Friday, December 15, 2006

Then and Now

A month or so ago Ken, our archeologist, spoke at a St. Thomas Historical Society meeting and met Jane Sheen who was interested in helping the park in its efforts to gather historic documentation on park resources. A few weeks ago, Ken and Susanna took a trip over to St. Thomas to meet Jane Sheen, and look at her collection of historic postcards of the Virgin Islands. The postcards date from the late 1800 hundreds to the early 1900 hundreds and many of the images captured park resources still in use, like the photograph above with the Reef Bay Factory still in operation. Others capture the people and the times like learning to make baskets at the turn of the century. The postcards are great and Jane was so helpful. That day she loaned 100 + cards right then in order for us to scan the images. This week, Susanna spent a few hours scanning in the images, front and back, because the back of the card can indicate when it was published. Eventually, we hope to process all the images and make them available online. Below one of the cards, shows the Creque Marine Slipway in full operation.

This is an image of the structure as it stands today. Thank you Jane for making this wonderful contribution.

Monday, December 11, 2006

5oth Cultural Posters

Here are the 50th cultural resource posters I mentioned in our last posting. We now have them on display at the Cinnamon Bay Archeology Lab.


Friday, December 08, 2006

VINP 50th Anniversary

Hi, this is Amber, the one and only archaeology intern (for the time being) at the VI National Park. Long time, no see readers! Our blog site had to go through government security approval before we could get back to you. We have been busy these past few weeks, and I mean really busy. The 50th anniversary of the creation of the Virgin Islands National Park was celebrated last Friday, December 1st. Speakers, who included Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, Southeast Regional Director Patricia Hooks, and Director of the National Park Service Mary A. Bomar, discussed how successful the park has been since its inception in protecting both the underwater and land resources of this Caribbean paradise.(all pictured below)

They also emphasized the importance of the continuation of this work into the 21st century. Modern dancers from the St. John School of the Arts performed as well as local quadrille dancers, and the Steel Pan Dragons played some Christmas songs to get everyone into the holiday spirit. (NPS Staff in CLASS A Uniforms)
I sat at an exhibition table during the ceremony with four posters that archeologist Ken Wild created for the occasion. The posters, which are shown below, detail the different aspects of cultural resources preservation in the Virgin Islands National Park—maritime, prehistoric, historic architecture, and the collections that connect to the communities past. I talked with people who were interested in the current archaeological projects and hopefully with funding all can proceed as planned. A great buffet and a 50th anniversary cake finished the celebration and I must say it was great to see both park officials and the community gather together for this event. (NPS Employees:first row Devon Tyson, Dave Sapio, Christy McManus, Tina Bernier, Ken Wild, Thomas Kelley, second row: Esther Francis, Rafe Boulon, Susanna Pershern, Carrie Stengle)
This week, with the 50th anniversary celebrations behind us, we have gotten back to what we do best—digging in the dirt! Eight members from the Las Vegas Sierra Club volunteered to continue excavations of the cookhouse located near the Great House of the Cinnamon Bay plantation. Joe and Ellen Ries, Bill and Billie James, Marge and Ed Rothfuss, Barbara Gerhart, and Linda Nations planned a week-long service trip to St. John and were delighted when they found out they would be working with Ken Wild on a dig. The historic floor of the cookhouse was originally discovered because local clergymen and Ken Wild had chosen the area for reburial of the human remains washing up at Cinnamon Beach. The remains are thought to be of African descent. The Sierra Club volunteers helped to expose the entire cookhouse floor, which was dated from the 1820’s to the 1840’s by the type of pottery and glass recovered, and Ken and Susanna will photograph and document it next week. Marge found a coin minted in 1822 in Curacao (shown below) which may shed some light on trade relations at Cinnamon Bay. After proper documentation is complete, the floor will be reburied and a new site will be chosen for the burial of the human remains. Also below is a photograph of the team working at the excavation site. Well, that’s all for now, everyone. Until next week:)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Nice Work!

Hello everyone! Amber is back after a week hiatus from the blog. Things have been busy on St. John, both in the office and out in the field. Last week, I served as surface support for Susanna and Ken while they dived to a depth of 73 feet to investigate historic metal objects. Preliminary conclusions are that it is marine-related, but more underwater time will be needed to further identify the objects. Surface support is important for dangerous dives such as these, the danger being both the dive depth and a site location in the middle of a busy channel. Also last week, Ken prepared for a presentation about Hassel Island to the St. Thomas Historic Trust. I wrote earlier about this island’s historical importance and funding is sorely needed to begin the processes of survey, stabilization of the ruins and conservation of the wonderful metal artifacts.

