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 CaribbeanChoice : General Discussion : Country-Specific Forums : U.S. Virgin Islands Forum
Message Icon Topic: Welcome to "St. Croix" (US.V.I.) Post Reply Post New Topic
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Shucander
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Quote Shucander Replybullet Topic: Welcome to "St. Croix" (US.V.I.)
    Posted: 02 May 2008 at 6:54pm

St. Croix, Island History

St. Croix, the largest of the 50 odd islands, islets and cays that comprise the U.S. Virgin Islands, encompasses 84 square miles and has nearly two-thirds of the territory's land area. With a mean annual temperature of 79.3 degrees, the hottest summer afternoons might climb to 90 degrees, with 99 being the hottest recorded high, and occasional winter nights dropping to below 70, the lowest recorded being 62 degrees. The relative humidity hangs at 80% but is not felt because of the constant breezes coming off the waters.

When Christopher Columbus journeyed west on his second voyage, he sighted the island the Tainos Indians called "Ay Ay" (The River) on November 14, 1493. He anchored off the north shore near a large natural bay west of Christiansted known now as Salt River. In need of fresh water, he sent a landing party ashore. The party attacked the Caribs as they came to greet them in their canoes. The Caribs offered the first resistance by Native Americans to the Europeans that resulted in casualties on both sides.

Originally inhabited about 1900 years ago by wanderers of the Ciboney tribe as they worked themselves north out of South America, the Taino tribes called them the Igneri or Ancient People as they inhabited the island of St. Croix from 650 AD to 1450 AD. However, in 1985, an archaeological site was excavated which proved man was present on the island from 3485BC to 2995 BC. After the Igneri came the Tainos or Arawaks, followed by the Caribs, a fierce tribe who took control in 1425.

Nine hundred fifteen acres, of which 600 acres are underwater, have been set aside at Salt River as a National Park honoring Columbus' landing on St. Croix. The site includes the pre-Colombian habitation area and an ecological preserve. Although Spain originally claimed the island of Santa Cruz, now the French St. Croix, she made little attempt to settle the smaller islands. Most historians agree , Santa Cruz was settled by both the Dutch and English at about the same time, around 1625. The Dutch, along with some French Protestant refugees from the Catholic-dominated portion of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) settled in the harbor area of Bassin, now the present day Christiansted, while the English located themselves on the western part of the island in what is now Frederiksted.

Seven flags have flown over St. Croix, the major ones being Spanish, English, Dutch and French. Privateers, admirals and treasure seekers have all been attracted to the shores, first by the lure of treasure but then by the highly profitable production of cotton, sugar cane, rum, indigo and spices.

By the early 1640's, England and Holland were contending for the islands. As both the English and Dutch settlements expanded, quarreling began between them over territory, jurisdiction and authority of the island. The English Governor on Santa Cruz was killed by the Dutch governor in 1645 and the English settlers retaliated in a furious battle in which the Dutch governor was wounded, and later died of his injuries. The Dutch withdrew from the island and went to St. Eustatius and St. Martin. The French settlers remaining on the island soon departed for Guadeloupe.

The English remained the masters of the island. The colony strengthened and the population increased. The Spanish, on nearby Puerto Rico, were concerned about the growth and in a nighttime maritime attack, comprised of 5 boats and 1200 Spanish soldiers, surprised the English, killing 120 of them and forced the remaining settlers to leave the island. When the Dutch learned of the Spanish overthrow of the English, they landed a small force of men onto the island. They, in turn, were overthrown by the remaining garrison of 60 Spaniards.

The French also heard of the overthrow of the English and seized the opportunity to conquer Santa Cruz from the Spanish in 1650. Philippe de Lonvilliers de Poincy, a strongman official of the Knights of Malta, dispatched 160 of his best troops and succeeded in deceiving the Spanish garrison to capitulate and sail for San Juan. He then promptly sent three hundred planters from St. Christopher to establish, the now renamed, St. Croix.

De Poincy spared no expense nor effort to develop the fertile land of St. Croix. However all imports and exports were detoured through St. Christopher so he could retain his percentage of the profits. Some of the remaining colonists, in despair and revolt, began illegal trading, smuggling and piracy, which contributed to the lack of progress on the island. The French, then, after three years of their resettling on St. Croix, deeded it to the Knights of Malta, a rich and powerful order of the Roman Catholic Church, in 1653 .

Eventually de Poincy appointed M. du Bois as the Governor to St. Croix, and gave the island tax relief and free trade rights. St. Croix began to prosper under his suggestion that the planters convert their fields from coffee, ginger, indigo and tobacco to the more profitable sugar crops. Bonded labor was first supplied by European men and women who agreed to serve their masters for five to seven years, after which they would be given their liberty. They were carried from island to island and traded amongst the plantation owners.

de Poincy died in 1660 and was succeeded by Chevalier de Sales as Governor of St. Christopher. de Sales made an agreement with the Dominican Order to establish a mission on St. Croix. Seeking to establish even a stronger hold on the island of St. Croix, Louis XIV decided that the Crown should take over the government and commerce through a new commercial company. In 1665 the French West India Company was formed and emissaries we resent from the King after a contract had been concluded to indemnify the Knights of Malta.

The Company rule did not fare well and lasted only seven years, until 1674,. The King dissolved the Company and replaced it with Crown rule. From 1674, until 1696, illegal trading, wars, privateering, piracy and religious conflicts tore at the Crucian islanders. The Crown then moved 1200 people, including slaves, from St. Croix to St. Dominique (the French part of Hispaniola and later Haiti). Although the French had basically abandoned the island, the island was still claimed by France. King Louis, hearing reports of illegal English settlers on St. Croix, and of pirates using the island as a rendezvous point, considered selling the island to the English for it's half of St. Christopher.

