Maritime Monday


Discovering my 3rd Great Uncle Harold Bough (1855-1941) who was a Wardroom Steward  began with a 1932 St. Croix Tribute Newspaper Article that was given to me from a  Researcher/Family Historian.  The article enlighten me to Harold Bough historic military service.  His service included sailing around the world twice.  Harold had  served 24 years in the US Navy when the Spanish-American War was being fought.   This article also indicated that he was in Chinese waters for the Boxer Rebellion with the Party of American Surveyors in 1894, he crossed the proposed route from the Atlantic to Pacific of the Nicaraguan canal, a project that was considered before the present Panama Canal Route had been decided upon, and from 1879-83 he was stationed in the Pacific during the Peruvian and Chilean War.

Uncle Harold was born on the island of St. Croix in the Danish West Indies (now the Virgin Islands of the United States) just seven years after the slaves were emancipated.     He was the grandson of Sarah Beaudhuy from whence my genealogical journey began.   At a young age he was sent to live with his Aunt in St. Thomas Virgin Islands.  In those days St. Thomas was the stopping place for thousands of ships of all nations, Uncle Harold remained there until he answered the call of the waters.

Before he was `14 years old he stowed away on a French ship hoping that he would get to France but he was discovered on the Island of Martinique and was shipped back to St.  Thomas.  Again this time reaching Saint Lanier in Southern France and touching parts of Spain, but was sent back to his own home port.  He eventually was employed on a ship in St. Thomas as a Cabin Boy. From there he went to Puerto Rico and then for some years he sailed between Baltimore Puerto on the Royal Mail steamers and down the coast to Pensacola Florida.    In 1884 he enlisted in the Navy in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was retired in 1907 having seen the United States naval strength grow in size and in type of ship.

This article fascinated me I wanted to substantiate the story, so I began to look at the Church Records, Census and Military records; I was as able to find the connection with his paternal grandmother Sarah Beaudhuy and on his maternal side the census records indicated  that Harold lived at Government House with his mother’s family who were servants for the King of Denmark, in fact they lived in Government house from 1818 to approximately 1867 under several governor generals.

Government House Christiansted
Harold Bough family lived and worked at Government House Christiansted between 1818 – 1860

As I walk pass the Government House in Christiansted and look through the gates I think about Uncle Harold growing up in this grand place and what it must have been like for a boy; to be surrounded by dignitaries and government officials who frequented this most prestigious place.

Harold Bough who left the shores of St. Croix to St. Thomas and sailed around the World twice as a Merchant Marine was honored to serve.  It was truly a “tah dah” moment to find my ancestor Harold Bough three generations back.   Through research I was able to connect with a descendant of Harold, only to discover that his daughter 2nd Lt Kathryn Bough was a member of the Army Nurse Corps.  In 1942 she served at Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama.   Harold Bough died in Portsmouth, VA and the age of 84 years old.  “For we are strangers  before them, and sojourners, as were all our fathers. “ 1 Chronicles 29:15.


By shelley dewese

As I continue to search out my history, I am discovering how much I did not know. The more information that is disclosed about my ancestry, the more I learn and understand how I am the person that has evolved today. As a native New Yorker, with roots in Coastal Georgia and deep roots in the Danish West Indies, now the Virgin Islands of the United States or commonly referred to as the United States Virgin Islands, I have always had a yearning to return to my maternal homeland. In September of 1976, my family and I relocated back to St. Croix. While living in New York, I was always telling my friends about my trip back home, but here I was actually waking up every day, walking among the streets and people that I have identified myself with all of my life. At the time, I was not involved in any genealogical work, but I knew there was a missing link that became completed after I was offered the opportunity to transfer Danish documents into a database. That opened up my world and I realize that this was my niche. I now had the tools to explore and document my ancestry. Growing up, my mother always impressed upon her children the pride in being a “Bough”, which was her surname. Now I was able to track where that pride came from, through participating in family history projects and meeting new family, as we gathered together for the Bough Family Reunion on St. Croix in July of 2012. As I continued to research, I found my passion extending to photography. Sunsets and street art are my favorite features, as shown in my tumblr blog I also began blogging, and found that it has help me to improve my writing skills. Through the comments and well wishes, I have been encouraged to continue to write the stories and events of my life. Whether or not your roots trace back to the Danish West Indies, you will find a beautiful tapestry of life that reflects our “baseball and apple pie”. This site affords you the chance to transform yourself to a time during the Danish period (1734-1917) where life was both simple and complex. If you have any questions, comments, or need assistance in searching for a Danish West Indies ancestor, I invite you to drop me an email.

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