Tag: Danish West Indies Genealogy

SNGF -My Ancestral Birth Chart

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver.   The challenge is to create a five or six generation ancestor chart that shows your ancestor’s birthplaces .

As I was looking at the ancestral birth charts on Randy’s Genea Mussings  blog, I was struck by the participants ability to identify 5 generations.  I took note of the various countries labeled; and the flow from one generation to the next.  It appeared with each generation born, the families would settle in a different state.

Knowing my ancestors basically remained in one country or one state.  I had second thoughts about developing and sharing a birth chart.  Simply put, my ancestors’ birth place is either the US Virgin Islands or Savannah Georgia.  Shaking the family trees has not yet produced five generations.  Still, I decided to join the fun and create my ancestral birth chart.

ancestrial chart

The five generations chart of my maternal lineage begins with an ancestor that was born in Barbados, who settled in the Danish West Indies; to the descendants of my generation, who were born in New York.

The five generations chart of my paternal lineage begins with ancestors born Georgia or  in the low country of South Carolina, settling in Savannah Georgia; to the descendants of my generation, who were born in New York.

The 1917 transfer of the Danish West Indies to the Virgin Islands of the United States played a significant role in the migration of Virgin Islanders to the city of New York. Change was in the air; our people saw the same opportunities in the North as southern blacks, who were leaving states below the Mason-Dixon Line en mass.  In creating the chart I recognized, both paternal along with maternal ancestors all had a common goal: making their lives and the lives of their families better in an environment that promoted freedom and possibility.

 

52 Ancestors #43 Oops George fell!

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write about “An ancestor who made an ‘oops,’ or one that you made while researching.

52ancestors-2015

 

Week 43– OOPS!   George A. Bough (1806 – 1856)

George A Bough

Artist J.Dawkins rendering of George A. Bough private in the Jager Corp  1846 St. Croix danish west indies.

Although, there have been many oops over the years of my genealogical research that required pruning and other measures,  I decided to look at what appears to be an oops when looking at the cause of death for George Anthony  Bough, the patriarch of the Bough family.  From embarrassment to tragic.  George’s cause of death was a fall.  Oops there it is.

George Anthony Bough died on April 3 1856 on St. Croix,  Danish West Indies now the US Virgin Islands.

 

 

Sources:

Burials 1856, Christiansted Gravedigger Journal 1856/04/03 RA/VILA/VR/#3.81.635

Christiansted Burials 1856
RA/VLA/VR/# 3.61.209

52 Ancestors #42 Proud Nancy

The optional weekly theme for Week 42 was “Proud” Many of us have an ancestor that we are proud – or that we’re proud of our efforts to find them!

52ancestors-2015

As I look at my pedigree chart, there are so many ancestors that I am certainly proud of; but I am most proud of the efforts done to find my African Ancestor on the Christiansted Town Register of 1855.

I had been researching the genealogy of my maternal family, the Boughs of the Danish West Indies for at least one decade.    Researching my ancestors’ lives has been very fascinating and at times, discouraging.  However, finding my African ancestor, while in the midst of searching for the mother of my great-grandfather August Bough, I came across the 1855 Christiansted Town Register which showed 4 generations.  On the first line, of the 2nd household was the name Nancy, born in Africa.  She is the great-grandmother of August Bough.  Although I never thought I would find such ancestor, nor was I actively seeking one.   I experienced an Alex Haley moment when he found Kunta  Kinte.  Earl Jones, who played Alex Haley, shouts out with every bone in his body:  “ye ole African, I found you, I found you!

1855 Town Register

1855 Town Register

It is through the VISHA database that I can retrieve some of the Danish records.  Although, there are gaps I was able to piece together a time-line which gives me a clear picture of my Africa Ancestor and what became of her.   I don’t know where she came from or what her name might have been, but on the census and church records, she is known as Nancy.