This week has also been productive. In the office, a monumental cataloguing project has been undertaken by yours truly, and it definitely feels good to get all our artifacts organized and documented correctly. Ken also went over the talk with me that he prepared this week for the Science in the Park Conference. This was kind of a first for Ken to prepare a paper for biologists(see his title slide with a Indian and Jellyfish above). He said it made him look at the island’s archaeological record differently, not just from an anthropologist’s view point. He explained to me how the 3000 years of history in the archeological sites also preserves, for the biologist, time capsules waiting to define our inherited natural environment.

In the field, the team (Ken, Susanna, and I) completed a snorkel survey and found some interesting artifacts. In a historic context, Susanna found a worked mammal bone in a concretion of coral and rock…definitely worthy of placement in the future museum. (And a nice thing to find before she heads off to the Grand Canyon for two weeks of NPS Fundamentals Training.)
Aside from archaeological project advancements, I have officially become comfortable driving on the left [pat on the back]. It’s really not as hard as I thought/ feared! OK, well this is all she wrote for now. I’ll write next week with the latest from the Cultural Resources Management Division here at St. John. ‘Til then:)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Gearing up

Blog 10-20-06
The doors to the Cinnamon Bay Archaeological Lab were thrown open for the first time this season. Ken, Susanna, and I have started to unpack the exhibits to get the lab ready for visitors, and two of the historic bottles found last week have been cleaned for display. One has been identified as a Gordon’s gin bottle (with a funky hog’s head design on the front), but we’ll have to do some homework to ascertain its age. It can’t be older than 1918 because of its color, which tells us it is not associated with the shipwreck.
Today, we journeyed out to Hassel Island with two rangers to familiarize them with the island’s extensive cultural resources (so that they can protect them). Almost from the beginning of European expansion into the New World Hassel Island has been associated with the early Spanish, pirates and English privateers. The island becomes even more important as commerce expands and serves as the midway stopover for ships traveling from Europe, New England, to South America and the Pacific, making it very significant in the realm of maritime history. The oldest marine railway—Creque Marine Railway—is located on Hassel, as well as the only Napoleonic fortifications on American soil. The long-term plans for the island are to preserve the historic structures, in concert with archaeological and historical oversight. I think the public would love to see and learn about this fascinating island. Pictured above are two partially submerged anchors at the north shore of the island.

Friday, October 13, 2006

New Intern!

Hello everyone! My name is Amber Davis and I am the VINP Cultural Resource Team’s newest intern. I moved down here from New Hampshire and just recently received a B.A. in Chemistry from Bowdoin College with a minor in Anthropology. Naturally, I am interested in archaeochemistry, or chemistry as it is applied to archaeology, and it sounds like I will be able to help with a lot of projects here. From soil testing to the identification of pottery residues, I only hope that our efforts here can contribute additional knowledge about the pre-Columbian residents of St. John. Speaking of, I have been reading a lot about the Taino—the Caribbean natives who greeted Columbus—and what I have read has been fascinating. Did you know that bats symbolized their dead ancestors’ spirits and that the English words “hammock,” “canoe,” “tobacco,” and “barbecue” originate from the Taino language? Sweet.
In the past two weeks (of which I am here only on Thursdays and Fridays), the team has been exploring a new shipwreck (the anchor is pictured in a previous blog). Historic bottles from ~1850’s were found and a few metal objects were detected, but not excavated. These objects are teasers, however, because we still have yet to determine why the ship wrecked. Many projects are planned for this year and I look forward to sharing the results with you as the work progresses down here on St. John. Until next week:)

Unidentified Metal Artifact among Shipwreck Scatter

Friday, October 06, 2006

Maho Bay

It is late Friday, and we still have much to do, including the Museum Annual Checklist and rearranging in the Bally Building to create a space for a new map cabinet, however, we wanted to post the press release about the recent developments regarding Maho Bay. In short, the Virgin Islands National Park will eventually recieve a large track of land thanks to the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) hard work towards preserving this large track of land for the public. One aspect of our mission is to know what is in the park, and before any land transfer this has to be determined. Ken is already thinking about the survey methods and documenation that will have to happen to to help TPL and NPS to properly manage and protect the cultural resources on the land. On Monday, Ken and Susanna rode out to Maho to take a quick look at the new aquisition, including a unique and perplexing ruin, that Susanna nicknamed the "bus stop" due to it's proximity to the road. Please read the press release for more informaiton.

