First inhabited by Ortoroids and “Amerindians;” desce ndants of African peoples. Subsequent "tribes" were called: Ceramic, Ciboney, Arawak, Taino and Caribs. These are some of the English names for these peoples who had their own names in their own languages. These were the original inhabitants of the Caribbean and some of them inhabited St. Croix for thousands of years before the European encroachment which started before the 15th century.

Columbus returned to the Caribbean in 1493 on his second voyage with 12 ships. The multitude of ships had the contributions of the Spanish Queen. This was the beginning of the Spanish Succession.

 


The Spaniards were seeking: new territory, gold, silver and “Indians” to be used for slave labor, food and agricultural production. By the 1600’s the “Indian” population in the Caribbean was in danger of becoming extinct. Save for larger islands that had land for them to escape into the interior; they could have become completely extinct.

 

Saint Croix (saint-croy), is 84.25 square miles, and was named Santa Cruz (holy cross) by Columbus, is today spelled in French; who inhabited it up until 1733.

 

The Spanish were the first Europeans to colonize St. Croix. The island probably  had a long standing society due to its rich  topography. This society is evidenced  by Christopher Columbus' confrontation with lots of arrows when first visiting. Spains huge settlement to come in neighboring Santo Domingo (Hispaniola), and some major settlements in Puerto Rico are testament to their presence in this area. Out posts around Puerto Rico were built to protect their more important interests to continue the Spanish expansion. These smaller islands were expected to be somewhat productive as they were also cultivated for crops.The Spanish held St. Croix from the late 15th century to the 16th century.

 

Following the Spanish 125 plus year quest to cultivate land and acquire humans to work as slaves there, both the Dutch and English started feuding over land space and rights to colonize it, after many fights and the subsequent killing of leaders on both sides, the Spanish made an attempt to resettle but were quickly driven out by the French under governor Depoincy. The French were also battling the Spanish in Santo Domingo.

 

St. Croix France by Denmark in 1733. Denmark had existing colonies on St. Thomas and St. John V.I. that were very productive: St. John as an agricultural cash crop producer and St. Thomas as a trading depot and free port. Soon after the purchase, the French helped the Danes in the battle for St. John during the famous Fortsberg Slave Revolt at the Fortsberg Fortress in 1733. The slaves were not eating properly, and were fed-up with the conditions that they were living in, because of droughts, pestilence and the increased rationing of food and aggression by the European slave masters, they decided to strike back in a brave attempt to take control of their lives.

 

Denmark eventually sold the Danish West Indies (St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, Water Island and approximately 46 cays to America in 1917 for $25,000,000 worth of gold.

 

The island has seen its share of fires, hurricanes, and wars. It was here that the Dutch killed the English governor only to lose two Dutch governors to English hands. It was also here that the great Fire Burn of 1878 transpired. The slaves set fire to the town of Frederiksted due to the frustrations of slavery continuing despite the official freeing of the slaves by Peter von Sholten in 1848 legitimately.

 

St. Croix is no stranger to adversity. The island and its people have survived some devastating hurricanes: Hugo in 1989, Marilyn in 1995, and smaller ones Georges and Lenny in 98 and 99 respectively. The island is resilient and so are the people. Crucians, as they are affectionately called today, are a happy and peaceful people. It is a very cultural and traditional island.

 

St. Croix has been preserved in a time capsule waiting to be rediscovered again and again. A quaint, double city island, that has rich town history. Gorgeous 18th and 19th century edifices that have a Dutch architectural influence and Frederiksted’s Victorian style homes line the streets and were purposely laid out in a grid pattern; parallel and perpendicular to beautiful streets, guts and sidewalks.

 

The people are very beautiful as well. A wonderful mixture of African/European/Spanish blend is now mixing with a current day (ca. 2007) more ethnic African and the “Crucian” (Spanish/African) type. St. Croix has experienced a continuous mixture of ethnicities due to its industrialized economy in the Caribbean bringing a large influx of immigrants from Puerto Rico and other islands to work in its bauxite and oil refinement factories.

 

St. Croix has always been a place of mixture going back to the days when Great Britain colonized Frederiksted on the west side, and the Dutch from the Netherlands, Christiansted, on the east side, both simultaneously. Ever since, the island has kept its dual city status nicknamedTwin City by Virgin Islanders.

 

St. Croix is the largest of the four Virgins, and the most industrialized. It was also the most productive agriculturally in colonial days. So much in fact that it rivaled the cotton and sugar production that much bigger islands such as Jamaica, Cuba and Hispaniola produced in ratio. Today tourism supplements the economy which is largely driven by the hugeoil refinery there owned by Hovensa; a Venezuelan based oil refinery, Cruzan Rum Distillery, and a soda bottling company.

 

Spanish is a widely spoken language here because of the large migration of Puerto Ricans that came for work at the oil refinery and the bauxite plants in the 60’s and 70’s. There were other historical migrations in the 30’s through the 50’s when Puerto Ricans came to fill jobs in the sugar cane industry after the slow down and virtual collapse of those industries in Puerto Rico.

 

St. Croix is beautiful and naturally landscaped with many old plantations to visit, botanical gardens to discover, and excellent diving with sunken ships and the under water history that comes with it. It is also surrounded by many cays including the British Virgin Islands to the North East. The island still does not enjoy the strong tourism based cruise ship economy that St. Thomas has, instead a solid hotel industry exists and a strong desire to develop their potential cruise ship industry.

 

Formed of coral origin unlike her sister islands volcanic nature, St. Croix is similar in some ways and then very different and unique in others. St. Croix’ population is 63,000, (2000 census) almost the same as that of St. Thomas despite the big differences in size, but with 84 plus square miles that is a lot of land to go around in ratio to St. Thomas. The highest point is Mount Eagle at 1,165 ft. St. Croix is very close in proximity to the North American Plate but is definitely on the Caribbean Plate. What is interesting is that whenSanto Domingo is experiencing an earth quake the tremors and vibrations can be felt at the same time in St. Croix.

 

With excellent scuba diving sites and world class golf courses St. Croix has left the turmoil behind and is leaping forward to the future. A relaxing and visually pleasing landscape awaits the visitor and casual explorer.

 

St. Croix citizens became U.S. citizens in 1927 and voted for their first governor in 1970, Melvin Evans a native of St. Croix became the first elected governor and Cyril E. King another Crucian became the second elected governor. Cyril E. King was the first African to work in the office of a U.S. senator (Humphrey’s 1940’s – 61). John F. Kennedy appointed him as the Government Secretary in 1961. He became governor in 1975 after  after loosingin a run off election against Mr. Evans in the previous 1974 election and died in 1978 before he completed his term.

 

St. Croix has seven senators that represents it constituents in the legislature.