Looking at the Danish involvement with the slave-trade from the 1650’s helped to establish when Nancy arrived in the Danish West Indies from her long journey from Africa.  It appears that she may have arrived during what is called the “winding down” time between the years of 1792-1803 of the prohibition of slave trade.   Danish Captain Thomas Petersen purchased Nancy and another African girl together for 400-800 rd.   She lived in the household of Thomas Petersen at Hospital Street in Christiansted.   The Town Register showed Nancy was baptized in the Lutheran Church, July 4, 1798.

In May of 1800, Captain Petersen prepared a Deed of Gift.   He gifted Nancy along with a house on 46 Hill Street, to his two sons, Peter Andreas and Hans Wilhelm Petersen, by a free colored woman named, Anna Lucia Assenius.    By 1818, Nancy, house servant, was living at the house on Hill Street, the property of the Petersen Brothers.    Living in the home were the Brothers,  their mother Anna, as well as what appears to be Nancy’s  five (5) children; Anna, Toney, James, William and Henry, noted in a later census.

Hill Street Home of Peter and Hans Petersen where Nancy resided over 50 years.  Photo accessed from St. Croix Historic Photos/Rezende-Walbom/Danish West Indian Society

Hill Street Home of Peter and Hans Petersen where Nancy resided over 50 years. Photo accessed from St. Croix Historic Photos/Rezende-Walbom/Danish West Indian Society

From the records we observe that Nancy stayed with the same Petersen family throughout her life.  She was considered morally good and was never punished.   Nancy received her freedom on July 3, 1848, when Gov. Gen Peter von Scholten proclaimed the freedom of all slaves in the Danish West Indies.    I perceive that since Nancy and her family were no longer slaves, it was the hope of a new day.   After the emancipation, she continued to live at the Petersen home on  Hill Street with her family to include my 2GG Emelia Petersen  She was no longer a servant, but then supported by her children.

By 1860 Nancy was a 70 year old invalid.  No surname was given on the census.  Despite the limited information, I am proud of the efforts and the assistance from my friends and family in finding Nancy, the African.

strength

S O U R C E S:

(Slave List 1798 – Head Tax CD 6 (1795-1799)

St. Croix Mission Church book 1805 – 1814

Christiansted, Lutheran Church Mission 1818 – 1846

St. Croix Slave Plantation and Head Tax Lists, 1772-1821. Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA),

Rigsarkivet (Danish National Archives, Copenhagen)

Vestindiske lokalarkiver (West Indian Local Archives)

Christiansted Byfoged (Bailiff)

Pantebog 1800-1801, folio page 38

St. Croix Register Unfree 1841, 1846,

St Croix Register, Christiansted , 1850,1855, 1860

http://www.visharoots.org/

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #3 –Caroline Gasper-Bough (1894-1970) A Tough Woman.

This year’s challenge by Amy Crow is another weekly blog for 52 weeks about 52 ancestors  This weeks theme is on “TOUGH WOMAN”

Caroline Elizabeth Gasper-Bough was my maternal grandmother. She was born in 1894 on St. Croix, Danish West Indies, and was the daughter and only child of Victoria Richard (1877-1899) and Stephen Gasper (1871-1925). When my grandmother was about five (5) years old her mother died. Caroline knew nothing about her father, only that he had a wife and that a song was written where the chorus went “Stephen Gasper boy go home to your lawful wife” (Quelbe style) I believe that chorus tells it all

Caroline Gasper Bough Caroline’s mother’s brother Thomas Richard, took responsibility for Caroline’s well being, to include where and with whom she would reside. However unstable Caroline’s young life seemed, her Uncle Thomas made weekly visits each Sunday so that little Caroline would have a sense of belonging. As Caroline matured, she worked as a live-in House Servant with a family on the island, with the surname Lang. My grandmother told me stories about her Uncle’s weekly visit and rides in the buggy visiting friends and family. Every now and then she would sing that chorus about her father. It would be many decades later that I would see her listed in the census with the Lang family. CarolineGasper1901

She later met my grandfather Julius C. Bough who was born and raised in St. Croix. He was a merchant who worked in his father’s dry goods store. They eventually tied the knot in 1926. She appeared to have had about 8 children. However, only 4 lived to adulthood including one who died at the age of 19 in New York.