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, 9/5/2006 - The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization, today announced it has signed a contract to buy and preserve a 415-acre property in the heart of St. John that ultimately will become part of Virgin Islands National Park. It would be the biggest preservation project on St. John since the National Park was created in 1956.

The property, known as Estate Maho Bay, will be added to the park when federal funds become available, said Greg Chelius, director of TPL's program in Florida and the Caribbean.

"The national park on St. John is one of the world's great treasures," said Chelius. "We are very excited to be part of the effort to preserve its incredible natural beauty."

"TPL has been working on preserving Maho Bay for more than five years and while there have been a lot of challenges, it looks like we're finally on the road," Chelius continued. "We have a lot of hurdles to go, and we have to raise millions of dollars to make this happen, but we're confident that Estate Maho Bay will be protected."

The property has more than a quarter-mile of beachfront on pristine Maho Bay and rises to almost 1,000 feet in height. It also has significant ruins from the Danish colonial era, 1700-1860 and may have pre-Columbian cultural resources from the Taino Indian people, who inhabited St. John for 800 years before Christopher Columbus arrived. Just offshore are seagrass beds, green turtles and coral reef systems which are visited by thousands of people every year.

"Protection of this large property by TPL represents a very significant event for the V.I. National Park and for St. John. Development of this watershed would have had considerable impact on the natural and cultural resources of the park as well as residents and visitors to St. John," said Rafe Boulon, native St. Johnian and chief of resource management, V.I. National Park.

TPL has been working for years to acquire the property, which was owned by 11 heirs of Harvey Monroe Marsh. In fact, John Garrison, director of TPL's Southwest Florida Office and lead project manager on this acquisition, was interested in preserving this property before coming to TPL five years ago, when he was director of Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, a nonprofit on St. John dedicated to protecting the park.

Garrison said that the property has not been subdivided, so that each heir owns 1/11 interest in the entire parcel. Six heirs agreed to sell their interests to TPL. TPL had previously purchased one interest. The NPS owns three interests and the 11th is being retained by one of the heirs. By contract, the purchase price of the six interests is to remain confidential. The heirs are also each retaining a six-acre lot, with the ability to build up to two homes.

"Preservation of this property will be the culmination of many, many years of work," said Garrison. "A lot of credit goes to the heirs, who were willing to work with us and gave us a significant bargain on the sale, as well as to the Friends group for their continued support." A spokesperson for the Marsh family said, "Maho Bay has been in the family for over 100 years so it is important to the family to retain ancestral home sites and at the same time preserve the natural beauty of the estate for future generations to enjoy."

"The preservation of Estate Maho Bay, one of the most popular and cherished areas within VI National Park, is a significant accomplishment that will benefit the people of St. John and all those who will be able to visit and enjoy this magnificent area," said Joe Kessler, president of Friends of Virgin Islands National Park. "The Friends and all those who love VI National Park will be forever grateful to TPL for their persistence and imagination in making this a reality, to the donor for their generosity in financing the acquisition and to the heirs for their foresight and commitment to preserving Estate Maho Bay. We are pleased to have been a part of making this happen."

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states. Working in Florida since 1975, TPL has protected more than 300 sites - over 200,000 acres at a market value of more than $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at (850) 222-7911 or visit us on the web at

Monday, October 02, 2006


Bordeaux Mountain Overlook

Last week, Ken and Susanna had the pleasure of working with Ryan Polk, an Archivist from the Atlanta Regional Office. Ryan spent the entire week surveying and identifying the archives of the Virgin Islands National Park. It was a huge job as federal employees must maintian and save any documents related to their work at the park. Seeing as though the VINP is celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year, there is a half century of records filed away in offices, storage facilities, trailers and buildings. In addition, the tropical climate wreaks havoc on the old paper documents and sometimes it seemed as though Ryan's job could have been featured on Mike Rowe's "Dirtiest Jobs." Fortunatly, Ryan was able to have a short tour of the park along the Northshore and then back to town via Centerline Road, where we stopped and took a photograph of the famed Bordeaux Mountain Overlook.

Ryan Polk, Regional Archivist

Ryan and Susanna met with many individuals from the different divisions within the park. Here's Ryan working on the files at maintenance, which contain many maps and park plans, project reports, equipment data and all the documents that keep the Roads and Trails, Buildings, Signs, Water, Waste, Carpentry, Boat Mechanics and Vehicles running.

