Virgin Islands Roots

Already old news apparently but just came across this as i finished my series on Caribbean slave registers 🙂

Caribbean Slave Records on Ancestry.com

There’s also this wonderful website, Virgin Islands Roots, too bad i can’t seem to find any summarized findings on slave ethnicity for Virgin Islanders based on this data. If you read the article i linked to above they also mention how they were able to trace back the Senegalese ancestor for someone who now lives in the USA. It’s an amazing story of which i found a more detailed version via this source (page 7) :

VENUS JOHANNES – A WOMAN FROM SENEGAL ON ST. CROIX 

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VENUS, according to her own declaration, was born along the Saloum River in modern day Senegal. She was captured as a young girl and taken to the island of Gorée, an active port in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. There she was sold to Anne Roussine Pepin, a prominent free color woman and wife of the mustee Nicholas Pepin, who owned and built in the infamous “house of slaves.” She served as a domestic in the Pepin household until the arrival in 1800 of John George Maddock, captain of a slaving vessel from St. Croix.

Captain Maddock took lodgings with the Pepins, and there became so infatuated with the servant girl Venus that he offered to purchase her. Anne Roussine refused to sell Venus, but agreed to take one slave in exchange if Maddock would free Venus unconditionally and go through the motions of marrying her. The following morning the arrangement was publicly validated with a traditional Gorée marriage ceremony. Venus lived with Captain Maddock on Gorée for about 2 months. When time came for Maddock to return to St. Croix she agreed to go with him on condition that he would give her bond to carry her back again to Gorée. Maddock consented and the signed bond was left by Venus in the hands of Nicholas Pepin. Along with 61 enslaved Africans, Venus reached St. Croix in October 1800, with Captain Maddock. On her arrival at Frederiksted she was sold by Maddock to Jehodan Yates, daughter of his friend Captain John Yates. Venus resided with and worked for, Jehodan Yates in Frederiksted between 1800 and 1815, during which time she had four children – Charlotte, Elvira, John Frederick and Rosalina. In 1815, Venus brought her illegal enslavement to the attention of the Danish magistrate, who conducted a detailed investigation into the matter. A decision was reached whereby Venus and her youngest child Rosalina were declared free, but her other 3 children were to remain enslaved until freed either by Venus or Jehodan Yates. By 1820, they too had become free. Once free, Venus married John Johannes, a barber, and they had three children – Perla, Mary Ann and John Richard. She and her family lived in a small house belonging to John Johannes located at 36B Hospital Street in Frederiksted. John Johannes died in August of 1825. Prior to his death, he and Venus gave their three children a deed of gift to the Hospital St. property. Members of Venus’ family retained possession of this property until the early 20th Century. Like most free people of color on St. Croix, Venus struggled to sustain herself and her children. But it was not easy. She was so impoverished in 1839, that she was exempted from paying taxes on the Hospital St. property. During the last decades of her long life she was being supported by her children. Venus died of consumption in March of 1851. Her exact age is unknown, but several sources suggest that she was over 80 years old.

Venus Johannes had several grandchildren and great grandchildren, many of whom died without issue, or emigrated from St. Croix. However, through her son John Richard Johannes (1823-1876), a blacksmith, his grand-daughter Rosabel Johannes (b.1871) and her son Joseph Franklin (b.1893) there are many living descendants, who currently reside on St. Croix and in the United States. One of them is Alphonso Franklin, a writer and Frederiksted community activist.

Prepared by George F. Tyson from documentation found in the St. Croix Population Database 1734-1911.

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