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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 22, 2024
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Bay of Bengal Virgin Islands Connection

Dear Source,
When most people in the Virgin Islands read the accounts of the tidal wave disaster in the Sea of Bengal we feel unconnected and it seems far away. In fact, in the territory there are a few first-generation Indians and other immigrants from states on the Bay of Bengal. Among more established families there is also Bengali heritage. Dr. Roy Schneider, Vargrave Richards and Julio Brady are all descended from the same Bengali livestock drover.
There is beyond that a shared history with certain ports like Tranquebar and the Nicobar Islands which were in the hands of the Danes from the 1600s to the mid 1800s. Students reading of the history of the Virgin Islands know of how the same American Secretary of State who bought Alaska, William Seward, nearly bought the Virgin Islands.
The Danish diplomats whom Seward negotiated with successfully sold the Indian colonies to the British. As a result of the 200 years that the Danes held the Indian colonies a lot of the buildings in those ports have the same design and Royal emblems that we do here.
The Danes also had families who made a career of colonial service and there is overlap in the names of administrators like Kofoed and von Porch. So when you hear that as much as half of the Nicobar Islands population may have been killed, remember that for all we know some of us may have relatives in what the Danes used to call the Frederiks Xen.
Richard Bond,
St. Croix

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