Ryan returned to Atlanta with all the information and will put together an Archive Plan for the park. Then it will be time to decide which files stay permanently with the park, which go to NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and which files can be shredded. In addition to surveying all the archives, Susanna had the opportunity to see what was in other divisions.

(Genti Bay Ruins Eroding)
Finally, on Friday afternoon, Ken, Susanna and Ryan went out on the boat to collect some photographic documentation of the Genti Bay Ruins for ASMIS (Archeological Sites Management Information System) It was a great chance for Ryan to see the real thing - Reef Bay, Genti, Lameshure, Coral Reef Monument - all of which were mentioned in the archives. Along with finding intact ruins, they also found that some of the Genti Bay Ruins were eroding from the beach. In addition, evidence of a prehistoric settlement was documented. All in all, a very productive week.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Cinnamon Bay Beach and the Archeology Lab

The archeology program is slowly awakening from it's summer slumber, although there's hardly a soul on the beach. There are no interns as yet, as it is too hot too stay in the tents and the threat of hurricanes keep Cinnamon Bay campgrounds closed for this month. Nevertheless, Ken and Susanna have been seen doing archeological monitoring of road crews digging holes for traffic counters. However, they do enjoyed staying cool at the Biosphere in the air-conditioned office working on the collections, getting ready for the regional archivist or performing underwater archeological investigations of a historic anchors for our Archeological Sites Management Information System (ASMIS)

Submerged Historic Anchor

Earlier this week, while finally completing the annual inventory, Susanna spotted the 1707 Danish silver Kroner coin and an almost new silver 10 kroner coin dating to 1714, both in the Cinnamon Bay Historic collection. These coins were instumental in helping the park determine the archeological record and the story of the people who lived at Cinnamon Bay before the Islands were offically colonized by the Danes in 1718. The archeological record of this shoreline indicates that the area was occupied decades before official Danish colonization in 1718. This is a fascinating period of St. John history involving Amerindians, Africans, Settlers and Pirates! More information about the Settlement at Cinnamon Bay may be found at the Friends of the Park Website.

Authentic Danish Kroner

Monday, June 26, 2006

Henley Cay

Katie holding a historic fragment she found on Henley Cay The ruins and cays of St. John have undergone a spring cleaning this past month. A team of specialist came in and removed vegetation from some of the park's structures and lands, making it easier for the archeologist and interns to survey the sites. Last week, we went to Henley Cay to look for evidence of the escapees from the 1733 Slave Revolt on St. John. Plantation owners would have fled to this cay when the slaves rebelled and took over some of the plantations. Thorough searching yielded historic glass, historic ceramics and one modern plane crash. The plane crash is well documented; the historic ceramics a possible lead in our quest to find the evidence we are looking for.

Katie Fuller is a new intern (not so new now) from UVI. She will be with us for the summer. Her sister, Shea, is also volunteering. Both are great additions to the team. In addition, the Syracuse University has a team on island that is helping out with archeology. On Friday of last week, we returned to the Petroglylphs and began drawing a map of the pool and hiked up the trail to take photographs of Josie's Gut.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Captain’s Log: Stardate 2006

My final blog entry. It seems like just yesterday that we started this blog. I will be leaving St. John and the NPS archeology crew Monday for a three-week trip through Central America. I will spend the rest of my summer visiting with friends and family before heading to the University of South Carolina to begin work on my Master’s degree in anthropology.
I’m spending my final few days working with Katie on comparing our paper catalog records to those in the computer. Before throwing away the paper records we want to make sure they are all in the computer database, otherwise, we will lose that information.

On Monday I gave a brief talk about archeology to a very interested group of third graders from St. Thomas.
On Wednesday, Katie and I met with a group from the Coast Guard with their families at VIERS. The group came over from Puerto Rico by boat and is spending the week enjoying the island. We taught them about the history of the Taino occupation of St. John. Puerto Rico has a rich Taino history so our talk was particularly pertinent to them. Both groups kept us on our toes with excellent questions.

Although I’m ready to go home, my time on St. John was very enjoyable. In nine months I went from zero archeological experience to feeling fairly well versed in archeological techniques and Virgin Islands history. This is largely due to Ken and Susanna and their willingness to impart their knowledge on me. Hopefully I will get to work with them in some format again in the future.

