The most exciting discovery we made last week was locating the “lost” plantation, Jochumsdahl. An ever-useful map of St. John created by Oxholm in 1780-1800 indicates that a plantation existed north of the Catherineburg Plantation. Because there has been such little rain recently and hence minimal underbrush, last week was an ideal time to explore the area in hopes of locating Jochumsdahl. So Ken, Susanna, and I headed into the woods with the GPS, the camera, and sticks in hand to swipe away spider webs. We first found what looked like an old trash site from the early 20th century. Old pulleys, hand carts, and other UID rusty metal objects were strewn about in a stand of bamboo as well as a plethora of gin bottles. Ken dug into the earth a bit with his trowel and found a layer of charcoal just beneath the surface, indicating that this site was used to produce charcoal after emancipation. Workers would clear an area of foliage and hollow out a depression to burn it in, producing charcoal. Because the fire problably needed to be monitored, the workers must have relaxed with a drink of gin while the fire burned down. This charcoal production site is not related to Jochumsdahl, but it is very interesting nevertheless because it tells of another period in St. John history—slightly more recent but no less important. Photographs were taken of the trash and the charcoal, and a GPS point was taken so that the National Park can return to this site later for further research. (evidence of charcoal making)
Also last week, the cultural resources team enjoyed a historic lecture at the site of Rustenberg given by Chuck Pishko. Elderhostel volunteers worked on completing architectural drawings of certain structures of the site and Chuck came to explain the purpose of each structure in the sugar-making process. He also told us about the history of the plantation, which includes a visit from the Crowned Prince of Denmark in the early 19th century. (Chuck Pishko and Elderhostel at Rustenberg)
The last bit of news I have to offer is that the excavation at Cinnamon Bay of the plantation cookhouse floor is complete. The area was cleaned, photographed, and reburied. Digging will commence soon at a different location so that we can re-intern the human remains found at Cinnamon. Well, this has been a long post and I hope you made it through. The cultural resources team at Virgin Islands National Park will keep on chugging and we hope that you’ll keep reading. Thanks, guys! Until next time.