Title: Notes on St. Croix
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00019463/00001
 Material Information
Title: Notes on St. Croix
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Andersen, Folmer
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00019463
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAB1708

Full Text



: . .




Folmer Andersen was the manager of the Bethlehem Sugar
Factory for the Danish West Indian Company on St. Croix from
1916 to 1931. He was also a member of the Municipal Council
and a man of substance in the community. When he retired to
Long Island, he continued his study of the island that had be-
come his hobby and completed the cataloguing of the splendid
archaeological collection which, after his death, the St. Croix
Museum purchased and brought back to Christiansted.

The Museum here presents Mr. Andersen's notes on St.
Croix, which were the basis of several lectures which he gave at
the Explorers' Club in New York. For historical accuracy, the
directors have marked the statements for which they can find no
written authority as "unauthenticated". Most legends of history
have been found to have some historical basis, and these may
prove no exception.



St. Thomas lies 1,440 miles south sbuth-east of New York,
and controls one of the best passages from the Atlantic into the
Caribbean Sea, off the entrance to the Panama Canal, which lies
about 1,000 miles to the south-west. The entire Island is moun-
tainous and offers but small possibility for agriculture. It is 28
sq. miles. St. John is 20. St. Croix politically, but not geographic-
aly, one of the American Virgin Islands is 84 sq. miles and in
comparison it may be mentioned that Porto Rico (Borinquen) is
3,435 sq. miles and St. Domingo (Espanola) is 22,100 sq. miles.
St. Croix lies 40 miles south of St. Thomas, and about 60
miles east south-east of Porto Rico. The distance from St. Croix
to St. Kitts, which is slightly smaller than St. Croix, is about
125 miles; neither St. Kitts nor Saba can be seen from St. Croix
but after heavy rains in the hurricane season the mountains in
Porto Rico are easily visible, indeed making Porto Rico seem
quite close to St. Croix.
The sea between St. Thomas and St. Croix is rough most of
the year, but during the hurricane season, July to October, there
can be days in succession with a calm sea, and during such
periods the aborigins could safely undertake their voyages.
Along the northern side of St. Croix is a mountain range
divided into two parts. The western part rises abruptly from the
sea and contains the chief elevations of the Islands, namely Mt.
Eagle 1165 ft. and Blue Mountain 1090 ft. This ridge is the most
conspicuous feature of the Island. The eastern part is also fairly
mountainous and though not so high as the western part, reaches
in several places a height of over 800 ft.




The late Professor James F. Kemp summarizes the forma-
tions and structure, 1923 as follows:
"There are two sharply contrasted geological for-
mations, of different character and age an older
series, which I will call the Mt. Eagle series, and a later,
which I will call the Kingshill series.
The Mt. Eagle series consists almost entirely of
fragmental volcanic rocks, such as are yielded by explo-
sive outbreaks, and are scattered far and wide from the
vent. The particles are generally small in St. Croix, and
where they have fallen in the sea and have been de-
posited in beds by the waters, they present a stratified
appearance and resemble ordinary sediments. They are,
however, now compacted and hardened to a very dense
Obviously there were a few intervals between explo-
sive outbreaks, when animal life in the form of corals
and small organism with calcareous shells could live in
the sea bottom and furnish from their hard parts the
material for a relatively small development of limestone
which is interstratified with the other beds.
These older strata of the Mt. Eagle series have ex-
perienced great disturbances, such as accompany moun-
tain upheavals, and are now tilted from their original
horizontal position to prevailing steep inclinations, rang-
ing from sixty degrees with the horizontal to the vertical.
Rarely are they below forty-five degrees.
The later or Kingshill series rests upon the up-
turned edges of the older Mr. Eagle series and was de-
posited upon them after the tilting and disturbances
which the Mt. Eagle series suffered and long after the
cessation of volcanic activities.



The Kingshill series consists of white or cream col-
ored, soft limestones, chalky beds and marls. They are
largely formed of minute organism and frequent layers
rich in corals, and others in which water-worn pebbles
of the volcanic rocks of the Mt. Eagle series are buried
in fine chalky sediment. The inclination of the Kingshill
series is very flat, and they reach a maximum altitude
above the sea at Bulowsminde, near its eastern edge,
where the summit is just under 600 feet and the inclina-
tion is flat.
There is some evidence that these beds, in the
central belt of the Island and, as noted by the late John
T. Quin, Esq., in his interesting book on the geology of
St. Croix, called "The Making of an Island", lie in a
broad flat trough or syncline whose axis pitches at a very
low angle downward to the southwest."
The dense rock of the Mt. Eagle series as well as the East-
End series is as stated by Professor Kemp of volcanic formation
and is local known as "blue beach". In 1839 an American
geologist, Professor S. Hovey described it as induratedd clay",
and the composition as various, in some cases silica, in others
alumina, predominating, and sometimes resembling slate. The
slaty rocks are very hard and were used for tools by the aborigins.

The Kingshill series, i.e. the limestone and marl formation,
is built up in the sea, and the whole mass has been raised from
sea bottom to a considerable height, as stated above nearly 600
feet. The thickness of this formation, however, is much greater
than that, in recent deep drilling at Bethlehem, at an elevation of
100 feet above sea level, bed rock was not met at a depth of
1,500 feet.

