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

Oct 2008

A Week on St. John (Notes from Denmark’s most beautiful island)

(Translated from an article in Gads Danske Maqasin, March 1914, by Leif Calundann Larsen. Olaf Linck [1874-1958] was a prominent Danish journalist and novelist. Members may recall his article “Christmas Eve Aboard the Ingolf” which appeared in our December 2007 newsletter.) During my second journey to the West Indies in the winter of 1912-13, I had sufficient time to accept an invitation to visit the…

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07

Jun 2008

Masquerade – Costumes of the Atlantic Rim

  (By Dr. Robert W. Nicholls,  Summarized by Robin Swank) Yet another reason to attend our St. John 4th of July Carnival parade! At our April membership meeting, Dr. Robert Nicholls told us the history of some of the characters parading at Carnival. He urged us to think of the entire Atlantic Rim as a region in which ‘masquerade’ or ‘mas’ arose based on the…

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07

May 2008

The Role of GodParents and the Extended Family

(Presented by Mr. Elroy Sprauve, summarized by Robin Swank) The Bethany Moravian Church meeting house was packed the evening of March 11th. Our March membership meeting featured one of our favorite speakers, teachers, and experts on St Johnian culture, social customs and language, Mr. Elroy Sprauve. Mr. Elroy spoke from experience and as an observant historian about the role of godparents in the 1920’s through the…

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07

May 2008

Lovango Explore

On Saturday, March 8th, the “Sadie Sea” was loaded to her (legal) gills with a cargo of St. John Historical Society members and their provisions. We were crossing the tumultuous Windward Passage to Lovango Cay to see some old and some new real estate. Picturesque Smith Cottage Toni and Wally Leopold’s motley crew of canines, led by the terrifying Daisy, welcomed us at their dock….

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07

May 2008

Earth Day 2008 on the SJHS Provisions Grounds

(By Bruce Schoonover and Robin Swank) On Tuesday, April 15th, the Society once again participated in the “Friends of Virgin Islands National Park” Earth Day festivities. The goal is to educate, inform, and inspire V.I. youth and the community on the importance of preserving and protecting our environment. This year, over 300 children from numerous schools gathered at the National Park Ball Field in Cruz…

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07

May 2008

God Parenting in the 1800’s to early 1900’s

Godparenting has a long history in the Caribbean. Karen Fog Olwig writes about the role of godparents in the 1800’s and early 1900’s in Cultural Adaptation & Resistance on St John – Three Centuries of Afro-Caribbean Life.* Childcare, she says, like provisions or cooked food and favors, was passed freely among relatives living in different households in the 1800’s. This practice continued post-emancipation, and she…

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07

Apr 2008

Reminiscence of the West India Islands, Second Series No V; Tortola: The Native Missionary

(Edited by Daniel P Kidder, Published by Lane & Scott for the Sunday School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1852.) CHAPTER VI The Methodist Society, in Tortola, was at this time in a very flourishing condition. Large accessions had been made to it during the preceding year. The lady of the governor-general of Tortola and the Virgin Islands was a member; and the governor…

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07

Apr 2008

Guy Benjamin, Kenneth Marsh, Edmond Roberts, Milton Samuel –Stories of the Last two Decades Presented to the SJHS Membership April 19, 2008

They did not have a formal presentation, they began, but would tell stories of life experiences, or of things they had heard, or that they knew about, that have to do with St John. There was much good natured laughter as this distinguished panel emphasized that these are not stories told by ‘old’ people, as this group isn’t very old, and that they interact and…

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06

Apr 2008

Hike to Estate Retreat

On Saturday February 16th, David Knight and Eleanor Gibney led a wonderful hike to one of St. John’s least documented 18th century sites. About thirty hikers got double-teamed– with historical, social and political information about Estate Retreat from David, and with the enriching view of history that Eleanor’s knowledge of the flora imparts to us. David introduces us to Estate Retreat as we stand at…

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09

Mar 2008

Lovango Cay Historical Timeline, March 2008

Date Event 1728, Oct. 18 Deed to Lovango granted to William Gandy from the Danish West India & Guinea Company, with an 8-year tax amnesty to encourage plantation development. Gandy was a master carpenter who had worked for the DWI&GC in St. Thomas. He had previously been granted a waterfront parcel on Cinnamon Bay in 1722, which he sold to Peter Durloo in 1728 [RA/DWI&GC/SJLL….

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07

Mar 2008

EarthQuakes & Tsunamis: Prospects for the Virgin Islands Presented by Roy Watlington and Shirley Lincoln summarized by Robin Swank

(Presented by Roy Watlington and Shirley Lincoln, summarized by Robin Swank) In 1997 Roy Watlington and Shirley Lincoln published Disaster and Disruption in 1867: Hurricane, Earthquake and Tsunami in the Danish West Indies. It is a significant collection of primary documents–official proclamations, newspaper clippings of Damaged Goods Auctions and Notices of Reconstruction Crews for Hire, original lithographs of the disaster, and chilling personal accounts of survival–describing the…

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07

Mar 2008

Lignum vitae Beauty, Strength, and the Fallibility of Medicine

Most people who have spent any real amount of time in the West Indies are at least vaguely acquainted with the small tree known as lignum vitae—a Latin name meaning “wood of life”, but oddly enough, NOT the tree’s scientific name: that would be Guaiacum officinale— from the Taino name guayacan, and “officinale” meaning official, or prescribed in pharmacy. Early setters in these islands called…

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