I owe a sense of gratitude to a stranger, for the discovery of a Gem in the form of the 1855 Danish West Indies Census. It all began when an ancestry.com member saved a census record that was linked to my relative. While sharing, and assisting with their research; my genea-buddy and I discovered: Nancy, my African Ancestor, my 4th Great- Grand mother.
She appears on The 1855 St. Croix Danish West Indies Census. This census is my Thursday Treasure and for all times. This beautiful document describes Nancy as born in Africa, 70 years old, Lutheran, unmarried, invalid, supported by her children at Hill Street-46 Christiansted; living with daughter, Ann DeWindt, 5 grandchildren and 2 great grand-children. .
Every time I look at this census it brings so much emotion. It lists “All my Mothers” beginning with Nancy; and her daughter Ann DeWindt; and Ann’s daughter Emelia Petersen; my 2nd great-grand mother, and mother of August C Bough, my great-grandfather. The census record below, also supports the sketchy oral history of my Great Uncle on his African Ancestry, as told to me by his niece many years ago; admittingly I was not paying close attention.
Little is known, about Nancy’s life in Africa, her parents, or their professions. However, other information researched showed that she was born about 1780, and at approximately 14 she arrived in St. Croix, worked as a servant with the same Danish family most of her life. Nancy received her freedom on July 3rd 1848, when Gov. Gen. Peter von Scholten proclaimed the freedom of all slaves in the Danish West Indies. Nancy died, bet. 1857-1860 and was buried on St. Croix.
Tracing my maternal family to the Danish West Indies has been quite exciting, and now finding an African Ancestor has caused many emotions, mainly a drive for more data. I went over the census record with my family, they seemed to understand the value of “what we do” as family historians. As a result, we were rejoicing and echoed Alex Haley by saying “I found you” Despite the new and different direction this new information brings; it has provided me with a better appreciation of oral history. Oral History, together with supporting document = the Happy Dance. Now thats a treasure.