(Although it will never be the same, blog updates will continue as Mick moves on to other adventures. Good luck Mick, We'll miss you!)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Virtual Preservation Progress Report

After several months of hard work, the University of Maine has posted their recent work on the virtual preservation of the Leinster Bay Ruins. Please see our previous post in the archives from March for more information. You can find the 3d models at

Ken is back working on the petroglyph documentation and plenty of other beauracratic requirements. The interns are busy with a variety of projects, including more exploring on Cabrite Horn and organizing the catalog record forms in the storage facility. Susanna is completing the yearly inventory, doing some housecleaning, including sifting through some old photographs. Among the many photographs in the collection, a few become instant favorites, such as this 1960's photo of a VW bug in front of the Cinnamon Bay. Thanks to Caroline Rogers of the USGS for bringing this great glimpse of the past to our attention.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Closer Look

(Tony, Justin and Katie investigating the newly revealed petroglyph)

Most of us have taken some time off from archaeology . One thing we did accomplish last week was a trip to the petroglyphs. Since the Reef Bay Petroglyphs are in the process of a preliminary transnational nomination as a World Heritage Site, we’ve needed to do more research for all the documentation and there was one carving sited listed in “The Petroglyphs of the Lesser Antilles, The Virgin Islands and Trinidad by C.N. Dubelaar” which Ken wanted to find. So the five of us, Ken and his brother Tony, nephew Justin, Katie and Susanna set out by boat to Reef Bay. It was a rough trip as there was a sizeable swell from the south, but we all made it ashore with our dry clothes and camera gear in drybags. We began with an investigation of reported digging at the Reef Bay Factory Site. Fortunatly, we determined that the “holes” were due to natural causes, such as a boar rooting around for food. Next we hiked up to the waterfall and got there just ahead of the weekly NPS tour. Since Ken is the expert the Ranger was happy to have him speak to her group about the meaning of the Petroglyphs while the happy visitors ate lunch. Meanwhile, the rest of us looked for this particular carving. It seemed as though we had checked about everywhere when Ken’s brother Tony, who was sitting nonchalantly by the pool admiring the red and purple dragonflies, shouted, “what about this?” Sure enough, Tony had discovered the missing glyph, right under our noses. By then it was our lunchtime and after taking a bunch of photographs we headed down the trail with the intention of returning soon to do more mapping. While snorkeling back to our boat, a large spotted eagle ray swam by and lingered with us for quite a while. After lunch, Ken and Susanna completed one dive survey at Henley Cay while the others snorkeled. Just another day in paradise.(drawing of the petroglyph in C.N Dubelaar's book)

Other news: Mick is committed to South Carolina in the fall for a master’s degree in Archaeology. He only has a few more weeks before leaving for Central America for a trip with his father. He spent today with a student from St. Thomas who is interested in Anthropology.

Ken, Susanna and Molly all swam in the Beach to Beach Power Swim, placing second, first and second, respectively, in their age groups. Officially, Ken and Susanna tied at 29:17 but it looks as though she’s slightly ahead by this photograph of the finish line.

Sadly, Molly returned to Ohio today, having finished her photography work for the park.

And finally, Susanna has been offered the Museum Curator position pending a background check.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Memorial Day

Since a good portion of the cultural resources of the Virgin Islands National Park are underwater, diving is an important part of our work. Both Ken and Susanna are on the dive team and participated in a dive recertification for the National Park most of the week. On Tuesday, the dive team traveled to St. Thomas to visit the hyperbaric chamber and attend lectures on hyperbaric medicine. The highlight of the day (besides docking next to mega cruise ships in the harbor) was a ride in the hyperbaric chamber down to 60”ft for about ten minutes. If the scenario was not hypothetical, and a diver was suffering from the bends, it would take at least 245 minutes at various depths to properly decompress the patient. The National Park Service is the oldest civilian diving organization in the government and because of the extensive safety protocol and rigorous training schedules, the park has never suffered a loss in a diving accident. Yesterday, the dive team completed a 2700m swim in less than 18 minutes and went through a serious of practices including “ditching” all the gear underwater and putting it back on, rescue breathing and map and compass work. This week fulfills part of the 24hr/year requirements for dive team members.

