The Oldest Windmills on St. Croix

The oldest windmills on St. Croix are identified by their depiction on the 1750 manuscript survey map by Cronenberg & von Jægersberg . While certainly animal mills were present on St. Croix during the earlier French period and perhaps even a water mill, scant evidence has surfaced of a windmill during that period that may have been used in later periods.

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The 1750 map depicts three windmills in addition to 52 animal mills. The three windmills were located in estates Concordia (West End), Montpellier Dolby Hill (Queen’s), and La Grande Princesse. In the subsequent couple of years, windmills were built in five more estates, evidenced by depictions on the first printing of the Beck map in 1754, with data collected through 1752. These five estates were Diamond (PQ), The Glynn (KQ-QQ), Concordia (QQ), St. John (QQ), and Sion Farm (QQ).

Concordia West End Quarter

The windmill at Concordia in West End Quarter, south and east of Frederiksted and just north of Centerline Road and east of Concordia road, is the most definitively identified as one of the oldest windmills on St. Croix. The inscription 1749 above the main entrance indicates this mill was constructed by 1749.

Concordia West End windmill exterior from the west featuring the main entrance. The keystone over the main entrance has the inscription 1749.

Curiously, the windmill is depicted to the west of the Concordia road and in estate 21 on the 1750 map. The Beck printed maps and all the copies of these 1750s maps provide the same configuration. Later maps, such as Oxholm’s, depict the current configuration of the windmill east of Concordia Road.

Snippet of the Beck map printed in 1754 featuring West End Quarter estate # 20, currently named Concordia. The 1754 printing of the Beck map shows the windmill west of the road in estate 21.

While it is possible that Concordia Road may have been moved sometime between the 1750s and 1790s, errors on the 1750 and Beck maps are more likely. The placement of the windmill in estate 21 rather than estate 20, where the mill with the 1749 date currently sits and was identified on Oxholm’s map of St. Croix reinforces this mapping error interpretation.

Snippet of the Oxholm map of 1799 featuring West End Quarter estate # 20, currently named Concordia. The 1799 Oxholm map places the windmill in its current location east of the road in estate 20.

Ownership of estates 20 and 21 is attributed to Peter Heiliger on the 1750 map. As one of the more prominent planters of the time, identified as owner of 9 estates on this map, his association with one of the earliest windmills is not surprising.

Snippet of the Cronenberg and von Jaegersberg map of 1750 featuring West End Quarter estate # 20, currently named Concordia. The Cronenberg and von Jægersberg map, like the later Beck map, places the Concordia windmill to the west of the road in estate 21.

La Grande Princesse in Company’s Quarter

One of the windmills built at La Grande Princesse in Company’s Quarter appears on the 1750 map. Both of the Beck printed maps depict a single windmill there. The windmill tower that remains may or may not have been the original windmill. A foundation of a windmill exists up the hill above the brick wall, south and west from the windmill tower that has been incorporated into the present-day business space.

Windmill tower from a slight distance with a peach-colored dwelling butting up against it on the left. Two parallel stone walls for landscaping in the foreground.

The relative ages of the two windmills are difficult to pinpoint based on historical maps. Of the annotated and manuscript copies of the Beck map, three place a second mill to the west of the original mill, closer to the road. Three others place a second mill to the east of the original mill, closer to the sea. One of these maps only depicts a single windmill.

Snippets of all 5 annotated Beck maps plus the 2 manuscript copies made from 1766 to 1770 featuring Company's Quarter estate Princess, currently named La Grande Princesse. The five annotated Beck maps dating from 1766-1770 plus two manuscript copies from 1767 mostly show two windmills at Princesse except the 1770 annotated map in the center here. The three with the 2nd windmill closer to the road are on the left and the three with the windmill closer to the shore are on the right.

The remaining windmill tower does not have an inscribed date. However, the exterior of the mill was modified in the 20th century, and, while doubtful, these changes may have covered up an inscription.

Ownership of La Grande Princesse is attributed to the Danish West India Company in 1750, at the time of the Cronenberg and von Jægersberg map. Again, given the company’s investment in St. Croix, their association with one of the earliest windmills is not surprising.

Snippet of the Cronenberg and von Jaegersberg map of 1750 featuring Company's Quarter estate Princess, currently named La Grande Princesse. The 1750 Cronenberg and von Jægersberg map depicts a windmill and an animal mill at Princesse Plantation.

Montpellier Dolby Hill in Queen’s Quarter

The windmill at Montpellier Dolby Hill in Queen’s Quarter also appears on the 1750 map. This map shows cane fields both to the north and south of the windmill, a configuration more balanced than the other 2 of the early windmills that were depicted to one side of cane fields.

Snippet of the Cronenberg and von Jaegersberg map of 1750 featuring Queen's Quarter estate # 3, currently named Montpellier Dolby Hill. The Montpellier Dolby Hill in estate 3 on Cronenberg and von Jægersberg map includes a windmill and animal mill along with house plus slave village.

On the 1750 map, only one estate building and an animal mill appear alongside the slave village at Montpellier Dolby Hill. On this map, the other estates with windmills both had slave villages and two estate buildings, while only La Grande Princesse also had an animal mill, an element curiously absent at Concordia.

Montpellier Dolby Hill windmill The windmill at Montpellier Dolby Hill is the least modified of the three oldest windmills on St. Croix.

Ownership on the 1750 map is attributed to Simon de Cuivitre. He is also indicated as the owner of nearby estate 10 Queen’s Quarter, immediately to the south of estate 3 where the windmill is located. On the 1750 map, 236 estates have names indicating ownership. Of these names, only 33, or less than 20%, were identified as the owner of more than one estate, making de Cuivitre an elite among elites.

The next 5 windmills

In the following couple of years after the initial survey was completed by Cronenberg and von Jægersberg in 1750, another 5 windmills would be built and a total of 74 animal mills. These mills appear on the first printing of the Beck map, with data collected through 1752 and publication in 1754. All three of the windmills on the 1750 map also appear on the Beck printed maps. While it is tempting to claim that 22 animal mills were built during this period, that may be inaccurate. Animal mills in four estates on the 1750 map did not appear on the first Beck printing, although animal mills did appear on nearby estates. These windmills and animal mills will be the focus of a future post.