A Family Legend

Does Anna Heegard belong in the Bough Family Tree

The Woman behind the emancipation of the slaves in the Danish West Indies.

Growing up in New York City did not isolate me from Virgin Islands History/lifestyle.  My grandmother and family were always engaged in a discussion about life on St. Croix and the generations.  Their nostalgia for the island and the togetherness of people shaped my passion and pride in my Caribbean roots.  It seemed that all that mattered in life took placed in the kitchen.  My grandmother’s kitchen is where most sat around with a good meal and good jokes.  Some family members would respond differently to the stories and the family genealogy, recalling those times and places was nurturing.   It is during those conversations that you would learn about Crucian history. 

As a young girl at my grandmother’s house, I remember hearing an exciting story about one relative who helped Governor vonSholten free the slaves in 1848.  Anna Heegaard, the mistress who had a great influence on several actions that von Scholten undertook as Governor-General; notably, the 1848 emancipation of the slaves in the Danish West Indies. 

Anyone familiar with the Virgin Islands’ history would know that people rarely moved away from the towns of their ancestors and tended to marry someone within the town.  Most of the people who could trace their families to the Danish West Indies are most likely related.  Still, although DNA testing has helped tremendously with identifying family lines; it remains a challenge in some instances.

It was not until many decades later when living on St. Croix while attending a  family reunion that a cousin asked me about the Anna Heegaard connection to the Bough family.  I was taken by surprise; This family member was not at those Sunday chats and chew sessions in my Nanas house in the Bronx.   They were raised on “fish-and-fungi born and bred on the big island.  I must admit after living on St. Croix for so many years, that I resisted the relationship story. The Virgin Islands celebrates a holiday on July 3rd in honor of the enslaved people who were freed by Peter von Sholten and the influence of Anna Heegaard.  However, you rarely hear whether Heegaard had any relatives besides her danish kin. Anyway, it was becoming intriguing.

Since I am one of those deem family historians with the genealogy bug, I needed to be about finding out where this story originated. With the sources available from Whim Museum Library, VISHA database, Danish Scholar Per Nielsen, and Ricki Marshall, a diligent researcher who laid out the foundation for me on the Danish Period.  I did additional research in the VI Families contribution by Svend Holsoe, and online databases.

Records reveal that Danish Captain-Ship owner Thomas Petersen. In May 1800, in a deed of gift, gave to his two sons by Anna Lucia, (Peter Andreas and Hans Wilhelm Petersen ) his property at 47 Hill Street Christiansted which stood two houses. He also bequeathed an young African slave woman, called Anna Elisabeth/Nancy to his sons.

Nancy, my 4x great-grandmother was owned by the Petersen brothers, who are the sons of Anna Heegards Aunt (Lucie Assensius) Nancy granddaughter Emelia Elisabeth Petersen, had children with George A. Bough could explain why some family members believe the biological connection to this extraordinary woman, the mistress to the Governor-General von Sholten.

Church Baptism records show that Anna Heegards mother Susan Uytendahl was listed as a sponsor to one of Nancy’s children.

The stories between these families were passed down in those generations.

Conclusion:There was definitely a connection with the families that lived at the Petersen family home at 47 Hill Street.  However, I have been unable to locate any evidence showing a biological connection between the families. Whether Nancy granddaughter Emelia Elizabeth Petersen’s father (Thomas Petersen Petersen) descends from the Danish Captain Thomas Petersen is yet to be discovered. Tracing a biological connection between the famous Anna Heegaard and the Bough families may not ever be known. What are your thoughts. Does Anna Heegaard belong on a branch of the Bough Family Tree. The jury is still is out………

Charlotte Amalia Bernard’s family has been researched from back in the 1950s and later by H.F. Garde and other descendants.

She had two daughters: Lucie Assensius and Susanna Uytendahl

1.           Lucie Assensius 1777-1869 – who had two sons with Thomas Petersen: Peter Andreas Carl Petersen 1796-1880 and Hans Peter Wilhelm Petersen 1797-1863; many descendants in Denmark. 

2.           Susanna Uytendahl bapt. 1774-1847 – she had three daughters Anna Ulricka Elisabeth Heegard 1790-1859, Charlotte Christina Birgitte Cappel bapt. 1793-1828 and Sophia Magdalene Cappel 1796-1835

Records of the families living together over the years.


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.

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