Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Little Princess a typical V.I. estate
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 Material Information
Title: Little Princess a typical V.I. estate
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: November 8, 1996
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00133
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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The Daily News, November 08, 1996

Little Princess a typical V.I. estate

Last weekend, I attended a semi-
nar entitled "People and the Island
Land Use and Natural History of
Estate Little Princess." At the semi-
nar. Avonice Martin talked about
the slaves' lives under the planta-
tion system. Historian George
Tyson talked about historic build-
ings at the estate.
As one of the speakers, I talked
about how cultural ecology influ-
enced the plantation system and the
development of Estate Little
Princess in the 1700s.
Ownership of Estate Little
Princess started in 1738 with the
first Danish Governor of St. Croix,
Frederik Moth. From 1746 to 1755
Governor Frederik Moth's heirs
owned the estate.
In 1756 to 1772, Peter Heyliger
Jr., member of a prominent Dutch
family from St. Eustatius, acquired
Estate Little Princess through mar-
riage to Aletta Moth, daughter of
Frederik Moth. Peter Heyliger Jr.
died in 1772.
From 1772 to 1804, Peter
Heyliger Jr.'s heirs owned the prop-
erty of Estate Little Princess. In
1804 to 1914, the Mercantile Firm
of Cornelius Durant Batelle in
Christiansted owned the property.
From 1814 to 1818. Cornelius
Durant Batelle's heirs owned the
estate. In 1834 to 1846, Robert
Innes Grant owned Estate Little
Princess as well as Plessen and Mt.
Pleasant. From 1846 to 1847
George Phillips and Alexander
Lang owned the estate.
Widow Phillips in 1846 to 1862
and Hugh Percy in 1863 to 1878
owned La Grande Princesse. Glynn
Windsor. Clifton Hill and also
Estate Little Princess. In 1878 to
1879. Valdemar Meyer owned the
properly In 1879-1922. Emil


Svitzer, a native of Denmark who
came to St. Croix in 1869 and mar-
ried a St. Croix native called Maria,
owned Estate Little Princess 1879
to 1922. They had six children.
In 1922, the wife of Emil Svitzer
got the property. Around the 1950s,
Opal and Clayton Shoemaker a cou-
ple from the United States came in
possession of a 24 acre parcel of
Estate Little Princess, which had
been about 200 acres during slave
days and sugarcane in the 1700's.
In 1990 upon Mrs. Shoemaker
death, the property was deeded as a
gift to the Nature Conservancy.
However, when Emil Svitzer
owned the property in the 1880s, he
converted the hospital built for the
slaves into a residence. This planta-
tion once accommodated 140 slaves
working the cane fields, and up to
the 1960s, families living there cul-
tivated crops.
A manager's house was built in
the 1830s was renovated as a great
The limestone windmill tower
built between 1750 and 1765 still
stands as a testimony to the once
wind-powered machine that crushed
the juice from the cane. Later on,
the windmill tower operation was
modified with a steam driven
The sugar and rum factory, built
from brick and limestone in the
1740s, is where the cane juice was
boiled to produce raw muscovado

sugar. Then, the rum and sugar
were placed into large barrels called
"hogsheads" and shipped to Europe
and North America.
It was slaves and their labor that
made Frederik Moth and the owners
of other estates wealthy. As on
other Caribbean islands, the slaves
on St. Croix at estates were worked
practically to death. In 1848, physi-
cal slavery ended but the conditions
on estates throughout the Virgin
Islands did not improve.
The practice of bush medicine to
cure illness was also common on
estates. Tea and seasons for food
were also used from bush by the
White owners of estates feared
slaves because of their bush
medicine. In 1750, Hughes Griffith
mentioned that .. manchineel
juice had been used by slaves to
poison a planter." Thus, the West
Indian Weedwoman, became popu-
lar in Caribbean cultural ecology
among slaves particularly women.
Today, the Nature Conservancy
plans to restore Little Princess
Estate historical buildings and make
the area the center for environmen-
tal activities, research, and educa-
At Little Princess, the Virgin
Islands community will be able to
come and learn about the history of
the estates, plantation economy and
how the environment influences our
culture. These play a major role in
the development of our islands
For information contact Nature
Conservancy at 774-7633.
Olasee Davis, who holds a mas-
ter ofscience degree in range man-
agement and forestry ecology, is a
St. Croix ecologist, activist and

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