This page provides links to learn more about the history of St. Croix and the Caribbean sugar industry. If you know of resource that should be included here, please pass along the reference through the Contact Us page.
Given the breadth and depth of the resources available, this page can only feature a fraction of available resources. Hopefully, this website will encourage further exploration, and this page will serve as a helpful guide in that endeavor.
Selected resources are meant to provide an entrée into a broader set of resources to help visitors learn more about what interests them. The primary rationale for inclusion involves specific information about St. Croix and sugar manufacturing, particularly windmills. Similarly, most sources are in English. However, many of the maps have text in French, Danish, or German.
An overview of the sugar mills of St. Croix can be found in this 75-minute presentation.
Written Histories of the Virgin Islands
A significant amount of material covers the history of the Virgin Islands. Isolated documents and other archival material can make it difficult to put learnings from individual resources into context. Reading a general history can help build knowledge of how others have outlined the historical context in which specific events occurred.
An historical account of the Virgin Islands, in the West Indies: from their being settled by the English near a century past, to their obtaining a legislature of their own in the year 1773, and the lawless state in which His Majesty’s subjects in those islands have remained since that time, to the present by George Suckling, 1780.
The Danish West Indies under company rule (1671-1754) with a supplementary chapter, 1755-1917, by Waldemar Westergaard, 1917. Also available here.
St. Croix Under Seven Flags, Being a “Cruzan” Cavalcade of the Island of St. Croix in the Virgens: A History of Many Sorts of Famous Men, Infamous Events, Pirates and Planters, West Indian Folk and Their Lore. Recounting Five Centuries of Lively Events on One Little Island by Florence Lewisohn, 1970.
A History of the Virgin Islands of the United States by Isaac Dookhan, 1994 (1974).
America’s Virgin Islands: A history of human rights and wrongs, by William Boyer, 2010 (1983).
St. Croix: 500 Years Pre-Columbus to 1990 by Erik J. Lawaetz, 1990.
The Umbilical Cord: The History of the United States Virgin Islands from Pre-Columbian Era to the Present, by Harold Willocks, 1995.
Vore Gamle Tropekolonier, published in Danish in 8 volumes, edited by Johennes Brønsted, 1968.
Resources with loads of bibliographic references and some annotations
Two books in particular guide those with a serious and rather geeky interest in the history of the Virgin Islands.
The Cultural History of the American Virgin Islands and the Danish West Indies: A Companion Guide by Arnold Highfield, 2018.
More writings of Arnold Highfield can be found at Antilles Press.
Other resources provide significant bibliographic references to the sugar industry and wider Caribbean
A list of books (with references to periodicals) on the Danish West Indies by A. P. C. Griffin, 1906.
A broader inclusion of the West Indies sources can be found at Mitchell’s West Indian Bibliography.
A commentary on the location of archival materials related to the Virgin Islands
A Question of Custody: The Colonial Archives of the United States Virgin Islands by Jeannette Allis Bastian, 2001.
Websites specific to Virgin Islands history or sugar manufacturing
The Danish Royal Archives: Rigsarkivet Virgin Islands History
The Danish Royal Archives: Rigsarkivet The Danish West-Indies – Sources of history
The Danish Royal Archives: Index to Maps and Drawings (Caribbean)
The Danish Royal Library Danish West Indies
The Danish National Museum: Danish Colonies/The Danish West Indies
Aarhus University The West Indies, 1672-1917
Brown University Sugar and the visual imagination in the Atlantic world, c.1600-1860
Library of Congress research guide Sugar and Sugarcane: Historical Resources for a Sweet Industry
National Park Service Places: Annaberg Plantation
Links to Historic Maps of St. Croix
The Historic Maps page provides links to the maps used for illustrating pages across this website. Additional copies of the maps used on this website form the bulk of the following list. However, many more historic maps of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands exist in archives than have posted scanned copies for ready access.
French Period maps
Several maps of St. Croix were created during the French period along with some copies of these maps early in the Danish period. These maps present a distorted coastline due to insufficient cartographic knowledge, complicating the association with places on these maps and current locations. Many of these map present north at the bottom of the page, adding to the visual distortion.