From John T. Quin, "The Making of an Island".
"The central plain of the Island forms a depression
filled in with the marl formation, the removal of which
from it, would leave a sea channel across the Island
from north to south, making the Mt. Eagle series and
the East-End series two separate Islands. That the sea
passed through it at an early period in the course of the
elevation seems to be likely. The fact that sea-shells are
found in various parts of it, however, is no evidence that



the sea has recently been there, those shells having un-
doubtedly been left there by the Caribs on the visits to
the forests or to their cultivated grounds. This explains
the presence of all the bivalve shells and some of the
univalves, while many of the univalves, found in nearly
all parts of the Island, have been carried in by the
hermit crabs, whose cast-off homes they are. That the
present form of the plain is due to the streams which
cross it may be seen from the shallow depressions which
those streams have formed, and into which the water on
either hand runs.
The plain is covered with a deep top soil, dark brown in
color and of a mixture of clay, silt, sand and vegetable humus.
The mountains themselves, even to their highest points are sur-
prisingly covered with deep fertile soil, indicating that heavy
brush and large trees in prehistoric times covered a large part
of the Island. During historic times it is related that French
colonists around 1651 burned "The forest" in the dry season, be-
cause of the belief that the great mortality among them was due
to fevers attributed to the "primeval" forest. While the forest
burned it is related that all the colonists (less than 100) took
refuge in their ships. The soils of St. Croix, as explained by O. B.
Boggild, results from the weathering of the igneous and sedimen-
tary type of rock. Their ability to cling to steep slopes is re-
marked about.




Calcite (or calc-spar)
Crystalline limestone: bluish-grey
Carbonate of lime forms: calcite and
aragonite (needle spar)
Shells: inner layer aragonite, the outer
Quartz: abundant in the older formation
in its simplest form only.
Flint: None (?) he knows
Felspar: (silica and alumina): when de-
composed forms clay, white clays and
brown clay, colored by iron
Hornblende: dark colored, glistening,
common in the older rocks
Mica: only as mica sand, yellow and
Magnetic iron ore: in black sand near
Fair Plain, from decomposed rock
brought down by the stream

No valuable ores occur in the Island, according to Quin,
neither has the writer observed any.
Indian beads of amethyst, topaz, carnelian, jasper, etc. are
found in the Island; but these minerals apparently are not in-


(Dr. Hans Balzar Hornbeck)

Gabbro: (a) green, finely crystalline passing into ser-
pentine, tough and hard, can be worked
on a lathe, and is susceptible of polishing
(b) blackish and bluish
(used by the aborigins for making celts)
Trachyte porphyry: gray, green andesite.
Serpentine, hard green.
Diorite porphyry, or augit porphyry.

by Teodor Cleve, 1871

Cuprite (Kobberkis)
Pyrite (svovlkis)
Molybdenite (Kisel)
Chalcopyrite (Kalkspat)
Melaconite (black Kobberoxyd)
Specularite (jerntveilte)
Magnetite (Magnerjernsten)
Talc (magniumsilikat)
Augitblende Silikater af Magnesium, Kalcium, Jern)
Chrysocolla (Kalcedon)
Orthoclase (Kalifeldspat)
Oligoclase (Natronfeldspat)
Labradorite (Feldspat), Kalk og Natron
Anorthite (Feldspat), Kalk
Epidote, Silikat af Kalcium, Alum
Garnet, Granate
Siderite, Jernspat, Lazulit, Blaaspat




St. Croix lies at about 170 45' north latitude and 640 45'
longitude west. It is swept by the trade winds, which means it
has a lovely, mild, uniform, sub-tropical climate the year round.
The maximum temperature in the shade seldom exceeds 850
F., and the lowest temperature observed by the writer over a
period of 15 years during the winter months was 640 F. The
warmest months are in the hurricane season July-October, the
coolest December-February. wing to the small size of the Island
there are no hot land breezes. Because of the tempering influ-
ence of the trade winds, rooms facing East are much cooler, and
therefore much to be preferred as bedrooms.
Rainfall: Observing the rain records of St. Croix, before
1920 and covering a period of 69 years, we find the average
yearly rainfall was 47 inches, and only one year (1873) did it
fall below 30", and only seven years at widely separate intervals
did it fall below 35", and only 17 years was it less than 40", be-
sides, from 1875 to 1920 no two years of minimum rainfall have
appeared in succession. After 1920 St. Croix went through the
driest cycle ever recorded.

1920 total rainfall 30V4 inches
1921 30Y2
1922 28
1923 31
1924 48
1925 31/2
1926 32
1927 48Y4
1928 45 (14" fell in one
period of 12 hours
hurricane Sept. 12)
1929 32%'
1930 34/2



These figures represent the average readings from 20 rain
guages distributed over an area of 15,000 acres.
In an Island like St. Croix swept uninterruptedly by the
trade winds, the evaporation naturally is high. The evaporation
from an open "land-pan" has been measured to amount to as
much as 78" per year. The evaporation from a deep reservoir is
estimated at 75% of this figure, or 58 inches, which is not ex-
cessive according to report by C. C. Fisher of the United States
Bureau of Reclamation. It is, therefore, readily seen that small
showers of 8 to V4", and from which much of the annual rain-
fall is made up, are non-beneficial, except when they follow
close upon one another, or follow close upon a soaking rain. It
takes one inch or more after a dry spell to penetrate to the roots
of sugar cane, and such root crops as the Indians cultivated.
On the other hand, when very heavy rains fall in a short
period, such as occurred during the hurricane of September 12,
1928, when 14 inches fell in 12 hours, much of the water runs
off, and only the water that soaks down is termed beneficial.
When such heavy rains fall, the small streams which for months
may have been completely dried out, swell and become torren-
tial rivers carrying with them large boulders, trees torn loose
from the banks and sometimes even cattle. When the winds,
which in the 1928 hurricane rose to 135 miles per hour, subsided
and it was possible to get outside and observe conditions, a vast
lake covered the entire plain between Golden Grove and Fair-
Plain several hundred yards wide, and in which trees, palms and
cattle could be seen floating.
In 1931 the prolonged dry spell of the 1920's was finally
broken and the following years were blessed with much rain:
1931 rainfall 64 inches
1932 53
1933 64
1934 39
1935 42
1936 61
1937 38
1938 42
1939 32



Average 48.4 inches against 35.5 inches for the 1920-1930

During the dry twenties it was the writer's observation that
the trade winds for months in succession blew more from north-
east and carried very few rain-bearing clouds over the Island.
There is no sharply defined rainy season, the heaviest precipita-
tion normally occurs in May-June and in October-November,
but it happens during dry cycles that the spring rains fail alto-
gether, which of course is a very serious matter for an Island
whose inhabitants depend upon agriculture for a living. It is
reasonable to assume that in pre-historic times such dry cycles
also occurred and of which we have partial proof through the
abundance of "Three-pointed stones" and the theory attached
to them. Nowadays the all important culture plant in the Island
is the sugar cane, in pre-historic days it was root-crops, but while
the sugar cane under suitable methods of agriculture and soil
preparation will withstand considerable abuse from dry weather,
the effect of prolonged droughts on root crops must have been
almost disastrous for the Indians.

