St. Thomas Harbor

An old photo shows St. Thomas Harbor from atop Mafolie Hill.

The Caribbean Genealogy Library welcomes researcher Elizabeth Rezende for a presentation titled “The Rise of the Harbor and the Increase in Migration to St. Thomas, Danish West Indies 1880-1901” Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rezende is an independent researcher who has worked for 40 years studying various groups of people who have made St. Croix and St. Thomas home. Her dissertation focused on the free colored people of Free Gut, Christiansted. She has, under the auspices of the National Park Service, rendered community studies of other areas of greater Christiansted, such as Water Gut, Gallows Bay, and Market Square and Free Gut of Frederiksted. Her focus of study is the occupations of the residents in these areas of towns over a span of time.

For her presentation for the Caribbean Genealogy Library, Rezende focuses on St. Thomas, the first land mass transatlantic steamships met when following the trade winds directly from the Madeira Islands, a place where ships had to stop to get to another place. Steamships from Europe stopped at this multi-commercial island on their journey to the Caribbean, South and Central American ports for telegraphic messages and refueling, while ships on homeward voyages from the Caribbean, South and Central America stopped at St. Thomas for refueling and received orders from their home offices.

In 1871, the Hamburg American Line determined that St. Thomas would be its Atlantic headquarters for its newly organized seven routes within the Caribbean Basin. The company sent out regularly scheduled ships carrying cargo, passengers and mail every two weeks, creating increased business in the harbor.

To accommodate the vessels’ pressed timeline, scores of unskilled laborers managed the loading and discharging of the goods and people, facilitating the ships’ readiness for the next port of call. In the census, workers’ names, places of birth and occupations were listed.

In addition to the census, Rezende’s research also includes the study of travelogues, diaries and other sources to accurately depict the populous of the island at the time.

The event will be held on Zoom. Registration is required. Visit their Facebook page for the registration link.