Honoring My Ancestral Mothers

Flower in the Weeds

Looking at my genealogy research today, I felt very humbled by the number of mothers who came before me. It inspired me to post a reflection of my ancestral mothers some free, some enslaved – in the Danish West Indies/US Virgin Islands and Barbados.     I began with my mother, Joyce Bough.   Today I remembered and honor them and the mothers who preceded them. I briefly share this reflection with you.  (I’ve indicated the birth year and  town or Estate on St. Croix, Danish West Indies.)

Joyce Florencia Bough’s  Ancestral Mothers

Her Mother

Caroline Gasper  (1894, Christiansted Town)

Her Grandmothers

Victoria Richards  (1853, Hill Street Christiansted Town)

Georgiana  Aagard  (1868, Christiansted Town)

Her Great-grandmothers

Maria Arndahl/ Arnold  (1833, Christiansted Town)

Adelaide Williams  (1856, Christiansted Town)

Mary Rose (1844,  St. Michaels Parrish Barbados)

Emelia Petersen (1834,  Christiansted Town)

Her 2nd Great-grandmothers

Caroline Arnold (1813, Christiansted Town)

Caroline Williams ( 1836,  Christiansted Town)

Perin McCann (1795,  Estate Sion Hill)

Mary Clarke (1824,  St. Michael’s Parrish Barbados)

Anna C. DeWendt ( 1803,  Christiansted Town)

Sophia Lincoln  (1803, Christiansted Town)

Her 3rd Great-grandmothers

Sarrah Beaudhuy (abt 1772-1774, Estate Betsey Jewels )

Nancy (abt 1785 Africa)

These were women of strength and fortitude, and many were lost from our family lore and our collective family memory.

I don’t think of this often, but most of my mother’s great-grandmothers, going back to Sarah Beaudhuy of  Estate Betsey Jewels, were born into enslavement on a sugarcane plantation on St. Croix. By 1797 she was given her freedom. Sarah is the Matriarch of the Bough family in the US Virgin Islands. 

Joyce Bough’s 3rd Great-Grandmother was born in Africa, bought to the Danish West Indies, sold on an auction block to a Danish Captain Petersen, and remained with the Petersen family in the Christiansted town.  (Details in a post “A Nancy Story)  Nancy and the other women endured until all the unfree in the Danish West Indies were emancipated on July 3, 1848, by Governor-General Peter von Scholten. However, humble the beginnings and legacy these women leave to me, and my families are strength, stamina, survival, smarts, and beauty. Look at us now! 

Many sisters, daughters, and grandaunts are too numerous to list here. May they all rest peacefully. Please keep the memory of them alive.

Nancy,  Sophia, and Emelia   – we call your names!


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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