Wordless Wednesday: Floral Tribute to Nancy, my African Ancestor.

floraltribute

Floral Tribute to African Ancestors. “Come Home to St. Croix” July, 2016

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SNGF -My Ancestral Birth Chart

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver.   The challenge is to create a five or six generation ancestor chart that shows your ancestor’s birthplaces .

As I was looking at the ancestral birth charts on Randy’s Genea Mussings  blog, I was struck by the participants ability to identify 5 generations.  I took note of the various countries labeled; and the flow from one generation to the next.  It appeared with each generation born, the families would settle in a different state.

Knowing my ancestors basically remained in one country or one state.  I had second thoughts about developing and sharing a birth chart.  Simply put, my ancestors’ birth place is either the US Virgin Islands or Savannah Georgia.  Shaking the family trees has not yet produced five generations.  Still, I decided to join the fun and create my ancestral birth chart.

ancestrial chart

The five generations chart of my maternal lineage begins with an ancestor that was born in Barbados, who settled in the Danish West Indies; to the descendants of my generation, who were born in New York.

The five generations chart of my paternal lineage begins with ancestors born Georgia or  in the low country of South Carolina, settling in Savannah Georgia; to the descendants of my generation, who were born in New York.

The 1917 transfer of the Danish West Indies to the Virgin Islands of the United States played a significant role in the migration of Virgin Islanders to the city of New York. Change was in the air; our people saw the same opportunities in the North as southern blacks, who were leaving states below the Mason-Dixon Line en mass.  In creating the chart I recognized, both paternal along with maternal ancestors all had a common goal: making their lives and the lives of their families better in an environment that promoted freedom and possibility.

 

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52 Ancestors #52 Resolution: Resolved to move on to DNA Testing

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small”   suggested we write about Resolution.   A resolution can be something that you resolve to do. It can also be the end or conclusion of something. What ancestor do you resolve to find more about in 2016? What ancestor have you resolved conflicting evidence about?52ancestors-2015

Many of the ancestral and collateral line stories I composed for 52 ancestors in 52 week challenge by Amy Crow, resulted from my enthusiastic research on my relatives I either met or heard stories from the elders.

I am deeply grateful to “All Ah You” who Read, Liked, Text or took the time to comment on the blog. Your encouragement continues to inspire me.  I thank you Janet, for being a guest blogger, contributing the tragic story of the “Fancy Me”.   (see Stormy Weather n Tortola BVI) It has been a great year, but for now, for Ancestry purposes, I have taken up the challenge of discovering the ethnicity of my ancestral lineage, sorting out the DNA Matches hoping to connect and meet new cousins.

In an effort to trace back beyond my 2nd GG on my paternal lineage, I decided to ask my Dad if he would submit to DNA Testing.  My father is very interested in genealogy.  His willingness heightened my curiosity, for this I was grateful.    We chose autosomal DNA Testing.  The autosomal DNA Test is half of the DNA inherited from both parents.   Besides being confused by the results, 59% African, 40% European, and 1% West Asia; my dad ethnicity and where his ancestors lived were so different from the family tree I created.

dnasymbolimageThis past Christmas, Ancestry DNA was offering Autosomal DNA testing at a discounted rate.  Something I hesitated to do and now eager to get involved in.  So, I decided to take what is known as the “Big Spit” into a tube and sent it off to Ancestry.com.

My ethnicity estimate revealed  77% African, 22% European, and 1% Native American.   Surprisingly, the 1 % Native American is from my maternal Caribbean lineage.  With this knowledge, I’m hoping to have my mother tested to discover further the Native American DNA aspect.

AncestryDNA Ethnicitysdw-page-001

My top estimates; Ivory Coast/Ghana Cameroon/Congo

One of the most fascinating things that have happened is that I met new cousins.  Patricia introduces herself as my 5th cousin from the Netherlands Amsterdam.  That explains why there are so many cultures in Holland and that it’s quite OK to eat rice, chicken, masala and roti.  Patricia says is not Dutch food.  Another particular match is from a DNA cousin who respectfully shared the bill of sale of his ancestor who  entered into Tybee Island , Savannah Georgia  from  either Africa or the Caribbean .  Of course some DNA matches are intimidated. However, for most, it has been cordial reception.

