Lynette LaPlace is a young dedicated genealogist who is consumed with her family history (my kind of gene-buddy). She is from the Virgin Islands and traces her maternal and paternal roots to the Danish West Indies and Dominica.
It is a pleasure to have connected with her while researching my Danish West Indian family. As such, I invited her to be a guest blogger on “my genealogical journey.” Please note how she explains how common-named ancestors can be complex to identify during the Danish period.
Her comprehensive research of the Petersen /Boldt family connections of Estate Hermitage led her to find America’s first Black Marine Aviator, Lt General Frank E. Petersen, her 2nd Great-Grand uncle.
Lynnette posts below about her 2nd Great Grand Uncle
If there is one surname that is very common in the US Virgin Islands, then it’s Petersen. You can find this name in St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, but they are not all related.
Those found in Frederiksted are related in some way, and today I will focus on a specific Petersen family found on Estate Hermitage and how they relate to another surname that has disappeared from the Island completely.
Let me introduce you to Martha, we meet her in the 1841 census. Martha was born about 1807 or 1810 on Estate Hermitage. She was described as being of good moral character. We find Martha living with her son, Francis, in the 1857 census. Francis is of interest to us because he had three sons born about 1864, 1867, and 1870 all bearing the last name Petersen. Francis, or Frank as he sometimes goes by, does not appear with the Petersen surname until the 1870 census.
On May 16, 1874, Francis married the mother of his children, Sarah Jane Elizabeth Franklin.
Francis and Sarah’s second son, Augustus Poulis Petersen, would go on to marry and have children with Anne Elizabeth Dorothea Boldt. They had four children together, while Ann had a daughter and possibly a son from previous relationships.
Another of their sons, Frank Emmanuel Petersen born on July 4, 1905, moved to the United States in 1924. Frank ended up in Kansas where he worked as a radio repairman. He met Edith Constance Southard at the University of Kansas.
Frank and Edith had four children and of their children was Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr. who was born on March 2, 1932, in Topeka, Kansas. Frank Jr. was a United States Marine Corps lieutenant general, the first African American Marine Corps aviator, and the first African American General in the Marines.
In 1998, Frank Jr. wrote a book titled Into the Tiger’s Jaw: America’s First Black Marine Aviator – The Autobiography of Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen which is available on Amazon.
I wonder sometimes if Martha ever imagined what life would be like for her children or even her great-great-grandchildren.
Thank you very much for sharing, Lynette.
Thank you for sharing and keeping their names and VI history alive and well! The amount of time and effort it takes to compile this definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.
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Thank you for sharing and preserving their names as well as VI history! It is not ignored how much time and effort it takes to compile this.
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