The principal root crops of the Indians were: manioca or
yuca, from which cassava flour was extracted, sweet potatoes,
yams arrow root, etc. and these important food plants were prob-
ably cultivated in montones, small earth heaps, as a means of
overcoming droughts and the uncertain rainfall of small showers
which do not penetrate deep into the soil. The montones were
about three feet apart and several stems of the manioc or sweet
potato were inserted in the loose earth in a slanting position to a
depth of a foot or more. When hauling up the earth, ashes were
mixed in for its value as fertilizer. From such hills the root could
be removed with greater ease than they could from flat cultivated
land. This method of cultivation in montones seems to have
originated among the Island-Arawaks and probably was de-
veloped in the course of nature to overcome climatic handicaps,
not present in other parts of the tropics. The use of montones
is still seen practised by the negroes in many of the West Indian



The shade of large trees and heavy brush helps to retain
moisture in the soil for a longer period than when the land is
exposed to the sun and wind. When the hillsides are cleared for
cultivation, for example for sugar cane with banks and furrows
on contour lines, considerable moisture can yet be retained for
penetration into the subsoil. If cultivation of the hillsides, subse-
quently for other reasons is abandoned and the land is turned
into grazing pastures, the run-off will increase considerably and
thus adversely affect the cultivated lands below. In historic
times during the period of slavery, abolished in St. Croix in 1848,
the mountainsides and the hills in the limestone and marl forma-
tion were planted in sugar cane well up on the slopes, in some
places even to their summits.

Earthquakes: Slight earthquakes are not infrequent in St.
Thomas. Dr. Hans Balzar Hornbeck, a distinguished Danish
surgeon in 1840, mentions 33 in five and one half years. He
groups them by months, showing that most of them occur in
May and June. In St. Croix they are less frequent, the writer has
experienced only four or five during the eighteen years I resided
there. All of them occurred in the spring months; one rather
heavy shock was experienced by the writer while inspecting a
deep drainage ditch at Bethlehem and talking to a man on
horseback above the ditch. While the quake nauseated me, the
man on horseback said he did not feel it at all.

Hurricanes: While many hurricanes appear in the West
Indies, only three times in recent history have hurricanes actually
passed over St. Croix, namely in 1899, in 1916 and 1928. From
"West Indian Hurricanes and other Tropical Cyclones of the
North Atlantic", by Charles L. Mitchell of the U. S. Department
of Agriculture Weather Bureau we learn, that during the spring
months hurricanes arise in the Caribbean sea and move west,
but as the season advances hurricanes originate further and fur-
ther east, and the real dangerous months for the West Indian
Islands are August, September and October. The hurricanes then
come from perhaps mid-Atlantic and reach the West Indies,
sometimes without any opportunity for reporting them from

[ 10]


points near their track, as ships naturally try to avoid them. Not
until the hurricane approaches the first Island of its track can
it be properly reported. Fortunately the center of a hurricane
moves slowly, about 12 to 15 miles per hour, and therefore after
the first report has been received in St. Croix from the Islands
125-150 miles east of it, there is time to take the necessary pre-
cautions and "bar-up" the houses. But even without previous.
warning, there are indications of the approach of a hurricane,
which with a little experience will make one apprehensive of
danger in good time, such as cloud formations and the manner
of their drift, the sudden gusts of wind, falling barometer, etc.

On June 23, 1502, Columbus off St. Domingo City entered
the following observation in his log:

"Oil swell rolling in from southeastward, abnormal
tide, an oppressive feeling in the air, low pressure
twinges in his (Columbus') joints, veiled cirrus clouds
tearing along in the upper air, while light gusty winds
blew on the surface of the water, gorgeous crimson sun-
set lighting the whole sky, large number of seals and
porpoises on the surface of the ocean."

The following are the writer's records from the 1928 Hurri-

Golden Grove, St. Croix (elevation 125 ft. above the
sea). Sept. 12, 1928, barometer at noon 757 m/m.
wind north-east, atmosphere hazy.
5:30 p.m. Government reports over the telephone
"center of a hurricane will pass from 50 to
100 miles south of the Islands". All win-
dows and doors facing east are barred up.
6:00 p.m. Barometer 755.
8:00 p.m. Strong winds from north-east, telephone
lines down.
10:00 p.m. Barometer 751, wind still north-east. It
looks to me as if the center will come much
closer than the reported 50-100 miles.
11:30 p.m. Barometer 748, real heavy gusts of winds
now unmistakable signs of the approaching