Certainly, the autosomal testing is difficult to match up with genealogy records.  With over 100 DNA matches for my Dad and my 61 matches attempting to identify the common ancestor, that is extremely important, challenging and somehow complicated.  The issue of identify is clear, but seeing the ethnicity break-downs in the African –American family: whether through television series “FYR”, or “WDYTYA” all suggest there was a lot of mixing going on.

SONY DSC

Although I haven’t found any celebrities or significant prominent genetic connections, nor do I have the time to climb every tree, I find the results very interesting.  I hope that more people from the Caribbean region will utilize this new and exciting tool with their family history research and get DNA tested.  It is exciting, to connect with family around the world you never knew you had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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52 Ancestors #51 Nice -Anita Bough-Moorhead (1918-2015)

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write a story to Define “nice” however you want to🙂

Our family historian Nita, shares a “Nice” Ole Time Christmas Story with her grandson  Dominick Scott.

NITA

Anita Chanette Elaine (Bough) Moorhead

Anita Moorhead was born on October 25, 1918, the daughter of Joseph E.  Bough and Alice M. (Smith) Bough both of St. Croix, Virgin Islands.  She is also the granddaughter of David Bough and Elizabeth (Prince) Bough as well as Emma (Mueller) Smith of St. Croix and William Smith of Tortola.  In 1942, she married Adrian L. Moorheard.

Nita, as she was affectionately called by family was a very effective Teacher as early as 1937 at the Frederiksted Grammar School and the Christiansted Grammar School.  After 40 years of teaching she retired from Pearl B Larsen School in 1977.   She received the award of “teacher of the year” occasionally.  As a teacher she impacted the lives of many Virgin Islanders.  She was an active member of the Lord God of Sabaoth Church overseeing confirmation classes and acolyte training.

Anita Bough-Moorhead was our Family historian.  Cousin Nita was proud of her Bough Heritage and was an inspiration for the first Bough family reunion in the late 90’s.  She created the first family tree for the reunion and as my interest in the history and genealogy grew, we shared information. I became 100% consumed with this knowledge and began blogging my genealogical journey.   Her love and the way she reached out and kept up with family was just incredible.

More importantly, she shared with her grandson Dominick Scott a treasure trove on how Christmas was celebrated when she was a child.  Each time I read this composition by my cousin, I get into the seasonal mood.   I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have each year.  Curl up with your sweet bread and guava berry drink and listen as dear “Nita” describes to her grandson about an Ole Time Christmas.

SONY DSC

Old-Time Crucian Christmas. Whim Museum, St. Croix, USVI personal photograph by author 2013

An Ole Time Christmas written by Dominick Scott

According to my great-grandmother, Anita Moorhead in the 1920’s the Christmas season in St. Croix began after Thanksgiving.  People started to get the stores ready.  Most of the goods came from Denmark and England.  Most of the merchants were natives; there were one or two European merchants and some Puerto Ricans.  Her father Joseph Bough was a merchant at that time.  Everywhere there was a festive air. The stores would be decorated with garlands and other Christmas decoration like colored lanterns.

Women with large wooden trays sat under the galleries of Company Street and King Street selling candies.  The candies were all homemade.  They were: coconut sugar cakes that were colored brown, pink and white; brown, white, or pink losenges; peppermint candies; peanut sugar cake, and dundaslau.

candy

“Coming Home to St Croix” Old time candy,  St. Croix USVI personal photograph by author 2015

There was also a candy that was similar to a lollipop that was shaped in the form of an animal to which a stick has been inserted called sugar babies.  The sticks were decorated with allkinds of colored paper.  Sweet Breads and all kinds of buns were sold.  Rusk was a small sweet bun that twas cut in half and baked until it became very hard and crusty.  People ate it with their tea.

On Christmas Eve night, the streets were crowded with people because most everybody lived in town. The only people who lived in the country were those who worked on the estates.  There were no fireworks as there is today, but people would walk around blowing horns and lighting Roman candles and firing thunderbolts.   After church, carolers went about the streets singing Christmas carols and visiting various homes.   They were given money, sweet bread, guava berry liqueur or cherry herring drink.