Julius Curtis Bough

Julius Curtis Bough

After the transfer in 1917 of the Danish West Indies which is now, the US Virgin Islands hopes ran high. But with the economic ills as well as the “strong arm” tactics of the Naval Administration, hopes dwindled. By 1930’s, thousands of natives migrated to New York City for they were considered US Citizens.

danish flags

My grandparents are among the first US Virgin Islanders to migrate and settle in New York. My grandfather went up first and later sent for his wife and children as shown in the New York Passengers List, 1820-1957. JuliusBoughNYPass CarolineBoughpassen

Starting this new life in America was full of hope and dreams. My grandparents were married in New York, and my mother (Joyce Bough) became the first American, born in the family. Ten years after Caroline’s arrival to New York, her husband Julius Bough died leaving Caroline Elizabeth, a widow, with children. Like most people during the depression era, their lives were not easy. Their lives were hard. But in the midst of the struggle she resisted the feelings of uncertainty about the future. Instead, she looked for ways to add to her income. Eventually, the family opened a Newsstand in Harlem in the 40’s on 145th in New York. Out of this tiny newsstand they sold the daily papers, pickles and candy. I have no idea how much one could make selling newspapers. When I listened attentively to these stories I would wonder how much could you make selling papers. I quickly realize it wasn’t about getting rich, but that it was a means to an end.

When I review my grandmother’s life, she appears to be a woman that was certainly acquainted with grief. Her experience of life showed her strength, love and devotion to her family and God. Her home was open to friends and family from St. Croix.  It was at home where stories were shared that taught VI history, family genealogy, and the best native food ever. From her life, one learned resilience, dignity, integrity and commitment.

52ancestors-2015 Sources: Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA). US Virgin Islands Census (Danish Period 1835-1911). Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA), PO Box 338, Frederiksted,  US Virgin Islands 00841. Images and index reproduced courtesy of VISHA.

Friends of friends Friday- Grandmother purchases Granddaughters Freedom, St. Croix, DWI, 1817

In 2007, the VI Ancestry Discovery Group hosted “VI Family Tree & History Exhibit,” on St. Croix. I was among the 75-plus presenters sharing my family history in public for the first time. Gathering, collecting data and working with Project Coordinator Veronica “Ronnie” Phillips; I began to think about not just what; but also how to display this data on my table. The title/theme of my exhibit: From Beaudhuy to Bough.

Much of my research is on the Bough family history: how long were they in the Danish West Indies, where did they come from, and what was their livelihood. This research went back to the 18th Century which led me to the (female) surname Beaudhuy, born about 1775, who had a relationship with (male) Bough. In my multiple searches for documentation on the Beaudhuy name, I discovered a Freedom Certificate written in Danish at Virgin Islands Archives/Records at the Public Library. Besides seeing the name, all I knew about this nearly “poster size” document was that I had something important and exciting to add to my presentation.

Beaudhuy Freedom Certificate 1817 St Croix Danish West Indies

Beaudhuy Freedom Certificate 1817 St Croix Danish West Indies

Attendance at the event was huge. Folks were going from table to table, with questions on ancestry as well as contributing their own information. At this event my Danish friend Camilla, also a presenter, allotted some precious moment interpreting the Beaudhuy Freedom Certificate. As she was reading the document, she looked up at me, placed her hand over her heart, and whispered “This is so beautiful”. I stood still anxiously waiting for the meaning. She said, “This is a grandmother purchasing her granddaughters freedom. “ As a grandmother, I was deeply touched.

Recently I have been given the verbatim translation of this Danish Record. The translation is as follows:

J. P. Beaudhuy attests that he has sold – to Free Negro Woman Johanne – a negro girl, also called Johanne, belonging to him for the sum of 100 Rigsdaler. The sale was on condition that Free Negro Woman Johanne (who is the child’s mother’s mother), without delay frees said child. The purchase sum was paid in full on 12 August 1817, and the child Johanne, now freebought.