1:00 a.m. September 13, Barometer 745, heavy rain.
Brought my wife and children from up-
stairs bedrooms to comparative safety in
downstairs room on the western side of the
2:00 a.m. Barometer 743, winds now of hurricane
force. Electric light cables from outside now
down; and only lanterns are in use. Eastern
gallery torn off, part of debris, ripping open
the roof covering, and water begins to drip
from the ceilings of all the rooms.
3-5 a.m. Barometer dropping steadily 2 m/m per
hour. Moving the furniture from place to
place to keep it out of the water coming in
through the damaged roof and blown in
under the doors facing east.
6:00 a.m. Barometer 735 m/m wind now veering
towards east, giving assurance that the
center of the hurricane will pass to the
south of us.
9:00 a.m. Barometer 729, center now near, probably
by less than 20 miles to the south.
9:40 a.m. Barometer 729.5 Note that it took sev-
10:10 731 en hours for the ba-
10: 40 733.5 rometer to fall from
11:15 736 743 to its lowest of
11:45 737.5 729, but only four
12:25 740.5 hours to rise from
1:05 743 729 to 743.
2:30 745 The wind gradually
6:00 747 turning south and
8:00 a.m. Sept. 14 752.5 south-west.
Lowest barometer
observed in the 1916
hurricane, when the
center passed over
St. Croix was 713.
The hurricane evidently was of large diameter since St.
Thomas, more than 60 miles north of the center also suffered
damage, though nothing compared with St. Croix. General di-
rection of the track of the center west-northwest. Had the center
passed over St. Croix as it did in 1916, there would have been a
dead calm for about one-half hour, and immediately after its



passing the wind would have started to blow with maximum
force from south-west to west for another 3 to 4 hours.

The damage done by the wind was appalling, all trees were
completely stripped from leaves, many tall coconut palms had
been twisted and their trunks broken 10 to 15 feet above the
ground, all buildings were more or less damaged and many
mules and oxen were killed or drowned in the turbulent streams.
No human lives were lost, probably because everybody realized
the necessity of seeking shelter in the strongest built masonry
Some of the factory hands took refuge in the flues under the
factory boilers. At the time the factory was not in operation.
It is a serious matter when so small an Island as St. Croix
is struck by a hurricane, because of its small size and due to its
length running from east to west with its mountains along the
north side, the entire Island sustains damage. When a large
Island like Porto Rico or St. Domingo is struck, the storm gen-
erally leaves some section undamaged, from which help can be
given to the stricken part.
After the hurricane of October 10, 1916 rains kept falling
heavily for weeks, the 1928 hurricane, however, was followed by
weeks of comparatively dry weather, greatly facilitating repair


List of Hurricanes passing over or close to St. Croix

1695 July 20
1707 Sept. 11
1714 July 26
1729 Sept. 22
1733 July 11
1742 Sept. 29
1748 July 20
1772 Aug. 31
(Alexander Hamilton)
1793 Aug. 13
1819 Sept. 21



July 26
Aug. 30
Aug. 2
Sept. 28
Oct. 29, also tidal wave
Aug. 21, Oct. 23
Sept. 13
Aug. 7

Oct. 10
Sept. 12




5 hurricanes
6 "
'7 '" C


21 hurricanes in 233 years




In the latter part of September 1493 Columbus set out from
Cadiz, Spain with a fleet of 17 ships, mostly caravels, and more
than 1,200 men on the second voyage, with Hispaniola as his
destination. This time he set a more southerly course from the
Canaries than he did on his first voyage, which took him to San
Salvador in the Bahamas, latitude 24 north, and about 300
miles north of Hispaniola.
Having learned from the Indians in Hispaniola of the ex-
istence of other islands to the south-east, it was now his hope on
this voyage to discover these islands. From a description of the
second voyage by Prof. S. E. Morison, I quote:
"The night before sighting land the Admiral knew
it was near (as the best experienced seamen do) by the
looks of the sea, the gathering of clouds and the flight
of the birds."
To this might be added the scent of land, so noticeable after
crossing the Atlantic, especially toward evening. It seems like
the fragrant mixture of sunbaked rock, flowers of Casha, Tibbet,
Tamarind, Oleander and others as the season may be.

On this voyage, Columbus first saw the island of Dominica,
about 600 miles further south than the Bahamas. His first anchor-
age was in lee of a small island between Dominica and Guade-
loupe, which he named Mariagalante, after his galant ship. From
there he made his way in a north-northwesterly direction on the
lee side of Guadeloupe, Monserrat, Redonda, Nevis, St. Kitts,
St. Eustacius and Saba. All of these islands have mountains from
3,000 to 5,000 ft. high, and therefore are visible from one to the
other. From Saba Columbus set his course in a more westerly



direction now on his way to Hispaniola. The next morning an
island was sighted which he named Santa Cruz, (in French St.
Croix). The highest elevation of its eastern hills is only 860 ft.
and it cannot be seen from Saba which lies about 90 miles due
east of St. Croix.

The date for the fleets arrival at St. Croix is recorded as
November 14, 1493. Judging from the abundance of archaeo-
logical material recovered by the writer it would appear that St.
Croix had been populated for a very long time before it was
discovered, perhaps at times even densely. Some confirmation of
this opinion may be had from Dr. Chanca's (the fleets' doctor)
statement that the land looked very good to them, because it
looked well populated, judging by the signs of cultivation. The
land they saw must have been the coastal estates from Christian-
sted to Salt River, which are very fertile and now. bear the en-
chanting names: Richmond, Orange Grove, Little Princess.
Golden Rock, Bellevue, La Grand Princess and judiths Fancy.

Columbus learned that the Indians called the island "Ayay",
but he gave it the name Santa Cruz, which name it still bears
on the tongues of many of its inhabitants, who prefer the
Spanish form Santa Cruz to the French form St. Croix. Note
also the planters proverbial toast: "more rain for Santa Cruz".

Having resided almost twenty years in St. Croix and know-
ing the island from end to end, I agree with Professor Morison
that sailing along the windward side of the island, the harbor at
Salt River is the one Columbus must have entered. It is natural
that he would look for a fresh supply of water, and wish to have
contact with the natives. The stream that empties into Salt
River is a mere brook but about two miles inland entirely fresh
water is found. Although historians have differed as to whether
the fight with the Indians on the second voyage took place at
St. Croix or at Nevis or St. Kitts, it appears pretty well estab-
lished that it took place at Salt River, St. Croix.