Sweet bread and ham were delicacies for the season.  Breakfast on Christmas morning consisted of sweet bread and ham with cocoa or tea.  All during the season sweet bread and ham were eaten for breakfast.  Dinner was either baked chicken or duck, which was usually raised by the family. There was no cold storage. There was only an ice box.  With the chicken or duck, potato stuffing and home gown vegetables like beets, carrots, corn, or string beans were eaten. There were no soda factories.  The common drinks were maubi, ginger beer, or punch made from many of our fruits – guava, gooseberry, plum, sour sop and tamarind.  People visited families and friends after dinner.  One would always be served sweet bread, guava berry liqueur, cherry herring, or Danish brandy.

Christmas Second Day was one of great celebrations.  There were masquerades dancing throughout the streets from noon until six in the evening.  This occurred on all the streets not just down one street.  People would look out their window and the troupes would stop and dance under the windows.  People would throw down money for them.  Some people would follow the troupes that they liked best, just like today when people follow a tramp.  The types of troupes were The Bull, David and Goliath, Donkey Want Water, Indians, Mocko Jumbies and other pretty troupes.

mockojumbionpalmtree

Personal photograph by author 2015

Christmas at that time was joyous and safe.  There were no crimes or violence.  Everyone had a good time.

52ancestors-2015

On March 19, 2015 we lost our dear relative, she was 97 years old.               Nita=Nice.

 

Source:

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

http://home.ancestry.com/ US Federal Census, 1920,1930,1940

In Celebration of Life Anita Bough Moorhead. St. Croix: funeral booklet., 2015.

Scott, Dominick. “Ole Time Christmas.” (class composition)

 

 

 

 

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52 Ancestors #50 Naughty Ernest Bough

Amy  Johnson Crow  “no story too small”  suggested that we write a story about an ancestor who probably received coal in the their stocking

52ancestors-2015

Looking for naughty ancestors was a fun task.   The ancestor who got coal in the stocking was Ernest Bough.  He is the son of Julius Bough and Bernice Rowell, both of the Virgin Islands and who migrated to New York.   In our family, I remember hearing, as children, the anxiety the adults would have speaking about Uncle Ernest, who ran away from home.    But my thoughts were different coming from a family with immense rules and etiquette.  I would cheer him “yippy yi Ya”.   I viewed him childlike as one being a courageous and adventurous runaway.  But now, with research and oral history, Ernest Bough was the adult who served in the military and never returned home.  I came to thinking why would he just vanish, and cause the family  so much heartache, headache, and  stress. He ended up in Detroit, Michigan, never to be heard of or seen again.  So, I decided to stir the Pot.

Research revealed that Ernest B. Bough had served over 10 years in the military between 1932 – 1946, with the New York National Guard and the US Army.   By 1934, he was married to Rosalia Benjamin of St. Croix.  By 1937 he received an honorable discharge from the National Guard.  It is at this point that Ernest B. Bough never returned to his family, nor did they hear from him again.  The research supported the oral history  that Ernest  went to Detroit, Michigan.

So it hit me that he went to Detroit because it was booming with the Auto Industry.  He thought he would return home when loaded, or he heard about Motown and wanted to audition for Berry Gordy.  (Poking fun)  Listed in the “Classified Business section for complete list for Businesses and Professions” for Dearborn, Michigan City Directory, 1941 was Ernest B. Bough, Porter in Garfield Detroit. (huh)

Ernest, at 32 years old enlisted in the US Army for 2 years.   In February 1951, he then married Maggie Kelso from Martin, Tennessee by all standards; they were farm people who became a part of the “Great Migration”.  Those were they who were fleeing the South going North or West for a better life filled with hopes and aspirations.  Still, all in all, Ernest B. Bough died on February 7, 1973 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 61 years old.

What brought Ernest from New York to Detroit could have been the fact that his mother, Beatrice, was married to a Gentleman by the name of Lonnie Haddon of Ohio who lived in Michigan.  Did he have any children?  Why didn’t he send word to his New York family he left behind is all left unknown?  One thing I know for sure, regardless of the situation his behavior was naughty.   Yes, my Great Uncle Ernest probably received coal in his stocking.

christmas-coal

Sources:

Photo by Getty Images {link to http://www.freeimages.com}.

