to St. Croix, their father’s ancestral home to attend a family reunion. I had heard stories about the family and the Philippines connection and now I was meeting them for the very first time. The family historian read a heartfelt letter from her great-grandfather in which he asked his children to never forget his beloved family of St. Croix. Stories of the migration of their ancestor from St. Croix to The Philippines were told with so much emotion. Love and happiness as well as tears of joy filled the room as we embraced, danced and shared stories of the history and genealogy.

Bough fam-3-imp

In 2012, the Boughs came together again on St Croix. The love and comradely displayed by all brought a closeness that continues even today. The descendants of Dr. Irvin G. Bough my great, great, great-uncle are certainly carrying out his wishes that is, to keep their beloved relatives of St. Croix in their hearts and mind. Today, most of the family lives between California, Hawaii, and New Jersey.

The descendants of  Dr. Irvin G. Bough

The descendants of Dr. Irvin G. Bough

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Resources:
US Census Ancestry.com
Bough Family Reunion Booklet 1997

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #5 Family lore; Ireland to the Danish West Indies

52ancestors-2015
The theme of this week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is “Plowing Through”

Plowing through and documenting census, church, and immigration records in order to find supporting evidence to confirm a family lore, has been tedious, yet a quite interesting task.

Although the Bough family has been on St. Croix, Danish West Indies since the 18th Century, family lore has it that the ancestors were living in County Cavan, Ireland before coming to St. Croix. As was typical during the 18th and 19th Centuries; the St. Croix population was mostly of English, Irish, and Scottish descent.

The St. Croix Free Males and Militia Combined 1807-1808 report; listed a George Bough as a White Male in private business and a member of the St. Croix Volunteer Company in Christiansted. Nothing in genealogy research is so exciting as discovering a link. Looking at this document and seeing the name of the patriarch of the family led me directly to my 4th Great-Grandmother. I was satisfied that the search led to a George Bough, but disappointed that it leads no further. Still, without the mere vital facts (date and place of birth) the search continued. Seeking a clue, I searched through Irish databases, Irish Genealogy guides, and bits of history on County Cavan, Ireland. Thus far, the plowing has not reaped many fruits. Therefore, I set my plowing tools down.

Not until my Gen-Friend Ricki Marshall called me to watch “Who Do You Think You Are” which featured Kim Cattrall who was searching for an ancestor, with the same name I was searching “George Baugh”, did I pick up my plowing tools again. Although the spelling of the name was different by one letter, the name variations rule applied. I watched intently her search, which eventually led to Liverpool England. I’ve watched this “wdytya” episode a couple of times for hints and clues. However, there was no mention of her ancestors heading to the Danish West Indies but the possibility exist.

If anyone runs into Kim Cattrall please text/email and inform her that the Bough family, of the US Virgin Islands formerly the Danish West Indies, arms are open wide to welcome her to St. Croix. We can simply sit under the palm tree on a sugar sandy beach with a tall cool glass of coconut water and have a chat about the Bough/Baugh ancestors.

Resources:

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.

Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA). St. Croix Free Males and Militia Combined 1807-1808 (Danish period)

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #4 ––Charlie Matthews (1896-1941) Closest Birthday to mine.

My knowledge of my paternal ancestry was very limited. Although I could relate familial connections on my mother’s side because of the information that was shared as I was growing up, my father did not speak too much about his family, so I missed out on vital stories and information that are passed down. So imagine my surprise when, through my research, I learned that my paternal grandfather Charlie Matthews and I was born two days apart. I was born on August 27th, and his birthday was August 29th.

Charlie Matthews (2)

Because of my genealogical quest to learn as much as I can, I have discovered a treasure trove of information that has made it possible for me to fill in the missing pieces. Armed with this new knowledge, I am blessed to still have both of my parents, and I am grateful for their contributions and support in instilling in me an inquisitiveness to seek the answers. My Dad, one of my greatest fans, has been a source of confirmation to my research and it is a pleasure to be able to talk with him about what I have found.

Charlie Matthews my paternal grandfather was born, August 29, 1896 Savannah Chatham, Georgia. He was the youngest of eight children. In June, 1918 he completed a World War I draft registration card. He married Anna Harris-Williams in October, 1919 at St. Thomas AME church, Savannah GA. In 1920, they were living at their home, along with his two-step children at Orchard Street in Savannah Georgia. Charlie Matthews was a Tinner by profession and worked in the roofing industry.