From Knox's history of the Danish West Indian Islands, I

"It was whilst he (Columbus) lay at anchor at this
Island that he was made fully aware of the fierce and
courageous spirit of these natives. During the absence
of the boat, which had been sent to the shore with 25
men to procure water and obtain information, a canoe
containing 4 men, 2 women and a boy coasting from a
distant part of the Island, came suddenly in full view
of the ships. Their amazement at what they beheld,
prevented them from first seeing the boat which was
now returning from shore, and making towards them in
order to capture the men.
"At first they attempted flight, but this proving
impossible, they took up their weapons and fearlessly
attacked the Spaniards. The women as well as the men
plied their bows with such amazing vigor and rapidity,
that, although the Spaniards were covered with their
shields and other defensive armor, several of them
were slightly wounded. To avoid their galling fire the
canoe was overturned; still it was with no little difficulty
and danger that some of them were secured, as they
continued to defend themselves, and use their bows
with great dexterity while swimming. One of the Caribs
died after being brought on board, having been trans-
fixed by a spear, and a few days afterward one of the
Spaniards died from a wound received from a poisoned
arrow which the Caribs had used."

Columbus named the cape where the encounter took place
"Cape of the Arrow", after the Spaniard who died from the
arrow wound.

Of course neither Columbus nor any of his staff officers
could know what race or tribe of Indians inhabited St. Croix.
To them anyone who put up a fight, like on his first voyage at
Samana, were assumed to be the dreaded Caribs reputed in
Hispaniola to be cannibals. The men could have been Caribs
and the women Arawak.
After study of the archaeological material recovered in 1923
by Dr. Gudmund Hatt, he expressed the opinion that they were



Arawaks, however as pottery making was women's work, and
the marauding Caribs took Arawak women for wives, I am more
inclined to believe that the men at least were Caribs. It is quite
consistent to believe, that any group of Indians whether Carib
or Arawak, seeing the boat with the Spaniards cutting them off
from retreat and unable to escape immediately would attack
them. Columbus remained at St. Croix only a few hours, and
never returned to this Island. Washington Irving, after examin-
ing the available letters of Columbus' companions, relates about
the Indians at St. Croix:

"The hair of these savages was long and coarse,
their eyes were encircled with paint, so as to give them
a hideous expression. Bands of cotton were bound firmly
above and below the muscular parts of the arms and
legs, so as to cause them to swell to a disproportionate
size; a custom prevalent among the various tribes of the
New World. Though captives in chains, and in the
power of their enemies, they still retained a frowning
brow and an air of defiance. Peter Martyr declares,
from his own experience, that it was impossible to look
at them without a sensation of horror, so menacing and
terrible was their aspect. The sensation was doubtless
caused in a great measure by the idea of their being

If we contrast this description with what Michele de Cuneo
has to say about the "very beautiful Carib girl" which he per-
sonally captured in the fight, and whom Columbus let him keep
as a slave, and considering that only two women are mentioned
as having been in the canoe, besides the four men and the boy
it would seem that either Peter Martyr never learned about the
existence of this beautiful creature, or his description of the
Indians of St. Croix is distorted. Peter Martyr never visited the
West Indies, but is credited with having possessed a keen and
critical intelligence. If he ever saw any Indians it must have been
those brought back to Spain by the Spaniards.
Regarding the cotton armbands it is observed on the pic-
tures in the December 1936 issue of Natural History from Dr.
William Hall Holden's expedition to the headwaters of the



Essequibo River and in Brazilian Guiana that the "Waiwai"
Indians wear tight armbands of cotton, "believed to increase the
strength." The fact that the Indians of the West Indies are all
of South American origin, the presence of the cotton armband
among the Waiwai Indians today serves as additional confirma-
tion of race relation. On the other hand on pictures taken in
1937 by the Archbold expedition to New Guinea's inland moun-
tain plateau, where naked tribesmen who never had had contact
with white men, and live in a primitive stone age culture, it is
noticed that one of the tribesmen wears a tight cotton armband.
There certainly could not possibly have been any abalienation of
Reflecting upon the fact that the aborigins of St. Croix
originated from South America it is of interest to compare
Martyrs description of the St. Croix Indians with the account
recently given by Dr. William Hall Holden of the Waiwai In-
dians whose civilization is not far removed from the stage in
which Columbus found the St. Cr6ix Indians. Quoting Dr.
Holden upon his arrival at the first Waiwai village on January
18, 1938:
"Here we found people living in the most primitive
manner. As near as we could make out, they were not
far removed from the Stone Age. They had managed to
get a few knives by trading their stone cassava graters
with the Wapisianna Indians, but we could find abso-
lutely no other trace of civilization among them. They
were living in large communal houses, circular in shape,
with a conical roof. These houses sheltered anywhere
from 25 to 30 people, and 40 to 50 dogs. We secured
from this first village: cassava bread, bush bananas and
a few yams."
Dr. Holden took some excellent pictures of these Indians
and describes them as very friendly people. "They frequently
have strong faces, are intelligent and have an excellent sense of
humor", he says. "They hunt with bows seven or eight feet long
using six or seven foot arrows." No blow guns are mentioned nor
shown on the pictures. The women are modest even though their
only dress is a small apron, sometimes beaded. This corresponds



with the small apron worn by the cacique's daughter that came
aboard Columbus' ship in Jamaica as described by Bernaldez.
"Cassava graters are made from flintloke rock set closely in
a board." A beautiful cassava sieve is shown in one of Dr.
Holden's pictures.
"All Waiwai men wear their long straight hair in a queue,
often decorated with feathers, no cloth except a loin cloth."
On the hip of one of the men suspended from a cord are
seen from 3 to 5 mammal teeth and shell ornaments, looking
much like similar objects recovered in St. Croix. In the ears are
seen shell or stone pendants. "Both women and men wear neck-
laces of white shell or stone beads, and the faces of some of them
are painted with native plant pigments in horizontal or vertical
stripes, but no paint is shown on their bodies. Dr. Holden writes:
"Their diet is simple, food is not abundant and the Indians
must work hard for whatever they get. As a result they are seldom
gorged by excessive amounts of food, and they get plenty of
exercise. The Waiwai is master of his house; his wives, of which
he usually has five or six, are under perfect control. Their per-
sonal adornments are procured from the brilliantly plumaged
birds. The women carry their children in a sling made of bark.
These Waiwai Indians think nothing of starting off and travelling
on foot for weeks, a mile does not exist in their vocabulary. At
sundown they string their hammocks wherever they may find
themselves, be it in the communal villages or in the midst of the
jungle. During the heat of the day they frequently string their
hammocks and rest, so that their sleep is adequate."
Painted faces with horizontal and vertical stripes is noticed
on potsherds from St. Croix.


