Blog


Within this section you will find over 100 articles which have appeared in publications of the Society, have been the subject of our hikes and wanderings and/or are simply of interest to anyone with a love of St. John and its rich history.

If you’d like to submit an article for consideration in a future newsletter or quarterly journal, please be aware of the following guidelines.

  • Word count should be between 500-1,000 words. Articles longer than 1,000 words are accepted on a case-by-case basis, so please contact us in advance for pre-approval;
  • Please single space after periods;
  • Article should be concise, on topic, and most importantly, relate to V.I. or Danish West Indies history; and
  • The article’s relevancy to St. John should be clear.

Please send articles to the attention of newsletter editor Andrea Milam at: ContactUs@StJohnHistoricalSociety.org.


07

Feb 2010

About Robert H. Schomburgk…

More than three decades ago, in the torrentially rainy final months of the 1970s, I got a job with the Grounds Department at Caneel Bay, never imagining the long and intimate relationship with plant life that this would lead to. The Cow-Horn Orchid (Schomburgkia-humboldtii) (Image courtesy of Eleanor Gibney) In several of the old flamboyant and white cedar trees around Caneel, there were masses of orchids…

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07

Feb 2010

A Boat Accident (The following has been excerpted from LIGHTBOURNS’ MAIL NOTES)

(Provided courtesy of Society Historian, Mr. Elroy Sprauve… By Johannes Lightbourn) St. Thomas, July 15, 1907. It has never been our lot to record such a catastrophe as that which occurred on Saturday night off the Southern coast of this island. The boat Sea Gull, under the command of Sandford Sprauve, left here after 6 o’clock for St. John having on board, including the boat’s hands,…

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07

Jan 2010

The St. John Market Basket

For as long as I’ve been involved with the St. John Historical Society–and probably ever since the Society’s inception in the mid-1970s–we’ve wanted to have a logo: an image that evoked St. John’s history and culture and some of the unique attributes of both. The St. John market basket — a basket unique to St. John which seems to hold the spirit of St. John…

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07

Jan 2010

Old Time Toys and Handmade Gifts

A glimpse of Christmas Past was available to the public on Saturday December 12th, 2009. On display in the Lutheran Church yard in Cruz Bay was a collection of historical items, mostly from the 1930s through the 1950s, an era when St John residents, with quiet industry and self-sufficiency, hand-made their own gifts and toys for Christmas gift-giving, as well as items for everyday use….

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07

Dec 2009

All the Fault of Peter Fink

(Nancy Gibney is the Mother of Eleanor Gibney, the immediate past President of the Society. Before moving to St. John in the 1940s Ms. Gibney was a Vogue Magazine editor. Our newsletter of November 2006 included one of her articles which appeared in the October 1, 1948 issue of that magazine—“A Report from Paradise…The Virgin Islands.” Following is a first in a series of articles….

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08

Nov 2009

Ladies’ Storytelling at Bethany Church Hall, November 10, 2009

“There is no gift so small that it cannot be given.” This is the sentiment that rang out clearly from the Ladies’ Storytelling at the Society’s November 10th Membership meeting. I am very grateful to the articulate and engaging Storytellers; as we enter the holiday season (many of us with less holiday in our season due to the economy), they reminded me that having only…

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07

Nov 2009

The Testimony of William Blackstock [A True Story of Piracy and Buried Treasure on Norman Island]

(The following story is true. It has been wholly compiled from primary archival sources: no names, dates or particulars of the case have been changed. Any constructed details were added solely out of well informed supposition and a studied understanding of the places and events portrayed.) Vice-Governor of the Danish West Indies Christian Suhm reached impulsively for his snuffbox and took a liberal pinch of…

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07

Oct 2009

Estate Zootenval’s Papilleau Bay

On December 16, 1728, Lorentz Hendrichsen and his young wife Hellina Margretha Muller were formally granted title to a 1200’ X 3000’ tract of land in the Coral Bay Quarter of St. John. As was the policy of the time, the Hendrichsens were given a seven-year tax amnesty to aid in the development of a plantation [SJLL, 1729]. Due to this amnesty, no details concerning…

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07

May 2009

African Roots Project Reprise–St. John Emigration to St. Croix

The African Roots Project‘s noted historian George Tyson summarized both the history of the project‘s database build and its exciting uses at the Society‘s March membership meeting.   (Presented by George Tyson, summarized by Robin Swank) The Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA) initiated the St. Croix African Roots Project (SCARP) in 2002 in order to investigate the population of St. Croix before and after emancipation. Although people from…

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07

May 2009

Danish Artist Hugo Larsen‘s Cultural Portrait of Our Islands 1904-1907 

(Presented by Edgar Lake, summarized by Robin Swank) “Danish Artist Hugo Larsen’s Cultural Portrait Of Our Islands 1904-1907” was screened at our final membership meeting of the 2008-09 season. This DVD was beautifully written, directed, and produced by two hugely prolific artists– photographer and filmmaker Erik Miles, and author, screenwriter and playwright Edgar O. Lake. Certainly the DVD itself is a triumph! We were honored…

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07

May 2009

Historical Society Installs Plant Signs at Annaberg and Provides Guidance to Friends‘ Docents

One of the signs at the Annaberg Estate identifiying the plants and trees. On Saturday, January 24th, St. John Historical Society President Eleanor Gibney and historian and Society Archivist David Knight met with the Friends of Virgin Island National Park Docents at the Estate Annaberg sugar works. The Friends Annaberg Docent program began six years ago as an effort to provide a clear interpretation of…

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07

May 2009

Tektite’s 40th Anniversary Fete

Standing in front of a mural in the newly completed Tektite Museum at VIERS are (l to r) Randy Brown, Ed Clifton, Jim Miller, Conrad Mahnken, and Bruce Schoonover (A presentation by board member Bruce Schoonover, summarized by Robin Swank) A large enthusiastic audience gathered at the Virgin Islands Environmental Research Station (VIERS) on February 15, 2009 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the ‘splash…

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