Other scans found in the French National Library feature the same LaPointe map.
Printed map found here that has a red archival stamp in the lower right over the governor’s mansion inset.
Printed map found here that appears to have been folded down the center and has some archival pencil annotations in the outside margins.
Printed map found here that has the red archive stamp in the lower center of the map and another blue stamp next to the cartouche.
Printed map found here that adds tinting.
Manuscript map copy found here that appears to have been created on three sheets, with the leftmost sheet missing from the scan.
Manuscript map copy found here that adds handwritten place names and landowner names.
A printed map found here created c.1719 by Gerard Van Keulen in Amsterdam combines St. Christopher (or now St. Kitts) and St. Croix in a single page. The map of St. Croix clearly follows the LaPointe map.
A map found here created in 1734 presents both St. Thomas and St. Croix on a single page. Notably, the map of St. Croix has north pointed to the top of the page. However, the map clearly follows LaPointe, including the same landowner names that were by that time obsolete. A second scan of the same map can be found here.
A printed map found here from 1739 by C. Mortimer presents all of the Virgin Islands along with other islands to the west and east. The depiction of St. Croix is quite distorted from the actual coast, again pointing to the reliance on the obsolete French map before completion of the Danish survey.
A printed map found here from 1764 by J.N. Bellin has north pointing to the north but continues to use the LaPointe map as its basis rather than the more recent and accurate Danish maps.
The 1750 map of the first Danish Survey by Cronenberg and von Jægersberg
This first surviving map showing a shoreline reasonably close to the actual shoreline created by the surveyors before the initial Danish survey was completed provides unparalleled detail of structures and land use on St. Croix. This map, created as the sugar industry started to gain momentum in St. Croix, resides in the Royal Danish Archives without a scan on the Rigsarkivet site. However, other copies exist online.
A low resolution copy of the Cronenberg and von Jægersberg map can be found here.
A higher resolution copy of the map with watermarks on it along with more information about Cronenberg and his relationship with Alexander Hamilton’s mother can be found here and another version can be found here.
A 1789 manuscript copy of the Cronenberg and von Jægersberg map by Mühlenfels closely follows the coastline, roads, and streams presented on the 1750 map. This precedes by a year the manuscript map Mühlenfels created after the Beck map.
The printed Beck maps
The first printing of the Beck map was published in 1754 picturing 8 windmills and 74 animal mills. Only a couple of copies of this map have been located online, one of which was the basis of the 1766 annotated map. A presentation about the Beck maps made in January 2022 can be found here.
The printing plate from the first printing was updated several years after the initial printing without changing the 1754 date. This second printing has far more copies surviving than the first printing.
Second Beck printing map, featured on this website was selected due to the clarity of the scan and absence of folds, tears, and water stains on the map.
Multiple other copies of the second printing exist with several variations
This map was not printed squarely on the paper, with the handwritten N19 at the top, suggesting the 19th print in a series and the edges may not have been trimmed before sale of the map.
Three of these copies of the second printing of Beck added landowner tables rather than add the landowner names within the map, each presenting unique information.
Held at Harvard University with hand tinting of the border lines between quarters and other map elements.
Held at the Danish Royal Library with hand tinting of the windmill, coastline, and other map elements.
The annotated Beck maps and manuscript copies
Annotated copies of the Beck map and manuscript copies range in date from around 1766 through 1770. Given the inconsistency between the maps in terms of the handwritten table with a count of the windmills, number of windmill icons on the maps, and landowner names added, some of the maps create ambiguity about which date they were actually annotated. Similarly, the information included on the manuscript copies of the Beck map creates questions about the sources the cartographer referenced to guide their creation.
The majority of the annotated maps were based on the second printing of the Beck map. One exception is the 1766 annotated map based on the first printing, an artifact that substantiate differences between the first and second printed Beck maps.
1766 annotated Beck map – based on first printing, featured on this website, is the only annotated map based on the first printing of the Beck map. This creates interesting insights into the addition of icons and planter names due to the difference with the other annotated maps based on the second printing of the Beck map.
