Wishful Wednesday – Chat and chew with Nancy of Africa

Here’s a new blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, called Wishful Wednesdays. The page for Wishful Wednesdays says, “What ancestor do you wish you could have met?”

I thought of quite a few ancestors I wish I could have met. Then I thought, why not start from the beginning. I chose my earliest ancestor (that I know of) and my latest find which is Nancy the African, my 4th grand-mother. (Featured once in a prior post called “Thursday Treasure 1855 census.”)

According to the St. Croix Census of the Danish West Indies my 4th grand-mother Nancy was born in Africa, described as one with a good moral character. There are so many moments in her life that I wish I could be a part of for this post. However, I settled on being a part of the “Winter Years” of her life, as Nancy recalls her journey, unlocking her past, I listen anxiously.

Below I attempt to describe my Wishful Wednesday chat and chew (meeting/interview) with Nancy through pictures and text. beginning with the census establishing her birth place.

nancy-1855 St. Croix Danish West Indies Census
nancy-1855 St. Croix Danish West Indies Census

Captured, classified as cargo, departing Africa to the Caribbean. Approximately a 100 day voyage before arriving on St.Croix, the Danish West Indies.

slaveshipfredenborg
slaveshipfredenborg

Two girls bet the ages of 12- 14 Nancy and Petronella both of Africa stood on the auction block, and was sold for 800 Rigsdaler to a Danish Sea Captain.

Auction-Block
Auction-Block

I turned to Nancy and asked did you ever dream of a better day. Then I pulled out the family tree scroll and pointed to her descendants, along with telling the stories about how they overcame the obstacles and challenges despite its limitation, that would shape a legacy that would make her proud.

Bough Family Scroll
Bough Family Scroll

Joy and hope, filled my soul when discovering the life of Nancy that seemingly been closed, has consumed me with a need to engage my grandchildren with creating a project, looking at Nancy’s life from the eyes of a child that would celebrate the memory of Nancy. We cherish and honor her survival.

Almost forgetting the most important yet delicate part of the interview; was when I would ask my Nancy to tell me about her Mama and Papa, and as her eyes watered from the experience of exile and deep isolation, I whispered, say no more. Look and see how your flock has spread across the World. With that Nancy got the pots going and we chewed on some fry fish and johnny-cake.

Bough Family Reunion 2012
Bough Family Reunion 2012

By shelley dewese

As I continue to search out my history, I am discovering how much I did not know. The more information disclosed about my ancestry, the more I learn and understand how I am the person that has evolved today. My family's research efforts have taken me on an enlightening journey back through the past in the U. S. Virgin Islands (formerly Danish West Indies) and Coastal Georgia. As with most people of Afro-Caribbean descent, my ancestry stems from peoples brought together by colonialism and conquest; it stems from people thrown together, albeit forcibly, by the throes of enslavement. As a result, my DNA tells me that my people originate in Africa, Europe, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Lesser Antilles, and Leeward Caribbean Islands. Two collections made my dream to research my ancestors in the Danish West Indies a reality. I have conducted extensive research using the St. Croix Population Database 1734-1917, a St. Croix African Roots Project product, and a research and document transcription effort sponsored by the Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA). The other catalyst has been accessing the extensive photo, manuscript, and microfilm collections at the Library and Archives of the St. Croix Landmarks Society at Estate Whim in St. Croix. My heartfelt thanks go to all my cousins, extended "cousin-family," friends, and research colleagues from the St. Croix-based Virgin Islands Ancestry Discovery Group, for their input and collaboration. I also want to thank the UJima Genealogy Group in Coastal Georgia and GlynnGen.com; webmaster Amy Hendrick has introduced me to Southern History and its people. This site allows you to transform yourself to a time during the Danish period (1734-1917) when life was both complex and straightforward. If you have any questions, comments, or need assistance searching for a Danish West Indies ancestor, I invite you to drop me an email. Its.sheldew@gmail.com I especially appreciate the followers' encouragement.

9 comments

  1. This post is so sweet, so creative, so imaginative, yet so real, and so well written!!. I find myself sitting in a corner eavesdropping on your conversation with Nancy, though not really ’cause she’s the ancestor of so many of us whose 4th great grandmother (and grandfather travel led the same voyage, stood on a similar block on an island just next door. Thanks for the oPportunity to read it at the start of a new day!!!
    Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

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    1. You are sooo right “Your story, is my story” Composing this post was heartfelt, and emotionally difficult; and at the same time I enjoyed creating the visit. Your comments reassured me that the thoughts that I wanted to share about Nancy situation was well received. Thank you!

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  2. This is such a WONDERFUL Shelley! You are truly blessed and fortunate to know not only the name of your 4x great-grandmother, but to know where she’s from and how she came to St. Croix. I hope to one day be able to tell a rich and engaging story about my ancestors as you have done here today. I LOVE that reunion photo too. You truly have a beautiful family!

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    1. Liv,
      I feel truly blessed and fortunate. You see, the Danish Officials kept very good records of various documents. Living on St. Croix puts me in a good place in terms of family history. The reunion picture is a Virgin Islands Cultural Blend. Thank you for stopping by.

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  3. That’s a wonderful interview. I would choose the oldest relative that I know too, she was born about 1800 in SC. I couldn’t read the document, but it tells where Nancy was taken from? Where was it? I would love to find that information.

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  4. Hi Kristin, Thank you for stopping by.
    Click on the census at the top, then zoom it in. You should be able to read the document. Look under the column “where born” gives place of birth. However, the document does not tell what part of Africa, that missing information is an ongoing process.

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