Since then I have been able to work out quite a few connections with the Beaudhuy surname through documentation as shown on a Public Tree at Ancestry.com.

Census Sunday – USVI 1857 (danish period)

Whenever I look at the 1857 census which I retrieved from ancestry.com, I recognize that the composition of the household is of a different time; a time when families lived together. Today, the ancestors could not possibly conceive in their minds, how most families are not living together and rather live apart in distant places. Then again, they could not possibly conceive the birth of the “internet” with the capability of bringing families together for company sake.

My 4x great-grandmother, Sarah Beaudhuy lived in the household of her son, George Bough, daughter-in-law and grandchildren most of her life. George died one year before the 1857 census .

US Virgin Islands Census 1857 (Danish period)

US Virgin Islands Census
1857 (danish period)

The 1857 census shows Sara Beaudhuy living in the household that once was headed by her only child, now belonging to the children of George Bough. Sarah continues to live with her family at 13&14 Fisher Street Christiansted St. Croix.

Susan Crow-Bough 42, born in St. Croix , Episcopalian widow, seamstress
David W. Bough, 17, born in St. Croix, Lutheran, Taylor
Benjamin Bough, 15, born in St. Croix, Episcopalian
Sarah Beaudhuy, 84, born in St. Croix , Moravian, Pensioner

This census is a reminder that families near or far need to make meaningful connections so that a legacy of caring can be established and passed down to the other generations.

Workday Wednesday-The Cigar Maker

No doubt I had looked at the 1870 census many times before, and saw that my ancestor Esram Bough’s occupation/trade was listed as a Cigar Maker, but this time was different. I noticed that most of the ancestors of the family (George A. Bough) sons’ occupations were: Clerks, Shoemakers, and Taylors throughout the 1800’s.

I knew that Sugar was the main industry, and Tobacco was just another crop that was grown on small plots. However, due to my lack of knowledge of any cigar industry in the Danish West Indies, it was difficult for me to understand the profession and its dynamics. Therefore, I decided to do a further research focusing on tobacco.

I learned that Denmark only imported tobacco from the Danish West Indies for their own cigar production, and those Cigars that were produced in the Danish West Indies were never officially imported to Denmark as a finished product. Cigar-making on St. Croix was most likely made out of the family home. Most of these sole proprietors worked alone at a long table with their own tools, rolling cigars.(http://www.danishcigars.com/danish-cigar-history/)

Although, Esram did not establish a generation of Cigar makers in the family, however he made a profitable living out of it. I honor my ancestor, the Cigar Maker, for embracing a profession that took not only skill, and concentration, but a sense of pride that went into the making of a fine cigar.

omx 1214_Page_1

Esram Bough

Esram Bough

Esram Samuel Bough (twin) (1846-1900) was born just two years before the emancipation of the slaves in the Danish West Indies. He was the son of George A. Bough and Susan Crow-Bough. He was classified as a free person of color. At the age of 13, he was an apprentice in a trade. As an adult his profession was listed as a Cigar Maker. Esram Samuel Bough died in June 1900 at the age of 54 in St. Croix, Danish West Indies.

Tuesday Tip: Tracing Danish West Indies Ancestors

As I become more involved in doing research, I have found that looking for variant spellings of names has proven instrumental in finding the genesis of a family.  A surname could have many variations, but originate from one source.

If you can trace your roots back to the Danish West Indies, there is a website created by Svend Holsoe http://www.vifamilies.org that compiled names into a few pertinent surnames that existed or currently exist in the Virgin Islands.  Once you have identified the variations of the surname(s) you are interested in, then you can go to the Danish Consulate website http://www.dkconsulateusvi.com.

You will find an e-book entitled “A List of Names of Inhabitants in the Danish West Indian Islands from 1650 through 1825”.  You will be amazed to see how many different spellings that were used.  There you will find information on name, place, and date of birth, marriage, emigration, church affiliation, occupation and death.

Both sites contain a wealth of information that can help you to connect the variance in names with the family narrative.  I often use these sites as I continue to trace my family back to the Danish West Indies.  Great sources.

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