Wednesday, April 14, 2004

USVI: Roots

ST. CROIX -Most visitors from Denmark had a fun-filled vacation in mind when they arrived on St. Croix last week, but Knud Christensen had other plans.

Christensen, 76, is on a mission to discover his family's origins.

He knows that he had relatives who lived on St. Croix during Danish rule in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He also knows that one of them, a great-grandmother, was half-black. Christensen said tracing his roots and finding his black relatives is not only a quest for himself, but also a lifelong dream of his late mother, May Alberta Olesen.

"It's in my heart," Christensen said in Danish. "I have to do this."

Knud's daughter, Anna Christensen, 49, has joined him on the St. Croix trip to help search for clues - anything that could help them solve the family mystery.

She said the family does not know much about Knud's great-grandmother, Wilhelmina, other than that she was of mixed race. She married Knud's great-grandfather, Karl Eriksen, a Danish soldier stationed on St. Croix.

"We don't know her maiden name, and that is where the problem lies," Anna Christensen said. "Without that, we cannot find her family or where she came from."

She said Wilhelmina and Eriksen had a daughter named Marie Christine, Knud Christensen's grandmother, who married Niels Olesen in 1897 on St. Croix.
Family is a wonderful thing to find.

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