Bonne Esperance is estate 7 in St. Croix’s Northside B Quarter. Based on appearances on historic maps, the animal mill was likely built in the mid-1750s.
No indication of settlement is found on the French map of 1671 or the 1750 Danish survey. While the first printed Beck map shows no sugar machinery icon, an animal mill appears on the second printing. An animal mill icon appears in all the other annotated and manuscript copies of the Beck map in estate 7. Oxholm’s 1799 map and its 1820 revision show an animal mill in estate 7 without providing an estate name. While the Parsons map of 1856 and DAIA 1907 map show no settlement, ruins on the 1920s USCGS topographic map show ruins in a location similar to that noted in the McGuire geographic dictionary. Neither of the USGS maps show any structures in the area of Bonne Esperance.
The Beck map variants mostly attribute ownership to Lucas Benners, with a variety of spellings such as Beners, Benvens, and Benders. By the 1770 annotated map, ownership transitioned to Baron de Bretton. The 1790 & 1791 manuscript maps after Beck by Mühlenfels & Janssen, respectively, also attribute ownership to Baron de Brittons.
McGuire geographic dictionary of the Virgin Islands (p.38) notes the ruins of mill on the ridge west of the gut ascending from estate Lebanon.
Photo credits: Steve Cohen