A Timeline of the Establishment of the Town of Cruz Bay, St. John

1672 — The Danish West Indies Company successfully occupies St. Thomas and claims it, along with adjacent unoccupied islands, in the name of the Danish Crown.

1680 – As early as 1680 census documents for the Danish West Indies record Danish-sanctioned settlers on St. John.

1718 — On March 25, 1718, Governor of the Danish West Indies Eric Bredal officially claims St. John on behalf of Denmark. A small defensive fortress is established at Coral Bay.

1728 — By 1728 there are about 100 plantation properties taken up by Danish-sanctioned settlers on St. John.

1733 — An island-wide revolt of enslaved laborers disrupts development for over a year.

1736 — The settlers on St. John petition Governor Moth to establish a fortress as a place of refuge and protection on the western side of St. John.

1737 — The Danish West Indies & Guinea Company purchases a parcel of flat land with a “point” (today called Gallows Point) from a “Mulatto planter” Frank Gonsol (aka: Frank Spanier) for the purpose of establishing a battery and barracks. No further action is taken at that time.

Cruz Bay Settlement and Government Station, St. John

1756 — Governor-General von Prok visits St. John to assess the idea of establishing a fortress at Cruz Bay. It is decided that a battery be established not on the outer point of Cruz Bay, but on a smaller, more sheltered inner point (where the battery stands today). 1758 — A plan to establish the Cruz Bay battery is formally put into writing and funding is requested.

1764 — A building commission is established and funded. It is determined that along with the construction of a battery and other government structures, the land adjoining the bay be surveyed and laid out as a town. The bay and town are to be named Christian’s Bay in honor of the Danish king. Work commences in September (1764).

1765 — A battery, barracks, Lutheran Church and officers’ quarters are erected. The old fortress in Coral Bay is decommissioned and the cannons and ammunition removed to Cruz Bay.

1766 — Danish Crown Surveyor Julius von Rohr is dispatched to Cruz Bay to survey the Crown’s holdings and create a plot map of Christian’s Bay town. The primary streets are named: Great King’s Street, Prince’s Street, Queen Cross Street, West Street, and Bay Street.

1802 — By 1802 the town (now once again formally referred to as “Cruz Bay”) has 18 privately-owned structures, but a population of only 4 whites, 16 free coloreds and 8 slaves—(2 slaves are owned by whites; 6 by free coloreds).

1824 — The old Crown buildings in Cruz Bay are demolished and the Cruz Bay Battery is constructed on the site of the old fortress. A free-colored mason, Johannes Wright, is the primary contractor. Wright had been born enslaved on St. John.

1838 — A public dock is constructed in Cruz Bay at the foot of Prince’s Street.

David W. Knight, Sr.

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