Danish Era 1665-1917

In 1665: Denmar
k after visiting the Caribbean several times looking for territories to Speculating - late in the game as it was - in the already two hundred year European colonization of the Caribbean claimed St. Thomas through the skipper Erik Neilson Smidt, who planted the Danish flag into the ground of Sankt


Tomas. He went about the business of setting up the first colonization attempt

and was successful. Denmark never lost control of St. Thomas just of men that

either died or left because of their fears and the prospected arduous task of



Only a man familiar with the sea and the Caribbean would dare to lead a group

to colonize an island; men who fare the sea, are fearless in life on land, and their

pursuits of happiness in it.


With the volatile nature of the Caribbean in its ecological character and the

many wars that the natives (“Indians”) and Africans waged to keep and set

themselves free, it definitely took a certain propinquity to fearlessness of God

and man to inhabit this new world. These were colonies of slavery, inhumanity,

war, high humidity, diseases, and almost certain death. For some: spiritually,

and for almost all, physically. It was a high risk, made irresistible, by the

promise of great wealth, and freedom for many exiles that would be sent away

to work plantations or as indentured servants etc. The fact that the Danes in

Denmark did not have formal education in schools until 1749, you can see how

it was a need to expand from their misery of life that drove many Europeans

into the Caribbean and suppressed and enslaved Africans who already had

schools and institutions of higher learning for thousands of years.


This being said Erik Nielsen Smidt died soon after arriving in 1665. Before he

died on June 12, 1666 he was able to build a small fortress, the first of several

fortresses built by Denmark on the island of St. Thomas Virgin Islands; Fort

Fredericksburg was the name of the fortress and it was built on the hill that Blue

Beards Castle sits on. Fort Fredericksburg was reconfigured over the years and

was finally completed in ca.1688 to the current configuration (ca.1688 - 2007).

The area was used as a plantation and subsequently a residence in the modern

era and was later established as the first hotel on the island in 1934. This effort

was spearheaded by Paul M. Pearson the very first civilian governor under the

U.S. Dept. of the Interior.


Because of the lose of Smidt, new blood sailed in to administer the island, and a

different vision for the island and its security was realized; his name was Jesper

Hoyer and here the idea and plans seeded to build and a fort in the location that

is now Fort Christian.


1665: The Danes were in and out of this area now called the Virgin Islands. Many lost

their lives to dysentery and Malaria during their commute and attempts to settle

St. Thomas.


1666: Danish governor Erik Nielsen Smidt died June 12, 1666. The Danish flag

continued to fly with the new, second governor; Jesper Hoyer who was a colleague

and copatriot settler.  .


1667: Jesper Hoyer’s tenure ended with complete chaos finding such sickness and death

that many fled the island was deemed unsafe; this was Denmark’s first attempt.


1668-1669: this was a quiet period of little activity with intentions of finding another

governor to continue the goals of establishing a productive slave colony..


1670: In Denmark King Christian acceded to the throne as king.


1671: The Danish governor was George Jorgen Iversen and his assistant was the very

important Lutheran Minister Kjeld Jensen Slagelse. Together organized the return

of Denmark to the territory as a permanent colony.


 The Danish West Indian Company was established


1671-1680: Construction of Fort Christian was overseen by the second Danish governor

Jorgen Iverson, it was the second, but first legitimate fortress to be built by

Denmark, and the most formidable one that helped them maintain control of

St. Thomas; the Danish West Indies - for more than two hundred forty five

plus years. The new Danish governor Jorgen Iverson completed this task “by

any means necessary” and was labeled a tyrant by employing and delegating

work non prejudicially to anyone in the community in order to complete the



1672: Denmark officially takes over St. Thomas: St. John in 1694 and St. Croix in 1733.

 Jorgen Iverson was the Danish Governor. A Dane by birth, he became rich while working in the slave trade in St. Kitts (St. Christopher), he became a partner in a Dutch slave venture.


1673: Africans were: captured, enslaved, and brought to St. Thomas to be used to

cultivate land for cash crops or to be traded or perform other tasks for the colonists

social and economic goals.


1674-1680: Saw major fortress construction completed for the protection of  the

harbour; Skytes Borg (sky tower);Black Beards Castle built by a Dutch man

by the name of Carl Baggaert and used as look out by the Danish

government and the eminent Fort Christian which was being completed by

the Danes. Because of these fortresses and Denmark strategic decision to

remain neutral during the European Wars. Denmark became very wealthy

during this period of trade, with diverse European slave companies

participating in the Triangular Slave Trade industry.


1680: Governor Iverson resigned with the construction of Fort Christian completed

For him it must have been mission accomplished, he ran the island autonomously

and was labeled a tyrant during his term in office. He was an asset for Denmark

who had a rough start in the early stages of colonization. Being a business man

and very ambitious he worked hard and expected others to as well.


1680-1686: Between these years, were the unstable years of the terrible brothers

named Nicolai Esmit, and Adolph Esmit, who both did things that were self

serving and illegal,? in those days. Corrupt for Governors even though in

the slave trade; they: allowed pirates to fly the Danish flag, confiscated

British property and he (Adolph) even imprisoned his brother Nicolai, albeit

justified he himself should have been imprisoned.


A new Governor was sent down from Denmark by the name Milan,

Gabriel he turned out to be worse than the Esmits. He tried to turn the

Danish settlers against Denmark by force promising to throw the people

to the gallows.


Gabriel Milan was ordered to bring Adolph Esmit back to Denmark but he

now also faced persecution with the ship called Fortuna Coming with a

commissioner authorized to order them to stand trial.


1686: Christopher Heins became the acting Governor.


1688: Blue Beards Castle was completed. Blue Beards was not a real Pirate this structure

was named to market the structure to the tourism industry. The fortress was

built on a hill named Frederiksburg named Fort Frederiksburg, King Frederick it

helped to prevent France from taking over the island.

 Blue Beards Castle was established as a hotel in 1934 after being speculated by Paul D. Pearson to stimulate the local economy and create work for locals. The service industry was being established.



This year saw the first island wide census conducted, which counted 422 Africans

and 148 Europeans (66 Dutch/ 31 English/ 17 Danes and Norwegians/ 17 French/

4 Irish/ 4 Flemish/ 3 Germans/ 3 Swedes/ 1 Scotch/ 1 Brazilian/ 1 Portuguese).


1685: Brandenburg African Company was a German based company involved in the

Triangular Slave Trade with the Americas built and used what is today the former

Berne Ice Plant building to store slaves and to ship merchandise in the colonial era

and leased large portions of St. Thomas from the Danes between 1685-1718. Their

headquarters was located in the Finance Building perpendicular to Saints Peter and

Paul School.


1687: The German Brandenburger Company fell back on their payments to

Demark and leased out their portion to a Norwegian business man by the

of George Thormuellen.


1691: Taphus (tap house) the name that signified the capital and labeled it for what  St.

Thomas was known for at the time: a market of pubs and bistros, was changed to

Charlotte Amalia in 1691, in honor of King Christian V’s new bride. The name of

the capital was later changed to Charlotte Amalie by America in 1936.


1694: The English finally allowed the Danes to settle Sankt Jahn

after being driven out a few times

by British troops living on Tortola after meetings and municipalities agreeing to

allow them to settle the small island.


1697: on September 28, The Danish West India and Guinea Co. was established with the

intentions of capitalizing on the slave market for big gains.