- I



1493-Columbus discovers the Island, November 14th, and
names it Santa Cruz. After the discoveries the Spaniards
consider themselves owners of all the West Indian Is-
1555-Charles V of Spain directs that the Indians in the Virgin
Islands be treated as enemies and exterminated.
1596-Earl of Cumberland on his voyage to capture Porto Rico
passed the Virgin Islands, and describes the Islands as
wholly uninhabited.
1600-First English and Dutch colonists come to the West
*1625-First recorded settlement made in St. Croix, mostly by
Dutch. No Indians are mentioned.
*1626-More Dutch coming to St. Croix from Brazil, from
where they were driven out by the Spaniards and the
*1629-English settlers coming to St. Croix from St. Kitts, from
where they had been driven by the Spaniards.
1645-Population of the Virgin Islands about 550 of different
nationalities, each having its own leader. Same year
fight in St. Croix between English and Dutch. First the
English then the Dutch superior was killed. The Dutch
then going to St. Eustacius and St. Martin, the French
to Guadeloupe.
1645 to 1650-English dominating St. Croix.
1650-Spaniards from Porto Rico with 5 ships and 1,200 men
attacking at night and murdering men, women and
children in cold blood, took possession of St. Croix, in
spite of a Treaty of Peace arrived at with the British
in 1630.




Later the same year Dutch from St. Eustacius, believing
the Spaniards had returned to Porto Rico, attempted to
retake St. Croix. The attempt failed and many were
Towards the end of the same year French from St. Kitts
in two ships with 160 men took back St. Croix, though
the first landing party of 40 men were almost all killed
in ambush.
1651-Of 300 French colonists two thirds and three Governors
died. Believing their illness due to the jungle, the forests
were burned in the dry season.
The same year St. Croix was sold to the Maltesian
Knights, together with other islands in the West Indies.
1661-600 armed men available at St. Croix.
1664-French West Indian Company organized.
1665-Company buys Maltesian Knights West Indian posses-

sions for 500,000 Livres (about $100,000), and under
the energetic Governor Du Bois 90 plantations were put
in cultivation with such crops as: tobacco, cotton, sugar
cane and indigo.
Louis XIV later paid the Company's debt and made
St. Croix crown colony. After Governor Du Bois' death,
bad administration, drought and sickness terminated all
prosperity and progress.
1695-Population only 147 whites and 623 slaves. Island now
abandoned by the French and all colonists were taken
to French St. Domingo.
1695 to 1733-St. Croix technically French, but uninhabited
became a complete wilderness.
1733-(June 15) St. Croix purchased from the French by the
Danish West Indian Guinea Co. for 750,000 Livres
1744-(Apr. 16) First Colonial Council consisting of five
members met at Fort Christiansted.
1754-St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John became royal col-
onies, through the sale of the shares of the Danish West
Indian Guinea Co. to King Frederik V.



1801-1802-From April 1, 1801 to February 22, 1802, St. Croix
occupied and held by the British.
1807-1815-From December 22, 1807 to April 15, 1815 again
occupied and held by the British, due to the Napoleonic
1815-St. Croix returned to Denmark in exchange for the
Danish island of Helgoland, up to recently a German
naval base.
1838-The second steam driven sugar mill put into operation
in St. Croix. By 1852 there were 40 steam driven mills.
Before that there were about 70 small wind-driven
sugar mills.
1843-First steamer, the English "Thames", came to St.
1848-(July 3) Slavery abolished by proclamation of Gover-
nor Von Scholten, as follows:

"From this day every slave in the Danish
West Indian islands shall be free."
"Plantation negroes for the next three
months retain the use of the houses and
the plots of land hitherto granted them."
"All work is hereafter to be paid for ac-
cording to agreement, but allowances such
as herring, cornmeal, etc. shall cease."
"Old and sick no longer able to work
shall until further be supported by the
previous owners."

1865-First negotiation for the purchase by United States of
St. Thomas and St. John alone. Earthquake and tidal
1878-Serious riots accompanied by arson and much destruc-
tion on the plantations in St. Croix.
1902-Second negotiation for the purchase of St. Thomas, St.
John, and St. Croix. Agreement arrived at, but the
Upper House in Denmark failed to ratify.
1916-1917-Third negotiation for the purchase of the three
islands. Agreement ratified both in Denmark and in
Washington. Purchase sum $25,000,000.
1917-(March 31)-Islands formally transferred to United
States of America.




Although the Island of St. Croix (as well as some of the
other leeward islands of the West Indies) is high enough to at-
tract and drain the drifting clouds, it suffers sometimes from
prolonged periods of severe drought. Such a dry cycle, with but
very little relief, set in around the beginning of 1920 and lasted
for ten years. Early in that period, I began to make studies for
possible irrigation projects. Possessing insufficient information at
that time of the geological possibilities for obtaining water from
deep wells in sufficient quantity for a partial irrigation, my atten-
tion was directed towards sites where impounding of water by
means of dams appeared feasible.
Such sites were located at Estate "River". situated in the
foothills of the volcanic formation in the center of the island:
at Estate "Salt River" in the North East part of the island: and
at "Fairplain", south of Bethlehem, in the limestone formation
on the main surface drainage outlet of the island.