1767 annotated Beck map – based on second printing, featured on this website, found a home in the Library of Congress. Given this relative ease of access for researchers in the United States, this map became a source for McGuire, Westergaard, and other authors who sometimes inappropriately dated it to 1754.
c.1767 annotated Beck map – based on second printing, featured on this website, has sufficient inconsistencies with the other 1767 annotated map that further research is required to date the annotations more accurately.
1770 annotated Beck map – based on the second printing, featured on this website, adds landowner names, if resident in Denmark, and if the land is planted in sugar. However, this map does not add sugar mill icons.
1766 unsigned manuscript copy of the Beck map, featured on this website, provides clear legibility for most names and icons. However, inconsistencies with annotated maps raises questions about the sources used to create this map.
1766 Zöllner manuscript copy of the Beck map, featured on this website, provides an interesting depiction but not as legible as other copies. Inconsistencies with annotated maps raises questions about the sources used to create this map.
The 1767 Küffner manuscript copy of the Beck map, used on this website, with a copy having hand-tinted coastline and slightly different presentation here, was created to accompany the C.G.A. Oldendorp History of the Mission of the Evangelical Brethren on the Caribbean Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John describing the Moravian missionary work in St. Croix can also be found here. While this map may not appear to be as orderly as the Beck maps, lines drawn on this map where the estate boundaries should be located place all the settlement and sugar mill icons neatly within the appropriate estates.
A chapter reviewing the editorial liberties taken by the publisher of Oldendorp’s work, making it significantly more amenable to the European sensibilities of the time, compares the manuscript submitted for publication to the published book. The Overly Candid Missionary Historian: C.G.A. Oldendorp’s Theological Ambivalence over Slavery in the Danish West Indies by Anders Ahlbäck can be found in Ports of Globalisation, Places of Creolisation, published in 2016.
Other images of the materials published with the Oldendorp book can be found here.
In the early 1790s, two manuscript maps after the Beck map included landowner names without any sugar mill icons. The first map was created by Mühlenfels in 1790, featured on this website, and appears online in two sheets, with the western half of St. Croix appearing here and the eastern half of St. Croix appearing here.
The second map was created by Janssen in 1791, featured on this website, and appears as a single image online here.
1775 Map of the Virgin Islands and surrounding islands
Thomas Jeffries published a map in 1775 of the Virgin Islands for an atlas, spanning from Puerto Rico in the West to St. Christopher (or now St. Kitts) in the east. St. Croix includes place names, including bays, islets, and Quarter names and borders.
The Oxholm maps and various reproductions
Peter Lotharius Oxholm created several maps of the Virgin Islands. On a 1778 visit to St. Croix, he created a map of the Christiansted area, featured on this website, and one of the Frederiksted area, also featured on this website. A second copy of the Christiansted map suggests multiple copies were made of these maps. Similarly, a second copy of the Frederiksted map.
Over a decade later, Oxholm created a topographic map of the entire island of St. Croix, featured on this website. The data for this map was collected through 1794 with the map published in 1799.
This copy of the 1799 Oxholm map was separated into 16 sections, likely to fit into a pocket.
This copy of the 1799 Oxholm map appears to have been printed on four separate sheets, or at least has three folds.
This copy of the 1799 Oxholm map also appears to have been printed on four separate sheets, or at least has three folds.
This copy of the 1799 Oxholm map has hand tinting of the coastline and quarter boundaries.
This Oxholm map formed the basis of quite a few maps in the early 19th century. Laurie & Whittle out of London used the Oxholm map as a basis for printed maps in 1804, with one copy here and another copy here.
An 1809 map of St. Croix published by W. Faden continued the English copying of the 1799 Oxholm map.
A Danish copy of Oxholm attributed a date of 1818 copies the 1799 Oxholm map without the revisions based on data from Anders Lang.
Starting in 1820, revisions based on data from Anders Lang adding one windmill, other structures, and navigation aids used the 1799 Oxholm map as a base. One featuring updates in 1820 is featured on this website.
This copy of the 1820 map has an archive stamp in the upper right and just below the map of the island in the center. The map appears to have been printed on two sheets.
This copy of the 1820 map is divided into 18 sections.
This copy of the 1820 map is divided into 12 sections. Hash lines and coloring highlight blocks of estates with handwritten landowner names in many estates.