1920 US Census Savannah GA

1920 US Census Savannah GA

As millions of African-American families migrated from Southern cities to the North-East between 1910 – 1970; my family was among this historic movement, known as the Great Migration. By the 1921, Charlie Matthews, his wife, and mother migrated from Savannah GA to New York City. They settled in Harlem. My grandparents Charlie and Anna had five children, all born in New York of which four lived throughout adulthood. The year 1928 was a time of mourning for my grandfather, he lost his child, his wife Anna, and mother Amanda within the same year.

1925 New York State Census

1925 New York State Census

In 1940, Charlie Mathews was living with his second wife Lena, along with his four children Henrietta, Jean, Lillian and Charles at East 108th Street in Manhattan, New York. He was employed as a tinsmith.

1940 US Census New York City

1940 US Census New York City

On November 22, 1941, Charlie Matthews died at 41 years old he was buried in Flushing Queens, New York.

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #3 –Caroline Gasper-Bough (1894-1970) A Tough Woman.

This year’s challenge by Amy Crow is another weekly blog for 52 weeks about 52 ancestors  This weeks theme is on “TOUGH WOMAN”

Caroline Elizabeth Gasper-Bough was my maternal grandmother. She was born in 1894 on St. Croix, Danish West Indies, and was the daughter and only child of Victoria Richard (1877-1899) and Stephen Gasper (1871-1925). When my grandmother was about five (5) years old her mother died. Caroline knew nothing about her father, only that he had a wife and that a song was written where the chorus went “Stephen Gasper boy go home to your lawful wife” (Quelbe style) I believe that chorus tells it all

Caroline Gasper Bough Caroline’s mother’s brother Thomas Richard, took responsibility for Caroline’s well being, to include where and with whom she would reside. However unstable Caroline’s young life seemed, her Uncle Thomas made weekly visits each Sunday so that little Caroline would have a sense of belonging. As Caroline matured, she worked as a live-in House Servant with a family on the island, with the surname Lang. My grandmother told me stories about her Uncle’s weekly visit and rides in the buggy visiting friends and family. Every now and then she would sing that chorus about her father. It would be many decades later that I would see her listed in the census with the Lang family. CarolineGasper1901

She later met my grandfather Julius C. Bough who was born and raised in St. Croix. He was a merchant who worked in his father’s dry goods store. They eventually tied the knot in 1926. She appeared to have had about 8 children. However, only 4 lived to adulthood including one who died at the age of 19 in New York.

Julius Curtis Bough

Julius Curtis Bough

After the transfer in 1917 of the Danish West Indies which is now, the US Virgin Islands hopes ran high. But with the economic ills as well as the “strong arm” tactics of the Naval Administration, hopes dwindled. By 1930’s, thousands of natives migrated to New York City for they were considered US Citizens.

danish flags

My grandparents are among the first US Virgin Islanders to migrate and settle in New York. My grandfather went up first and later sent for his wife and children as shown in the New York Passengers List, 1820-1957. JuliusBoughNYPass CarolineBoughpassen

Starting this new life in America was full of hope and dreams. My grandparents were married in New York, and my mother (Joyce Bough) became the first American, born in the family. Ten years after Caroline’s arrival to New York, her husband Julius Bough died leaving Caroline Elizabeth, a widow, with children. Like most people during the depression era, their lives were not easy. Their lives were hard. But in the midst of the struggle she resisted the feelings of uncertainty about the future. Instead, she looked for ways to add to her income. Eventually, the family opened a Newsstand in Harlem in the 40’s on 145th in New York. Out of this tiny newsstand they sold the daily papers, pickles and candy. I have no idea how much one could make selling newspapers. When I listened attentively to these stories I would wonder how much could you make selling papers. I quickly realize it wasn’t about getting rich, but that it was a means to an end.

When I review my grandmother’s life, she appears to be a woman that was certainly acquainted with grief. Her experience of life showed her strength, love and devotion to her family and God. Her home was open to friends and family from St. Croix.  It was at home where stories were shared that taught VI history, family genealogy, and the best native food ever. From her life, one learned resilience, dignity, integrity and commitment.

52ancestors-2015 Sources: Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA). US Virgin Islands Census (Danish Period 1835-1911). Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA), PO Box 338, Frederiksted,  US Virgin Islands 00841. Images and index reproduced courtesy of VISHA.

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