To get an idea of how deep it would be necessary, to dig to
obtain a watertight foundation for an earth dam. several test pits
were dug at these sites, and while digging at "Fairplain" in a
caneiield that had been cultivated for many years and in which
Indian relics had previously been found, several Indian burials
were met with and several objects such as pottery heads, shell
ornaments, axes and celts were recovered. Unfortunately this
Indian site, as well as most of the others in the island, had been
considerably disturbed by years of deep furrow cane cultivation.
However, the objects recovered from "Fairplain" became the
foundation of my collection which thereafter gradually grew to
its present proportions during years of continuous field and home



Every archaeologist realizes the amount of labor, care and
patience required to clean up, to assemble and to prepare such a
collection for exhibition in cabinets. The crustated material ex-
cavated in a clay soil in particular at Estates "Salt River", "Long-
ford", "Fairplain" and "Sprat Hall" was taken to Denmark.

Even though I have been engaged in archaeological field
work as a hobby for more than ten years, exclusively in the island
of St. Croix, I pretend to no general authority in the field of
archaeology. My interest and researches simply grew out of a
desire to contribute in a small way to the limited knowledge
about the life and doings of the aborigins. Besides when the white
man goes to the tropics and remains there for many years, his
mind and body needs not only daily exercise, but a favorite pur-
suit for his spare time in order that he may not capitulate to the
temptations of an always sunny and ambrosial climate. Outside
of gardening which offers such ample reward when sufficient
water is available, I know of no other hobby more fascinating
than the field of archaeology. It has the advantage that it, like
the entropy, grows all the time.

The concern of which I had charge owned about 15,000
acres of land and was engaged in the business of growing sugar
cane, and in season extracting the sugar from the cane. The sea-
son when the sugar factory was in operation lasted four to five
months and demanded most of my time, but in the fall months
all the factory staff, of which I, as technical administrator, in a
way was a part, had considerable spare time, and much of mine
was spent in excavating for Indian relics.
On the company's properties were a number of sites, the
more important of which, however, were covered with sugar cane
most of the time, and it was only when a field was laying fallow
that it was possible to do any work in it. Any labor in a field
covered with a crop of cane and under a tropical sun, where no
fanning trade wind can reach you, is beyond the realms of a
hobby, hence archaeological work was out of the question except
when the field was in fallow. I had no difficulty to get permission
to work in the settlements located on other people's properties,



in fact the island being so small, we all knew one another and
exchanged courtesies in one form or another.

The only place I ever had a little difficulty in obtaining
permission was on an estate owned by a quite cultured colored
lady. She had a very fine herd of cattle and the site that I was
anxious to do some work in was located in the pasture where the
animals were grazing. The field, about eight or ten acres large,
was covered with a very clean and vigorous growth of guinea
grass. The lady was of the opinion that even the temporary loss
of two-three hundred square feet of grass would be seriously felt,
and it was not until I had promised to replant the area I dug up
and presented her with a dainty basket of pineapple that she
finally gave her consent.
After my modest beginning at "Fairplain", I visited and
surveyed the various sites of prehistoric Indian settlements on the
coast as well as inland. I obtained a copy of the 34th Annual
Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1912-1913) and
the accompanying paper by the late Dr. J. Walter Fewkes en-
titled "A Prehistoric Island Culture Area of America", which at
that time was, I believe, the most complete publication on West
Indian remains.




It is of course natural to look for Indian sites on the shel-
tered coast, or near the coast where fresh water is available, con-
sidering that much of the food of these Indians came from the
ocean. Fertile soil is found further inland, but in an island as
small as St. Croix with its greatest width only five miles, the
greatest distance from the coast to any of the settlements, where
agriculture was practiced, is less than two miles, which was of
no account to the fleet-footed Indians. Inland settlements in the
much larger islands of Porto Rico, St. Domingo and Cuba, cate-
gorically different to coastal settlements, therefore cannot be re-
flected upon as far as St. Croix is concerned.
On the coast proper there are four formidable settlements,
and numerous smaller ones, as indicated on the map. Off the
coasts there are three important sites and about ten smaller ones.
More sites may yet be located, especially in the eastern end of
the island.
My participation in the municipal administration as a mem-
ber of the Colonial Council, and the several commissions elected
by the Council and appointed by the Governors took me all over
the island, and I have recorded the following Indian sites on the
map of St. Croix from East to West:
Indian Sites.
1.-Solitude Bay (sea level)
2.-Coakley Bay (sea level)
3.-Great Pond, 2 sites both at sea level
4.-Spring (sea level)
5.-Castle Nugent (sea level)
6.-Fareham (sea level)
7.-Altona (sea level)

[27 1


8.-Richmond, rich settlement with burials (sea level)
9.-Salt River, large settlement with many burials (sea
10.-Windsor, 2 sites (elevation 200')
11.-Glynn, large settlement with burials in four fields (ele-
vation 175')
12.-Cane Bay, small settlement at Ratta pasture (sea level)
13.-Castle Burke, small settlement (elevation 100')
14.-Fair Plain, large settlement with many burials (sea
15.-River, settlement in field #15 with burials (elevation
16.-Mount Pleasant, small settlement (elevation 175')
17.-St. Georges, one of the largest and most interesting
settlements in the island with many burials. Excavations
undertaken in Hope field No. 15, Mint No. 3, Moun-
tain No. 2, St. Georges No. 6, 8, 9 (elevation 200')
18.-Two Friends, not inconsiderable settlement with burials
(elevation 500')
19.-Camporico (elevation 50')
20.-Jolly Hill, small (elevation 250')
21.-Oxford, small (elevation 300')
22.-Pleasant Valley, interesting (elevation 700')
23.-Stoney Ground (sea level)
24.-Mars Hill (elevation 130')
25.-Prosperity, section called Krause, 4 fields, rich settle-
ment with burials (elevation 50')
26.-Sprat Hall (sea level)
27.-Richardson at Northside (sea level)
Editor's Note: 35 additional Indian sites have subsequently
been located.
Salt River outside which Columbus anchored on his second
voyage, and where his landing party had an encounter with the
Indians, has always been considered the richest Indian settle-
ment in St. Croix, but I am inclined to regard the site at St.
Georges of the greatest interest. This site has been in cane cultiva-
tion about 200 years, and bearing in mind that most of the de-
posits do not extend below cultivation depth, plowing and sub-
soiling for such a long period rendered stratified excavation de-
ceptive, however, here and there deposits had been left undis-
turbed, and in the banks of the stream that runs through St.



