“St. John is now entirely settled, so that there is no more land left to give away except at the Fort and the company’s plantation, which is still lying idle, as it is not surveyed. Next year the greater number of St. John inhabitants will begin paying the poll and land tax. There are already about 20 works built and others in the process of building…”, so wrote governor Moth to the to the company directors on March 16th, 1726. That is before Laurance S. Rockefeller donated over 5,000 acres of land to the V.I. National Park Service.

St. John (19.5square miles – 18 degrees n/ 64 degrees w) was named Sankt Jan (Saint John) by the Danes of Denmark. Named after a saint it is no surprise that the island is a beautiful haven for anyone wanting to get away from the modernized world in need of nature and all that is left of this world that is not destroyed by man. St. John could be called land of trails; there are over thirty four different trails on the island many of them leading to hidden away pristine beaches.


First inhabited by tribes for many centuries Before Christ: Ortoiroid archaic people, Ciboney, Arawaks, Caribs were all inhabiting these islands since time memorial. Living off of fish and some meat kind like Iguanas, the tribes took care of each other and were also spiritual people. After existing here for so many centuries they were uprooted by colonization. It was left sparsely inhabited for many years after the Spaniards came: conquered, killed and stole some of the aboriginal peoples from the island to take them into slavery.

The British on nearby Tortola drove away potential colonizers with desires on trying to inhabit St. John, mainly the Danes who tried several times to colonize. The Danes was already occupying St. Thomas three miles to the West of St. John. The Danes had to get special permission to inhabit St. John through some type of municipality and by so doing, it was established as Danish territory in 1684, but wasn’t cultivated for crops or officiated until 1718. The governor of St. Thomas at the time was Erik Bredel - he oversaw the twenty European overseers, sixteen slaves and five soldiers that went to St. John from St. Thomas to plant the Danish flag, break bread, and drink to the good health and long life of their king.

In the year 1721 St. John was bustling with agriculture so much that there was “no room left for anymore planters,” with 39 deeds already handed out.

Soon after its short lived prosperity St. John hit a drought and a significant decline in agricultural production, no water, no cane, no sugar, rum, or molasses. These bouts with droughts that hit St. Thomas and St. Croix as well made it a tough time for the Danes. St. Croix always fared better in the agricultural department, however St. John’s continuous depression caused a major slave uprising in 1733 because of the plantation owners and enslavers lack of further empathy and the rationing of food resources. This uprising unlike many others lasted for six months and encouraged other Africans to revolt.

The revolt was squelched with the help from the French colonizing Martinique. France had recently sold St. Croix to the Danes in nearby St. Thomas and St. John. The revolt started at the Fortsberg Fortress, and ended somewhere around Mary’s Point where many slaves jumped to their deaths rather than continue being slaves.

The sale of St. Croix to Denmark from France, proves that there was business interest and diplomatic ties between them. Denmark owned all of the Danish West Indies (St. John, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Water Island and approximately 46 cays from 1733 – 1917).

After 1755 St. John picked back up and was producing all the products that fueled the industrial age once again. After refusing several offers from Germany and an offer in 1866 by America, the Danes finally parted with the United States Virgin Islands as they were renamed by the U.S. and simultaneously reverting to what they were named initially by the first Europeans that came to this area. Columbus named this entire area of archipelagos; Las Once Mil Vergennes, from the inspiring story of ‘the mythical 11,000 virgins’ that followed Saint Ursula to martyrdom in Rome. During parts of Danish Rule Tortola and surrounding islands were already being referred to and generally called the British Virgin Islands.

St. John today has a new main port of entry on the western side of the island in Cruz Bay. In the olden days Coral Bay on the eastern side was the main port of entry and the capital. After agriculture declined and tourism started the main port of entry was changed to Cruz Bay. The name Coral Bay has nothing to do with the coral in the ocean and everything to do with cows. Coral is a transliteration of Kraal the Dutch name for cows. In the past there was a cattle range in Coral Bay where the buccaneers used to make “buccan” with the meat from the cows in the 17th century. Buccan was a smoked meat that was very popular in the days of piracy.

Coral Bay has one of the best natural harbours in the world, it was rated so by Lord Nelson of Britain. He sailed to and spent time in St. John. Coral Bay was used less after America bought the Danish West Indies from Denmark.

Many of the people are proud to be an “American citizen” and love the Unincorporated Territory status that it brings, some feel it needs a little tweaking, such as being given the right to vote for the president of the United States, since they too serve in the military at the will of the president. This is the feeling of some of its citizens.

Because of Laurance S. Rockefeller’s gift (land) donation (5000 acres = 2/3) in 1956, St. John’s land is a hot commodity and prices have sky rocketed exponentially since the 1980’s with such popular and wealthy people like Kevin Chesney buying and selling property there. This has disturbed some St. Johnians who argue that they cannot afford to buy land today at these higher than market prices.

St. John is a tranquil peaceful paradise with some of the finest beaches in the world; in fact words cannot express how very impressive the beaches are in St. John.

Based on the 2000 census a population 4,197 people live there but at the time you read this editorial that number will probably be higher with a boom in construction going on in 2003 - 2008. St. John’s boom will stop soon, but is necessary to adjust to the demand to get ready for the new millennium.

St. John is represented by a senator at large, who as a requirement has to live on the island. This person represents the people of St. John and acts as their voice on issues that most concern them. Senators get paid very well in ratio to senators from the U.S. but cost of living is much higher (33-50%) here given that everything has to be shipped in.

The islands economy is based on tourism and it is rated as one of the best vacation spots in the world. It is quiet, peaceful, and unspoiled for the most part due to Mr. Laurance S. Rockefeller’s donation.

The island has camp grounds at Cinnamon Bay that offer live theater free of charge for years. The famous Caneel Bay Beach Resort, and luscious beaches some rated in the top ten lists of the world, really are gorgeous.

St. John’s population is so small that the island is represented by one Senator At Large, while the sister islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix have seven each.

This beautiful island does not have an airport; you will have to sail by boat to St. John, but with so many cays around, it makes for an enjoyable practice.

St. John has the finest Bay-Leaf trees in the world; the leaves have been harvested here for many years. The island roads are hilly and curvy. The bushes are filled with romantic ruins. Some are visible from the roads as you drive by. With the Bay Leaf trees mixed in with the Ginips, tamarind, and tropical and sub tropical flora galore, it is an awesome sight.