On June 13,1733 the Danish West Indies Company bought the island from France, since most of the French settlers had left the island around 1695, with the stipulation that they would not resell the island without French approval. The Danes discovered an English settlement on St. Croix consisting of 150 Englishmen and 456 workers and resettled the town of Christiansted.. Because of its history and elegant architecture, (most of downtown Christiansted was built with the yellow Dutch bricks that had been used as ballast) the town is a National Historic Site. Frederiksted was resettled in 1751 and has is own distinctive architectural style.

St. Croix reached a maximum of 264 plantations in 1742 equally divided between cotton and sugar. The 1751 census shows 120 cotton and 122 sugar cane estates. The average size of each plantation was 120 acres, compared to the 60-70 acre plantations of St. Thomas and the 80-90 acres in St. John. The Danes wanted rapid settlement of St. Croix. Surveys done between 1735 and 1753 finally established the boundaries of the plantation estates. The island was divided into 9 quarters and each estate totaled 150 Danish acres. A road through the center of the island, Centerline Road, which still exists and in use today, was used as the base for establishing the pattern of estates. Many of the names of those plantations still are in use today; Judith's Fancy, Prosperity, Solitude, Catherine's Hope, Morningstar, Rust-of-Twist, and Cotton Valley to name but a few.

The planters on St. Croix frequently complained about the methods of the Company, so much so that, St. Croix was given its own government and administration, separate from St. Thomas and St. John, in 1747. In 1753 the planters of the three islands petitioned the King to buy out the Company, which was concluded in 1754. Company rule came to an end and the Danish West Indies became a royal colony under a new form of government. The Crown designated the most lucrative of the islands - St. Croix - as the new capital for all three islands. Thus, the capital of St. Thomas and St. John was moved from Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas to Christiansted where it remained until 1871 when it returned to Charlotte Amalie.

Today, visiting St. Croix is quite an adventure. In Christiansted,you can shop the day away through quaint pavilions and arcades filled with shops offering French perfumes, china, crystal, batik clothing, local rum and jewelry featuring local designs such as gold locks and sugar mills. You can go sailing for the day and visit Buck Island, one of the world's finest dive spots and an underwater National Monument. If you are interested in scuba diving, several shops located throughout the island, offer trips to Cane Bay, Salt River, Christiansted Harbor and Buck Island providing you with part or all of your equipment needs. Or have your hotel arrange for a sunset sail or Buck Island Barbecue. St. Croix has many fine hotels and guest houses,both large and small, mostly owned and operated by people who now call St. Croix their home.

Throughout the island you will find excellent dining, or try some local fare. There are many other sights to see, and a selection of other things to do. Try your hand at one of the other sports, such as deep sea fishing. St. Croix boasts two 18 hole golf courses and one 9 hole course. When, and if, you tire of this beautiful island you can day trip to St. John or St. Thomas aboard the seaplane.

I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.
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Shucander
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Quote Shucander Replybullet Posted: 02 May 2008 at 6:55pm

I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.
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Shucander
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Quote Shucander Replybullet Posted: 02 May 2008 at 6:56pm

I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.
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Shucander
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Quote Shucander Replybullet Posted: 02 May 2008 at 7:00pm

 
I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.
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St. Coix USVI
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Quote St. Coix USVI Replybullet Posted: 09 Jan 2009 at 11:05pm
We invite you to explore the pages of our website and experience the Pageantry, Magic, Excitement, Culture and Tradition
of our Festival which begins the first Thursday in
December and ends the first Saturday of the New Year!
 
St. Croix, the Cultural Center of the Virgin Islands, invites residents and visitors alike to enjoy J’ouvert, the Queen, Prince, Princess and Duchess pageants, Calypso contests, the Festival Village entertainment
including the King and Queen of the Bands, the parades and all the exhilaration that is Festival.

Immerse yourself in the unique history and culture of the “Land of Seven Flags” as we party through the ages against the picturesque background of our historic towns while revelers “play mas” in the streets.

It’s an experience like none other in the Caribbean!
Crucian Christmas Festival USVI
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sandra
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Quote sandra Replybullet Posted: 12 Jan 2009 at 5:50am
Isn't St. Croix beautiful, Shucander? If only someone would try to curb all the crime.......
I asked for all things so that I might enjoy life; I was given life so that I might enjoy all things
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DE VI BUTTERFLY
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Quote DE VI BUTTERFLY Replybullet Posted: 07 Mar 2009 at 6:15pm

I miss home so much ; I have wanted to move back on many occassion but the CRIME on such small islands ...It is terrible...Home is nothing like when I was growing up, Parents were not afraid to let us play all day in the yard , now there is a panic ...can not walk at the shopping center without wondering what is going to happen ; don't get me wrong EVERYWHERE has crime but again our islands are too small for this....

NO PLACE LIKE HOME
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Quote sandra Replybullet Posted: 10 Mar 2009 at 4:24am
Yeah, way too small for so much crime. It's such a beautiful place, but the criminals are spoiling the beauty making it hard for a person to enjoy such a paradise island.

De VI Butterfly, read this book, SMELL LIKE A ROSE. It will take you to places on St. Croix, bring back some memories. It's available at Authorhouse.com
I asked for all things so that I might enjoy life; I was given life so that I might enjoy all things
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