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?
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.
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.
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