Georges some relics were found as much as five feet below the
surface, among these, two carved bone swallow sticks. It is pos-
sible that in this clay bank some crude pottery firing oven had
been operated. Many of the sites at St. Georges planted in sugar
cane, while the writer was in St. Croix and could not be worked
in, except when the land was in fallow every third or fourth
year. On the whole I am satisfied that the laborious work under-
taken at St. Georges, as well as at Richmond, Glynn, Windsor
and Krause (Prosperity) have been well rewarded in pottery and
artifacts hitherto unknown in St. Croix.

Judging from the wealth of material found, it appears that
the island had been populated for a very long time before
Columbus arrived, at times probably even densely. The aborigins
who inhabited St. Croix lived in an absolute stone age. Stone,
shell, pottery and bone are the materials of which the least
perishable objects were made. Never the tiniest bit of gold or
any other metal have I come across in all my ten years of digging
and sifting, nor are any such finds by others known to me.

I could have added to my collection objects offered from
St. Thomas and St. John, but I have laid great stress upon in-
cluding in it only material actually recovered in St. Croix, in
order to make it representative of the area of this small island.

Historical works on European colonization of St. Croix by
Spanish, English, Dutch, French and Danish settlers, indicate that
the island was well forested in pre-Columbus days, and that
plenty of wood suitable for simple house construction was avail-
able. For their large dug-outs the Caribs, however, are reported
to have made "friendly" trips to Porto Rico in search of large
trunks, such visits later being followed by hostile raids. Of fibre
plants, cotton was probably cultivated by the aborigins, and only
later on degenerated into wild cotton, anyway it was available for
spinning and weaving. Several varieties of agava, such as four-
croya and sanseviera and hennequen and other native plants
from which fibres could easily be extracted, were available for
twine and rope. Of perishable material no trace has been found



in St. Croix, where there are no caves or rockchambers in which
such things and wooden articles might have been preserved.

Dr. Walter Fewkes visited as stated above St. Croix during
the winter of 1912-13, but even though he inspected the "Salt
River" settlement and one or two other sites, he apparently was
not much impressed with the archaeological possibilities, at least
he never returned, nor did he send anyone to do any work there.
Years later in 1927 when as a member of a delegation from the
Colonial Council of St. Croix I visited Washington, the material
I had collected was brought to the attention of Dr. Fewkes, Dr.
Walter Hough and others, through photographs and specimens I
had brought with me, and it roused considerable interest. Dr.
Fewkes seeing the pictures became quite enthusiastic and said:
"I would not have believed it, I must go down and see it. I was
never more surprised in my life". A few months later Dr. Fewkes,
who was then 74 years old, passed away after an accident, before
the contemplated trip to St. Croix could be carried out.
Most of the material in the collection has been excavated at:
St. Georges (Hope, Mint, Mountain)
Fair Plain
Glynn and Windsor
Salt River
Krause and Sprat Hall
All of these sites have been subjected to cultivation and
much of the material recovered had been damaged and has
required very considerable restoration. The material consists of
thousands of specimens in duplicate or as variants of the given
types, and is typical of a stone age culture: stone, bone, ivory,
shell and earthenware.





Capt. H. U. Ramsing
Dr. Walter Fewkes
G. Nordby
Theodoor de Booy
Prof. Gudmund Hatt
Folmer Andersen
Lewis J. Korn
Dr. H. W. Krieger




Dr. Walter Fewkes: A prehistoric Island Culture Area of
America. (34th Annual Report of
the Bureau of American Ethnology
1912/13. U. S. Government Printing
Office 1922.)
Gudmund Hatt: Archaeology of the Virgin Islands.
(XXI Congress International Des
Americanistes Session de La Haye
12-16, 1924.)
Herbert W. Krieger: Archaeological and Historical Inves-
tigations in Samana, Dominican Re-
public. (U. S. National Museum,
Bulletin 147, 1929.)



Herbert W. Krieger:

Sven Loven:

Irving Rouse:

Irving Rouse:

Aboriginal Indian Potter) of the
Dominican Republic. (U. S. Na-
tional Museum Bulletin 156, 1931.)
Origins of the Tainan Culture, West
Indies. (Elanders Bogtryckeri, Gote-
borg 1935.)
Prehistory in Haiti. A study in meth-
od. (Yale University Publication in
Anthropology, 1939.)
Some Evidence Concerning the Ori-
gins of West Indian Pottery Making.
(American Anthropologist Vol. 42,
No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 1940.)

The geology and physiography of the Virgin Islands has
been studied and published in the following:

John T. Quin:

Howard A. Meyerhoff:

H. I. Anthony:

Samuel Morison:

The Building of an Island (A Sketch
of the Geological Structure of the
Island of St. Croix, Printed in Ne,
York by Chaunsey Holt, 1907.)
Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and
the Virgin Islands.
Part I: Geology of the Virgin Island,
Culebra & Vieques, New York Acad-
emy of Sciences, 1926.
Part II: Physiography, New York
Academy of Sciences, 1927.
Mammals of Porto Rico, living and
Part I: New York Academy of Sci-
ences, 1925.
Part II: New York Academy of Sci-
ences, 1926.
Admiral of the Ocean Sea (Biog-
raphy of Columbus) Boston, 1938.

The above listed publications have been very valuable in
studies of the archaeology of St. Croix, (1) in my efforts to
identify a number of objects, hitherto unknown in the West
Indies and (2) for the general purpose of comparison.


University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs