52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Week 14 – “Great.”

The new prompt in the 52-ancestor series for 2021 suggests that we write about ancestors associated with the word- “great”.   I found it daunting to navigate around this word.  Going through my folders, I realized that in almost every family tree, one could see great deeds, outstanding accomplishments, and of course, several degrees of great-grandparents. In my search, I came across my “reunion folder”  as I skimmed through the various meeting agendas, booklets, and  pictures.  The memories of these events reminded me of the good times.    Corona Virus and the isolation associated with this pandemic,  cause me to look back and realize that these were really “Great” times.    You may ask what made them great.   I would say that these were times of great excitement:  meeting family from across the globe and the social gatherings. 

I sometimes think the greatness of any reunion is in the preparation. This step is where you see family members coming together to plan and execute.  At such times, the larger group would select coordinators and form committees.  The planning stage would take about  nine to 12 months of organizing before the actual event. Teamwork and togetherness are really on display in a natural way. In teamwork, relatives who may not have known their relationship in terms of genealogy, are usually engaged so automatically by extending  themselves and their contributions.  Two–  the meet and greet is the initial greeting. Family, friends and associates are eager to greet one another on the island, with a Goodie Bag and a Rum punch.  Three is the main event.  This is where the three-course dinner, family history presentations, raffles, and gifts appear.   The event usually ends with a Church Service at Lord God of Saboath Lutheran Church and a gathering to honor our ancestors.  I enjoyed these great moments. 

Everyone loves family Reunions.  The Bough family gathered together in July 1997,  July 2012 and March 2017 on St. Croix, Virgin Islands.  The most memorable reunion was in 1997, meeting the many descendants of Dr. Irvin Gustavus Bough the son of David Bough born in St. Croix, Danish West Indies.   Irvin Bough traveled to Denmark, Boston MA, to complete his medical degree; but could not be employed as a doctor as he was African American.  He then joined a missionary group bound for the Philippines.   He settled and practiced in Carigara.   Heeding the call of their ancestor to never forget the  Virgin Islands, they returned to  St. Croix and read the letter that Dr. Irving Bough left for his descendants.   So, there we were, of varying complexion and ethnicity we embraced.  Simply amazing. The Boughs remain connected.

Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:  In the mountain of height of Israel and will I plant it; and it shall bring forth boughs and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar; and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.  And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree have dried up the green tree and have made the dry tree to flourish:  I the Lord have spoken and have done it Ezekiel Chapter 17, verses 22-24

“Lets do it again” Photo Courtesy Richard Motta

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.


  1. Shelly–loved this post with all of the pictures–even recognized one or two people–didn’t know they were part of the Bough family. Mary


  2. My great-grandmother, Victoria Elizabeth Francis (1862-1951), was a cousin of Pastor Paul Edward West’s mother, Rosabel Dagmar Francis, later Mrs. Trelawney Edward West. I am not sure how the comes about, except for the fact that I have found an 1889 passenger list showing Rosabel West and her son [Pastor] Paul traveling from St. Thomas to St. Croix with Elizabeth Francis, my great-grandmother, who is listed as Rosabel’s cousin.

    My great-grandmother, Victoria, was born in St. Croix and came to St. Thomas, where her daughter, and my grandmother, Louise Augusta Graham (1888-1959), was born. Victoria left Louise in St. Thomas and traveled first to Puerto Rico and then to Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, in search of employment; she stayed in Mexico, where she remained until 1927 when she traveled to New York. While in New York, Victoria was found to have contracted leprosy and, in 1940, was sent to the U.S. Marine Hospital in Carville, Iberville, Louisiana and remained there (after she had been cured) until she died in 1951.

    During her time in New York, Victoria attended The Lutheran Church of the Transformation. Records of the U.S. Marine Hospital, listed Pastor Paul West as her contact person/next of kin.

    I have done considerable research on Pastor West’s family in St. Croix and would be happy to share information with his descendants, if they are interested.


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