In addition to all the diving, Ken met with a historic mason, Edwin Colon, from the San Juan National Historic Site to discuss the repair of the Lameshur Ruins. The Lameshur Plantation was originally four plantations laid out during the 1720’s. These estates were eventually consolidated into a single unit of production by 1740, producing mostly cotton. Between 1773 and 1784 some sugar cane was cultivated and the painting from this period shows that most of the acreage had been cleared. Sugar production was discontinued after 1858 and Lameshur transitioned into raising stock. The first US Coast and Geodetic Survey shows that in 1919, most of the land was planted in either fruit, bay trees or grass pasture for the large herd of cattle. Cattle farming and bay leaf harvesting ceased in the early 1950’s and most of the plantation buildings have fallen into various stages of ruin. Interestingly, the presence of lime trees on the grounds shed light on the name “Lameshur.” According the small booklet, “Some True Tales and Legends about Caneel Bay and Trunk Bay, and a hundred and on other places on St. John,” compiled by Charlotte Dean Stark in 1960, The Geographic Dictionary says the name signifies Lemon Shore or Lime Shore. Map makers of the old days, who seem to have found the name incredible, changed it to La Masure, French for “The ruin.” Through this series of mistaken pronunciations and etymologies, it became Lameshur on the US map of 1934.

Other than that, Mick is off island for a couple of weeks of vacation, Molly is busy photographing the collection such as this ceremonial celt, and a new intern, Katie, from the University of the Virgin Islands just signed on to help us out a couple of days a week. After such a busy week everyone is looking forward to the three day holiday weekend and participating in the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park Beach-to-Beach PowerSwim. Good luck to all the swimmers!

Friday, May 19, 2006

America Hill

My name is Molly Nook. Today was the first day of my month long internship with archeologist Ken Wild. My background is in photography which will be utilized these next few weeks photographing the ruins and artifacts. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Ken and the NPS and to learn as much as I can about archeology and the rich local history.

Today was quite an exciting first day. After meeting at Cinnamon Bay Lab to review some of the artifacts on display, Ken, Susanna, Mick and I hiked the half hour trail through Bay Rum trees and Teyer Palms and up to the America Hill Estate. There we photographed the Main House, the Cookhouse, Cistern, Servant’s Quarters and Yardwall. We also recorded measurements and data for the structures that are believed to date back to the early 18th century. America Hill is such a beautiful site, with the Estate house’s neoclassical detailing, weathered coral lime plaster facade and gorgeous view of Maho Bay. On a clear day you can see over Tortola.

Because of it’s complex and rich history, America Hill will be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Within the nomination it is noted that, “periods of ownership in the 1850’s-1860’s remain remarkably intact, and provides a vivid picture of life on St. John Plantation. In February, 1863, for example, the Estate was supplied with 5 Westfalia Hams, 4 tins Green peas, 6 tins carrots, a dozen quarts Claret, 1 bottle Anchovies, 1 bottle capers, 1 bottle white pepper and ½ doz. small bottles Matteo Cologne. In the same month, they received, 1 white cotton twill, 32 yards, white Shirtings ‘francais’, ½ dozen white shirts, 1/3 dozen Duck Pants, 1 black silk Parasol. The following month: One Panama Hat $6; One felt Ditto $3; One gray spring hat $3’ a Horse Whip 50cents and One box fine Domino $1.25.”

Finally, “over a seven month period in 1863, the estate received entertainment: 11 periodicals including Punch, Illustrated Times and London News; novels including Trolloppe’s Barchester Towers, Thackery’s Philip, Hugo’s Les Miserables, Macauley’s History of England and a book titled Manufacture of Liquors.”

America Hill has a significant flagpole and on April 5, 1917, Danish Flag was lowered and replaced with the American Flag. The estate gradually fell into decline, following hurricanes. As you wander around the estate today, you can’t help but wonder if the old can on the ground is from those green peas or if the 20th century wine bottle wasn’t left over from rambunctious visitors when America Hill ran as a guesthouse. There is a legend that the property was a base for bootlegged liquor and smuggling in the 1930’s yet by the 1940’s, the America Hill Greathouse was in ruins. Hurricane Hugo finally took the remains of the roof off and collapsed the principal floor into the basement. The America Hill site is now closed to visitors due to the unstable ruins.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


David Kiphuth is an artist from New York who has done freehand illustrations of archaeological objects for many publications, including Irving Rouse's "The Taino's, Rise and Decline of the People who Greeted Columbus," the preemiment text on Caribbean archaeology. While Ken and Mick were at the Society of American Archaeologists Conference in San Juan the other week, attending lectures which praised the accomplishment of Rouse and mourned his passing earlier this year, David was on St. John graciously volunteering his time and talent to the archaeology program. For two days he and his daughter Allie drew the artifacts recently aquired from Julia Condit. Illustrations of artifacts are useful because drawings can bring out characteristics and define features, dimensions, size which photographs are not able to capture. We would like to thank David and his family for their expertise and hope to see them again.