This copy of the 1820 map has a gap where two sheets come together in the middle. Hand tinting colored a number of estates and even more locations had handwritten landowner names.
This copy of the western half of the 1820 map of St. Croix goes together with this copy of the eastern half. Both halves colored a number of estates with hand tinting and even more locations with handwritten landowner names.
This copy of the 1799 Oxholm map only includes the northwest corner of St. Croix, with the archive attributing the date as 1880-1906. With the border, this map appears to have been intentionally printed this way. This copy of the same map hand tints many of the estates.
This copy of the 1799 Oxholm map superficially looks like the Parsons map. The printed date at the bottom cites publication in London by the Hydrographical Office of the Admiralty in 1831.
This manuscript copy after the 1799 Oxholm map by A. Neumann is dated 1913 includes hand tinting of estates that appear to be joined in larger plantations.
The Parsons map
The 1856 Admiralty Chart by Parsons had several different versions, with this version featured on this website. This particular chart updates magnetic variations to 1874.
This copy of the 1856 Parsons map updates magnetic variations to 1874.
This copy of the 1856 Parsons map updates magnetic variations to 1882.
This copy of the 1856 Parsons map updates magnetic variations to 1904.
This copy of the 1856 Parsons map is incomplete, with most of the island included but none of the margins. Archive attributes the date of 1882.
The 1907 map
In a bid to support the continued Danish presence on St. Croix inspired the creation in 1907 of this map, featured on this website.
This copy of the 1907 map has a scale bar at the bottom external to the map along with pencil archive catalog numbers in the lower left margin.
This copy of the 1907 map has handwritten elevation points along with population figures for 1901 and 1911.
A map attributed to Peter Johan Andreas Rasmussen with the date range 1913-1916 provides a very general sketch of St. Croix along with estate names and other place names, such as bays and towns.
The topographic maps
No copies of the 1920s topographical sheets by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey have been located online.
Historic reports with sugar manufacturing and production data specific to the Virgin Islands
Statistics regarding landed properties in the Island of St. Croix from 1816 to 1857 with a table showing the quantity of sugar shipped from 1835 to 1840 and from 1850 to 1857 by Peter B Hatchett and printed at the St. Croix Avis, 1859.
The following sources are more general about sugar production from sugar cane.
Manual on the cultivation of the sugar cane, and the fabrication and refinement of sugar by B. Silliman, 1833.
A practical treatise on the cultivation of the sugar cane, and manufacture of sugar by Thomas Kerr, 1851.
Hints to young Barbados-planters by Robert Reece, 1857.
A treatise on sugar machinery: including the process of producing sugar from the cane, refining moist and loaf sugar, home and colonial; the practical mode of designing, manufacturing, and erecting the machinery; together with rules for the proportions and estimates by N.P. Burgh, 1863.
A treatise on the manufacture of sugar from the sugar cane by Peter Soames, 1872
Sugar cane; a treatise on the history, botany & agriculture of sugar cane by the Louisiana State Bureau of Agriculture & Immigration, 1897.
Agriculture and rural economy – Sugar plantation and refining The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project, 1765 (2010).
Organizations dedicated to history involving the Virgin Islands as well as milling technology
Society of Virgin Islands Historians welcomes professional historians and people interested in the history of the Virgin Islands
St. Croix Landmarks Society has a remarkable research library and exhibits about St. Croix history.
The International Molinological Society fosters interest in historic milling technology all over the world and publishes various journals and newsletters.
The Society for the Preservation of Old Mills is an international organization focused on historic milling technology mostly in the United States.
Genealogy and other people-related resources
A list of names of inhabitants of the Danish West Indies from 1650- ca 1825 by Hugo Ryberg, 1945.
Other Caribbean locations
Caribmap provides a cartographic history of Caribbean Islands
Bucknell University Griot Institute for Africana Studies Antigua Sugar Mills
Note that Agnes Meeker published a 3-volume set available in print or as ebooks about the plantations of Antigua.
Windmills of Antigua, like St. Croix, has significant questions about the number of windmills ever built.
Ten views in the island of Antigua by Clark, W. A. V., 1823