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

Ancestry.com   New York, U.S. National Guard Enlistment Cards, 1917 – 1954,

Ancestry.com:  1910 US Federal Census

Ancestry.com:   1920 US Federal Census

Ancestry.com : New York, New York Marriage Index 1866 – 1937

Ancestry.com:  Michigan Marriage Records  1867 – 1952

Wikipedia: History of Detroit.

Ancestry.com : US Directories 1822 – 1995

Ancestry.com Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records, Michigan Deaths 1971 – 1996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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52 Ancestors #47 Sporting – Levi “Yogi” Bough

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write about Football or baseball players in the family. Or about an ancestor who was a good sport about things.

52ancestors-2015

Week 47 – Sporting Levi “Yogi” Bough – Basketball Player (1922-2008)

Bough Broke Color Barrier at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights.” Those words headlined the on-line Sports “Tablet” Magazine. What excitement came over me when I saw that the article was detailing my uncles’ College basketball career in honor of Black History Month February 2015. Clearly, the desire to toot the horn, and forward the article to all my contacts was at my fingertips; instead, I held back a little.  Then  a reality check hit me that although you may not get your flowers while you are breathing, the people left behind can celebrate and benefit from your good works.

The article describes how Levi Bough “’paved the way for countless St. Francis Student-Athletes to achieve their dreams”. The article goes on to call attention to the fact that he was the “first Black Player in the 52 year history of St Francis College. “ I hope you will take the time and read the online piece. http://thetablet.org

Below is the post I published back in 2012 about my Uncle Levi born on St. Croix, raised in New York and buried in Switzerland.

LEVI YOGI BOUGH

I met my uncle Levi G. Bough in the 70’s when he visited his birth place of St. Croix Virgin Islands with his family from Switzerland.  Although he was no longer the Athlete and his body had aged, you could still see the traces of the athlete he was in his posture and the way he carried himself.  You knew instinctively that he was a man who took good care of his body, although he was off the basketball court for decades.

growing up, we heard all about his Athletic talent from my mother and other distant relatives.  They told stories about his skill as a basketball player, who received a scholarship to attend College.  Levi also was thrifty and earned money by selling newspapers, and shining shoes.    He was known for studying way into the night with a Kerosene Lamp.  Later he joined the US Army as a member of the 761st Black Tank Battalion during World War II.  After the war, he played basketball in Europe, where he settled with his family.

Yogi and Team-mates

Yogi, as he was affectionately called, loved to talk and could recall the statistics like it was yesterday.  Levi   Bough enrolled into St. Francis College in 1946 and continued his basketball career as the first black basketball player with the S.F.C. Terriers.  With Yogi as a starter on the team during the years 1947 to 1948, St. Francis College  ranked first in the New York City area and 20th in the nation as a defensive unit.  They destroyed the mythical Brooklyn title over Brooklyn College and St. Johns University, and were rated 76th in the US by a leading collegiate basketball summary that tabulated 790 Schools.

“Taking it to the Hoop”

Levi graduated from St. Francis College with a degree in philosophy and psychology after serving as a basketball trainer and director of sports at the institute, but a government scholarship allowed him to continue his studies in Switzerland.   He went on to win 18 championships in basketball altogether.  Yogi went on to become a player and coach when he attended the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.  He took the game of basketball by storm and was deemed by Europeans “the first true American” for his accomplishments on and off the courts.    Levi “Yogi” Bough died in Switzerland in 2008.

Levi Bough was featured for his skills and talent on the basketball court, in the St. Croix Avis Newspaper in July 2006 as “A True Crucian emblem”

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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.

52ancestors-2015

 

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.

 

 

Sources:

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!

52ancestors-2015

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.

strength

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

http://www.visharoots.org/

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52 Ancestors #16 Ena Dorothy Bough – Lived to 97

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

52ancestors-2015

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
freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com

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.

Sources:

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

http://www.highbeam.com/

http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org

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:

BarzeyLtrpg1

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.

Sources:

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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